El Torito - Pasadena

4.1
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33 Reviews
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$30 and under
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Mexican
Founded in 1954, El Torito is the authority in great Mexican food. A festive & hospitable restaurant rich in heritage, we focus on offering a memorable experience to make each guest feel like family, as if we are welcoming them home.

Using the freshest ingredients and boldest flavors, our menu offers a range of quintessential Mexican food, along with culinary innovations we know guests will love. We are known best for our tableside preparations, including our made-to-order guacamole and flame-grilled fajitas, which arrive sizzling to the table.

Our standard is great, and we don’t do anything without passion. Over 60 years, we’ve learned a lot about Mexican food, like how not to mess it up.

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What 33 People Are Saying
Overall ratings and reviews
Reviews can only be made by diners who have eaten at this restaurant
4.1based on recent ratings
4.0
food
4.0
service
3.7
ambience
3.9
value
Noise · Quiet
86% of people would recommend it to a friend
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TD
Los Angeles
91 reviews
Dined on February 15, 2020
Overall3food5service3ambience4

Hope this means I am getting credit for this reservation. We got more food for the price. Great food.

YD
1 review
Dined on February 4, 2020
Overall5food5service5ambience5

Celebrated my grandson's 21st birthday and he was very happy with everything. We will be back again.

EM
Los Angeles
28 reviews
Dined on February 4, 2020
Overall3food3service4ambience3

I can say that the food was good and the service was also. I just did not like having to go to an outside bathroom to wash my hands.

MH
Los Angeles
12 reviews
Dined on January 17, 2020
Overall5food5service5ambience5

Good food. Great value.

a
Los Angeles
6 reviews
Dined on January 3, 2020
Overall2food3service2ambience2

Went on a Friday night for some comfort Mexican food. Seated in a good booth, orders taken quickly, and food came quickly. Husband's fajita special was large and good; I had the Friday AYCE fish taco special, which was also good. The problem was the service after the food arrived. Our server disappeared and never asked if I wanted more tacos until after my husband had already packed up his leftovers! We had to bother another server for salsa for the fajitas and tacos. SO, never got the AYCE deal. Finally, got home to find out El Torito never reported to Open Table that we made the reservation, but instead got snarky email about us not showing up. Had to respond to that.
Overall, would not return to El Torito. Too many other good Mexican places in the Pasadena area!

OT
Los Angeles
1 review
Dined on December 25, 2019
Overall3food3service3ambience3

It was very cold inside the restaurant. Had to keep jacket on. Food was so so.the Buffett wasn't worth the cost. I would have rather ordered off the menu. Would not go again for Christmas.

MG
1 review
Dined on December 25, 2019
Overall5food5service5ambience5

This was our first visit to El Torito's Christmas buffet and we were extremely pleased. There was an excellent variety of deliciously-prepared food, attractively presented, and it was a pleasant surprise that each selection was labeled.

The waiter/server was outstanding -- pleasant, professional, and courteous. He seemed to be very happy to be there.

People at an adjacent table requested that the music be turned down, which made the experience even more pleasant. We actually held conversations without shouting at each other.

We'll be back!!

AM
Los Angeles
13 reviews
Dined on November 28, 2019
Overall4food3service5ambience5

A rib roast would have elevated the experience.

JL
Los Angeles
123 reviews
Dined on November 9, 2019
Overall2food1service1ambience3

Service was bad. The cocktails were good, the food had no flavor. The grilled chicken salad was served with no dressing had to wait a long time to finally get it. It took an extremely long time to get the fish tacos delivered to the table.

OT
Los Angeles
761 reviews
Dined on October 27, 2019
Overall5food5service4ambience5

Came for brunch. Great selections. The bartender also waited on tables so the refills were a little slow.

E
Los Angeles
37 reviews
Dined on August 31, 2019
Overall5food5service4ambience3

Great place to eat; we wish it was closer to home!

j
Los Angeles
31 reviews
Dined on August 17, 2019
Overall5food5service5ambience5

The meal was especially tasty that evening and my guests thoroughly enjoyed their Margaritas!

S
Los Angeles
2 reviews
Dined on July 20, 2019
Overall3food3service3ambience3

The place is kind of dirty and run down

OT
Orange County
1 review
Dined on July 19, 2019
Overall5food5service5ambience5

The waiter was super nice and accommodating, i didn't get his name but he was great. So so was the man in the front and the manager

MD
1 review
Dined on June 15, 2019
Overall4food4service4ambience2

The Restaurant itself needs a face lift, other than that we were very pleased.

E
Los Angeles
37 reviews
Dined on June 8, 2019
Overall5food5service5ambience5

Very good food; and our service was top notch excellent. Would recommend this restaurant to anybody for any purpose -- general dining, special event, group....

RL
1 review
Dined on May 19, 2019
Overall3food2service2ambience3

It took 20 min for someone to bring the taco chips and take our order. Loud rock music playing in a Mexican restaurant. Food was overcooked

KD
Los Angeles
2 reviews
Dined on May 15, 2019
Overall4food5service5ambience4

The table was ready when we arrived, and we were graciously received and served. The food was excellent with huge portions. Our waitress was attentive throughout our meal, refilling glasses, and bringing our check at a good time. Our table was situated in the lounge area where the noise level was high making conversation difficult.

t
Los Angeles
3 reviews
Dined on May 12, 2019
Overall2food1service3ambience3

Food was awful. We ordered the combo fajitas and the steak was so low quality that you could literally chew the meat till dooms day. The chicken was ok. The salsa is all tomatoes and no peppers. My son ordered the chicken wings and they arrived boneless and completely soggy. It was a disaster being g mothers day and all. The waiter was so busy he forgot at least 3 items and we kept having to remind him. Honestly I will never eat at this restaurant again. This place used to be good but they must have a new chef because the current one isn't working out.

DM
Los Angeles
7 reviews
Dined on May 5, 2019
Overall2food2service1ambience2

Terrible experience at El Torito on Cinco de mayo!
I was pleasantly surprised there were still time slots left on OpenTable the day of and booked a table for two. We arrived the restaurant at reservation time, it was a mad house there as expected and there's a walk-in wait list. The hostess heard we had a reservation on OpenTable and seemed displeased. She said there's something wrong with OpenTable and there are a lot of complaints about OT. Upon pressing, she talked to the manager to see if they could honor our reservation. The manager rudely spoke to her in front of us, "they could have made the reservation 10 minutes ago for all we know" then walked away.
First off, we didn't make the reservation 10 minutes ago. Second, as long as reservations were available, what was wrong with making a reservation 10 minutes ago? She made it sound like we were cheating. Just terrible.
We ended up eating in there bar area. It was extremely loud and the waitress seemed overwhelmed and just wanted the day to be over. Plastic cups for margarita and taco bar only if you don't want to wait more than 40 minutes for food.
El Torito seemed underprepared for the crowd. As for the reservation system, they should work closely with OT instead of insulting customers on the spot.

C
Los Angeles
7 reviews
Dined on April 25, 2019
Overall5food5service5ambience5

Trino is the best! Great service and very friendly.

ST
Los Angeles
23 reviews
Dined on February 28, 2019
Overall5food5service5ambience5

El Torito is a long-time favorite. We went there for a pre-theater dinner and, as usual, enjoyed it immensely. Great food, beautiful ambience, low noise level, great service. What more could we ask for?

BC
Denver
50 reviews
Dined on February 27, 2019
Overall2food2service2ambience3

We were visiting from out of town and remembered how much we used to enjoy the food at El Torito, so we stopped for an early dinner. It seemed like the restaurant might still be focusing on Happy Hour in the bar area at 5:30? All the adults got build your own combos, which were disappointing. The chicken tacos available on there had an odd flavor from a non-standard mix of components, and the basic cheese enchiladas weren't good. One of the combos wasn't the way it was ordered. Wednesday night is $1 kids meals, and I was glad because the mini corn dogs were so greasy from the fryer that kiddo didn't want to eat them. I don't think we'll be going back on our next trip.

m
Los Angeles
41 reviews
Dined on February 24, 2019
Overall1food4service1ambience1

Note to Open Table customers: This manager at El Torito completely ignores Open Table reservations. We had a 12:30 reservation, walked in at 12:25. Our name was put on the list along with all the other walk-ins and we were seated when would have been had we not reserved with Open Table. Yes, we made the reservation earlier that day, but our name went on the walk-in list at the time we showed up at the restaurant. The manager gave us some mumbo-jumbo, but in effect treated us as walk-ins. It was a 35 minute wait.

We have been customers at this El Torito for many years and loved it (check previous reviews). We have not had a worse time at a meal anywhere.

To be fair, the food was delicious - at least the food that was available on the buffet. Unfortunately, many items were empty for much of the time we were there.

Because we'd been to the brunch many times, we had recommended to friends that we meet at this restaurant for a great meal and a good time to talk and catch up with one another. Almost as soon as we were seated, the mariachis started playing in the room we were in, and they were playing LOUDLY there for over an hour - almost 70 minutes (yes, we checked our watches). The noise level was between 85 and 90 dB the whole time (anything over 85 dB for sustained periods can cause hearing damage. Not sure where we will go with this...) We couldn't converse without shouting. How embarrassing!

We again talked with the manager, who didn't care. At least two tables of people left shortly after the mariachis began. Another party refused to be seated in the room. The tables remained empty until the mariachis finally left. I felt sorry for the server who couldn't get to his customers (I hope the mariachis tipped him to make up for what he must have lost). I understand there is new management/ownership at this restaurant. Hopefully it will be short-lived and will be replaced by owners/managers who care about the reputation of El Torito as a great place for a meal.

HM
1 review
Dined on February 24, 2019
Overall5food5service4ambience5

Amazing brunch! Authentic Mexican food. I was genuinely surprised. This place never disappoints.

JL
Los Angeles
1 review
Dined on February 16, 2019
Overall2food3service1ambience2

We sat in bar area. They did not have enough staff to cover the customers. Service was slow. Alcohol drinks were watered down. They brought our food at different times. On top of it all it took them an hour to bring our checks and charge them and they lost one of our checks and spent 20 mins looking for it and did not offer any discount for inconveniencing us. The waitress was nice but this whole experience was ridiculous.

KW
1 review
Dined on February 16, 2019
Overall5food5service5ambience4

Our server was very attentive. Sorry I couldn't give him a higher amount..

YF
Los Angeles
3 reviews
Dined on February 14, 2019
Overall3food2service4ambience3

Haven't been for a few years. Not as good as I remember. Stale tortillas never make good tacos.

m
Los Angeles
41 reviews
Dined on February 2, 2019
Overall5food5service4ambience3

The food here is always excellent. My husband and I shared an appetizer and a fajitas, and that was more than plenty! The service this time was very good, but not outstanding (it was sometimes hard to find our server.) Unfortunately, we were seated right next to a very loud party of 8, and so it was hard to have any kind of pleasant conversation for some of the time. But that's to be expected, I guess.

We'll definitely be back.

AJ
1 review
Dined on January 26, 2019
Overall5food5service5ambience4

Great service. The lady that was helping us was under a lot of pressure due to the kitchen messing up orders. But she soldiered on and kept being very polite to us and respectful. Would go again hopefully with no kitchen mess ups but still a great place to eat. Been going since I was 10 years old. 29 now

m
Los Angeles
41 reviews
Dined on January 16, 2019
Overall3food5service2ambience4

We eat here often. The food this time was excellent, as usual. What was unusual was the poor, very slow service. There were plenty of servers and we got there early (5-ish) so there was no crowd or lack of employees. Not sure what was going on this time, but it was disappointing.

m
Los Angeles
41 reviews
Dined on January 6, 2019
Overall4food5service3ambience4

We went for the Sunday brunch. The food was very good, and rarely were they out of anything. Nice to be able to make a reservation through Open Table - sometimes the wait can be long.

YC
1 review
Dined on November 25, 2018
Overall5food5service5ambience5

Probably one of the best buffets I’ve ever gone to!