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Salem Eats: El Toro Brings Authentic Mexican Flavors to Salem

Written by Wyatt Jones on Jun. 25th, 2024
Featured Image photo for Salem Eats: El Toro Brings Authentic Mexican Flavors to Salem

SALEM, Ore. — At El Toro, the culinary journey into the depths of authentic Mexican cuisine captivates those who seek genuine flavors and traditional cooking methods. Israel Díaz, owner of El Toro, along with his dedicated team, has managed to transform a modest space into a haven for lovers of genuine homemade Mexican cooking.

“We are inspired by the typical products of our land, from Oaxaca and Veracruz,” explains Díaz. “Mexicans love salsa made in a molcajete, and we strive to make a dish that pleases people with the authentic flavor of salsas made from pure natural chilies.” This focus on fresh ingredients and traditional techniques is what sets El Toro apart.

The star dish at El Toro, the molcajete, features authentic chilies and a molcajete salsa made according to a secret recipe. “Everything is handmade, down to the tortillas that accompany it,” says Díaz. This commitment to authenticity and quality has captured the attention and praise of customers, though it has yet to be discovered by professional culinary critics. However, comments on platforms like Google and Facebook speak volumes, consistently highlighting the molcajete as a clear favorite.

Consistency in the quality and presentation of the molcajete is critical for El Toro. “First, cleanliness,” Díaz notes. “We put the molcajete on the fire for more than ten minutes so that the stone is super hot when we add the ingredients.” This meticulous process ensures that each dish that reaches the table is bubbling and full of flavor, as if it had just come off the stove.

The inspiration behind El Toro’s signature dish comes from family tradition. “This comes from family inspiration. My mother was a cook and liked to cook in cazuelas and molcajetes, and grind the chilies on a metate, as is typically done in Mexico, in the villages,” shares Díaz.

El Toro began its journey when Díaz purchased the business from Torito Market. Originally a very small taqueria, El Toro has grown through inspiration from friends who own beautiful restaurants in Portland, and a vision to create something similar. “We started from scratch with a business that had all low ratings, with two stars. Now, we have risen to four, five stars on Google,” Díaz proudly states. The toughest part has been transitioning from all the negatives to a new look, improving both the food and the interior of the restaurant, including cleanliness, bathrooms, and customer service.

El Toro’s concept stands out by offering 100% natural and Mexican products. “All the food is made as if it were homemade, totally homemade,” Díaz emphasizes.

As for the future, Díaz has ambitious plans for El Toro. “We want to innovate with new things, like a breakfast buffet that we plan to implement this summer. In the long term, we seek to grow and, with God’s help, find another larger establishment.”

El Toro not only offers a taste of authentic Mexican cuisine but also a story of dedication, innovation, and community engagement that resonates deeply within Salem.

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