Update 2 – May 2022
We’ve continued to get these fiesta packs every once in a while over the last couple of years, and right now they’re back to being a good deal. That’s because while inflation has hit the US hard, the prices have not gone up significantly. The fiesta fajitas are now $48 while the fiesta tacos are $38 (note that El Torito charges a $2 surcharge on all online orders – and maybe in person as well). Given that they offer enough food to feed 6 people (and even more if they fill up on rice and beans), they’re pretty much the best deal in town. For now, I’m sure prices will go up soon.
What hasn’t changed, at least at El Torito in San Leandro, where we get take out from, is the randomness of the included side dishes. I truly don’t think they can remember which sides are supposed to go with the fiesta fajitas and which ones with the fiesta tacos. This last time we got the fiesta tacos and they came with a lot of meat, large trays of rice and beans and the big bag of chips, plus shredded lettuce, shredded cheese, salsa, pico de gallo, guacamole and tomalito. We didn’t get the sour cream that’s supposed to come with this pack, but the guacamole and tomalito are supposed to come with the fajitas one. So all in all we scored 🙂
And the food was very tasty, the meat was tender and not too fatty. I’m sure we’ll order again soon, at least if they don’t raise the prices.
Update 1 – My last two experiences at El Torito have been less than stellar.
Since I wrote this post the fiesta/party packs – at least at my local El Torito in San Leandro, California – have both increased in price and decreased in quality. The packs now cost $5 more, and the last couple of times we ordered, they were missing some of the sides we originally got. I’m not sure if this is because the fiesta packs no longer include them or our El Torito was particularly busy now that California has reopened, and the workers were careless with what they packed in our orders.
The Fajita Fiesta Pack
The fajitas pack is now $48 and our last order included the beef fajitas (and we felt we got less meat than in previous occasions). Still, it was very tasty. In addition to the meat, we got rice and beans, warm tortillas, guacamole and sour cream and chips and salsa. What we didn’t get was the corn pudding we enjoy so much.
The Tacos Fiesta Pack
We ordered the taco pack once before and in addition to the stuff shown in the photo (meal, rice and beans, tortillas, chip and salsa and corn pudding) it came with sour cream, pico de gallo, shredded cheese and shredded lettuce. This time, the last four listed items were unavailable. That made for very, very boring tacos.
That said, the beef for tacos is very tasty, flavor wise it’s better than the fajitas. The chicken, which we got the previous time, isn’t as flavorful and it’s a bit dry. They also offer carnitas.
El Torito, a California-based chain of Tex-Mex (or Cal-Mex, for that matter) restaurants, is offering a great take out deal during the pandemic. For $30-$40 you can get a tacos, carnitas fajitas or combo (enchiladas, tamales or chile relleno) deals that feed at least four people. Given that an order of steak fajitas for just one person is $21.50, $40 for four times that amount is as good a deal as you are likely to get. Indeed, at $10 per person (or less, depending on how hungry you are), it’s the same or lower cost than the mid-priced meal kits I’ve used so much. For $20 more, you can add a pitcher of margaritas (not my thing).
The fajitas pack comes with large containers of beef strips and onions, Mexican rice, beans (choose between re-fried or de olla), corn pudding, salsa and guacamole, a stack of warm tortillas (your choice of corn or flour) and a huge bag of tortilla chips.
They tell you at what time the food will be ready when you order (or you can specify the time), and it’s very, very quick. El Torito offers delivery (sans alcohol) for something like $3, as well as curbside and in-restaurant pickup. The food is ready when it says it’ll be.
I used to be a huge fan of Chevy’s back in the day. Then it declined, and then the one in San Leandro closed, and then most of them closed. At some point, the remaining ones were bought by the same parent company from El Torito, which carried Chevy’s influence into El Torito’s kitchens.
You can taste this influence in the fajitas pack. The beef marinade now resembles Chevy’s, as does the salsa – while the corn pudding is practically identical to Chevy’s sweet corn tomalito. The chips are still not as thin as Chevy’s, but they’re thinner than other restaurants.
All in all I’ve enjoyed their meals, and I think I will give their other offerings a try later.
El Torito 5 Monarch Bay Dr, San Leandro, CA 510.351.8825 M-Th 11 AM - 10 PM, F 11 AM - 11 PM, Sa 8 AM - 11 PM, Su 9 AM - 10 PM