8. Toro Taco Bar
114 Brooklyn Ave., torotacobar.com
The dichotomy of Toro Taco Bar is almost laughable. Where the heck else are you going to find fresh sea urchin at a taco joint? Turns out chefs and business partners Josh Cross and Rick Frame are just doing what comes naturally inside their tiny near East Side kitchen — making insane tacos and leaving any notion of pretention at the gate.
Opened this past March, Toro Taco is an urban oasis come sundown. Made almost entirely by hand by Frame, the joint's patio has turned into a refuge for downtown dwellers looking for a fun bite, a cold beer and Texan tunes.
Seven nights a week, Cross and a growing lineup of cooks whip up Tex-Mex favorites with a twist. Grab a few pals and load up on the chunky guacamole or gooey house queso. Spice things up with the chorizo-topped or roasted garlic versions with warm, crunchy tostadas.
Sure, you can fill up on the Valentina-laced chicharrones or keep things light with a squash-filled quesadilla, but it wouldn't be right to pay the toritos a visit without a go at those tacos. Yes, the cabrito and lengua tacos are great, but trust in Cross and his knack for stellar specials like the smoked achiote mollejas (sweetbreads) or the snapper he smokes fresh from the tanks of Groomer's Seafood.
When it comes to cool beverages, you'll find a full bar, a growing list of Mexican brews and a choice of white or red house vino to wash down your dinner. Stay tuned for a soon-to-start brunch.