The Final Days of El Torito in Concord

January 16, 2013 21:24 pm · 99 comments


This is it, the final days of El Torito in the Willows Shopping Center in Concord.

We told you a few months ago that El Torito was closing, but demolition day is fast approaching because the restaurant is set to lock their doors on Sunday at 10pm for the final time, according to staffers.

After Sunday, the building will be demolished and a new restaurant called the Lazy Dog Cafe will be built in its place.

Will you miss El Torito?

Thanks to Chaz for the picture!

Lee White January 16, 2013 at 9:26 PM

I think I ate there once shortly after moving to Concord. I quickly discovered that there were many other sources of more authentic and cheaper Mexican food if one was willing to visit them. My general rule of thumb for sizing up a Mexican restaurant: If there are very many Gringos eating there, it’s probably not that great.

NRA #1 fan and member January 16, 2013 at 9:26 PM

Won’t miss El Torito at all, HOWEVER bring back Chevy’s that’s some AUTHENTIC Mexican salsa and food right there.

anonmtz January 16, 2013 at 9:32 PM

El T…..good drinks, bad furniture, very average groceries, nice help…..adios!

doglover January 16, 2013 at 9:35 PM

Yes. many memories there. Many happy hours. Just celebrated my brothers birthday on Mon. Night. Loved the Fajitas. So sad, been there for at least 25 years.

Old Timer January 16, 2013 at 9:38 PM

Nope. First experience with identity theft was there in 1980 when our waiter stole our credit card.

Mad Mom January 16, 2013 at 9:39 PM

Sad. We had our work Christmas party there. We’ve had most of our office parties there. Nice people. Good food.

Recovering January 16, 2013 at 9:47 PM

Bring back Chevys!! Hate having to drive to Emeryville, to eat there… But I will continue to do so…

Anon January 16, 2013 at 9:47 PM

Happy Hour was mot so bad and they use to have an awesome Taco Tuesday. Other then that the food was crappy

jason January 16, 2013 at 9:51 PM

Chevys? authentic mexican food? you gotta be kidding…

Anyhoo, el torito was crap. low rent food with high rent prices and one of the few times i actually went, the food was served cold.. and the manager had to barter with me on how to handle the situation. Ive been to Dennys restaurants that screwed up the food and not only fixed the issue but struck the meal from the bill entirely ontop of it. THAT is service, and standing by your product.

The Pitts January 16, 2013 at 9:51 PM

Sad! All the good things go away

Pack'n Heat January 16, 2013 at 9:54 PM

Rumor was out that Hooters was interested in going in…

anthony January 16, 2013 at 9:57 PM

Not one bit ate there once place is over priced and gross Los panchos is way better just sayin

Tara + Jake January 16, 2013 at 9:58 PM

Our first date was here 5 years ago 🙁 very sad to see it go.

Palermo January 16, 2013 at 9:59 PM

I liked it, and especially liked the look of the building, at least on the outside. The staff was always pleasant. Life, always full of changes.

concord resident January 16, 2013 at 10:01 PM

i like that building; i wish they weren’t tearing it down. it is a piece of concord history. yes, i will miss el torito, just because, there isn’t any decent Mexican food in Concord anywhere since Carlos Murphy’s closed.

concord resident January 16, 2013 at 10:03 PM

God, Chevy’s is gross; can’t believe someone would want a Chevy’s, ick.

Jerry January 16, 2013 at 10:06 PM

Best Mexican in town is El Aguila Taqueria on Contra Costa Blvd. Hands down!

Killjoy January 16, 2013 at 10:08 PM

The last time I went, the me u claims if the fajitas are not sizzling, they’re free.
Well, I got my fajitas for free.
Yup. The food is expensive there, and not the best.
I had my first alcohol drink there on my 21st birthday.

Killjoy January 16, 2013 at 10:09 PM

^Should have read “the menu”

Laura January 16, 2013 at 10:09 PM

i’m disappointed. El Torito has been a place of many memories for our family. for the first time in over a decade, we went last Sunday to the brunch. I enjoyed it. sad that now, if I want to go, I have to travel to Stockton for the closest one. that’s just wrong! I am so bummed. I went to the Chevy’s in Richmond a couple weeks ago. it was just so-so. I liked El Torito SO MUCH BETTER. especially Sunday brunch.

teri January 16, 2013 at 10:12 PM

No decent Mexican food in Concord? Are you kidding? You’ve never been to my area then. They are all over the place.

Nicmo January 16, 2013 at 10:13 PM

Hooters across from UFC gym? That could be interesting.

imateacher January 16, 2013 at 10:16 PM

We ate there Sunday night and last month, too. The food is good but the service leaves a bit to be desired. I heard our waiter talking to folks at another table about the Lazy Dog Cafe. I thought he said he worked at the one in LA. I didn’t realize he was telling them about this restaurant closing. I will miss it.

Tree Farm January 16, 2013 at 10:22 PM

It is funny how people compare a chain to hole in the wall taquerias. Apples to oranges. Know why I loved El Torito? Kids ate free on Wednesdays. I can’t eat at El Faro every time I want Mexican food.

Sad to see it go. No plans to relocate? Shut down because of economy?

Pale Rider January 16, 2013 at 10:23 PM

I have never had a bad experience there. Food was always good as well as the drinks. However, When La Pinata opened near Todos Santos Plaza I think El Torito lost the majority of their customers. The food and drinks are the best in town. Just can’t compete with that.

Rebelpepperchick January 16, 2013 at 10:27 PM

Not at all , went there once & food was horrible. Looking forward to the lazy dog cafe , time for something different.

Amylou January 16, 2013 at 10:32 PM

Last time I ate at el torito it gave me good poisoning. I’m glad to see it go 🙂

TCKid January 16, 2013 at 10:42 PM

Hell yeah ill miss it! When I turned 21 I went there and got hammered on my birthday. The waiter was super cool and I was drunk enough that the food seemed pretty damn good to me.

Rene January 16, 2013 at 10:45 PM

Sorry to see it go. We had a lot of events and parties there. From birthdays to bridal showers, corporate dinners to girls night’s…. Thanks for the great memories.

anon January 16, 2013 at 10:49 PM

Had a few b days there, had my first legal drink there, a shot of tequila. But haven’t been there since. so I cant say much.

Memories January 16, 2013 at 11:06 PM

That’s too bad I have alot of memories with them.
I worked there as a hostess over 30 years ago in 1981ish
I had alot of fun. Their caesar salad dressing and corn cakes are the bomb!
Ill miss the buildingtoo, I think I’ll go get a picture before they demo it

From Clayton January 16, 2013 at 11:07 PM

Good. Bad service, bad food.

kleinapple January 16, 2013 at 11:13 PM

Bring back Baja Saloon..or build a Sonic

all good things die young January 16, 2013 at 11:15 PM

many memories at el torito. my now ex husband told me he loved me for the first time in that parking lot years ago and then cheated with a woman he met up with at the elephant bar…in the same parking lot…lol…lol life is all irony
love el torito and will miss it….been a fan since I was a kid.
definitely heading over for a last supper before sunday. thx for the update Mayor.

all good things die young January 16, 2013 at 11:19 PM

if parking lots and restaurants could talk we would all be the wiser for it……

B January 16, 2013 at 11:23 PM

I’m sad to see it go 🙁 good food and service, and I love the building inside and out. Probably going to replace it with another building that has no character. So many good memories at El T

Si January 16, 2013 at 11:24 PM

Was hella good till they stopped serving enchiritos and nacho bell grandes.

sherry January 16, 2013 at 11:27 PM

They were the bomb in th late 80s that were I met the sexiest Mexican man as my waiter. Free apetizer buffet and serious drinks $10 bucks and a girl was set and had a date for the next day! Food sucks these days so I’m glad something is changing over there.

HaHa January 16, 2013 at 11:31 PM

Im so sad 🙁
I love their Sunday brunch!!! And taco Tuesdays!

concord99 January 16, 2013 at 11:42 PM

Really?? I just ate last Saturday. The next closest ones are in San Leandro and Burlingame.

franie January 16, 2013 at 11:45 PM

Always good food whenever i went, ill miss it, butto be honest if i really want mexican food im more likly to go to cinco de mayo, or over the hill to the new mecca cafe. But ido like el torito better then la penataor cheveys…

Barbara January 16, 2013 at 11:51 PM

I still miss Rancho Grande, They had the BEST Chilli Rellanos! They had a great cheese sause and did not swim in red ooze!

Craig Cannon January 16, 2013 at 11:52 PM

I will miss the memories of Happy Hours there with good friends over two decades ago. Then, you could get a decent Frozen Cocktail for two and a half bucks, and a free or almost free Happy Hour Taco and Finger Food bar. Over the years, it kind of went down hill. We also heard stories of the Rats that come from the Creek in that center, yes I’ve seen a few skitter by when the Wife worked nearby. Good Times, neat building, but all things change. The Dog Place looks real similar to another “Lodge” themed Restaurant not but 500 Yards away. I suppose the Rats, and us can enjoy a new place with a new menu. Gracias El Torito, for the good times and Taco’s!

Steve January 17, 2013 at 12:32 AM

I will miss it, I enjoy their tacos.

Twin#2 January 17, 2013 at 1:12 AM

Don’t worry guys.. You can always go 2 Los Gallos.. I think that’s the BEST Mexican restaurant in concord!

David KROCHMAL January 17, 2013 at 3:32 AM

Spent alot of night there.. wil be missed

RichieNotRich January 17, 2013 at 4:24 AM

Probably been there a handful of times since we’ve lived here (1982), half of the time for company luncheons etc. (worked at the Chevron Diamond Blvd. office just down the street for many of those years).

I heard 2nd-hand, though, that it was a legendary place for after-work social bar adventures, especially during the gogo 80’s and 90’s when Diamond Blvd. business was hopping. The increased competition from Claimjumper, the old Marie Callendars, and Elephant Bar helped to kill it also, I think.

Mark January 17, 2013 at 5:37 AM

@ Tree Farm #24

I think people are comparing Mexican food to Mexican food, not restaurant comfort or ambiance. There are plenty of places on Concord to get very good Mexican FOOD. A pretty good larger Mexican restaurant is La Pinata one block east of Todo Santos. Or try Los Gallos (spelling?) on the east side of Todo Santos. If you don’t mind sitting at a small generic table with the “regular folks” you can eat good Mexican food cheap all over Concord (and surrounding towns),

Anon777 January 17, 2013 at 6:14 AM

It’s about time. They’ve been disgusting the last 3 times I’ve been there over the last 3-4 years.

CatM January 17, 2013 at 6:16 AM

Agree with #3 – great drinks, bad furniture. Food was not fantastic but okay. Always sad to see history demolished.

Shoppermom January 17, 2013 at 6:24 AM

El Torito used to be good years ago, but not recently. SOOO happy to see a Lazy Dog Cafe going in there. We eat at Lazy Dog whenever we are in Southern Cal. Great food, extensive food and drink menu, good prices and excellent customer service. They’re a small chain based in Southern Cal.
Change, if done properly, can be good.

chubby January 17, 2013 at 6:32 AM

I’ll miss that architecture. Todos Santos chic. I’m serious.

JustMe January 17, 2013 at 6:35 AM

El Torito was better back in the 80s. I rarely have visited since, and I’m not surprised it’s leaving. Something new there would be ideal. Last time I looked at Lazy Dog Cafe, although I’ve never heard of it previously, the menu did look interesting. The Willows could certainly use some new draws. Outside of Fuddruckers, I barely visit the Willows anymore.

The Mamba January 17, 2013 at 6:48 AM

LOL @ bring back Chevy’s, jesus. I went to El Torito twice, and the food was pretty good and the drinks were fine. That’s a tough location, annoying to get to and easy to forget about.

nytemuvr January 17, 2013 at 6:59 AM

You still have El Tapatios don’t you?….roaches will steal your silverware…..and you got the New Mecca.

Bonnie January 17, 2013 at 7:00 AM

I think Lazy Dog Cafe will be a pleasant surprise for all. They are very popular in SoCal. Comfort food and drinks. The Mexican restaurants in Concord are mostly own and run by local business which I think is more authentic than the franchise types. Not much on atmosphere but decent food at reasonable prices.

Darwin January 17, 2013 at 7:03 AM

Bummer, the only place that gave me a free drink on my 21st B-Day.

Walnut all day January 17, 2013 at 7:16 AM

Bottomless mimosas for Sunday brunch. Rip

ANNON January 17, 2013 at 7:27 AM

Was good many many years ago, it will be no loss now! Adios!!!

Mr John January 17, 2013 at 7:37 AM

It is a bad location. Sure you could see it from the freeway and major streets… but you had to drive 3 minutes (past other restaurants) to get there.

The only thing I really liked was the salad dressing… which I can get at Safeway.

Anonymous January 17, 2013 at 8:02 AM

Bummer, going to el Torito was always a treat for my family…

Anonymous January 17, 2013 at 8:03 AM

But I never knew how they stayed open. Whenever we were there, they were NEVER crowded. January 17, 2013 at 8:08 AM

I will miss El Torito .. many good meals for special occasions. And my husband and myself loved the Sunday Brunch.

Julie January 17, 2013 at 8:10 AM

I’m just surprised it’s been there so long. I remember going there in the 80’s when I was poor, and wanted to eat a lot of food —it was all about huge portions!

Never went there regularly, and probably would never have gone back if not for a wedding party that was held there for other side of family. I could not fathom why they’d picked a place like this, except, well, they were mexican! lol. Don’t think I ate much, didn’t look appetizing, only went out of duty. that must have been at least 7-8 years ago. Crrap places from the 80’s need to be redesigned or torn down. glad this one is going down!

Josh January 17, 2013 at 8:18 AM

I’m sad to see El Torito go the way of so many other Claycord ‘landmarks’ recently…… into rubble. I have a lot of great memories of that place growing up.

I remember going there as a kid, it felt like you were in Mexico, the building had such ambiance, with the center courtyard/fountain, etc. The food was GREAT back in the 80’s, but the last time I was there it was just mediocre. Still, sad to see it go.

But I guess the only constant thing in life is change….. 🙁

Mac January 17, 2013 at 8:51 AM

Hard to think of any building in the Willows as a landmark.
But i guess that is because i`m 53.
But i did think this was a cool building.

Anyone know what the new building will look like ?

Lolo January 17, 2013 at 9:24 AM

I’ve lived in Concord my whole life and El Torito has been here longer than I’ve been alive! Every time I go with my family, my mom mentions how they’ve been bringing me there since I was a baby. I’m very sad that it’s going to be demolished … have had many happy memories and good meals with friends and family there 🙁

Mel January 17, 2013 at 9:34 AM

I had some good times there and my first legal drink, but the last time my family ate there was the food and service wasn’t very good. We haven’t been back for almost two years.

BagsFlyFree January 17, 2013 at 9:45 AM

While the El Torito building was cool with its old school charm, the food they served was bla.. While this new restaurant is another chain, it seems to provide more of what Concord needs – good Americana food, outside patio dining, and also dog friendly!. The menu looks well rounded, and they like to pour a plenty… Will give it a go!

anon e mouse January 17, 2013 at 9:59 AM

I bike past the place twice a day on the trail on my way to/from work. The smell from the kitchen always grosses me out. Ate there once many years ago, never went a second time.

Soxtiger January 17, 2013 at 10:14 AM

Still one of our favorite places but haven’t gone there regularly since El Aguila opened in PH. Have been going there ever since, but after recently finding out that El T will close we went back to catch up with one of the waitresses we really like. Suggested some places for her to apply to, hate to know that all the nice folks are basically out of a job come Sunday. I will miss the fajita salad and the desert pear margarita..:(

ClayCord Dad January 17, 2013 at 10:24 AM

Did Tia Maria first locate in this spot from up the street on Willow Pass Road before El Torito?

WHAT SECURITY January 17, 2013 at 11:11 AM

love the building outside food I think was okay, but inside was very dated.
had lots of potential if they remolded in side. It would have been awesome

Kirkwood January 17, 2013 at 11:11 AM

@ClayCord Dad
Tia Maria had operated for a couple of years at the location that is now occupied by a Chinese buffet. When El Torito was built in the Willows it essentially put Tia Maria out of business.

Diggles January 17, 2013 at 11:37 AM

For hearty sit down Mexican, Los Montanas (the restaurant, not the grocery store) at the Park N Shop is my favorite. For taqueria, I love El Aguila.

Walnut Creek Resident January 17, 2013 at 11:47 AM

I had a terrible exeperiance there many years ago. The food was bad, the help were extremely rude. I did not tip which I never did before.. It was just horrible. The waitress came out and actually yelled at me in front of everyone and said she deserved a tip and I said to her she was not there for service and the food was cold when it arrived, etc. Many other things she did not do as a waitress. I wish I could go back in time and really tell her how impolite she was even before the no tip came to her… anyway the food made us all sick. So good by bad restaurant and hello new one.

Gjets January 17, 2013 at 12:24 PM

GREAT BRUNCH, thanks for the many memories for CB and TL there on Sunday mornings for brunch. Off to SLT for the last brunch ever this Sunday. Will be at Harr eating brunch. Wish me luck!!!

barracho January 17, 2013 at 12:51 PM

Bummer, I’ve been a regular for the last 30 years – never, ever had a bad server, and the Cadillac margaritas were fantastic. Ill be going sometime this weekend…

CVHS Class of '89 January 17, 2013 at 12:54 PM

I won’t miss it………I lived in Concord for 15 years and went there maybe 3 times.

Rod Pacheco January 17, 2013 at 3:01 PM

Had many birthday party’s their and went often. Will miss there salad and Cadillac Margaritas.

Judy January 17, 2013 at 3:05 PM

They used to offer free meals on your birthday….did that back in the 80’s. The Cadillac margaritas were excellent. Haven’t been there in over 20 yrs, so I won’t miss it!

ctown January 17, 2013 at 4:22 PM

Very sad to hear. Have been going to El Torito for almost 30 years. Although the place was in desperate need of a make-over the food was always on point. I will really miss the flan.

slagheap January 17, 2013 at 4:26 PM

thank-you, at last we’ll be rid of that eyesore.

Shasta Daisy January 17, 2013 at 6:56 PM

Hey….Apollo…El Torito……Sunrise lunch…..remember?
My mom had soooooo much fun.

Bobby d January 17, 2013 at 7:07 PM

Whaaaat Chevys.. Worst microwave food ever tasted ..disgusting .. Love Toritos .. Hate to see it go… Love there fajitas and special platters … Will miss it..

Cowellian January 17, 2013 at 7:53 PM

I miss it. I also miss CC Ole’s, El Tapatio, Guadalajara Grill, and La Pinata. I still haven’t found a decent Mexican Restaurant in Nashville. And no one here has even heard of a crab enchilada.

catlarson January 17, 2013 at 7:54 PM


mika January 17, 2013 at 8:01 PM

I will miss it. Attended many happy hours, birthday parties, holiday celebrations, working lunches and any other reason to celebrate, it was always the place to go. I will miss their chili rellanos. Use to love their peach margaritas, and the big fishbowl margaritas. Good times, good times. . . Luckily we still have El Tapatio! Good bye, El Torito, thanks for the many, many memories!

good riddance January 17, 2013 at 8:11 PM

It’s about time E.T. closed down. Last time I went there was a few years ago for a co-workers going away party. Her adult daughters boyfriend walked her to her car and asked me to get him a beer. So I ordered two beers and the bartender said “no”. She had served my buddy already and knew the extra beer was for him, but still wouldn’t serve me two beers. And when my girfriend ordered a margarita, the bartender pulled out the ounce glass and literally measured the amount being poured. Very amateurish. Wouldn’t want to get a couple of extra drops in the glass. There went their tip, and I haven’t been back. Hasta la vista, baby!

Adios January 17, 2013 at 8:12 PM

Awe I’m so sad a crappy resturant is closeing forever . Bring on the Lazy Dog it can’t be any worse than this Dump

brandon January 17, 2013 at 8:38 PM

Good ridance lol nasty over priced fake mexican food

Dolores January 17, 2013 at 8:56 PM

my husband and I ate at this restaurant last year, I can’t believe this is happening.

Shauna January 18, 2013 at 7:14 AM

I will miss El Torito. It was one of our family’s go-to spots. Food was good, service was usually good, and people were friendly. I hope the staff found good jobs.

concord original January 18, 2013 at 8:33 AM

Twenty plus years ago they had a great happy hour, lots of people and the waitresses were all hot especially in those blue short skirts–food was swill

Lisa January 18, 2013 at 8:38 AM

I will miss El Torito very much. We have gone there every year for family birthdays since I was a kid.

anavidClaycordian January 18, 2013 at 3:45 PM

If you think El Torito is expensive, look at the Lazy Dog menu. …a couple of stems of cold broccoli for $3.00!

El T is in a beautiful building. I’m sure the new one will have a lot less character.

anavidClaycordian January 18, 2013 at 3:48 PM

omg! Just clicked on the Lazy Dog locations which shows photos of their buildings. They belong on the Vegas strip!

Girl w/ dogs January 18, 2013 at 8:49 PM

Lazy Dog will be the nail in the coffin for Elephant Bar and Claim Jumper

ChampagneKitty January 18, 2013 at 9:02 PM

I liked the El Torito building. I’m not familiar with Lazy Dog, so I don’t have much to say about it.

I’ve been to Elephant Bar a couple times for my birthday; they have interesting food there! When my Nana and aunt were alive, they liked to eat there, too.

Claim Jumper is rather expensive.

Comments on this entry are closed.

Previous post:

Next post: