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Toloache is an earnest Mexican bistro yearning for the big time. Hand-painted tile, silver lanterns, white tablecloths, runners reciting the details of the dishes they deliver, all signal upscale intentions. Chef-partner Julian Medina’s menu skips around Mexico and beyond with a trio of guacamoles mashed to order at the bar, a fabulous organic huevos rancheros, suckling pig from the brick oven, and fine Veracruz-style paella with a foie gras detour. I have doubts about guacamole with mango, apple, peach, habanero and Thai basil, but our fussy eaters like it. Exotic margaritas including chocolate and frozen tamarind raspado are mighty potent. After so many starters, a small huitlacoche quesadilla makes a perfect entrée. Ask the waiter what tacos he suggests, and with no hesitation, he responds, “The grasshopper.” Indeed? “Oaxacan dried grasshoppers are great bar food,” he insists. I’ll leave that treat to Tony Bourdain, while we trip out on marvelous braised brisket with tomatillo salsa and horseradish cream stuffed into handmade corn tortillas. And a few days later at lunch, tangy Baja-style hamachi tacos with guacamole, spicy jícama slaw, and a smart dash of lime. Seviche is not the house’s strong suit. I like mine packing more heat and citrus. But crispy pork on a sweet-corn tamale is fine and roasted garlic shrimp are amazingly juicy and tender. If you’re seated next to a wildly enthusiastic pregnant woman, say hello. That’s the chef’s wife, expecting an heir come November.

251 W. 50th St., nr. Broadway; 212-581-1818



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