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First time at Tonny's - WHY???

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First time at Tonny's - WHY???

Will Owen | Apr 7, 2006 12:56 AM

Tonny's - the old location, down near Los Robles - was one of the first Pasadena Mexican joints I read about when I started following Chowhound...what, two years ago? Anyway, I keep hearing how great this place is, and I still never go there, and it's WITHIN WALKING DISTANCE OF MY HOUSE (smacks head for emphasis).

The madness is officially over. We came out of a movie Tuesday night in dire need of dinner, and Tania said, "How about Tonny's?", and that was that. Well, not completely, since if you're going east on Orange Grove you can't get there from there, even though you're passing right in front of it, and there's No U Turn at the light. Anyway, we managed, and parked in the smallish back lot and walked in through the plastic-shrouded rear patio, following some swell Norteño music. All very tidy and kind of stark, but very friendly and immediate service. I was amazed at the size of the menu - I reckoned it had to be almost as large as the kitchen itself - and wondered if they really did have all this stuff available. Tania ordered the birria de chivo, which I'd sorta had my eye on, but as we like to order different things and then swap tastes I got the pork in chile verde. And a tamarindo for each of us. In the meantime we nibbled on the chips, which to be honest were a tad overcooked, and the salsa was not much more than adequate.

The actual food was quite another matter. At these somewhat less than usual prices we were expecting at best the usual 11" oval platter, maybe even plastic plates. What we got was huge round restaurant-china plates brimming with fiercely and deliciously steaming food, great chunks of goat in red sauce on Tania's and maybe half a pound of tender, succulent pig meat in a deeply aromatic green sauce on mine. The beans and the rice were naked of any cheese or other garnish, but they had enough interesting flavors of their own not to need any embellishment. We swapped bites, did little yum-yum noises, ate and swigged and exclaimed and ate some more...and about halfway through we each regarded the full-meal's worth remaining on the plates, and I went to ask for the check and a couple of go-boxes.

Both boxes got filled up, as we were, each with enough food for a very generous lunch. The tab came to exactly $20. We tipped heavily, as we will certainly do again and again. Great place; glad we finally got off our communal butts and dragged them down there. And now I want to hit that place for breakfast!

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