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“Oh so good ...”
Review of Tonali

Tonali
Ranked #107 of 774 Restaurants in Durham
Price range: US$0 - US$30
Cuisines: Mexican
Dining options: Reservations
Restaurant details
Dining options: Reservations
Durham, North Carolina
Level 5 Contributor
85 reviews
50 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 29 helpful votes
“Oh so good ...”
Reviewed 14 August 2013

Popped in on a Thusday night to satisfy a craving for Mexican food. Air conditioning didn't seem to be working, but enough fans were on to keep it comfortable despite 90 degrees outside. The menu is not on their website because it changes based on available ingredients. We chose everything from that evening's featured dishes. For starters, we had a cold watermelon and tomato soup with shrimp and gorgeous tomato salad. Both featured fresh, perfectly ripe ingredients and wereerfect for a hot summer evening. Entrees were rice and beans with shrimp and plantains and vegetable empanadas with mole and a micro-green salad. Again, perfectly prepared and beautifully presented. The empanada dough was very light and thin making this a lighter dish than others I've had. We also had yummy white sangria. Excellent all around with friendly and attentive service. We'll definitely be back.

  • Visited August 2013
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Helpful?
Thank Caroline N
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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103 reviews from our community

Visitor rating
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    25
    4
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Rating summary
    Food
    Service
    Value
    Atmosphere
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • Any
English first
NC
Level 6 Contributor
208 reviews
146 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 112 helpful votes
“One of our favorite places!”
Reviewed 25 July 2013

We'll add our voice to the great reviews that Tonali is now receiving! We've been probably 5 times over the last few years, for lunch and dinner, and have thoroughly enjoyed this previously-hidden gem. A couple notes: it is a casual restaurant, and it is usually staffed by the hostess (who waits on several tables as well), her husband and maybe a couple others in the kitchen, and usually just one additional waiter. Aka, it's basically a slightly scaled up small family restaurant...and I personally adore that. It does mean that the service can be a bit slow, but I honestly don't feel that that diminishes the experience. The food is fresh and interesting, and the menu is updated fairly frequently. They often have local veggies and seafood (NC shrimp, for instance), and I always end up enjoying the dishes without feeling overly stuffed. It's authentic, not typical NC, Mexican food, with a bit of a fusion-vibe, which I love! Reservations are usually not necessary, but they will take them. I recommend it for a fun evening centered on really great food, and one on which you don't want to be rushed!

  • Visited June 2013
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Helpful?
Thank laurenpk
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
outside Atlanta, GA
Level 6 Contributor
172 reviews
117 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 67 helpful votes
“Deliciously different”
Reviewed 26 May 2013

This is not your standard mexican restaurant. There are no beef tacos, no cheesy enchiladas, in fact, the only thing that you might see that resembles a "standard" mexican restaurant is chips and salsa, which beautifully outlines the differences between Tonali and just any old place. The homemade chips (from tortillas) and salsa, which was a little more saucy than chunky, was delicious. To speak to another reviewer, they did not offer refills, but readily brought refills when asked. I also want to take this time to say that the chef was very open to make a couple of minor changes for our party.

First, the grouper tacos were an appetizer ordered by a table near us. They looked amazing. Except I don't like grouper so much, so we inquired if we could have one chicken and two grouper. No problem. They were delicious. To drink my husband had a beer and I had a Jarrito with pineapple. Yum.

For supper, we ordered the filet with mashed potatoes and stewed vegetables. I ordered the scallops with cheesy grits, but they were out of scallops (which I was happy about) and the chef happily switched to a grilled chicken breast with a citrus sauce.

Dessert was a chocolate cake (which was thick and very rich) and I had the Guava flan. Yet another delicious round.

The food here was very fresh. They use locallly sourced produce and proteins, and the staff is very kind and helpful. We enjoyed it very much.

Visited May 2013
Helpful?
Thank wrensaver
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Chapel Hill, North Carolina
1 review
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
“Delicious!”
Reviewed 26 May 2013

Absolutely delicious! The grouper tacos (3) were a perfect appetizer to share and were so very good. The grouper was lightly battered and fried, with a bit of tangy sauce that enhanced the flavor of the grouper. I could easily enjoy these as a main course. There were five or six entrees with seafood or meat, and four choices of vegetarian entrees. The scallops and grits had already sold out, so I went with the NY Strip Steak on top of a mushroom and barley mixture (similar to polenta), with zucchini squash and asparagus to complement. The steak was a perfect medium-rare and very tender. The mushroom and barley was so creamy, and had a wonderful texture. I skipped dessert, but my dinner companion had the guava-infused flan which was also outstanding. I can't wait to visit again and highly recommend as a "Must Try" to anyone who has not eaten here yet.

  • Visited May 2013
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Helpful?
1 Thank CWms219
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Cary, North Carolina
Level 5 Contributor
54 reviews
19 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 17 helpful votes
“Very Disappointed after Reading Previous Reviews”
Reviewed 24 May 2013

Seeing ranked #1 in Durham restaurants, we decided to try. I made reservations, although they were not needed as the restaurant was almost empty at 6:30 on a Friday night. We had the vegetable quesadillas after seeing them recommended in another review. I have never tasted mustard before in a quesadilla in a Mexican restaurant, although it was the only taste provided. The chips and salsa were good--the chips homemade from tortillas--but we were not offered a refill and received a very small amount. Very disappointed.

  • Visited May 2013
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Helpful?
Thank blhuber
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

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