At the end of October, restaurant veteran John McDonald opened his first venture outside of SoHo, the festive Mexican restaurant El Toro Blanco. Once again, McDonald has partnered with Chef Josh Capon, who is responsible for the cuisine at their other two restaurants Burger and Barrell and Lure Fishbar. We've been looking forward to this opening and before the hurricane hit we sent photographer Katie Sokoler to take check out the beautifully designed space.

El Toro Blanco has a similar, retro feeling to it, not unlike McDonald's Burger and Barrel but with a distinctly different color palate. Dramatic bright red and black glazed bricks make up most of the walls, accented here and there with paintings of bulls and Matadors. Touches of the southwest like cacti, ceramic pottery and woven blankets dot the restaurant's landscape. Cheery, U-shaped booths provide seating for groups while a small balcony overlooking the bar provides a comfy and romantic retreat.

McDonald created two distinct bars in the space, including one serving up 100 different labels of tequila to patrons perched on 10 stools alternately topped with leather and what appears to be faux-cow fur. Avocado addicts will love the separate guacamole bar, where you can watch as your custom dip is expertly created before your eyes.

Chef Capon collaborated with Scott Linquist of Border Grill and Dos Cominos fame to create a menu of pan-Mexican dishes that go beyond the humble taco, though those are there too if you want them. Al Pastor, Tinga de Pollo and Cabrito (goat) tacos for the meat-eating set, plus a fresh Nopales (grilled cactus) and Camarones en Barbacoa (shrimp) as well. Familiar apps like tamales, empanadas and a selection of ceviches open to a broader menu of hearty but refined dishes. A market whole fish (Pescado Veracruzano, $27) gets steamed in a banana leaf and served with aromatic vegetables, achiote, habanero pickled onions and warm tortillas. The Carnitas Michoacan ($26), a crispy confit of niman pork shoulder is accompanied by refrained pinto beans, warm tortillas and the "El Toro Blanco salsa trio" of chile de arbor chimichurri, overnight tomato salsita and tomatillo pico de gallo.

257 Avenue of the Americas // (212) 645-0193 // Sunday - Thursday, 11:30 a.m. - 12:00am; Friday & Saturday, 11:30 a.m. - 2:00 a.m.