Last night I finally went to Tonali on Shannon Road. It must've opened about 8 months ago. The only way I can think to describe the food is as gourmet Mexican. It is located in a strip mall over by the Post Office. The decor is warm and inviting. Instead of velvet sombreros or cattle horns adoring the walls, there are abstract paintings.
The food bears little resemblance to the food at El Rodeo or Torero's. The menu changes often and is, rather than a compendium of all things Mexican, limited to a handful of starters, around 6 main courses, and 3 desserts.
My friend and I shared a wonderfully fresh and delicious mixed green salad with papaya, avocado, and jicama in a citrus vinaigrette. The textures of papaya and avocado provided a lovely contrast to the crisp jicama and mixed greens.
I ordered a main course was red snapper Veracruzana with fresh tomatoes, sun-dried tomatoes, olives, and capers in a mild vinaigrette and served on a bed of lettuce. My friend had a pork loin marinated in chili spices with mashed potatoes. Both of our dinners were delicious. We practically inhaled them. I think we must've been very hungry!
Tonali only recently got its liquor license so now they serve a small selection of beers and wines. There was only one white wine by the glass. It was Spanish, crisp, easy to drink.
I will go out on a limb and say that Tonali is one of the top restaurants in Durham. It is better than Pop's and all of George's restaurants. I'd say it is comparable to Alivia's and right behind Nana's and Magnolia Grill.
It is somewhat expensive especially for a Mexican restaurant, but Tonali is anything but a typical Mexican restaurant! You must go.