After an extensive renovation that included replacing the roof and installing new kitchen equipment, El Torero Restaurant in South Tucson quietly reopened for business two weeks ago.

The restaurant, at 231 E. 26th St., is tiptoeing back to life, with reduced hours that the owners hope to increase once their longtime customers realize they have reopened.

And they hope those folks will be joined by newcomers, many of whom rarely ventured into South Tucson.

El Torero will incorporate some of the menu from owners Mike and Brad Hultquist’s sister restaurant Lerua’s, which closed in early February, a casualty of the city of Tucson’s drawn-out Broadway widening project.

“Right now we are just testing the waters,” said Mike Hultquist Jr., who is running the restaurant for his father and uncle. “If we get a good response from the clientele, we will extend the hours.”

El Torero closed in mid-December after Brad Hultquist suffered an aneurysm. Because his brother and nephew were busy closing Lerua’s, the family decided to temporarily shutter El Torero, which their aunt Adelina Borgaro opened in 1957.

Hultquist Jr., a trained chef who ran Lerua’s kitchen the last seven years, is the fourth generation to run the restaurant. He heads an entirely new staff, most of them in their 20s and 30s, as they usher in a new chapter of El Torero that will borrow some influence from Lerua’s. The menu will feature some items from Lerua’s, including the immensely popular green corn tamales, which had long been on the El Torero menu.

Hultquist Jr. said they also plan to tweak some of the menu to include offering more seafood and elevating some dishes to keep up with the times. In its 62 years, El Torero has rarely, if ever, changed its menu.

“We’re not here to take away from the history of the restaurant,” said the 30-year-old Hultquist Jr., who grew up in both Lerua’s and El Torero. But he does want to update the menu to bring it in line with recent innovations in Mexican cuisine.

He also said he hopes that longtime Lerua’s customers visiting El Torero will shed “new light on South Tucson.”

El Torero is open from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesdays and Wednesdays, and from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays; it’s closed Sundays and Mondays.

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Contact reporter Cathalena E. Burch at or 573-4642. On Twitter @Starburch