Bye-Bye, El Torito and Pie: The End of Two Harrisburg Haunts

Last week east ender Dana Jennings took photos of a small 1920 brick bungalow on Harrisburg near Caylor — next to a pipe yard, railroad tracks, a boarding house . . . and on its west side, the El Torito Lounge:

Some would say good riddance to El Torito. But I liked the painted sign out front with the flagrantly sexual old Bull leering and leaning on his pool cue. I’m going to miss him. He was a waymarker, a placeholder, a sign that oriented me in my travels. “Oh, there’s the bull on the purple bar….I’m on Harrisburg near the tracks, almost home.” That sort of thing. But the streetscape needs the light rail, so this loss is semi rather than bitter sweet.

Losing the bungalow to the backhoe’s claw is more painful.


I can only imagine who built it. A prosperous retailer, a lawyer, an oil man.?

What was life like along Harrisburg before its voids were filled with burglar bars?

What did a young man wear when he bounced up the steps to come calling on the daughter?

What flavor of pie did Mom serve Dad as he stretched out on the brick wall of the porch, trying to keep cool on a humid night?

Earlier, Jennings noted the El Torito’s architectural bona fides:

I like how the bar owner designed his El Torito sign to mimic the arched cast stone columns of the bungalow next door. . . .

If you’re going to put a bar next door to a bungalow with zero lot line and play pool and acordian music all night long, the least you can do is coordinate the architectural details.

Photos: Dana Jennings

5 Comment

  • This is why I love the East End. Many historic architectural details and quirky retrofits have been preserved due to decades of urban decline.

  • As a resident of the East End, I really appreciate the post and the pics. Thanks.

  • I wiil miss El TORITO this bar belonged to my dad who passed away in 2007 and left the business to me and I ran it up to Jan 09 and than metro put me out.when I drove by and seen that it was gone I paked in front of it and cried my Dad run this bar for over 30 years we have lots of memories. I have opened El Torito again on 302 s. lockwood but its just not the same but I am hopful things will get better.

  • I hope Harrisburg is not an indication of what lies ahead for Richmond in Montrose. But I suspect it is.

    In Houston, every bit of progress seems to leave a bit of history to be cleared along with the rest of the rubble.

  • Im gonna miss this bar. So many memories here, it will never compare to the new one on 302 s.lockwood. That’s our new location. Everyone that new El Torito tells me about there good memories and stories, and now they all tell me “have you seen it’s done now”. Some of them have tears in their eyes.
    My father in law ran this business since wow I cant remember. I work here 2 years. R.I.P EL TORITO!