Early Look at Richard Sandoval’s Toro Toro in Washington, D.C.
Toro Toro Going Big with Latin Small Plates, a Churrasco Steakhouse & a Late-Night Scene Wrapped in One; Latest D.C. Restaurant Concept from Richard Sandoval
Richard Sandoval just can’t quit Washington, D.C. That’s why he’s back with another restaurant opening in the District, Toro Toro. The D.C. location is the 3nd for the concept, joining sister restaurants in Dubai and Miami.
For those who are familiar with the seeming omnipresence of Sandoval around the D.C. dining scene these days, it should come as no surprise that Toro Toro features a selection of Latin small plates. Except, that’s not where the menu ends here. Instead, the sharable small plates are just one half of what you’ll find at Toro Toro, billed as a Pan Latin Restaurant and Lounge.
The other half is a Churrasco steakhouse. Here, there are several steak entrees with full-sized portions, but the highlight is something else which should also be familiar to the D.C. dining scene — a selection of unlimited grilled meats carved tableside, Fogo de Chao style.
Order The Rodizio Experience (Rodizio is the name for the style of Brazilian restaurant known for its all-you-can-eat steak service) which must be selected by each person at a table, and you’ll receive all the steak, chorizo, chicken, prawns and lamb you can handle, presented to your table on the skewer, fresh off the grill rack.
The Rodizio Experience also includes all of the shared plates you’d like as well, in addition to sides. For a slightly more restrained evening, you can opt to order the Churrasco Skewer, which includes much of the same meat selection, and a choice of two sides.
It just depends on how you want the experience to go, and how indulgent you plan on being. You could skip the steakhouse side and still leave entirely satisfied as you pick and choose from over two dozen hot and cold small plates. In fact, the most trying aspect of dining at Toro Toro simply seems to be what in the world you can skip over as you gorge on everything else.
Highlights on shared plate half of the menu include a Short Rib Coca Flatbread, with braised short rib, Manchego cheese, horseradish and arugula; a smooth-pureed, smoked guacamole served with crisp, salty plantain chips; an heirloom tomato, heart of palm and watermelon salad; the Causa Toro Toro, a signature potato “sushi” cake with tuna tartare, avocado and sesame; and what everyone staff person from chef to waiter will tell you is the must-have dish, the Cachapas, duck carnitas served with corn pancakes, Oaxaca cheese and a sweet tomato jam.
Regretting that you didn’t order the Churrasco or Rodizio? Well, then you can add in a beef filet or lamb skewer with your small plates, too.
For your beverages, there’s a large wine list — 130 bottles, 35 by the glass — as well as a selection of a half dozen signature cocktails. The cocktails include several barrel-aged creations, a unique twist on the Manhattan and Negroni, respectively. For the latter, Vida mezcal is used in place of gin, creating an intense, smoky profile.
This wouldn’t be Washington, D.C., and it wouldn’t be Richard Sandoval, without a bottomless food and beverage brunch on the weekends, either. So be sure to keep an eye out for that, and stop by on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon for a change of pace from your typical brunch routine.
Sandoval is also known for creating large, expansive spaces with captivating decor, and environments which can work just as well for dinner as for a late night of dancing and drinking. Toro Toro is no exception, with a 12,400 sq. ft. multi-level space broken down into several smaller dining rooms, as well as a downstairs lounge, two bars, and an outdoor patio.
The official grand opening celebration for Toro Toro will be held on Saturday, April 5, with DJ Robbie Rivera providing music into the early morning. Tickets are $40 for the event, which starts at 10 pm.
Toro Toro is located at 1300 I St, NW, which is in close proximity to the McPherson Square metro stop, and is also within walking distance of Metro Station. Check out the menu and more information at RichardSandoval.com/torotorodc/.
*This article was first published on Yahoo Voices on April 1, 2014