Bread: Small slices of white bread, with no accompaniment. At first I was upset, but after ordering the tuna tartare realized it can be utilized for future dishes!
Menu: Pinchos, which are snack size; Tapas Frias, more bar snacks but slightly larger than the Pinchos; Jamones y Charcuteria, cheese & meats; For Two, larger dishes like fish plates and paella; Tapas Calientes, hot tapas, app size for 1 or 2 to share.
This was my first time at Toro and I didn’t know where to start! I’ve had tapas before but there were so many options, including some exotic dishes like Uni (sea urchin), tuna belly, veal sweetbreads, smoked beef tongue, roasted bone marrow, and so on. They offer some veggie selections as well as more mainstream bites like mini burgers, tuna tartare, short ribs etc., but I was determined to be adventurous and try at lease one item that scared me.
Atun Tartare – coconut milk, lime, mint, cilantro, and grilled toast
This tuna tartare was a great size for the two of us. The tuna was diced up small and it had a great refreshing flavor. The mint was a nice touch! They only supplied 4 pieces of grilled bread but we hadn’t touched the ‘bread basket’ so I quickly dove into that. It was also great just on the fork!
Uni Bocadillo – pressed uni sandwich with miso butter and pickled mustard seeds
I announced on Instagram earlier in the day that I was excited to try Toro for the first time and my friend, The Rooftop Gourmet, commented that he highly suggested the Uni sandwich. I knew uni was something creepy and it was confirmed by our waitress that it is in fact sea urchin. She also recommended the dish so Shannon and I went for it! It was definitely rich as she said, and the miso butter had a strong flavor. I don’t know that I would ever try uni on it’s own, but if you’re looking to try something adventurous I would suggest this Uni Bocadillo. It reminded me of pâté, in the sense that it was a very different, strong & rich flavor.
Panza de Cerdo – crispy pork belly with roasted pumpkin, chestnuts, chantenay carrots and kimchi vegetables
Typically when I’m eating any kind of meat I avoid the fatty pieces, but in ordering pork belly we essentially ordered fat! The top layer was perfectly crispy and crunchy which countered the chewy fatty belly. The roasted pumpkin puree was the most flavorful pumpkin anything I think I’ve ever had. This wasn’t the easiest dish to share since it was tough to cut the fatty parts in half, but we were eventually able to shred it apart and enjoy!
Empanada de Pollo y Papas – housemade chicken & potato empanada with tomatillo salsa y alioli
I love empanadas but am always hesitant to order them in restaurants. I’m not trying to be ‘too cool for school’, but on my honeymoon in Costa Rica my husband and I went on an ATV excursion and as part of the tour you stop at this shack-like bar at the top of a mountain. Inside were 2 women serving up the most fresh and authentic Costa Rican cuisine you can get. At the suggestion of our tour guide we ordered 1 bean empanada and 1 cheese empanada. The food was simple but so incredible. Ever since, no other empanada has compared. Toro‘s version was great though and I wouldn’t discourage anyone from ordering it!
Costa Rica mountain top
The owners, making the simplest/best bean & cheese empanadas I’ll ever have
Restroom: Deep red walls, warm lighting, bull-fighting posters… the private-room uni-sex restrooms had themed decor which I alway love. Extra points for the Xlerator hand dryer!
Service: Our waitress was informative and helped me pick out a dry white wine when I didn’t recognize any on the list. She made great suggestions, like the uni sandwich. All of our food came out in a steady series with good timing, which is always a challenge at tapas restaurants; you don’t want all of the dishes at once but you also don’t want to have a long wait in between receiving the plates. Toro did a great job with this.
Overall: Shannon and I had a really great time at Toro! It’s lively and incredibly busy on a Saturday night, and ever other night I hear. There are tables, high tops and bar seating. Because it is so popular and not that big of a restaurant you don’t have much personal space and the tables (at least the one we were at) are small. None of this bothered me though; it’s a fun atmosphere, the food was awesome, and the service was on par. If you haven’t been I highly recommend it. They don’t take reservations and there’s often a long wait so be prepared!
The Perfect Bite: Cripsy pork belly with roasted pumpkin puree.