Seeing Red (Meat) at Toro Toro
Do you find yourself wondering where’s the beef? Look no further than Richard Sandoval’s latest restaurant, Toro Toro at 1300 I St. NW. The dynamic fusion chef behind Zengo, El Centro D.F., the Commissary has now introduced the DMV to a Pan Latin steakhouse where cattle stampedes. DC on Heels attended a grand opening party last week for a first taste.
With locations in Dubai and Miami, the Toro Toro concept has a reputation for offering sophisticated food as well as a sleek lounge experience. The upstairs dining area has a carnivorous motif with a wall of antelope skulls and cattle hide covering the back of the bar chairs.
LW Design Group of Dubai designed the 12,400 square foot space, which draws inspiration from Japanese and Latin interior design elements. The main dining room is open and organized into distinctive sections. The high-backed chairs accented with cowhide and wooden family-style dining tables give the rich chocolate colored room a comfortable, homey feel. The dining room is a striking contrast to the lounge space, which features a steel and wood staircase leading to guests down to the dance floor, which is surrounded with low banquettes.
Both the nine-seat bar in the restaurant and 12-seat bar in the lounge feature backlit onyx panels. Other design elements include leather tufted couches, velvet upholstery with patterned silk cushions, copper tiles, cowhide accents, marble floors and the sculptural metal cage staircase.
On the menu, you will find a mix of Central and Southern American cooking influences coming together in numerous combinations. The $79 Rodizio Experience brings an uninterrupted flow of small plates, meats carved table side and side dishes. High-end seafood options like $42 Chilean sea bass and $36 spicy miso salmon are also available.
Chef de Cuisine Stephen Hertzel, who formerly served as chef de cuisine at El Centro D.F., has also worked at Zengo and Potenza in D.C., The Tasting Room in Frederick, Md., Tersiguel’s in Ellicott City, Md., and Adega Restaurant + Wine Bar in Denver. He is preparing a variety of hot and cold small plates, along with a selection of steaks. The menu notes where meat and seasonal ingredients are sourced with an emphasis on supporting local and regional farms. Prices range from $4-$16 for small plates, salads and sandwiches and $26-$45 for steak entrées. Toro Toro also offers a weekday lunch buffet priced at $28 per person.
Heading downstairs, the lounge features a DJ podium looking out onto a white tile dance floor. When we visited, the room was bathed in red filtered light, bringing home Toro Toro’s bullish demeanor. Guests will find space to dance as well as socialize among the many leather couches throughout the room.
Throughout the evening, food and drink were a hit. Servers could barely exit the kitchen before being swarmed by guests hungry for arepas and ceviches and an open bar of juicy, boozy cocktails kept everyone in good spirits.
Toro Toro promises good things and we are looking forward to getting a stab at it later!
Less than a block from the McPherson Metro Station, Toro Toro is open from 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Monday-Friday for lunch. Dinner is served 5-11 p.m. Sunday-Thursday and 5 p.m.-midnight Friday and Saturday. The first floor bar/lounge is open from 10 p.m.-2 a.m. Sunday-Thursday and 10 p.m.-3 a.m. Friday and Saturday. Happy hour will be from 4-7 p.m. daily in the upstairs bar and from 5-7 p.m.
Richard is a freelance writer who enjoys building a healthy appetite with long runs around the city. When not logging the miles, he can be spotted training the palate at brunches, happy hours and food trucks.