Woo hoo! It's been a successful Restaurant Week in the city! I've been drooling over countless Instagram…
Redemption for Toro Toro
I want to give a shout-out to the management team, and the chefs, at Toro Toro, a pan-Latin restaurant featuring small plates and tapas. The first time I dined there, I was with Emily for Sunday brunch. Despite really looking forward to coming here, I just wasn’t thrilled with them. If you want to know more about my first experience, click here. Otherwise, I’m happily updating my review!
After reading my Yelp review, Toro Toro’s manager, Igor, private messaged me with an invitation to come back and give them another shot, compliments of the restaurant. Naturally I accepted his offer and on Wednesday Troy and I enjoyed a beautiful evening there. The dinner atmosphere is very different from brunch, so I 100% recommend coming here for dinner. Honestly, brunch isn’t the best display of what they have to offer and it’s loud and hectic.
Toro Toro transforms in the evening. Their dark interior has a gorgeous, warm glow to it which makes it the perfect setting for a romantic night out. Large round and rectangle tables fill the back of the dining space, fit for any group of friends seeking a memorable night out. The bar makes the entire space; the back-lighting showcases rows of glistening liquor bottles waiting to be transformed into something delectable.
I swear, each new dish was more gorgeous than the last. Toro Toro’s kitchen clearly puts careful thought into their plating and presentation. Get ready for the spread we devoured:
Pork belly tacos
Fried chicken tacos
Crispy baja fish tacos – I ordered the ahi tuna, but sadly they were out!
Braised short rib arepas
Lomo saltado – stir fried beef
Suspiro – vanilla custard with passion fruit and toasted meringue
Chocolate tres leches
Oh. My. Gosh. Amazing!
I’d rather have quick service than sit around and wait, and the timing was a bit awkward in the beginning because the dishes came out super fast and there wasn’t room on the table. While delicious, the braised short rib arepas are super tiny. Like, teeny-tiny. Don’t get me wrong, these little suckers are adorable and I understand the point is small plates, but not $13 adorable. Even though I love the flavors in the stir fried beef, it didn’t stand out as much as I thought it would compared to other dishes we ordered.
If you’re going to try any tacos, the pork belly is a must. At first I worried the pickled onion and salsa verde would overpower the meat. Nope, that meat melts in your mouth like butter and the toppings add the perfect crunch. The ahi tuna tacos sound amazing; they come with a chayote-jicama kimchee slaw, but they were out! *cry*
Quickly, let me mention our server, Arnaldo. He was soooo nice! His happy, accommodating, and super pleasant personality is infectious. Not to mention, his recommendations were spot on. A great part of the team!
Instead of coming back empty handed, Arnaldo returned with a plate of baja fish tacos for us to try instead. The fish is a mahi-mahi tempura with a pickled chiles tartar sauce and shaved cabbage. Finally, Troy ordered the fried chicken tacos which were awesome! I would choose the fried chicken over the baja fish tacos. The fish’s breading tasted thicker, breadier, and a little burned.
Definitely try the guacamole and crispy shrimp. The guac stood out as a huge plus for brunch, and dinner proved to be no different. The crispy shrimp has an aji amarillo aioli drizzled over top a bed of arugula and sliced peppers, with the perfectly light and crispy shrimp mixed in. Most commonly seen in Peruvian dishes, this chile pepper is bright orange with a medium to hot spicy level. It didn’t translate as such, instead, the sliced peppers on top carried most of the heat.
I would much rather focus on the savory dishes, which is why I’m not a huge fan of desserts when eating out. However, Toro Toro might have changed me. Arnaldo went ahead and brought out the chocolate tres leches and the churros for us, and Troy wanted to try the suspiro. I’ve seen countless food pictures on Instagram of jaw-dropping plates garnished with delicate little flowers, and now I’ve enjoyed one such dish. The chocolate tres leches is a fluffy, chilled chocolate sponge cake made with chocolate liquor and covered in salted caramel whipped cream. Yes. Salted. Caramel. Whipped. Cream. For passion fruit lovers gather round, because the suspiro is definitely for you.
I love writing Yelp reviews because it’s fun, but it also leads me to amazing experiences like this one. If you have a Yelp account, I hope you aren’t the type to write reviews only when you have a bad experience. Get on when you’re thrilled with service or when you’re disappointed, either way it helps businesses improve their products and services. I’m so happy I had the chance to try Toro Toro again. My experience was insanely better and I’ll definitely recommend this place as a dinner spot, perfect for special occasions and celebrations.