Toro – Boston Magazine Hall of Famer

Toro has a cool vibe. I walk in and I just love the place, the brick walls, the lively atmospherethat fills the small space, the great staff who do a little extra to make you feel welcomed. Our first visit to Toro was on a food crawl that also included Coppa and Uni, which are part of the same restaurant group led by Ken Oringer and Jamie Bissonnette, two of my favorite chefs. A confession, I love Uni. If I was making a list of the ten best restaurants in Boston, Uni would be ahead of Toro. Nevertheless, our first visit to Toro was part of a much bigger night of eating, but we really enjoyed it and have been eager to get back ever sense. So here we are back again our third stop on the Boston Magazine Hall of Fame tour.

The Spanish inspired menu is big, mostly tapas. There are some bigger plates, notably paella, which I still need to try. The night we were there, they had a branzino special, served with a romesco sauce and filleted table side. I’d also go back just to try the Ghost King Thai Fried Chicken Sandwich. It would take multiple visits to really get a feel for the menu. We had six different things and barely scratched the surface.

On both visits I’ve been impressed by the cocktail program. Highly recommended is the G.T.O.T.M is a delicious combination of gin, elderberry, pineapple, grapefruit, and tonic. They also have a nice selection wines, particularly Spanish ones. We enjoyed the Herrigoia Tempranillo, a light, fresh red that pairs well with a wide variety of food. They also have a fun selection of Spanish Vermut (Vermouth). Go with the Manuel Acha “Atxa” Blanco, served on the rocks with a twist of lemon. You will feel like you are in Spain.

To eat, we began with the Tosta de Lardo, sourdough toast topped with crab salad, lardo, black garlic, and avocado and the Gambas al Ajillo, shrimp in a garlic-chili sauce. After that we moved on to a little meat and cheese. There is a board, but we went with one selection of meat and one of cheese. The chorizo Iberico was rich and decadent, served with mini breadsticks. The Idiazabal is a mildly smoked sheep’s milk cheese which comes with tasty little gelled fruits.

We had lots of plans for what else to eat, but were charmed by the off-menu tuna collar special. It was topped with pickles and peppers. It was messy and a bit of a challenge to eat, but our work was rewarded with fatty, juicy bites of fish. It was bigger than we expected, and the flank steak and corn had to be cut to save room for dessert. The Basque cheese cake was a slice of heaven. With an intentionally burnt top, light texture, and beautiful date syrup, I think I could have easily had another slice. Sipping my vermut made this the highlight of the meal.

Just a little extra kudos, we were celebrating my wife’s birthday on this visit and they gave us menus with “Happy Birthday” printed across the top. It’s not a lot of effort, but it certainly makes a difference. It’s part of what makes Toro so easy to like. Five plates, a bottle of wine, three drinks, and dessert ran just over $200 before tip. It’s a fair price for what you get, but I don’t see you getting out of there spending much less. I hope to return to Toro sometime in the near future. When I do, I’ll add an update below. I’ve got a list of things I still need to try, and it’s only fair to get a better sense of the menu before I slide them into a ranking.

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