After hearing so much about the newly opened New York City outpost of Toro, we decided to check out the original location in Boston before visiting the newer one. Located in Boston’s South End, Toro puts a modern spin on traditional Spanish tapas. The restaurant itself is rustic and charming, featuring exposed brick and dim lighting, yet very loud thus not making it an ideal intimate date spot. But if you’re worried about sustaining and entire dinner long conversation without looking at your phone for half of your meal, Toro may be exactly what you’re looking for. The seating is incredibly crammed and the small space easily has the worst acoustics we’ve ever experienced while dining out, you essentially have to shout across the table no matter where you’re seated. However, the communal table seating in the middle of the restaurant is perfect for conversing with other guests. So just in case you don’t know what to talk to your date about, chances are someone next to you can help you out.
The menu is split up into four main sections plus a smaller section featuring about 4 paellas depending on when you go. Our recommendation would be to go for about 2-3 larger tapas per person for a full meal if you’re looking to try a few different things. Another route to go would be choosing one larger tapa per person and then splitting a full order of paella which can easily feed three people. Easily our favorite dish we ordered was the Asado de Huesos (Bone Marrow). The huge bone is split vertically in half easily giving enough salty yet savory bone marrow for two people. The Mollejas (Veal Sweetbreads) is actually an interesting play on the food’s name. While sweetbreads are normally very rich, Toro’s preparation removes the gamey flavors of the sweetbreads by serving them in a sweet blood orange sauce. We actually liked the contrast of the sweet and savory flavors though we overheard diners next to us complaining about the dish saying the sauce was too sweet and masked the flavors of the sweetbreads themselves. When it came time for the Paella Valenciana, the dish arrived in a huge paella pan that could barely fit on the table. The pan was filled with Calasparra rice, shrimp, mussels, clams, chicken and chorizo. While the mussels could have been a bit bigger, the paella was moist, flavorful and most importantly not overly salty as we find most paellas can be. We also liked the wine list which lists many solid Spanish wines at almost every price point (you can easily find a good bottle for around $40). The service is also surprisingly attentive for such a hectic restaurant. We mentioned our nut allergy to the server and the kitchen was easily able to make substitutions (the Mollejas are normally topped with peanuts but were removed for us).
While the wait for a table for two at Toro during prime hours can easily exceed two hours, and the crammed space makes waiting for a table at the bar almost impossible to bear the wait, the large menu, consistently good food and great service makes Toro worth the wait. We wouldn’t suggest coming with a party larger than four nor would we suggest dining there if you’re looking for a more intimate meal, but we do recommend visiting Toro at least once, if not more, to try the relatively inexpensive and innovative food.
1704 Washington St.
Boston, MA 02118