Richard Sandoval to open Toro Toro steakhouse in D.C.

Richard Sandoval, the New York-based chef who has introduced a world of flavors to Washington, is poised to add another accent to his capital portfolio. Toro Toro, a pan-Latin steakhouse, is expected to open in September at 1300 I St. NW across from Franklin Park, the chef announced during a business trip in San Diego over the weekend.

Sandoval’s earlier contributions to the city include the Latin-Asian Zengo and Masa 14, the Mexican-themed El Centro D.F. and Ambar, a Balkan dining room on Capitol Hill. The District, he says, “is a great market. People love to go out to eat.” Plus, he adds, “rents are still affordable,” at least compared to his base of New York.


(Toro Toro rendering courtesy Heather Freeman Media and Public Relations)

This isn't the restaurateur’s first meaty concept; Sandoval unveiled a Toro Toro in Dubai three years ago. The Washington branch of the steakhouse will feature a 140-seat dining room and a 70-seat lounge on two levels, but not the generous salad bar typically associated with a Brazilian churrascaria. Instead, Sandoval plans to offer a variety of a la carte small plates, including arepas and ceviches. Skewers of beef, chicken and lamb for two will go for $50.

A chef has yet to be named for the project.

Sandoval says the name Toro Toro was originally intended to be a play on the Japanese word for tuna and the Spanish word for bull – a Latin-inspired surf and turf restaurant, in other words. Given the meaty theme, however, “two bulls made sense.”

Weaned on a beige buffet a la “Fargo” in Minnesota, Tom Sietsema is the food critic for The Washington Post. This is his second tour of duty at the Post. Sietsema got his first taste in the ‘80s, when he was hired by his predecessor to answer phones, write some, and test the bulk of the Food section’s recipes. That’s how he learned to clean squid, bake colonial cakes and distinguish between nutmeg and mace.
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