Toro Toro’s all-you-can-eat meatstravaganza

7:30 p.m.: Two petite women arrive at Toro Toro, Richard Sandoval's newest restaurant, an import from Miami and Dubai. After perusing the expansive menu of small plates and steaks, we decide upon the Rodizio Experience, an all-you-can-eat meatstravaganza that we take as a challenge. $80 gets you any small plates or sides, plus a parade of seven meats: Brazilian-style picanha steak, ribeye, beef tenderloin, lamb chops, chorizo, chicken thighs and prawns. "It's a Monday night," we say to ourselves. "Why not?"

The Carnaval cocktail at Toro Toro (Maura Judkis/for The Post).
The Carnaval cocktail at Toro Toro (Maura Judkis/for The Post).

7:42: Our waiter expresses mild skepticism that we will be able to eat all of this food. We'll show him. In a text message, my phone auto-corrects "rodizio" to "ridiculous," which seems fitting.

7:50: We order two cocktails -- mine is the Carnaval, with rye, strawberry liqueur, Lillet Blanc and orange bitters -- and our first small plates. Our strategy to keep from filling up too quickly: no starches, just veggies, meat and alcohol. We begin with the velvety steak tartare, served with a chipotle sauce, and move on to the roasted beets with pickled onion, pistachios, goat cheese and orange.

7:57: Waiter checks on our drinks. "That's not too sweet for you?" he asks my friend, about her punch. "You're sweet enough already." He will later use the same line on a table five feet away. He removes one of our two-foot-wide menus to make room on the tiny table for all the food that is to come.

Meat is served tableside at Toro Toro (Maura Judkis/for The Post)
Meat is served tableside at Toro Toro (Maura Judkis/for The Post)

8:05: A restaurant publicist informs us that we are the first and only guests to try the Rodizio Experience thus far. (It is opening night.) We feel empowered. We are leaning in.

8:10: Enormous chicken thighs are served from an enormous skewer. "That is a lot of chicken," my friend says with trepidation. It's an incredibly juicy bird, though, and so far, we are very pleased with ourselves.

8:12: We're given a colored placard that tells the Rodizio team whether or not we'd like more protein. Green means yes and red, or "No, gracias," means "I am so full of delicious meats that I can't even look at them, and tomorrow I may have to become a vegetarian." That's a loose translation. Speaking of translations, toro means "bull" in Spanish and "tuna" in Japanese, so Toro Toro is a play on surf and turf, our waiter explains. We're also handed tongs.

Toro Toro gives diners cards to indicate whether or not they'd like more meat (Maura Judkis/for The Post)
Toro Toro gives diners cards to indicate whether or not they'd like more meat (Maura Judkis/for The Post)

8:18: Dinner is an interactive experience! The steak comes by, and we're asked to use the tongs to serve ourselves as our server saws it off of the skewer.

8:30-9 p.m.: Chorizo, lamb, filet, more small plates and even more small plates. Also, an heirloom tomato salad with hearts of palm and watermelon. "Whatever choices in my life have led me to this day and this plate of food were the correct ones," my friend says.

9:22: Plantain chips and swordfish dip arrive, bumping up the count of animals we have eaten in one meal to seven.

Causa Toro Toro (Maura Judkis/for The Post)
Causa Toro Toro (Maura Judkis/for The Post)

9:45: We are slowing down. But our decision to eschew starch seems to have been a good strategy, as we do not feel uncomfortably full yet. Still wish we could have tried those Oaxaca mashed potatoes, though. #regrets.

10:05: We order flan for dessert, and it arrives speckled with edible flowers. Because you can always make room for dessert, even if you've just eaten seven types of meat and seafood. Nevertheless, we split it.

10:15: Time to explore the restaurant. Toro Toro's restrooms have a shared sink, and if you are not tall, you can pretty plainly see the men's urinals from the women's restroom. (FYI, gents!) Downstairs, which is very orange, there are leather booths designed for bottle service.

10:30: I predicted that we would be praised for eating all of that food, and I was correct: "Good job!" a server says as he takes away our empty flan. Our Rodizio Experience concludes with slightly tighter pants.

Toro Toro, 1300 I St. NW. 202-682-9500. 

Maura Judkis covers culture, food, and the arts for the Weekend section and Going Out Guide.
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