Toro Toro, 200 Main St, FW. 817-210-2222. 11am-1am Sun-Sat. All major credit cards accepted.
A giant beast towers over six tiny humans, its sharp horns facing down the ancient hunting party. Armed only with spears, they barely come up to its knee. It’s a painting of a wild cow in Indonesia — and, at 44,000 years old, it’s the oldest figurative cave art ever found. Announced earlier in December, this discovery predates cave art in Western Europe by thousands of years.
Cattle take center stage in most prehistoric imagery. Spanish caves at Altamira and El Castillo boast striking depictions of aurochs, an extinct species of cattle that is the ancestor to every domestic breed today. France’s Lascaux Cave is famous for its massive five-meter bulls, the biggest and most impressive paintings at the site. These larger-than-life depictions reflect not reality but rather the artists’ reverence for their subjects.
From ancient cave art to modern Kobe, humans’ fascination with these horned beasts connects us through time and across cultures. Clearly, we’re obsessed — and no place moreso than Cowtown.
Toro Toro harnesses our longstanding affection for bovines and beef with a fresh take on the steakhouse. “Toro” is Spanish for “bull.” The menu cherry-picks from Latin American cuisine: Brazilian picanha steak, Argentinian chimichurri sauce, Peruvian chicken, and Mexican guacamole. Steps away from Sundance Square, the award-winning restaurant concept debuted in beef-crazy Dubai before spreading to six more cities. It’s the brainchild of Richard Sandoval, a Mexican celebrity chef with a global restaurant empire.
Tucked inside the Worthington Renaissance Hotel, Toro Toro feels primal yet polished: caveman-chic. Flickering candles illuminate Goya-meets-Picasso murals –– contemporary cave paintings with a nod to Latin cuisine’s Spanish heritage. Bas-relief brickwork breathes new life into the familiar cow-skull silhouette, and a dramatic herd of ghost cattle descends from the sky. In the middle of the dining room, flames dance off the grills –– mammoth contraptions where tomahawk steaks meet their medium-rare. Mesquite smoke lingers in the air.
The first course arrived in minutes. Chunks of shrimp swam in red aguachile sauce in Toro Toro’s version of the shrimp cocktail, reminiscent of ceviche with cilantro and red onion. Colors sang in the heirloom tomato and burrata salad with ancho-balsamic reduction. My guest and I dipped our cheesy corn empanadas into a chimichurri-avocado sauce that I could eat by the bowl.
Little fanfare accompanied my 30-day dry-aged ribeye — and none was needed. Presented simply on a cast-iron platter with a dab of chimichurri and a pinch of salt, it was the most flavorful steak that I can ever remember eating.
Harvested by hand off the ocean floor, pristine diver scallops set the bar on fresh, eco-friendly seafood. Plump and juicy, they anchored a swirl of butternut squash puree and spicy green aioli. Salty-sweet kabayaki sauce (usually served with unagi) set off the surprisingly hot shishito peppers. The salmon gleamed like a crown on a low cloud of creamed potatoes, as delicate mushrooms and charred bok choy were draped against the filet. With a red achiote marinade and bacon chile jam, the salmon didn’t lack of bold flavors — leagues better than boring butter and lemon.
Side dishes stood tall alongside the entrees. Brussels sprouts should always be cooked this way: crispy with buttery-brown edges under a flutter of cotija. Kids would fight at the dinner table for more. Even the pudgy golden raisins worked somehow. The toston de papa presented a similar triumph, a medley of slow-cooked baby potatoes that busted out of their skins with just enough bite and delectable crunchy bits. Piping hot lobster mac ’n’ cheese bubbled up through the panko on top. The chefs took the extra step of creating lobster jus from the shells, imparting a deep flavor that paired well with the mellow Port Salut cheese.
Toro Toro’s small dessert menu made up for its limitations with flair. The Mexican chocolate cheesecake felt almost like a ganache, with a fancy decoration of spiced pecans, chipotle whipped cream, and raspberries soaked in tequila. The raspberry preserves on the cinnamon sopapilla tasted impossibly vibrant, although the table was divided on the accompaniment of rum raisin ice cream. Was it the perfect sweet foil for the berries’ tartness, or was it … rum raisin ice cream? Either way, we cleaned the plate.
Snafus did arise. Pão de queijo (Brazil’s heavenly cheese bread) was not available despite being on the menu, and my Spanish coffee arrived without its whipped cream. But on-point service and daring flavors made up for the mishaps and more. Cavemen could only dream of a meal like this.
Sweet Corn empanada $12
Dry-aged rib-eye $75
Toston de papa $10
Lobster mac ’n’ cheese $17