Restaurants, Spanish Chelsea
  • 2 out of 5 stars
  • 3 out of 5 stars
(3user reviews)
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 (Photograph: Filip Wolak)
Photograph: Filip Wolak
Paella at Toro
 (Photograph: Filip Wolak)
Photograph: Filip Wolak

Mackerel tartare at Toro

 (Photograph: Filip Wolak)
Photograph: Filip Wolak

Tripe-and-blood-sausage stew at Toro

 (Photograph: Filip Wolak)
Photograph: Filip Wolak

Pork terrine at Toro

 (Photograph: Filip Wolak)
Photograph: Filip Wolak

Pulpo at Toro

 (Photograph: Filip Wolak)
Photograph: Filip Wolak


The last Boston import with as much hype as Toro was Babe Ruth. Too bad this transplant doesn’t hit as many home runs.

Chef-owners Ken Oringer and Jamie Bissonnette have repackaged their beloved Massachusetts alcove as a Meatpacking District colossus, with soaring raftered ceilings and giant windows overlooking the whir of Eleventh Avenue. A mounted bull’s head and dangling jamones are token hat tips to old-world ruggedness, but with its pounding music and bombshell clientele, the industrial room is more representative of the nightclubs nearby.

The mercurial menu sprawls as much as the space, offering 60 traditional and border-crossing tapas. Plancha-seared octopus ($16) is miraculously tender, but cuttlefish ($14) cooked on the same sizzling stove is frustratingly chewy. Odd bits can comfort, like earthy tripe melting into a bone-warming stew of beans and blood sausage ($14), or uni oozing out of a crisp pressed sandwich ($13), like American cheese in the best way. But they can also confound, as with a wildly oversalted pork terrine ($15).

The eat-as-it-comes ethos of tapas can result in a lonely table topped with a single, precious plate, throwing the lofty ratio of price to quantity into especially stark relief. Mackerel tartare ($15) is tasty enough with its Southeast Asian accoutrements, but your patience for sharing wears thin with a dish literally served in a sardine tin. Even the largest platters can vex, like Paella Valenciana with properly crusty socarrat, but underseasoned chicken and overcooked shellfish; the $76 it costs would get you a Megabus to Toro Boston and an order of the same dish (where it’s half the price), with cash to spare.

Diners long on endurance and funds can secure a critical mass of hit dishes, but Toro’s high-volume operation leaves little opportunity for the kind of doting service that can mitigate the sting of high-priced misses. Those big box sensibilities haven’t stopped Oringer and Bissonnette from packing the house every night; after all, this Toro isn’t their first rodeo.


Meal highlights: Pulpo (octopus), tripe-and-blood-sausage stew, cauliflower and kohlrabi, chicken-liver-stuffed fried sage leaves, pressed sea-urchin sandwich

Behind the bar: Too-sweet cocktails made by inattentive bartenders are overpriced at $15; better to stick with the reasonable wine list, heavily emphasizing lesser-known Spanish varietals.

Vibe: As dinner progresses, the room swells with attractive night owls, as if gradually converting from a restaurant to a Barcelona-themed nightclub.

Cocktail chatter: That dour horned head staring down as you eat is no joke: It’s a trophy from a bullfight in Mexico.

Soundcheck: Only a roar this deafening could make the traffic on the West Side Highway seem placid.

By: Daniel S. Meyer


Venue name: Toro
Address: 85 Tenth Ave
Cross street: at 15th St
Opening hours: Mon–Wed 5:30pm–11pm, Thu–Sat 5:30pm–midnight
Transport: Subway: A, C, E to 14th St; L to Eighth Ave
Price: Average dish: $15. AmEx, DC, Disc, MC, V
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Average User Rating

2.7 / 5

Rating Breakdown

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lily r

Of course being in Meatpacking Toro is a big bull with a smaller bite, but that being said.. for all the flash: the cavernous space, the ivy wall, the bulls head on the wall, the big industrial look-at-me I'm in Meatpacking feel... it still does deliver. The menu selection is fairly adventurous but still tame enough to suit the taste of the most tame of diners.

The service here was great, everyone was super friendly and they insisted upon sending a sommelier to the table to assist with our wine selection, which was a really nice touch. The food came out quickly and was very well-paced for a tapas bar. I thought the portion sizing was very nice and in-line with pricing; richer dishes were served a bit sparingly, but my waistline was grateful for that.Overall a really nice dining experience. I would definitely go back.

Maria M

Toro is a great Tapas place along the West Side Highway, tucked away on a building you would never guess was home to such a beautiful and unique restaurant. I would give this place 3 stars, but because I loved the ambiance of the restaurant so much I have to give it 4. You have to go to Toro expecting to drop a lot of money on tapas that aren't the best... you could get tapas for cheaper at other locations. If you aren't starving and just want to try some tapas along with your sangria, this place is perfect. Not so great for my family and me when we went really hungry and tried more than half the menu!

Moriah S

Cool location, huge bar but what a let down. In typical meatpacking fashion, you have this awesome looking menu that just doesn't really deliver. For small plates, this was extremely small. We ended up ordering 2 of each of maybe 10 different plates..... for four people. And we all left hungry. The service was bizarre, they tried to bring it out in courses but everything came in two main courses with I think 30+ min in between? My boyfriend's mom also brought in cupcakes for his birthday (and called ahead to make sure it was cool to do that) and HALF of the cupcakes were smashed and when the server brought out the unharmed half she didn't even acknowledge that half were missing....