Eat Boston: Toro
Boston's Best Restaurant Fam
Below is 1/3 of Ken Oringer & Jamie Bissonnette's esteemed family of Boston restaurants: Toro, Coppa, and Little Donkey. They are all, understandably, very popular.
So when you do find yourself at one of these establishments (as is almost inevitable when in Boston), this is how to make the most of your unabashedly tasty time.
Although these three delicious locations have the best of the best in Boston when it comes to small plates, drinks, and ambiance – they have their caveats. Have no fear, I’m here to guide you through a wonderful night of stress-free & delectable fun.
Let’s start with the OG.
Notorious for long wait times, cramped seating, loud music, but crazy good eats. Here’s how to enjoy your night start to finish:
When do you want to eat?
If it’s during a weekday you might get lucky at 7:30, other than that, good luck. Either come early (kitchen opens at 5:30 Monday-Friday, 5:00 on Saturday/Sunday) & eat right away, grab some late night eats around 9:00 (but pls don’t be that person who comes at 10:00 right before kitchen closes), or come at 7 and plan to wait for at least an hour.
The host will take your phone number and call you in advance, so take a walk around the block, or grab a drink nearby and enjoy your night out. Try not to crowd the tiny bar unless you’re planning on eating there – they have a separate wait list as well, which sounds ludicrous, but I promise it’ll be your savior.
=> PRO TIP: Call before you’re thinking of coming over and see if there’s a wait time. You can’t put your name on the list over the phone, but you can get a better feel of what you’re walking in to.
How many people are in your party?
If you’ve got over four, the wait will usually be exponentially longer than two. That’s fine, just plan ahead! The dining room fits around fifty people – so when you get annoyed that there’s a two hour wait for ten people, just remember that’s a fifth of the capacity.*
*also remember that seriously, you're trying to bring 9 of your closest work frenemies to a happenin' tapas restaurant at 7:30? For real? I'm annoyed with YOU. - Mitch
If you have a smaller party (read: two), head to the bar and put your name on the waitlist, it’ll be at least half the wait of the dining room and you get top notch service. Alternatively, there are five first come first serve seats by the window when you walk in – grab em!
=> PRO TIP: Come with two, four, maybe even six or eight. Avoid odd numbers, they’re harder to seat & often cramped (especially three).
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It’s tapas people! Come and order everything from some pintxos (a bite or two), to the tapas calientes, and if you’re feeling really hungry order the paella (both options are amazing, but unless you have to, ALWAYS get the classic seafood – Valenciana). Rule of thumb is 2-3 plates a person – they’ve got some staples, but seasonal vegetables & seafood cause the menu to change almost daily. See below for some suggestions.
Datiles con Jamon
Dates stuffed with almonds, blue cheese, and wrapped in jamon serrano. YES.
Pimentos del Padron
The most delicious flash fried green peppers with some sea salt; take caution though, one in ten are spicy as s***.
Foie Gras a la Plancha*
They source their foie from the most ethical duck producer in upstate New York. It’s always delicious and always changes with the season.
*Foie Gras-cias. You're welcome. - Mitch
Tapas Frias y Jamones
Paleta Iberico de Bellota
It might be the most expensive, but this Iberico ham will melt in your mouth like butter and make you forget all your problems.
Ostras en Escabeche
Little slurps (yes that’s right I said slurps) of heaven, the four oysters per serving are currently in a set with rhubarb granita and grains of paradise.
Ensalada de Pulpo
They always have an octopus dish, and for the summer it’s in a cold “salad” form. Don’t look this over though, the kimchi vinaigrette, green garbanzo and crispy chorizo is bomb.
Empanada de Cabra
This rotating empanada is currently stuffed with Jamaican curried goat and potato served over a basil yogurt. It only comes with one cut in half, so if you’re with a larger party plan accordingly.
Asado de Huesos
THIS IS GOLD. Roasted bone marrow topped with a radish citrus salad and oxtail marmalade… sometimes I dream about this. I’m not ashamed.
Maíz Asado con Alioli y Queso Cotija
Yes, the almighty street corn. Order it, devour it, get it all of your face. #noregrets.
Gambas al Ajillo
Shrimp grilled with a buttery, garlic, lobster broth… yes.
Order them if you must; yes they’re delicious, but at the end of the day they are potatoes.
Yes, there are bomb cocktails and a delectable wine list courtesy of their amazing beverage director, but much like my food advice, try something new. The servers and bartenders are beyond knowledgeable, and if you decide to try some Vermouth or Sherry they will happily guide you through your beverage journey. My personal favorite is the Lustau Vermut served on the rocks with an olive (or two).
=> PRO TIP: Be adventurous, come hungry & thirsty, leave happy.
This place is the real deal. It’s been around and striving for almost 12 years - it might have a reputation of being impossible to get into, but once you get there and submit to the experience it’s amazing. Some final, general tips:
- Enjoy wherever you’re seated.
- Be nice to the hosts and servers,* they know what they’re doing I promise.
- Come when it’s not crazy, or come at 7:30 with everyone else and their mothers and wait for two hours.
- Be open to the bar & by god, don’t sit for four hours in the dining room unless you enjoy death stares from the employees.
- Hey, it may not be for everyone.**
*Do we really have to say this? Yeah, we do.
**These guidelines to be applied to literally every restaurant you go to, ever, anywhere. Yes, even there. And there. Especially there. All of them. All the time. Thnx. - Mitch
Thanks again to Alice for the inside scoop! Now you go, and show us whatcha got, below. Do comments do photos? Just be very descriptive.