Pan Latino Tapas Restaurant Review: Purple Potatoes and Barrel-Aged Bourbon

Tapas, or small plates are popular in the restaurant industry and an easy way to try many different dishes on a menu. Celebrity chef Richard Sandoval’s Toro Toro recently opened its doors, offering the crème de la crème of Pan Latino small plates to the appetites of Washington, D.C. Located in the heart of the city's downtown area, this hot new restaurant takes you straight from the work day grind to a world of creative eats.

The Wise Latina Club founder Viviana Hurtado, Ph.D  invited me to accompany her to Toro Toro. As my southern roots have made me accustomed to large and hardy meals, I was skeptical of the dainty portions. As the night progressed, my appetite was satiated and Toro Toro proved to me that bigger isn’t always better.

Toro Toro with the Wise Latina Club founder, Viviana Hurtado.

From purple potatoes to barrel-aged bourbon, tapas dishes from Toro Toro highlight some of the top ingredients in Latin American cuisine.

Toro Toro's menu separates the tapas dishes into cold and hot plates. My favorite cold dish took me by surprise. I am not usually a fan of tuna or avocado (I know this personally offends some of you), BUT the Causa Toro Toro hit the spot.

Enter: purple potato cake!

The small, round cake was topped with tuna tartare, which is raw, finely chopped tuna. The tartare added a smooth texture and flavor without overwhelming all of the other flavors. Topped with avocado and sesame seeds, the dish was visually appealing and shattered all my preconceived notions about fish or avocado.

Purple Potato, Tuna Tartare, Avocado, & Sesame Seeds

As for hot plates, the Cachapas, which consists of duck carnitas, corn pancakes, tomato jam and Oaxaca cheese won over my tastebuds. There is a first time for everything which for me that night included trying duck. The flavors of the combined ingredients created a sweet and salty sensation.

Toro Toro paired the complex flavors of the food with equally intricate cocktails. I particularly enjoyed the Manhattan de Toro. A compilation of barrel-aged  bourbon, bitters, candied cherry, and sweet vermouth, it brought depth and warmth to the meal.

The Toro Toro bartenders shared a recipe for the Carnival whiskey cocktail to try at home.

 Toro Toro's Carnival Whiskey Cocktail Recipe

2oz of rye whiskey

1/2 oz Luxardo Cherry

1/2 oz Lillet Blanc or another type of white wine

3 dashes orange bitter

Combine, stir,  and serve in a champagne coup with  a flamed orange peel


Toro Toro Cocktails

Want to make a full night out of the tapas experience? Just below the main dining area, the dance floor awaits those ready to cut a rug. The room, with cowhide stools and antler mounts, creates just the right ambiance for a chic night.

The Wise Latina Club PSA: remember to bring your ID to prove that you are 21 or older when buying your spirits.

The flavor and spunk that tapas dishes offer should never be underestimated. Tapas dishes are great to share with friends over delicious cocktails. Richard Sandoval's Toro Toro proves that big flavors can come in small packages.

HaleyFulford-TheWiseLatinaClub A food enthusiast and native Georgia Peach, Haley recently graduated from Appalachian State University with a Bachelors of Science in Sustainable Development. Currently interning at the United States House of Representatives, she is passionate about the outdoors, improved access to quality education for all, public policy, and documenting “from stress to success in the city.” Click here to read more about and connect with Haley.

Edited by Viviana Hurtado, Ph.D.

What is your favorite tapas recipe?