all photos: Shauna Alexander
If there is one thing we know, we KNOW that BYT Readers L O V E brunch. Our 2013 Brunch Guide was far and away the #1 most clicked on story on BYT that year and the 2014 edition is well on its way to repeat the feat. So, when a truly great bottomless (in every way) brunch option comes along, we feel it is our civil duty to sit up, pay attention, EAT AND DRINK ALL OF IT, and let you know about it.
Which is how, this weekend, we found ourselves at TORO TORO. The latin steakhouse by Richard Sandoval (with a hoppin’ bar scene in the basement to boot) may not seem like the most natural of fits for a great daytime breakfast+lunch eating experience but if you keep in mind that some of other restaurants Sandoval and his partners Ivan Iricanin and Kaz Okochi have their hands in (Masa 14, El Centro DF, Ambar…) all have great unlimited brunch experiences. Connect those dots and what we’re about to tell you may seem way more natural than at the very outset of this story.
The deal is this: for $39 dollars, each patron gets an unlimited access to:
- a variety of delicious, (not-too-sweet, it should be noted) fresh fruit mimosas (the blood orange was a particular winner in our book, but passion fruit and mango stood their ground firmly as well)
- a bloody mary bar
- and a buffet style dining experience
Now, your usual buffet style brunch, honorable exceptions to the rule (Kennedy Center terrace, Seasons @ Four Seasons and Sequoia on a good day come to mind) tends to involve: some scrambled eggs, some basic waffles, pancakes and toast-them-yourself bagels, maybe an omelette station, fruits and every day meats. But, not all brunch buffets are created equal.
In this case there the front part of the offerings will bring you: some great raw bar offerings (on the day we were there, gorgeous oysters and peel and eat shrimp), a very impressive charcuterie selection, perfect-to-pick-at-cheeses, delicious ceviches and latin inspired salads and veggies (chilled beats, farro and chickpeas, grilled asparagus, a sea of caprese) and still warm croissants and biscuits. We focused our first (of, we’re not afraid to admit to this, many) plates-hey, it was for science, on these:
Then, our recommended course of action would be to skip the back end (desserts should wait for a few more courses, if you’re us) and go straight into the grilling room where on top of Toro Toro’s signature steaks and bacon wrapped everything (served still sizzling on skillets) the chefs are also whipping up empanadas, fluffy eggs and potatoes and more. Basically, imagine you favorite Brazilian bbq style place, transport it to brunch, make it a self-serve vs a “someone comes to your table with a spear of meat” and you get the picture.
Brief digestion later, turn to the sweets. Obviously, there are the Mexican chocolate waffles which you can pair with chipotle bacon and a nuttella sauce, or you could go for one of the nuts and berries parfaits, or maybe one of the tiramisu style jarred desserts? Or, you know, just put some bananas and berries on a big plate and slather them in that nutella sauce, or go back for more croissants (the BYT photographer had one with EACH plate), wrap some bacon in it, DIP IT into that nutella sauce and throw all caution to the wind. CAUTION TO THE WIND, I TELL YOU!
That phrase, in fact describes almost perfectly the effect this brunch had on us – the lighting was favorably low, the staff was wonderfully attentive in the drinks department (even when we HAD TO switch to coffee) and the price vs. value/quality of the situation you’re finding yourself in makes one definitely sort of feel like a drunk (brunch) millionaire.
Then, since the space is large, and at least for now, busy but not overcrowded, you can sit and ponder all the occasions where maybe it would be fun to invite people to this:
- Your birthday brunch (“I mean, EVERYONE would love something here!”)
- When your Brother comes to visit (“I mean, this is EXACTLY the kind of place he wishes I’d take him and feed him at”)
- When your Dad comes to visit (“I mean, this is EXACTLY the kind of place he wishes I’d take him and feed him at”)
- Anyone else’s birthday brunch (“They’d TOTALLY thank me for this”)
- Really any occasion where you want to feel high on meat in the middle of the day (“This is basically all the time, right?)
And you maybe even leave and text some people about it straight away and as you do that, a stranger walks up to you and says – “Miss, you seem lost, do you need directions?” and you think to yourself “Whaaaat? I have lived in this city FOR A DECADE. I know what I’m doing you busybody you” but then you realize that you have in fact been sort of meandering around on a cloud of blood orange mimosas and A LOT OF PROTEIN and yeah, maybe you do seem a little dazed & confused. But in a totally great way.
A totally great way. So, while this may not be how EVERYONE wants to spend EVERY Saturday and Sunday, we are willing to bet that EVERYONE would be ok with it at least on a few imminent occasions (see above). We recommend jumping into the reservations pool for this stat. The word will spread in no time and then … don’t say we didn’t warn you.