Toro Toro: Cachapas

Toro Toro Cachapas

If $79 doesn’t sound like a deal to you, give us a moment to change your mind. That’s how much the Rodizio Experience costs at Richard Sandoval’s latest iteration Toro Toro. By latest iteration, we mean they opened this week. We also dare to say it’s Sandoval’s best DC concept to date.

For that chunk of change you get unlimited small plates (there are 27 to choose from), unlimited sides (there are six), plus the entertainment of handsome young men visiting your table with skewers of seven different kinds of meat (and one hell of a grilled pineapple). Someone might want to get these strapping lads some cougar repellant though…

Toro Toro

The rodizio meats were all executed well, especially the chorizo, which tastes a bit like it made friends with a Kiełbasa. But, the Best Thing on the Menu is a small plate selection: Cachapas a.k.a. duck carnitas served under corn pancakes topped with oaxaca cheese and tomato jam. The good news is that you’ll be ordering this dish multiple times, so you’re likely to get the pronunciation down at some point. Wherever they eat this for breakfast, that’s where we want to move.

Another top pick from the small plates section is the seared seafood ceviche. Prawns, calamari, and scallops swim in a milky ginger, sweet potato broth that gets some help from habanero peppers.

If you want to experience Toro Toro with the vibe volume turned up to 10, check out the grand opening party featuring DJ Robbie Rivera from 10 PM to 3 AM on April 5th. Get your tickets here.

Cachapas not your BTM? Share your favorites in the comments section.

Casa Luca: Branzino al Forno

Casa Luca Branzino al Forno

Sorry to those who were sad to see AGAINN go, but we think DC came out on top with the addition of Casa Luca. This rustic Italian restaurant has special touches like a section of the drink menu featuring 14 different bottles of wines priced at $28 and they offer to make any of their mouth-watering pasta dishes with gluten-free pasta. We also suspect that they spike their gelato sundaes with some kind of booze, never a bad thing.

With Italian cuisine, sometimes it’s best to put your meal in the hands of an expert. That’s why we’re suggesting you start with Luca Antipasto Misto, letting Fabio Trabocchi and Erin Clarke school you on what’s best when it comes to meats, cheeses and small sides. 

But when it comes to the Best Thing on the Menu, get the Branzino al Forno with Red Peppers, Tomato, Olives and Basil. Besides being breaded in magic fairy dust of some kind, it comes with a grilled lemon. BTW, branzino is European seabass, a fish that continues to grow in popularity in America. I caught you a delicious bass.

You’ll be tempted to get pasta, so, get that too. They can do half portions. But still, save room for dessert. Perhaps you’re getting the picture that this is a meal fit for a post-marathon binge.

You may see a pint-sized version of Chef Trabocchi tending to the kitchen or out on the floor. Don’t worry, MasterChef Junior hasn’t come to town. That’s Luca, the chef’s son and the restaurant’s namesake.

See some pictures of Casa Luca.

Branzino al Forno not your BTM? Post your favorites in the comments section.

Mio: Calamares con Ajo, Setas y Chiles de Simojovel

Mio Calamari

Want to try food straight from the heart of the Julia Child of Puerto Rico? Visit Mio near McPhereson Square to experience Chef Giovanna Huyke’s Latin cuisine. She is a master at using cool carbs like yucca and plantains: mashing them, frying them and even boldly stuffing them with blood sausage.

The Best Thing on the Menu: Calamares con Ajo, Setas y Chiles de Simojovel (pan roasted calamari with shitake mushrooms, garlic and chile) is fun for several reasons. We’re already suckers for grilled calamari … why fry something that’s good to begin with? But here, the chef combines two elements (mushrooms and calamari) that have virtually the same texture. We’ve never seen this combination before. Serving this dish with a grilled lemon is an added bonus. Also, this appetizer is quite large, making it perfect for sharing.

Be sure to ask for their specials. While we were there, they were offering Lechón (suckling pig) in either an appetizer or entree-sized portion. We watched as they carved it, and it was served with pickled yucca.

Wanna try cooking in Chef Huyke’s kitchen? Mio offers this very opportunity. Their whole food philosophy focuses on Cocina Abierta, which means their kitchen is open to aspiring chefs, foodies and culinary aficionados, who for one night can make their Food Network fantasies come true. This “Guest Chef for a Day” program allows you to cook up a feast in support of a charity. Learn more here.

Calamares con Ajo, Setas y Chiles de Simojovel not your BTM? Share your favorites in the comments section.