Celebrity Chef Opens Pan-Latin Steakhouse in Downtown Houston
On November 1, the Four Seasons Houston, located downtown at 1300 Lamar Street, welcomed Toro Toro Houston, a new Pan-Latin restaurant as part of its sleek, multi-year, multi-million dollar remodeling. The steakhouse is one of over 50 dining concepts overseen by international chef Richard Sandoval’s eponymous Richard Sandoval Hospitality.
Born and raised in Mexico, Sandoval has a résumé that commands respect. He is well-known not only as an award-winning chef, but also as an author and international restaurateur with brands in over 15 countries across the world. Five of those restaurants are in Texas, including Ciclo and Taco Pegaso in Austin, Toro Toro Fort Worth, Bayou and Bottle — the whiskey-focused, bar and restaurant that opened at Four Seasons Houston in 2017 — and now Toro Toro Houston.
Toro Toro originated in Dubai as a modern-day churrascaria. Sandoval’s goal was to bring a contemporary Latin American steakhouse to cities where diners’ tastes are ever-evolving. Several years later, Toro Toro now has locations in Fort Worth, Tokyo, Belgrade, Istanbul, Qatar and Miami.
The Houston location will be led by chef Rafael Villalpando, who’s pedigree includes working at the Rosewood Hotel in San Miguel de Allende and being named “The Culinary Hotel Winner” for Marriott’s Masters of the Craft Culinary and Mixology Awards two years in a row (2018 and 2019). Born in Mexico and a graduate of Corbuse Instituto Gastronómico, Villalpando brings a unique flair for modern Mexican cuisine to Toro Toro Houston.
The newest location, not far from Toyota Center, boasts Toro Toro’s signature rodizio-style churrasco — steaks and other meats straight off the grill and exquisitely dressed — and shareable plates with fantastic aromas. These include the Swordfish Dip served with aioli, housemade pickled jalapeño and crispy plantain chips; Latin-Asian inspired sushi rolls such as Acevichado Nikei Roll with fish tiradito, leche de tigre, togarashi aioli, shrimp tempura and kabayaki; the Mexican short rib tacos with chili-àrbol peanut sauce, yuzu-avocado and crispy potatoes; and the Peruvian ceviche with hamachi, leche de tigre, sweet potato, red onion and canchas.
“We want to be a kitchen without borders,” said Sandoval of his Toro Toro brand. “The thought process for us is that Toro Toro is a different type of steakhouse. Not classic, but Pan-Latin. We play with ingredients from Central and South America and beyond. Bold flavors are our specialty.”
Toro Toro also boasts a full bar with extraordinary cocktails such as the smoky Rum Old Fashioned with Diplomático Reserva Rum, or a Mercado Margarita with jalapeño-infused Altos Plata Tequila and passion fruit purée, topped with hibiscus-rosemary foam.
The relationship between the Four Seasons hotel brand and acclaimed restaurateur Sandoval goes back to the Four Seasons Punta Mita, which is home to the waterfront eatery, Bahía by Richard Sandoval. The two hospitality powerhouses create quite the luxurious partnership, which gives diners a taste of worldly flavors in a stylish setting.
“The Four Seasons is iconic,” said Sandoval. “We definitely wanted to be a part of the revival that the Houston location is bringing to the city.” Toro Toro has the potential to serve as a special place for Houstonians, as well as out-of-town visitors and hotel guests.
Toro Toro’s regular hours are Tuesday through Saturday from 5:30 to 10 p.m. View the current menu online.