Local Dining By BLAKE AUSTYN
EXPANSIVE SPACE: Torero’s Latin American menu consists of raw dishes, tapas-style small plates and salads, street food, and larger dishes. The restaurant is deceptively larger than it appears from the outside, with a massive bar taking up one half of the restaurant and a cozy dining area with floor-to-ceiling, northeast-facing windows.
BLAKE AUSTYN for GTR Newspapers
Torero Bar and Kitchen, 202 S. Cheyenne Ave., opened in downtown Tulsa near the Center in July, tucked away on the east side of One Place Tower, offering Latin American dishes and an extensive beer, wine and cocktail menu.
While its location may not scream out for attention to patrons milling around, the buzz about town since this restaurant opened has done that and more.
Torero is a venture of Chip Gaberino and Noah Bush, creators of The Saturn Room and Hodge’s Bend, and Hodge’s Bend executive chef Ian Van Anglen.
While the exterior may not offer much to gaze upon, the interior is a different story and deceptively larger than one might first expect. A long, eye-catching bar draws patrons in immediately, taking up one side of the restaurant. In the other portion of the restaurant is a cozy dining area tucked under a staircase that leads to a small second-level eating area. The dining area faces northeast with floor-to-ceiling windows, offering a pleasant city view and giving the space a more expansive feel.
With construction well underway on Hampton Inn & Suites at One Place directly to the restaurant’s south and a Hilton Garden Inn to eventually open to its east, Torero can likely expect not only local and but out-of-patrons in the months ahead.
When my friend and I paid a visit for an early Friday evening dinner, the restaurant was yet to start bustling. “But on event nights at the Center, we are packed,” the host told us.
Torero’s menu consists of four categories: raw dishes, tapas-style small plates and salads, street food, and larger dishes for those not interested in the tapas-style, sharing concept.
The restaurant also offers happy hour food specials, including $2 baby back ribs and $1 Caribbean wings, Monday-Friday 3-6 p.m. and 9 p.m.-close.
We figured we would sample something off each portion of the menu, starting with Scallop Aguachile. The scallops were bathed in a chilled poblano pepper and green herb broth, with avocado and lime. Raw anything is usually an acquired taste, so the food’s texture could be an issue for some diners, my friend included. The freshness of the ingredients livened the dish.
We also opted for the Charqui Wings and the Costillas as it was still within the Happy Hour timeframe.
The wings have a Caribbean spice, with a nice bit of heat, but my favorite dish of the entire night was the Costillas, chili-rubbed baby back ribs, so tender that they could put some barbecue joints to shame.
The Cuban Beef Picadillo is a Small Plate of fried plantains, the saltiness of which paired nicely with the beef.
The menu’s Street Food category provides nice options for diners not looking to be too adventurous. We sprung for the Mahi Mahi Tacos, filled with Mahi Mahi, cabbage and pickled jalapeño.
For our Large Plate, we tried the vegetarian dish: Porotos Granados, a Chilean bean and pumpkin stew, with potatoes and corn – a great dish for a cold night.
Torero opens seven days a week at 11 a.m., with brunch available Saturday-Sunday until 3 p.m.