Toro is an exciting contemporary dining experience in Snowmass offering a vast array of Pan-Latin dishes, thanks to chef and restaurateur Richard Sandoval. As a pioneer of modern Latin cooking, it should be no surprise that Sandoval’s Aspen venture is solid, with delicious food and good service, all served in an expansive and breathtaking room.
Upon entering the restaurant, the first thing that we noticed was the stylish digs. Everything is rich and warm, from the inviting cherry red couches to the crackling fire and cabin-like wooden walls. Walking through the dining room, it was clear that every detail was carefully considered, from the cozy, caramel dining chairs to the massive windows looking out onto the stunning mountain views, which the location of our table allowed us to take full advantage of.
The view was just the beginning of what would be an incredibly enjoyable experience. Our server, who was bubbly but yet not overly friendly, was attentive and ready to get our night started, setting down water and keen to get our drink orders. But we would need a few minutes to wade through the hefty drink menu and make a difficult decision. Looking through the wine selection, it was tough not to be swayed by the sauvignon blanc from New Zealand, pinot noir from Sonoma Coast, and a Quintessa from Napa Valley. In the spirit of Aspen, though, it would be the Colorado-specific spirits that would get our night started. A smoky bourbon from Woody Creek and a Deerhammer American single malt whiskey on the rocks sounded like the perfect remedy for the chill in our bones. By the time the server returned to the table, we were more than ready to eat.
After ordering a slew of drinks, appetizers, and sharing plates, the first round of nibbles arrived, and luckily for our ravenous table, everything exceeded our expectations. The Amarillo ceviche was sharp and joyfully acidic, with fresh pops of mango and cucumber setting the scene for delectable and generous bites of Corvina swimming in a traditional Leche de Tigre — a traditional Peruvian citrus-based, spicy marinade. Once our taste buds were singing, we turned to the moreish smoked swordfish dip. The creamy concoction was offset by a spicy jalapeno twist, and one after the other, we devoured the accompanying crunchy plantain chips.
It was the appetizers that were the real star of the night. Citrus-crusted scallops were plump and cooked to perfection, with heirloom tomatoes bursting with freshness. It was the perfect accompaniment to the smokey Colorado lamb queso fundido. Deliciously cheesy, the fundido offered an elevated spin on an ooey-gooey comfort dish. Before losing ourselves in the richness of the fundido, the seafood cocktail arrived right on time. An informal yet stylish banquet of fresh shrimp, perfectly cooked octopus and salty Dungeness crab helped cut through the rich and fatty dishes that arrived before it.
Service became slower between courses, so our second round of drinks arrived well after the mains. The Sandoval margarita was salty and sharp, punctuated by the sweet addition of prickly pear, while the rosemary spicy Paloma was herbaceous and pungent, pairing perfectly with the generous servings of creamy mushroom rigatoni. The bison burger was difficult to pass up on, served with sizzling chili cheese fries, and it didn’t disappoint.
When it came time for dessert, the once demure room was buzzing with people clinking glasses, eating, and luxuriating in the gorgeous dining room that took on a life of its own after dark. The tropical mille-feuille packed a punch, transporting the taste buds to the islands, with lashings of coconut, mango mousse, and passion fruit gel running together in each bite of the crispy pastry.
A delightful experience in a one-of-a-kind space, Toro is a must-visit for your next time in Aspen.