Chef Richard Sandoval on Bringing Latin Flavors to D.C.

By Lauren Loudermilk | March 26, 2019 | Food & Drink

Richard Sandoval's Toro Toro represents some much-needed Latin love in D.C.

richard-sandoval.jpgChef Richard Sandoval oversees a restaurant group of 45 locations.

At Toro Toro Pan-Latin Restaurant & Lounge (1300 I St. NW, D.C.) diners will find Argentinian empanadas served alongside chaufa fried rice and Nikkei-style tostadas de pescado. Here, we chat with chef and restaurateur Richard Sandoval about his signature pan-Latin flavor, DC’s food scene and, of course, tacos.

Pan-Latin cuisine is so rich and varied—how do you decide what to put on the menu at Toro Toro?
RICHARD SANDOVAL: I try to represent the many different places, cuisines and techniques from Latin America and the cultures that influenced its cuisine. Toro Toro is a celebration of Latin American gastronomic culture that integrates fresh ingredients with techniques and flavors of the two richest cuisines in Latin America: Mexican and Peruvian.

With 45 restaurants around the globe, how do you balance your time and focus?
RS: I try to spend as much time as possible visiting my children—who are both in college—and I play tennis to relax. However, 90 percent of my time is spent on airplanes—they’ve extended the pages in my passport twice in the past few months.

toro-toro-0001.jpgThe menu items available at Toro Toro Pan-Latin Restaurant & Lounge are inspired by chef Richard Sandoval’s Mexican heritage and regional travels. For example, this popular Nikkei-style ceviche dish, which was influenced by vibrant communities of Chinese and Japanese immigrants across South America.

What do you think makes D.C. a unique food market compared to the other cities in which RS Hospitality has a presence?
RS: Washington is very diverse. The global and political lifestyle in the city brings a lot of people from all over the world, which heavily influences the market.

What Latin food trends are you seeing?
RS: Giving back to our community. So many chefs are creating charity events at their restaurants or donating a percentage from a dish or drink to a cause in the Latin community. It’s the best culinary movement I’ve seen yet!

What’s your favorite Latin dish?
RS: Tacos al pastor!