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Review of Toro Salao Restaurant in San Juan

About.com Rating 4 Star Rating


Review of Toro Salao Restaurant in San Juan

Save room for the sugary, crispy churros served with a hot cup of Spanish hot chocolate.

Photo © Zain Deane

The Bottom Line

As a fan of Spanish food and someone who lived in Spain for two years, I admit I'm a bit of a snob when it comes to Spanish food. Having tasted the real thing, I hate settling for imitations. So, when I sat down at Toro Salao, I did so with a certain wariness: Puerto Rican/Spanish fusion? The food soon put my mind, and my palate, at ease. The menu is a mix of typically Spanish recipes and delicious Caribbean/Spanish creations. And that was before we got to the desserts.


  • Desserts are divine, headlined by the churros, which took me right back to Madrid.
  • The tapas menu is extensive and varied, and excellent for sharing.
  • Toro Salao is one of the only restaurants in Sofo with outdoor seating, a nice plus.
  • Prices are very good, considering the quality.


  • Purists looking for Spanish cuisine may not like the fusion dishes.


  • There are three dining rooms: the indoor bar with its charismatic bullfighting art; an outdoor cafe; and the upstairs lounge.
  • Toro Salao is part of the Oof! family which includes Aguaviva, Parrot Club, Koco and Dragonfly; ask about their VIP club.
  • Don't forget to try one of their three signature Sangrias, which complement a nice selection of Spanish wines.

Guide Review - Review of Toro Salao Restaurant in San Juan

Tapas can go horribly wrong. I've had rubbery gambas al ajillo (shrimp cooked in garlic), tasteles croquetas (croquettes), and just-plain awful tortilla (a Spanish egg tart). At Toro Salao, however, tapas and raciones (larger portions) tend to go awfully right.

The tapas menu can be as by-the-book as you like: take the patatas bravas, or spiced potatoes with a chorizo aioli, or the croquetas de bacalao, or cod croquettes with a lemon aioli, or the ever-popular gambas al ajillo. Or they can have a touch of the Caribbean in them. The tortilla for example, is made with cassava. The ham croquettes come with a guava rum glaze. And the stewed octopus comes with tostones.

I had a sampling of many dishes, and I can confirm that all of them were excellent. In particular, the veal meatballs with amarillos, romesco sauce and local cheese were melt-in-the-mouth tender; the lamb chops bathed in a Rioja sauce and served with cous cous was expertly put together; and the afore-mentioned croquetas de bacalao were exactly as I remember them from my Madrid days. And let's not forget the dessert. The churros, served with a small cup of hot chocolate, are positively scrumptious, and the bread pudding is supremely addictive.

Toro Salao serves its tapas, cocas, tablas and raciones in one of three settings, but I love to sit in the outdoor cafe across Tetuán Street from the entrance. In large part, this is because it's one of the few places on the SoFo (or South Fortaleza) district where you can dine outdoors. But for those who prefer a little more atmosphere, the dark and cool interior, reminiscent of a true Spanish bodega, will do nicely.

The food, the setting, and the talents of Chef Guillermo González combine to make Toro Salao a new favorite, both for me and, I'd guess, countless others. Salud!
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