Pioneering Fort Worth Hotel Brings in Celeb Chef, New Steakhouse as Part $8 Million Revamp

September 11,2019

See full Paper City article by Annie Gallay here.

A pioneering Fort Worth hotel is spicing things up with a multi-million-dollar revamp. The Worthington Renaissance Fort Worth Hotel, managed by Marriott, has long been a downtown staple.

And now, it’s upping the ante this November with the arrival of pan-Latin steakhouse Toro Toro. It comes from the man dubbed the Father of Modern Mexican Cuisine, celebrity chef Richard Sandoval.

The iconic hotel, tucked into the heart of downtown Fort Worth at 200 Main Street, offers sweeping views of the city and is close to many popular attractions, including the Kimbell Art Museum and Bass Performance Hall. The Worthington first opened in 1981 as one of the first buildings in Sundance Square.

Now, you can look forward to some exciting new additions.

“The Worthington Renaissance has been known in the Metroplex and throughout the state of Texas for many years as the living room of downtown Fort Worth, with an incredible reputation,” general manager Robbie Tawil tells PaperCity.

 “It’s a massive complete public space, and the renovation is repositioning it and reconcepting with a new restaurant, Toro Toro.”

The Worthington’s lobby is due for a complete makeover as part of the $8 million revamp.

“This is a complete transformation of the space,” Tawil notes. The two water features in the mezzanine have been removed, making way for an expansive seating space filled with carefully curated artwork influenced by local artists.

The limestone in the lobby has been reduced, allowing for an inviting, open area between the lobby and the Toro Toro steakhouse.

“From a design standpoint, it certainly pays homage to the city of Fort Worth and cattle drive, the whole idea of open spaces,” Tawil says.

When it comes to cattle, Sandoval knows the Lone Star State has a huge reputation for its steakhouses. But the meat maestro’s positive Toro Toro will satisfy carnivores throughout Texas, both Worthington guests and area diners.

The steak savant’s a fan of Fort Worth’s evolving food scene, and sees the perfect niche for what he does best.

Wood-grilled and charcoal-grilled steaks. Ceviche. Empanadas. Small plates, small plates and more small plates.

“There are a lot of steakhouses, but nothing with a Latin inspiration,” Sandoval tells PaperCity.

And it’s not just Latin American — it’s South American, it’s all over, with touches of Chinese and Japanese inspiration here and there in the menu.

“It’s an engaging restaurant, all about sharing, all about community and people really engaging and experiencing all these different flavors from South and Central America,” Sandoval says. “You don’t find many restaurants like this. You find Mexican, or Colombian or Brazilian.

“Here, we’re incorporated all of Latin American culture in one place. And Latin culture’s all about sharing.”

Toro Toro’s Start

This haven for wood- and charcoal-grilled steaks first opened in Dubai 10 years ago. The challenge of a modern interpretation of Brazilian churrasqueria led to a runaway restaurant hit. Toro Toro now has locations in Miami and Washington, D.C. as well.

“What excited me — steakhouses, for the most part, have been very manly, a lot of leathers, big reds, bold wines. I wanted to make a steakhouse that was shareables, more woman friendly,” Sandoval says.

“Instead of a buffet like you do in a classic churrasqueria, where you eat as much as you can, I created a menu of shareables. The idea is people order appetizers, they come to the center of the table and people share, then you can order your protein, whether it’s a skewer of lamb or a rib-eye, and they carve it tableside and people get to share.”

Short rib tacos, sweet corn empanadas and shitake mushroom tostadas are just a few dishes diners can dig into together.

Bottomless brunch and happy hour are staples at the other Toro Toro, and Sandoval believes he’ll roll those elements out in Fort Worth over time.

He truly wants to engage the Fort Worth community. “We want that, not to be a restaurant that’s come in from the outside,” he adds.

In his mind, Toro Toro should transcend beyond simply a hotel restaurant.

“We want people to say ‘Let’s go to Toro Toro,’ not just ‘Let’s go to the restaurant in The Worthington,’ ” Sandoval says. He wants it to be a true food destination.

Tawil’s onboard. “The Renaissance brand has always been known for discoveries, specifically the hidden gem in the local area,” the GM says. “With the new renovation and the new restaurant concept, there’s another hidden gem in the city for Fort Worth to discover.”