A Celebration of Spanish Cuisine
Fusing food and entertainment under one roof is not a new concept for Vassilis and Katerina Coumbaros, the husband and wife team behind International Drive’s Taverna Opa Orlando. The popular eatery is a hit because patrons enjoy delectable Greek cuisine while awaking part of their Dionysian spirit through music and dancing. The concept has worked so well in Orlando’s busy tourist corridor that the couple decided to open a second restaurant.
After visiting Spain and falling in love with the culture and food, Katerina and Vassilis found their inspiration.
“Tapa Toro is our way of bringing all these memories home,” said Katerina Coumbaros.
The new restaurant is located in the I-Drive 360 complex, home to The Orlando Eye. Paying tribute to both classic and contemporary Spanish cuisine, Tapa Toro has a rich tapas menu and a broad selection of Spanish wines, spirits and cocktails. The restaurant’s focal point, however, is the seven-foot-wide “paella pit.”
A twelve-seat, white marble bar surrounds the pit allowing guests to watch the chef prepare paella dishes. Vibrant mosaic tiles decorate the two end-walls of the paella bar, a design reminiscent of Park Güell in Barcelona, while the dining rooms exude a contemporary-meets-rustic ambience.
Tina Marie Interior Design decorated Tapa Toro with “Barcelona-inspired furnishings and light fixtures,” traditional art pieces, as well as interactive art housed in flat screen televisions. The generous interior space allows for Flamenco dancers to perform tableside to the beat of the guitar, and for the sounds of their heels on the wooden floor to travel throughout the restaurant, transporting diners to Spain – a country that knows how to celebrate life.
“PAYING TRIBUTE TO BOTH CLASSIC AND CONTEMPORARY SPANISH CUISINE, TAPA TORO HAS A RICH TAPAS MENU AND A BROAD SELECTION OF SPANISH WINES, SPIRITS AND COCKTAILS.”
In July, Orlando Style sampled Tapa Toro’s delicious offerings at a special media event hosted by Wendy Lopez, Executive Chef. “We import the paella rice from Spain,” she told us. She then showed us the short-grain rice that looks similar to the rice used in risotto.
Bomba rice grows near Calasparra, a village in southeastern Spain. This type of rice is ideal for paella because of its ability to absorb water without turning into mush. Guests can try a paella de mariscos (seafood) or de pollo y chuleta de cordero (chicken breast and lamb chops). Veggie paella is also on the menu.
Each pan serves three to four guests. It takes about 45 minutes to prepare, so sip on a glass of wine and sample a few tapas.
Some of our favorites include the Croquetas de Jamon (ham and potato croquettes with manchego cheese), Kurobuta Tocino (crispy pork belly accompanied by carrot puree, mache salad, and marcona almonds), and the Coliflor de Leon (roasted cauliflower with pea puree, capers and pickled sultanas). The Ensalada de Remolacha (roasted beets, candy cane beets, grapefruit, Florida orange, goat cheese espuma, and lemon dressing) was both refreshing and delish. And each tapa paired well with the house-made sangria. In addition to the sangria, Tapa Toro’s specialties include the Corazon de España (gin and tonic) and Tinto de Verano, a light red wine served in a porron.
The evening closed with a sampling of desserts, which included the Crema Catalana – a Spanish version of crème brûlée. Garnished with fresh mint and orange slices, it was a treat to our palates.
Tapa Toro opens daily for brunch, lunch and dinner. For more information and for reservations, please visit tapatoro.restaurant.