Best of Boston

2009 BEST Spanish Restaurant

Toro

A place needs more than good sangria and jamn to qualify as a genuine tapas joint: It must also be a lively gathering spot, not one that’s empty by 11 p.m. Toro has one of the most reliably bustling late-night scenes in the cityimpromptu dance parties have been known to break out around the barand a calendar peppered with fun events, like last spring’s Calotada (Spring Onion Festival) and an annual party to mark the running of the bulls. Just as important, chef Jamie Bissonnette strikes precisely the right balance between beloved Spanish recipes (griddled garlic shrimp, chickpeas with chorizo) and adventurous ones (head cheese with pickled ramps, crispy pork belly with snails). Need a hit of liquid courage before you’ll try the smoked beef tongue? That’s what the sangria’s for.

1704 Washington St. Boston 617-536-4300 toro-restaurant.com