Luckily my dad lives only 5 miles from the Columbia River. He lives in Vancouver, WA now and it seems like Vancouver has given up on good restaurants and just lets everyone cross the river to Portland if they want great food. Being one of those crazy foodies who will go to almost any length for a great meal, I happily cross the river.
I looked at Eater Portland's list of top places to eat and picked something that was easy to get to. Taking Martin Luther King Blvd. is super easy and I travel down it until I reach NE Russell Street, take a turn, and park. Here is Toro Bravo, a "Spanish inspired" tapas restaurant.
It's later in the evening and so I cross my fingers that the dinner rush is ending so that I can find a seat at the bar - and I do! Thanks to Kyle, the bartender, I settle down and am very well attended. He's one of those good looking, friendly bartenders that takes good care of you and takes an interest.
While there are plenty of small plates and tapas, I opt for an entree that piques my interest - Squid Ink Fideo - squid ink pasta, rabbit sausage, corn, and tarragon. I'm sorry for the lousy picture of my leftovers, but the place was way too dark for food photography. The thing is, what you see above is the best thing I've eaten in recent memory! It is one of those dishes that is so good that it is etched into my memory forever and I will tell anyone visiting Portland about it! From the first forkful it was an explosion of flavors in my mouth. Zesty, salty, tangy, spicy...it was fabulous! It was one of those dishes that is so good you continue to eat it even though you're full. I had to ask Kyle to put it into a to-go box quickly to force me to stop.
For dessert I opted for something different from the common molten lava cake. I chose the churros and chocolate. Three freshly fried, hot churros and a small teacup filled with decadent melted dark chocolate. Even after I had eaten my churros, every centimeter dunked in the rich, brown liquid, I continued to spoon it into my mouth until I had to push it away before I just grabbed the cup to drink it down.
There seems to be a theme from these two dishes - so good I had to force myself to stop!
Kyle told my bar-mate that they were out of empanadas. The empanadas are made with eight pepper braised lamb & buttermilk cheese. Yum! They make them every day and sell out every day.
Although I had a limited experience here, I have to say that it made a fantastic first impression, so important in getting return customers. I would definitely return here and will recommend it to people visiting Portland.