Sam and Karl looking like their bohemian selves
Sam, Karl and I went out Friday night to celebrate my sis's big birthday with some dang AMAZING food and good laughs. First we went to Toro Bravo, this great little Mexican restaurant over off Russell st. in NE Portland. People...the food was absolutely delicious. They serve all tapa style plates of food so it's great to go with a small group and just get a bunch of plates to share. Wow, I wish I had pictures but just go check out their site. Now, I say small group because the place isn't as large as the pictures on the website might make you think. We got there probably about 5:30 or so and the place was already full and we would have had to wait an hour to and hour and a half just to sit at a table (we sat at the bar instead, was just perfect, too). So, we think the key is to get there AT 5 or shortly there after or wait until about 6:15/30 for the first batch of people to finish eating. Also, if you are allergic to nuts be sure to tell your waitress upfront. She/He can tell you what has nuts in it so it isn't a surprise and you don't accidentally eat something and die...like Karl almost did. Actually, praise the Lord, Karl didn't have any reaction after he had eaten a bite of some almondy pasty stuff (that comes with the steak, one of their signature dishes) but we kept asking him if he was okay and I think he was getting annoyed with us. Sorry Karl, we are just worried and don't want you die and ruin Sam's birthday. But seriously, this place is fantastic. Their sangria is very delicious and, although we didn't order any, their desserts looked rather mouth watering too. Especially their churro's with some sort of berry dipping sauce (yum!). And for 3 of us with like 6 plates and a pitcher of sangria? We ate pretty cheaply for a night out. Also, if your vegetarian, you will find no shortage of options. :) I just can't say enough good stuff about this place. Oh, they also get all of their good and whatever else from places in Oregon, to keep everything fresh and in season and to help out the local farmers. I love it when restaurants do that. And I just saw on their list of providers (on their website) that they get their coffee from Stumptown. Need I say more? Didn't think so.
Oh, I should tell you what we tried (if I can remember it all)...
- Manchego and Paprika Fritters with spicy salsa roja (cute little fritters and oh so tasty, gotta start with these bad little boys cause they are so good)
- Harissa Stewed Butternut Squash with crumbled sheep's cheese (wow. that is all I can say. You should order the bread plate if you get this, trust me. Sam almost chopped my hand off when I asked if we were done with this dish so we could make room for our other dishes...there was another spoonful in the bowl so NO WE ARE NOT DONE!) ;)
- Sauteed Kale Raab with sunny side up egg (this was ALL mine...and oh so good. I don't know what it is about an egg with veggies like this but it is just so good and always appealing to me..although I think I prefer it with asparagus, but this was still very good and hit the spot)
- Seared Cauliflower with olives & salsa verde (very delicious)
- House Smoked Coppa Steak with olive oil poached potatoes, chopped olives & salbitxada (this is one of their signature dishes. the word that I can't pronounce, salbitxada, has the almonds in it...I think. This is a good dish, but it was a little pink for my taste)
- Okay I know we got something else but I can't think of it. Whatever it was, it was good, and I do mean GOOD. :)
So go, enjoy, and then come back and tell me all about it. :)