Toro Bravo

by Kristina Sloggett

in appetizers, Dinner, Portland, restaurants, snacks

Two of my favorite restaurants in our old neighborhood are Toro Bravo and Tasty n Sons. Under the same ownership, the menus are sometimes similar in food and always similar in style. We go there often with friends, and order many plates tapas style. The food has always been amazing.

Chef / owner John Gorham gained popularity and developed a following while at Simpatica Dining Hall, another wonderful Portland food experience. He was already known for his Spanish dishes before traveling to Spain, gathering inspiration for Toro Bravo.

A few weeks ago, we went to Toro Bravo for dinner (don’t worry – not during April). For the first time, I attempted to take photos so I could share one of our favorite places we frequent. I didn’t bring my large camera, so my android photos have a Hipstamatic quality.

The boys chose a great wine

and us girls had cocktails. Vodka soda lime for me

and a delicious margarita for K.

We always order the Singing Pig greens with grilled asparagus and hazelnuts:

I love this salad, and could eat the whole thing myself!

Seared cauliflower with olives and salsa verde:

I love the cauliflower – the salty olives are a great addition.

Another must have, the salt cod fritters with aioli:

Crispy golden puffs with flavorful filling – I would order these again. and again.


Grilled asparagus with chiles, olives and preserved lemon:

Asparagus, yes! Another dish I always order, and that I could have all to myself…

Roasted eggplant and sweet pepper with mahon:

We almost never have room for dessert, although we have shared sometimes. My favorite is not on the dessert menu at all – a griddled bacon wrapped date with warm honey.

Writing this now makes me hungry to visit again – a consistently delicious menu that is impressively executed from a small kitchen.

The menu changes daily to reflect seasonal inspiration, and has four main categories – pinchos (snacks), tapas (appetizers / small plates), charcuteria (meats!) and raciones (meaning portion, for a larger tapas). While the categories sound the same, the plates within each are different, and choosing from each category insures you will have a good variety of tasty eats, including many vegetarian options.

If you find yourself in Portland, I highly recommend Toro Bravo. Check in, then head upstairs to The Secret Society. They will call your cell phone when your table is ready, and it is always worth the wait!

Toro Bravo on Urbanspoon

{ 30 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Holly @ The Runny Egg April 17, 2011 at 4:27 am

The whole meal looks delicious — the salt cod fritters made me totally hungry just looking at them!

griddled bacon wrapped date with warm honey — I totally want to try this!


2 spabettie April 18, 2011 at 3:44 pm

Holly, they’re not the prettiest thing to eat, but the dates are REALLY easy to make – you should make them yourself! you could even go a step further and stuff the dates too… oh YUM. πŸ˜‰


3 Sarena (The Non-Dairy Queen) April 17, 2011 at 5:44 am

What a nice dinner! My boys would go nuts for those dates!


4 spabettie April 18, 2011 at 3:43 pm

I know… I think everyone goes nuts for those dates. SO good…


5 Kath (My Funny Little Life) April 17, 2011 at 6:10 am

I’ve been to a tapas bar with friends once and really enjoyed having all those little small dishes and sharing them and thus getting a fireworks of different flavors that evening. I remember a wonderful chicken with orange sauce, and bacon wrapped dates as well. :)


6 spabettie April 18, 2011 at 3:43 pm

“fireworks of different flavors” – so eloquent and … exact! YES. I love this description! :)


7 Leanne @ Healthful Pursuit April 17, 2011 at 7:06 am

Sounds delicious! I don’t think I’ve ever been to tapas bar, maybe because I’m quite territorial with my food… it could end badly haha. Everything looks amazing!


8 spabettie April 18, 2011 at 3:42 pm

heee! oh, Leanne, that’s awesome! you could order your own specific thing, warning others this one thing is off limits! πŸ˜‰ I think you’d be happy here, because you would want to try everything and not fill up, so you’d maybe be inclined to share, so you could try MORE? πŸ˜€


9 Leanne @ Healthful Pursuit April 18, 2011 at 7:27 pm

Good call… very good call. I do like trying all sorts of things, so maybe I could get past the whole sharing thing. Now I want to go!


10 Lisa April 17, 2011 at 7:13 am

Looks amazing! I’ll come with you next time :)

I really need some city time—I go to the same restaurants over and over here (because there are only a couple I like). I’d love some variety!

Hope you’re having a fab Sunday :)


11 spabettie April 18, 2011 at 3:40 pm

we are really spoiled here in Portland – having SO many awesome chefs who are excited about food and turn that into GENIUS creativity… lots of people using local farmers, produce – sustainable is sexy :)


12 Jessica @ Dairy Free Betty April 17, 2011 at 7:39 am

Wow… that whole meal looks amazing!! And bacon wrap… honey drizzeled YES PLEASE!


13 spabettie April 18, 2011 at 3:38 pm

I know… I’ve made bacon wrapped dates here at home – not the prettiest but OH so good!


14 Carbzilla April 17, 2011 at 8:21 am

We ate at Tasty & Sons with our foodie friends and had the best time. It’s so funny because the menu doesn’t read as amazing as the food is. You’re like “Cauliflower? Ok.” and then you eat it and are blown away. That eggplant dish looks fantastic! Definitely on our list!


15 spabettie April 18, 2011 at 3:37 pm

isn’t it fun to go with a (small) group, especially if they’re really into food?? :)


16 Lisa April 17, 2011 at 9:42 am

I’ve been wanting to go to both places!!


17 spabettie April 18, 2011 at 3:36 pm

Lisa, you really should! you know the wait is sometimes a BEAR, though, right? at least at Toro you can go upstairs and have a cocktail… don’t go STARVING. so worth the wait, though. BOTH places. …and I especially love Tasty n Sons for brunch…


18 Das April 17, 2011 at 12:37 pm

It all looks so good, it almost made me feel like I ate all that food. Oh wait, I think that was my wine glass :)


19 spabettie April 18, 2011 at 3:33 pm

well HELLO ! :) yes, it all looks so good, well, that’s probably the memory of it since the photos are weird! πŸ˜‰ hope we can all go again soon!


20 Jenn L @ Peas and Crayons April 17, 2011 at 2:26 pm

ohmygosh it all looks sooo good! esp that salad! I can see why it’s a must! <3


21 spabettie April 18, 2011 at 3:32 pm

I know… EVERYTHING is so good… it’s hard to want to try new things sometimes, because I want all of my favorites too. so it’s nice when we go with the couple we normally do, because we can all share, eat less of each and … eat MORE! πŸ˜€


22 Heather (Where's the Beach) April 17, 2011 at 2:53 pm

Loving the idea of that cauliflower. Yum.


23 spabettie April 18, 2011 at 3:30 pm

the cauliflower is one of my favorites, and Jason doesn’t like it so… MORE FOR ME! πŸ˜€


24 Susan (Oliepants) April 18, 2011 at 11:41 am

I could eat everything you have on there. Especially that cod!!!


25 spabettie April 18, 2011 at 3:29 pm

oh, the cod fritters are a MUST! we LOVE this place…


26 (what runs) Lori April 18, 2011 at 3:05 pm

Oh yum! This place sounds a lot like a tapas place here in the bay area of California. SUCH good food, all Spanish tapas, and DELICIOUS. You’re making me hungry for some Spanish food… mmmmm….


27 spabettie April 18, 2011 at 3:29 pm

I know – I was hungry for this again when I was writing this blog post… and I’d already had dinner! :)


28 Aimee April 19, 2011 at 7:31 am

Everything looks really yummy. How fun to share it with friends.


29 Alyssa @ Life of bLyss April 19, 2011 at 8:17 am

man.. you so have me craving an empenada now. :)


30 Kristina April 19, 2011 at 3:06 pm

you officially have the BEST restaurants!


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