The odd thing about Toro Bravo (120 NE Russell St., 503/281-4464, www.torobravopdx.com, 5–10 p.m. Sun.–Thurs., 5–11 p.m. Fri.–Sat., $4–14), the wildly popular tapas restaurant in inner Northeast Portland, is that its very authentic Spanish cooking simultaneously seems very Northwestern. This is the kind of food that would be native to Portland had it been colonized by the Spanish: rich, seasonal, and full of vigorous flavor.
The menu is extensive, covering many regions of Spain and offering everything from a bowl of olives to heaping platters of paella. Chef-owner John Gorham is an imposing presence in the open kitchen, undaunted as he and his staff dispatch an astonishing array of dishes, from fried anchovies with fennel and lemon to oxtail croquettes with aioli. Expect to be wowed.
by Judy Jewell and W. C. McRae from Moon Oregon, 8th Edition, © Elizabeth & Mark Morris and Avalon Travel