To ring in a friend’s 28th birthday, we took a weekend trip down to Portland. It had been ages since my last visit, and the most recent time had not been long enough to see much of the city. This time, we drove around and over the numerous bridges (mostly on purpose; we only got lost once). And after visiting some family, we hit dinner and drinks in Northeast Portland.
Our first stop was Toro Bravo, an eclectic Spanish tapas bar on Russell Street. To start, we split a carafe of sangria, which was a steal for $18 (hello eight full glasses of fruity wine!) and started our tastebud adventure.
Phase One: Empanadas with Pepper Braised Lamb and Buttermilk Cheese. The pastry was deliciously paper thin and the meat deeply savory. The gravy served alongside was rich and comforting. Surprisingly, I loved the creaminess of the cheese; it was smooth and mild which worked nicely.
Phase Two: Drunken Pork with Avocado Salad. Anything wrapped, covered, or otherwise flavored with bacon gets two automatic thumbs up in my book, especially when avocado is involved. The hearty meat portion was perfectly balanced by the light summery salad beneath.
Phase Three: Roasted Eggplant and Lamb Ragu. The thick, tomato based ragu was covered with a layer of melted cheese and set atop a perfectly cooked eggplant.
Phase Four: Churros and Chocolate. The churros were homemade, crunchy, and perfectly sugary. I didn’t feel the need to dunk in chocolate, but my chocoholic friend disagreed.
Phase Five: Molten Cake with Vanilla Ice Cream. Wait, who’s the chocoholic?