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Hot List 2008

Toro Bravo, Portland, Oregon

Address: 120 NE Russell Street

Tel: 503-281-4464

Applying Portland's fresh-from-the-farm, made-from-scratch ethos, Toro Bravo transforms the tapas tradition into a parade of unexpected treasures. Trying to narrow down an order—with choices topping a dizzying 50—may leave you wishing for a sushi bar–style checklist and pencil. Enter your neighbors: Communal seating in an open, spirited (read: noisy) red-walled room makes it easy and acceptable to eye your tablemates' food and ask for recommendations. Though few dishes miss, the best include rich squash dumplings with braised lamb; bacon-wrapped dates that are griddled and drizzled with honey; and sautéed hedgehog mushrooms served over crisped bread. Steve's Cheese Board, named for a local purveyor, is an impressive array of uncommon Spanish varieties. Reservations are not accepted and the wait can be long, but the hostess will happily take your cell phone number so you can slip into the cozy bar next door for an aperitif (tapas, $5–$15).

Information may have changed since date of publication. Please confirm details with individual establishments before planning your trip.

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