2 Great Spots: Toro Bravo in Portland & Lokal in Carmel Valley

  • So dark in these restaurants, photographs were tough!

Let me say this first, having an amazing taste of this and a superb bite of that is my all time favorite way to eat. Ok, so now you know why I am featuring these two restaurants, located in completely different places, in the same post.

Over the past two weeks we were lucky enough to be in both Portland, Oregon to photograph a wedding at Mt. Hood and the next weekend at a birthday in Carmel Valley, CA (and Big Sur). We ate at two spectacular places, Toro Bravo and Lokal.  There is a reason that I am mentioning both of these restaurants in the same post (and it is not because both served Padrons). Both spots specialize in really creative, local, and seasonal small plates, meant to be shared by your table. We found that both restaurants were fun and exciting because the dishes that we weren’t that excited about ordering, ended up being our favorite dishes, offering an element of luck and surprise to our feasts.  These dishes were of course recommended by our servers and if you know me, I always ask for the servers’ opinions.

Yes, both of these restaurants serve seasonal, farm-to-table unique and fun dishes.  However, Toro Bravo is much more of a Spanish Tapas style place than Lokal (even though T.B. serves a variety of dishes that are not necessarily Spanish).  Toro Bravo serves good, inexpensive Sangria to share with your table and that worked well with the shared, family style meal.  Lokal offers good beers on draft for $3 each (half pints) and they also had a local Rose on draft when were there too. I just got this idea, that Lokal should serve pitchers or carafes of beer & wine, in an elegant manner, as a way to follow through with the ‘share’ eat and drink exercise.

Be sure to save room for desert, at both place!

Anyways, check out some of the amazingly creative dishes offered when we were there.  Definitely know that they both change the menu frequently.

Lokal:

  • Crab Hot Dog: Local Dungeness Crab, Avocado, Pistachios, on a bun
  • Bones: Marrow, Shitakes, & Bread
  • Beet Salad: Beets, Coconut/Goat Dressing, & Balsamic Spheres
  • Wedge: Iceberg, Blue Dressing, Blue Cheese (this had the MOST amazing dressing, very garlicky and green from parsley)
  • Sardine Bocadilla: Monterey Sardines, Mojito Aioli, Toast
  • Chicken Wings: Deconstructed
  • Fat Albert: Pork Belly, Negro Chili Sour Cream, Steamed Bun, & Cilantro

Make a Reservation to eat at Lokal.  They have two seating times, 6pm and 8pm.

Recent Articles about Lokal:

SF Gate – “3 new Monterey-area eating places”

• Monterey Weekly: Lokal Crisp Character: Lokal Restaurant slathers unique personality on Carmel Valley’s plate.

LOKAL 13752 Center St., Carmel Valley •659-5886 • www.facebook.com/lokalcarmel/info • Open for breakfast/lunch Tues. – Fri. 7am-3pm, and Sat. 9am-2pm; Dinner Thurs.-Sat. 6pm-late

Toro Bravo:

  • Octopus a la Plancha “Becerrita”*
  • Fried Potato Salad with arugula & peaches
  • Salt Cod Fritters with aioli
  • French “Kiss” (Foi Gros stuffed Soaked in Port Date)
  • Charcuteria Board: Duck Liver Pate, Chicken Liver Pate, French Kiss, House Cured Chorizo
  • Drunken Pork with avocado salad
  • Braised Lamb, Apricots & Coriander with house made noodles

*Red, our favorites

Get to Toro Bravo before they open, at least 1/2 hour before so that you don’t have to wait for a table.  They get super crowded, have a really long wait, and don’t take reservations (only available for 7 persons or more).

Toro Bravo, 120 NE Russell Street
Portland, OR 97212
503.281.4464

1 comment… add one
  • Yes, both of these restaurants serve seasonal, farm-to-table unique and fun dishes. However, Toro Bravo is much more of a Spanish Tapas style place than Lokal (even though T.B. serves a variety of dishes that are not necessarily Spanish). Toro Bravo serves good, inexpensive Sangria to share with your table and that worked well with the shared, family style meal. Lokal offers good beers on draft for $3 each (half pints) and they also had a local Rose on draft when were there too. I just got this idea, that Lokal should serve pitchers or carafes of beer & wine, in an elegant manner, as a way to follow through with the ’share’ eat and drink exercise.

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