Oregon is home to a lot of restaurants and bars, but there are tons of hidden gems that the majority of Portlanders aren't unearthing. To help guide us to these potential discoveries, we've enlisted some of our city's many food players to share their recommendations for a weekly feature dubbed Dining Confidential.
Photo of 808 Grinds courtesy Facebook
Pat Manning is the executive chef of Toro Bravo. Born and raised in a small town in Colorado, Manning had little experience with diverse cuisine until his early 20s, when he began to understand that food could be more than just about eating. Upon this realization, he finished his business degree at Western State College in Colorado and immediately enrolled in Western Culinary Institute in Portland, Oregon.
Manning began washing dishes at Toro Bravo in 2007 and soon climbed the ladder to a grill position, then to sous chef. Manning was named executive chef of Toro Bravo in 2014. He's also obsessed with rice — especially the rice at 808 Grinds, a Hawaiian-flavored downtown food cart that has the ability to transport him to the islands.
On my Mondays off, I like to head downtown and grab lunch at [the food cart] 808 Grinds. Sometimes I'll even call ahead to reserve Kalua Pig and have it waiting. Honestly, I love the place because the food is just plain awesome, and on a warm day, eating authentic Hawaiian food in a park can actually transport you. I have a lot of really great memories in Hawaii and the flavors bring them all rushing back.
Oh, and did I mention, I am kind of obsessed with rice? I always get the Kalua Pig Plate Lunch. I slather the side of rice with the chili mayo, sambol and teriyaki sauce. If I'm really hungry, I'll go for Da Combo which adds Shoyu Chicken (but we're talking binge eating hungry because the portions are huge.) I start out eating the meat, mac salad and rice separately but by the end I mash it all up into one giant mayo mess. I like that you can mix it up and use the sauces or sides to make the flavor profile your own.