Annette and I are low-energy foodies. We try new places, but over time our food universe expansion tends to slow way down as we wear paths to places we’ve been and like. In that spirit here are 16 places we like. A couple places we’ve only been to once but would like to return. Most are places we’ve been to multiple times and have never been disappointed. Thus, in no particular order:
Only been there for breakfast. Until our most recent visit, I didn’t even realize the menu had a second side with lunch items. Excellent omelets, french toast, and other standards prepared quickly and with high energy. My favorite thing is to sit at the back counter and watch the guys in the kitchen. They honestly seem to be enjoying themselves.
Thin-crust pizza with vegan options and a heavy-metal attitude. Good lunch deal of two slices plus small salad for cheap. I don’t really get the attitude, but the wide variety of meats plus tofu and seitan and sauces makes for unique pizza opportunities.
The closest thing to a New York/Brooklyn deli you’ll find in Oregon. The only source of real pumpernickel bagels.
Mussels, frites, beer, and superb cocktails to start. They have other things, too, but the mussels are why we go there.
Start to finish, time after time, a textbook dining experience. Italian with Pacific Northwest ingredients. Simple dishes served up in a genuinely warm and comfortable environment.
Good tacos served up in a funky space that feels authentic as opposed to “came in a truck from the taco place.” Only been once because most of the time there’s a line down the street, but would be happy to go back, especially on a quiet evening over a weekend when most people flee the city for anyplace else.
French-inspired menu with no weak spots all served in a quiet, calm, elegant room. We had a fantastic first experience that was almost entirely due to our server. I am still kicking myself in the ass for not getting his name. Went back a second time and while the food was every bit as good, we had a different server who was a doofus and kept referring to Annette with some kind of diminutive term. Both times we had a multi-course dinner with wine pairings, but the second time the pours were a fraction of what the previous server provided and it was nowhere near as much fun.
Excellent real pit bbq. There’s no secret to great Q, as the owner will tell you, just show up at 5 am to get the meat started, and the rest takes care of itself.
Portland is awash in gourmet burgers. We’ve tried a decent sampling from various places, but Killer Burger is the winner. Why? Two reasons: first, burger offerings the make sense, as in somebody put some thought into what combination of toppings to feature. Second, you can actually eat the damn things. Seriously, places serving mile-high “burger” creations that arrive with a skewer or a big knife holding the stack together need to just go away. After the assorted “ooh’s” and “ahh’s” as the thing arrives I feel sorry for the schmuck who ordered it and now has to find a way to consume it. Having been that schmuck on more than one occasion I know of what I speak.
Nifty little family-owned sushi restaurant in a low-rent strip mall a couple doors down from the self-serve dog wash where we bring Kaylee. We’ve only gotten take-out mainly because when we go there every table is taken. Not fancy, nothing exotic on the fish menu, but good portions, good prices, and no Portland sushi attitude.
Spoiler: I know one of the owners via the dog park I frequent with Kaylee and Leon, so this place feels like “my” neighborhood bar. Splendid craft cocktails made with care and creativity. Yes, they have a fondness for fish sauce, but so do I, so it’s all good.
Yes the owner, Pat, has told me “their lawyers have been in touch, but it’s my name, damn it.” Annette spotted this place, just a short drive from our house, about 6 months after we moved here. This is hands down, the closest thing to authentic New York pizza I’ve had since coming west. Then, after having maybe three pies over three months, they closed. But, flash forward a year, and they’re back open in a new, even closer, location. This is the real deal. Pat drives a Lincoln Continental, wears a pinky ring, and makes the sauce in house.
Pizzacato Sellwood and formerly Pizzacato Hillsdale before we officially moved into our place
Pizzicato is a quiet Portland institution. They’ve got the metro area nicely covered with 15 locations (plus 2 in California) and, just like any successful chain, they neither excite nor disappoint time after time. They also offer unique employee benefits, often support neighborhood initiatives, and produce dependable, if pricey, pizza. Two mediums and a spinach salad will set you back $51.50 sans tip. Don’t get me wrong, we did exactly that more times than we should have, but their set up feels like a license to print money.
Oh my god. Just oh my god. Enjoy in moderation.
Belgian farmhouse style ales that politely gives the finger to all the over-hopped IPA concoctions littering the absurdly crowded craft-beer landscape.
Lovely craft cocktail bar across the street from Beast. Like La Moule and Lantern, Expat serves up cocktails of unusual flavors that make me feel like Remy from Ratatouille. Expat, La Moule, and Lantern are places I have no fear of saying “surprise me” when they ask “can I get a drink started?”
Sadly we’ve not been back here in a while. Twice, when we were staying with a friend before moving to our current house, we tried to have dinner at the highly recommended Sasquatch Brew Pub. Both times we braved a mob and were treated like we were annoying the staff for showing up. Both times we left and walked up the street to the lovely little Verde Cocina and were served Mexican-ish comfort food by people who seemed glad we were there.