December 22, 2010

My Favorite Portland Restaurants, 2010 Edition [Things I Love]

Portland has become a major destination for foodies. A proud foodie myself, I have been visiting my old favorites and trying out new places since my return to Portland last October. Now that my days are numbered, I wanted to take a moment to review a few of my favorites from this trip.

John Street Cafe
8338 N Lombard
Hands down. John Street Cafe makes the best breakfast in Portland. I know that Tasty n Sons is all the rage right now, and I love that place too, but you just can't bear John Street Cafe. During the summer, take a seat in their amazing garden and dine in the company of butterflies. In the winter hunker down with one of their amazing (and I mean it, AMAZING) pancakes or order their most popular omelette, the BOCAVO (with bacon, bleu cheese and avocado). Plan on coming for an early breakfast (before 8am) or come ready to wait an hour for your table. Needless to say, the breakfast served by this darling family business are well worth the wait.

Bar Avignon
2138 SE Division
I discovered Bar Avignon on accident. My mother and I stopped by when we had been disappointed to find that Xtabay Vintage Boutique had closed early one rainy afternoon. Hoping to kill some time and lift our spirits we stopped in this hidden gem for a glass of wine and a snack. What we got was one of the best culinary experiences I've had here in Portland. One glass of Torrontes and a few nibbles of warm marinated olives and Serrano ham later, I was left with a smile that still comes back when I think of this place. Somehow this place remains off of the Portland radar so it's not too crowded outside of peak dinner time. That won't last long, so get in there sooner rather than later.

3731 SE Hawthorne
Evoe is the only well-known eatery that will make my list really. I usually prefer neighborhood places, so I was relieved at the cozy and comfortable atmosphere here. The food is damn good at its worst.  I recently had an open-face salmon sandwich, which was truly lovely. As good as the sandwich was, it was the wine pairing suggested that made the whole meal something special. Seating is limited so be patient. I'd suggest stopping by at an off-peak time and sitting at the stools facing the preparation space. That way you can watch the chef as he does his work and hear all of the great foodie chatter.

King Burrito
2924 N Lombard
When I'm away from the US, I miss Mexican food. When I'm away from Portland, I miss King Burrito. This place is the very definition of a no frills hole in the wall. Who cares about ambience when the food is this good? Order the Tostada Burrito (refried beans, lettuce, tomato and avocado sauce) and enjoy. It sounds simple, but what it is is simply delicious! Be weary of some of their bigger burrito offerings, however. "The King" comes with a fried chile relleno inside and is heavy enough to force even a giant into a food coma for days.

The Fishwife
5328 N Lombard
This is my perennial neighborhood favorite. While Willamette Week has leaked King Burrito and John Street Cafe to foodies in other parts of the city, nobody outside of North Portland has discovered The Fishwife. Usually I like to keep my favorite places a secret amongst friends, but I fear the Fishwife needs the business and want to encourage anyone and everyone to come here. Year round, this restaurant is my go to place. In the winter, I go for their halibut bleu, a baked casserole of halibut and bleu cheese. In the summer, I never miss the opportunity for a shrimp louie salad. These standard menu items always find tough competition from the specials menu, however, as this local haunt buys the freshest in seasonal seafood and meats and serves truly special specials every day. 

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