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Pan-Roasted Salmon with Collards and Radish Raita

Pan-Roasted Salmon with Collards and Radish Raita

Serve the salmon with raita, which gets a peppery twist from the addition of grated daikon radish.

Ingredients

  • 4 ounces daikon (Japanese white radish) or white turnip, peeled, shredded (about ½ cup)
  • ¼ English hothouse cucumber, grated (about ½ cup)
  • 1 cup plain 2% fat Greek yogurt
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint
  • Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 2 bunches collard greens, center ribs and stems removed, leaves cut into 1-inch strips (about 14 cups)
  • 4 6-ounce pieces skin-on salmon fillets
  • 2 red radishes, trimmed, thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon Sherry vinegar

Recipe Preparation

  • Preheat oven to 350°. Squeeze excess liquid from daikon and cucumber. Mix with yogurt, lemon juice, mint, and cayenne in a small bowl; season with salt and pepper. Set the raita aside.

  • Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large heavy pot over medium heat. Add garlic and cook, stirring constantly, just until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add collard greens to pot, reduce heat to low, cover, and cook, tossing occasionally, until tender, 10-15 minutes.

  • Meanwhile, heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large ovenproof skillet over medium heat. Season fish with salt and pepper; cook skin side down until skin is crisp, 5-8 minutes. Transfer to oven (do not turn fish); roast until opaque in the center, about 4 minutes.

  • Add radishes and vinegar to collard greens; season with salt and pepper and toss to combine. Divide greens, salmon, and reserved raita among plates.

Nutritional Content

4 servings, 1 serving contains: Calories (kcal) 370 Fat (g) 18 Saturated Fat (g) 4 Cholesterol (mg) 115 Carbohydrates (g) 11 Dietary Fiber (g) 3 Total Sugars (g) 4 Protein (g) 42 Sodium (mg) 130Reviews Section

Earth Friendly Water Blog

So after writing my blog about healthy tips for Back to School and briefly talking about healthy breakfast options, what’s for lunch, snacks and dinner, I thought it would be nice for my readers to also enjoy some recipes. Not only do these recipes look good but they are healthy and delicious. Watch out taste buds because you’re in for a whole lot of flavor.

Nutrition: Always start the day with a healthy breakfast at home, work or at school.

1) One cup Fage Greek yogurt (or plain yogurt you like, I just prefer Fage), half a scoop vanilla protein, chia seeds, blueberries and cinnamon.

2) Oatmeal on the go: I make this all the time when I need to grab something quick in the morning. The night before I take one of my small mason jars, fill it with vanilla coconut milk (or whatever dairy/ non-dairy milk you use) and natures path oatmeal, give it a good shake and put it in the fridge. The next morning I add blueberries and I’m good to go.

3) From Shape.com, Dr. Mike’s Power Shake:

1/3 cup low fat cottage cheese
1 cup blueberries (fresh or frozen)
1 scoop vanilla whey protein powder
2 tbsp flax meal
2 tbsp walnuts, chopped
1 1/2 cups water
3 ice cubes
1 tsp green tea powder

Combine all ingredients in a blender until smooth, put in a to-go-cup and be on your way.


1) 2 Slices Whole Wheat Bread (watch out for the high fructose corn syrup that can be in bread I was horrified in the grocery store the other day when reading ingredients. I ended up with a whole wheat organic bread that had under six ingredients, wasn’t thrilled with the soy in it, but what’s a girl to do?) 1 small banana (sliced), 1 tablespoon peanut butter (loving maple almond butter right now from Justin’s), and a glass of hot green tea.

2) 1 slice of Whole Wheat Bread toasted, 1 egg (anyway you like it, me I like it a little runny when I cut into it), ripe avocado slices, hot sauce, and salt and pepper to taste. Other suggestions instead of avocado and hot sauce include spinach and mushrooms.

3) From Martha Stewarts Most Pinned Smoothie Recipes: Hearty Fruit and Oat Smoothie: 1 cup quartered strawberries, 1 sliced banana, 1/4 cup raw almonds, 1/2 cup old-fashioned oats, 1 cup low-fat vanilla yogurt, 1 teaspoon maple syrup, throw into blender, once finished pour into glass or reusable container and get going.

4) From Martha Stewart Most Pinned Smoothie Recipes: Mango & Yogurt Smoothie, 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon, 1 1/2 cups low-fat plain yogurt, 2 1/2 cups frozen mango chunks, 1 tablespoon honey, Juice from half lime, throw into blender and go.

5) For the kids, although this sounds good enough for me to eat too. Frozen banana, rolled in yogurt and then rolled in Cherrios (I think I would use honey nut).

Nutrition: What’s on your lunch menu?

At school or work the cafeteria can be an overwhelming place filled with fried, greasy food like french fries, chicken nuggets, pizza, among others. Opt for healthy alternatives like the salad bar or a grilled chicken sandwich over a fried chicken sandwich.

Healthy recipe ideas for work, home and school:

1) Salads in a jar: put your favorite fruit and veggies into a large mason jar the night before and grab it on your way out the door.

2) Construct a lunch for the kids: color, protein, crunch and a bonus snack. Color= fruits and veggies. Protein = nut butter, turkey, ham, eggs or hummus. Crunch = Carrots, whole grain crackers. BONUS= Greek yogurt, Applesauce (gogo squeeze is a big hit for my nieces) or string cheese.

Whoever said don’t play with your food never had a child who was a picky eater. Make your kids sandwich into a monster sandwich, with teeth of course or use cookie cutters for a shape and then food to make eyes, ears, mouth, etc. Instead of your basic ants on a log add some pretzels to make butterfly ants on a log. Caterpillars made from a skew, grapes and chocolate chips for eyes.

Bento Box Lunch boxes are great for kids lunches. They have different compartments so you don’t have to use plastic bags or aluminum foil. You can also buy fun cut outs to make sandwiches into different shapes. Bento boxes are sold at Whole Foods Markets and online at Amazon and Potterybarn Kids. I’m sure you can find them other places too.

3) Leftovers are always a great next day lunch idea. You don’t have to eat the exact same thing you had the night before, make it into something else. Especially if you’re giving the kids leftovers, they’ll never know if you use the chicken from last night and make them a sandwich or toss the chicken into a pasta salad.

4) Delicious: Tuna Avocado 1/2 medium ripe avocado 1/2 can or (2-3 oz) white tuna fish 2 tbsp 0% Fage Greek yogurt Salt & Pepper to taste

5) Light Chicken Salad: 1 lb. chicken breast (chopped) 1/2 c. diced red onion 1/2 c. diced apple 2/3 c. grapes, halved 1/3 c. dried cranberries 1/4 c. sliced almonds 1/2 c. Greek yogurt 1.5 T. lemon juice 1/2 tsp. garlic powder salt & pepper.

Visit our pinterest.com, Living a Healthy Lifestyle board for more delicious and fun recipes for you and the kids.

Pan-Roasted Salmon with Collards and Radish Raita (from bonappeit.com):

INGREDIENTS

4 ounces daikon (Japanese white radish) or white turnip, peeled, shredded (about 1/2 cup)

1/4 English hothouse cucumber, grated (about 1/2 cup)

1 cup plain 2% fat Greek yogurt

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint

Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper

2 tablespoons olive oil, divided

2 bunches collard greens, center ribs and stems removed, leaves cut into 1-inch strips (about 14 cups)

4 6-ounce pieces skin-on salmon fillets

2 red radishes, trimmed, thinly sliced

1 tablespoon Sherry vinegar

Preheat oven to 350°. Squeeze excess liquid from daikon and cucumber. Mix with yogurt, lemon juice, mint, and cayenne in a small bowl season with salt and pepper. Set the raita aside.

Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large heavy pot over medium heat. Add garlic and cook, stirring constantly, just until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add collard greens to pot, reduce heat to low, cover, and cook, tossing occasionally, until tender, 10-15 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large ovenproof skillet over medium heat. Season fish with salt and pepper cook skin side down until skin is crisp, 5-8 minutes. Transfer to oven (do not turn fish) roast until opaque in the center, about 4 minutes.

Add radishes and vinegar to collard greens season with salt and pepper and toss to combine. Divide greens, salmon, and reserved raita among plates.

Skillet Shrimp with Orzo, Asparagus, and Feta (from seriouseats.com):

INGREDIENTS

1 cup (about 5 ounces) whole wheat orzo

1 1/2 tablespoons vegetable or canola oil, plus more for the pasta

2 medium cloves garlic, minced (about 2 teaspoons)

1/2 teaspoon red chili flakes (optional)

1 bunch asparagus, ends trimmed and roughly chopped into 2-inch pieces (about 2 cups)

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 1/2 pounds peeled and deveined medium shrimp

1/2 cup chopped fresh basil leaves

4 tablespoons fresh juice from 2 lemons

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese

PREPARATION

Fill the skillet 2/3rds of the way with salted water and bring to a boil over high heat. Add the orzo and cook according package instructions until it’s al dente. Drain and set aside, transfer to a bowl, and toss with a little vegetable or canola oil.

Wipe out skillet and return to medium high heat. Add oil and heat until shimmering. Add garlic and chili flakes and cook, stirring, until fragrant but not browned, about 1 minute. Add the asparagus, season with salt and pepper and stir to coat the asparagus. Cook until the asparagus is tender but retains a crisp bite, 3 to 4 minutes. Move the asparagus to the sides of the pan and add the shrimp. Cook, turning shrimp occasionally, until pink and opaque, about 4 minutes total.

Add the orzo back to the pan, stirring to combine, along with most of the basil, the lemon juice, extra-virgin olive oil and feta. Toss to combine, allow orzo to heat through, season to taste with more salt and pepper as desired, and serve immediately, topped with remaining basil.

Easy Pork Chops with Mac ‘N’ Cheese and Veggies

INGREDIENTS

For the pork
6 thin-cut boneless pork chops (have the butcher cut them into 3/4”-1” in portions)
1 tsp. Cavender’s all-purpose Greek seasoning
1/2 tsp. lemon pepper
1/2 tsp.garlic powder
1/2 tsp. paprika
1 lemon
optional: port wine

To round out the meal:

Annie’s organic white cheddar Mac and cheese, prepared according to the box, or roasted potatoes if you have more time. Your preferred veggies — green beans, brussel sprouts, heirloom carrots, etc.

PREPARATION
For the pork
The night before you plan to eat the pork, take it out of the freezer and place in the fridge. To cook, first drizzle the chops with extra virgin olive oil and season with the cavender’s, lemon pepper, garlic powder and paprika. Don’t worry if you don’t have all of those seasonings. Simple kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper work too.

Heat canola oil or olive oil in a saute pan until very hot, then cook the meat for about 2-3 minutes per side. Squeeze on a little fresh lemon juice just before removing from pan. If you have some port, you can add it after the meat is out of the pan, then scrape up the brown bits, simmer the port for a minute or two, then use as a sauce for the pork.

For the veggies
If you’ve got green beans or carrots, steam them in a steamer basket and season with salt and pepper.

My suggestions for brussle sprouts: Put the oven to 400 degrees, cut brussle spouts in half or quarters and dust with salt, pepper, garlic powder/ flakes and crushed red pepper. Toss with olive oil, put in glass pan and bake for about 20-30 minutes, I like them to get a little blackened.


Cookie Dough Greek Yogurt - add 1 tbsp nut butter, 1 tbsp sweetener, 1 tbsp mini chips, and 1/4 tsp vanilla to Greek yogurt. (use Fage Greek Yogurt)

Peach, Blueberry Cobbler from Shape Magazine: I have been trying to make this for several days and haven’t had time yet, I am determined to make it this week and let you all know how delicious it is. I also bought some vanilla frozen yogurt to put on top.

6 medium peaches (about 1 3/4 pounds, halved, pitted and thinly sliced)

3 tablespoons plus one teaspoon granulated sugar, divided

3 tablespoons light butter

1 6-ounce container nonfat vanilla yogurt

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Arrange peach slices in the bottom of an 8-inch square baking pan. Place blueberries on top of peaches. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of the sugar and cinnamon over the fruit and set aside.

2. In a large bowl, combine flour, oats, 2 tablespoons of sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Mix well.

3. Add butter and mix with a fork until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Add yogurt and mix until dough comes together. Spoon 6 large spoonfuls of dough on top of fruit in baking pan. Sprinkle remaining teaspoon of sugar over dough.

4. Bake 45 to 50 minutes, until the fruit is tender and oat topping is golden brown. Let cool for about 10-15 minutes before serving. Top with vanilla frozen yogurt, if desired, and serve.

Meyer Lemon Bars from tasty-yummies.com

1 1/2 cups almond flour, aka almond meal

2 tablespoons honey or maple syrup

1/4 cup coconut oil, melted

1 whole organic Meyer lemon, washed (organic or unsprayed)

3 tablespoons honey or maple syrup

1/3 cup freshly squeezed Meyer lemon juice (approx 2 additional lemons)

4 large farm fresh brown eggs, at room temperature

4 teaspoons arrowroot starch (tapioca starch or corn starch would also work)

3 tablespoons coconut oil, melted (make sure it isn’t too hot when you add it in, you don’t want it to cook the eggs)

Unsweetened shredded coconut for topping or the traditional powdered sugar works, too.

While the crust is baking, cut the whole lemon in half, remove the seeds, and cut the lemon into chunks. Put the chunks of lemon in a food processor or blender along with the honey and additional lemon juice, and let it run until the lemon is completely broken up. Add the eggs, arrowroot powder, salt, and melted coconut oil and blend until almost smooth. (A few tiny bits of lemon pieces are ok and totally encouraged.)

Once the crust comes out of the oven, lower the temperature of the oven to 300ºF. Pour the lemon topping over the hot crust and bake for 25 minutes or just until the filling is no longer jiggling and is barely set.

Remove the bars from the oven and let them cool completely. Once totally cool, carefully lift out the bars out grasping the parchment paper. Cut the bars into squares or rectangles. I like to cut into 16 smaller sized squares. They last longer that way. Add shredded coconut or sift powdered sugar over the top just before serving, if desired.

These bars will keep covered or in an airtight container at room temperature up to three days. The crust will definitely get soggy as they sit, however. You can also freeze the lemon bars for up to one month, letting them come to room temperature before serving.


Cider-glazed carrot and quinoa salad (page 20)

From Bon Appétit Magazine, March 2013 Bon Appétit Magazine, March 2013

Are you sure you want to delete this recipe from your Bookshelf. Doing so will remove all the Bookmarks you have created for this recipe.

  • Categories: Salads Side dish Vegetarian
  • Ingredients: quinoa onions apple cider (alcohol-free) honey carrots apple cider vinegar pickled beets dill Bibb lettuce


13 pan turnips and Recipes

Oyster and Clam Pan Roast with Turnip, Truffle, and Thyme (Bobby Flay)

Oyster and Clam Pan Roast with Turnip, Truffle, and Thyme (Bobby Flay)

Bacon And Barley Soup

Bacon And Barley Soup

Jane Brody Turkey Carcass Soup

Jane Brody Turkey Carcass Soup

Vegetable Saute (Wolfgang Puck)

Vegetable Saute (Wolfgang Puck)

Shrimp Tchoupitoulas (Emeril Lagasse)

Shrimp Tchoupitoulas (Emeril Lagasse)

Fresh Rice Noodles in Malaysian Black Pepper Sauce

Fresh Rice Noodles in Malaysian Black Pepper Sauce

Beef Stew with Cheesy Fried Grits (Emeril Lagasse)

Beef Stew with Cheesy Fried Grits (Emeril Lagasse)

Roasted Chicken Breasts With Root Vegetables and Thyme

Back-To-School Meal Tips: Lunch Edition

Can you believe it’s September 1st?! The summer flew by, and the fall leaves and yellow school busses are moving on in. Last week we shared some great back-to-school breakfast tips, and this week we’re focusing on quick, easy, and good-for-you lunches (for the kiddos and you!). Read on and rest assured you’ll be eating well this fall, even amidst the seasonal chaos.

Lunch Tips:

  • It’s all about the container. I don’t know about you, but brown bags and stained tupperware don’t exactly scream “eat me!” to me. Investing in a nice, reusable lunch tote and keeping a few real plates, bowls, and utensils at the office can elevate your packed-lunch routine and, at least for me, make weekday lunches feel like real meals again. For the kids, let them pick out a lunchbox they love, and surprise them every now and then with a cool new snack container, printed napkin, or just a nice note. For my latest lunch container obsessions, check out LunchSkins and PlanetBox.
  • Prep work is the name of the game. I know, I know, you’re sick of me telling you to prep ahead of time, but I’m telling you, it’s key here. Start the week by washing, peeling, chopping, and prepping a whole bunch of fresh fruits and veggies. It will make grabbing healthy snacks, packing lunches, and even cooking dinner so much easier!
  • Stick to a theme. Packing lunches for multiple family members can be tricky, but try your hardest to stick to a common theme each day. For example, on turkey sandwich day, start with the same basic ingredients for everyone, then make the necessary modifications by switching up the bread (try ciabatta or for the adults and sandwich bread or pita pockets for the little ones), condiments (chutneys or grainy mustards for the grownups, hummus or cream cheese for the kiddos), and other components until everyone is happy.
  • Plan for leftovers. When making dinners that will reheat easily, double the recipe and you’ll have leftover lunches for days! If you’re worried about getting sick of the same dish, just portion out individual servings and pop them in the freezer.
  • Keep it fun. It’s amazing how far fun cookie cutters, pasta noodle shapes, and wacky colors (green eggs, anyone?) can go with the little ones. Get creative!

Lunch Recipes:

1. Easy Pita Pizzas: Treat yourself to a warm, gooey pizza without the hassle of homemade crust or the price tag and calorie count of pizza parlor pie. Pack whatever toppings you like alongside and voila, a tasty take-along lunch.

2. Tuscan Tuna And Cannellini Bean Sandwich: Forget the mayo-drenched tuna sandwich on Wonderbread. This is a serious upgrade to a classic, complete with fresh garlic and herbs, briny Kalamata olives, rustic Italian bread, and luscious Cannellini Beans. My mouth is watering just thinking about it.

3. Easy Summer Rolls with Peanut Dipping Sauce: These healthy rolls are crisp and satisfying without weighing you down the rest of the afternoon, plus they pack beautifully. Play around with the fillings until you find a combo that you and your family love.

4. Ham and Corn Relish Cooler Pressed Sandwiches: Cooler-pressed sandwiches are just what they sound like: sandwiches you actually want to stick at the bottom of your lunchbox so the weight of the other food compresses them and allows the juices to soak into the bread.

5. Melon Pasta Salad: Make a big batch of this sweet and savory pasta salad over the weekend and enjoy in your lunch all week long. The kiddos usually enjoy this one as-is, but try using fun pasta shapes to jazz it up for them!

6. Fiesta Veggie Wrap: Who couldn’t love cheese, avocado, pesto, and some fresh veggies all rolled up in a tortilla? This wrap comes together in a snap (we’re talking less than 10 minutes) and packs well. A perfect lunch for the whole family.

7. Feta, Garbanzo Bean and Eggplant Pita Sandwiches: This unique recipe is perfect for when you just can’t stand another ham and cheese sandwich. The feta, garbanzo bean and eggplant salad can be made ahead of time and scooped into a pita pocket at the last minute for a quick and satisfying lunch.

8. Chicken Caesar Sammie: Pack the chicken salad filling and bun separately, then just layer on for a gourmet sandwich.

9. Spicy Sesame Noodles with Chopped Peanuts and Thai Basil: This is a great make-it-yourself alternative to heavy takeout food. Enjoy warm or cold.

10. PB&J Wrap: An upgrade to a classic, complete with hearty granola, fresh fruit, and a whole wheat tortilla in place of bread. Even parents will find themselves scarfing down this ultra kid-friendly wrap.

11. Chickpea and Cucumber Salad With Hummus: This salad is simple enough that kids typically won’t put up a fight, but chickpeas, feta, and dill elevate it just to the point of being satisfying and interesting for mom and dad, too.

I hope I’ve provided you with some lunchtime inspiration, and taken some of the load off your shoulders! Stay tuned for the last post of the series a week from next Tuesday, where we’ll be covering easy weeknight dinner ideas!


Mexican Roasted Cauliflower

The Mexican-inspired version is spiced with cumin and chili powder, and topped with toasted pepitas (also known as green pumpkin seeds). We’ll add raw pepitas to the pan when we toss the cauliflower at the halfway point, so they get toasty but not burnt. Garnish with cilantro and lime zest for the perfect Mexican side dish for my veggie enchiladas.



RECIPES to try

This is not a recipe blog so I do not spend weeks perfecting a recipe, and then recreate it taking dozens of photos. What I do do - since I rarely find recipes that are healthy as written - I start with someone else's recipe that is close to healthy and then I hack it to remove the ingredients and processes I prefer not to use. If my changes are successful, I post it on My Favorite Recipes.

The recipes on this page are those that I have not yet hacked .

All the recipes on this page are links to external websites. I'm sharing the list to help other CSA members who might be looking for ideas using CSA produce. I will be creating a better index - the page has gotten way too long!


If you're looking for a posted recipe, you can use the search bar on the right ===========>
If you want to search the list in this post you will need to use your computer's "find" option.


For a list of the recipes I've created or hacked, press here for Barb's Favorite Recipes.


If you want to hack the recipes on this page press here to learn how to do it.


6. Bacchanalia

The three chapters of Bacchanalia say as much about the changing nature of fine dining as they do about the changing nature of Atlanta. In chapter one, Bacchanalia resided in posh digs in Buckhead, then the epicenter of the city’s food scene. Even before the brigade of Atlanta’s high-end restaurants (and high-end everything) began its trek toward less-exclusive zip codes, Bacchanalia entered its second chapter, boldly moving in 1999 to a repurposed warehouse in a then sleepy part of town: the Westside. It was a smart move—the area subsequently exploded in growth. In 2017, Bacchanalia began its third chapter, ditching its rarefied home for a more relaxed space even farther west. Chef Anne Quatrano and her husband, Cliff Harrison, haven’t merely stayed ahead of the curve—they’ve drawn the curve. And though Bacchanalia’s elegantly simple food—crafted with impeccably sourced ingredients (many of them from Quatrano’s own farm)—hasn’t changed much in 26 years, it’s no less influential. There’s a reason why chefs at the top two restaurants on this list worked in Quatrano’s kitchen. Bacchanalia has defined the way we eat (and where).

Black spaghetti with red shrimp

Photograph by Andrew Thomas Lee


Restaurant Guide 2012: Listings A-Z

[WORTH A CLIMB] Erin McBride does wonderful things with beets. And kale. And sometimes peaches. The Ohio-born farm girl made desserts at Higgins and cooked with Lincoln's Jenn Louis for years before she teamed up with friends to open 2nd Story, a small bistro/bar upstairs from the couple's Cellar Door Coffee in Southeast Portland. Nothing about this small-plates dinner spot crammed into three rooms of a former house makes a lot of sense. There's old soul on the iPod, Oregon and French wines, and candlelit tables for canoodling, but McBride's light, fresh flavors and excellent jams and pickles scream to be admired during daylight hours at brunch or lunch. Regardless, there's also a big wood bar where you can sip a quince-spiked gin and tonic and other house-infused elixirs. The shareable menu veers from creamy soups and salads to cannelloni and grilled cheese, but she's almost always serving something involving pig—for better or worse. Start and end your meal with things in jars. A double handful of restaurants in town are making their own great pickles, and 2nd Story is one of them: tart golden beets and curry-laced cauliflower florets, punchy string beans and sweet zucchini bread 'n' butters served in a squat glass jar big enough to give two diners pucker face. Later, order the silky caramel pudding for dessert, again served in one of those jars. And again, you can share it—but your faces will be all smiles this time. KELLY CLARKE.

Ideal meal: Soup, pickles, quinoa, steak, pudding.

Best deal: Half bottle of local wine ($11-$20).

5 pm-close Wednesday-Saturday. $.

1429 SE 37th Ave., 236-6886, 3doorsdowncafe.com.

[DOOR PRIZE] Three doors down—get it?—from busy Southeast Hawthorne Boulevard is a refined and romantic Italian-cum-Northwest cafe with the laid-back vibe common to these parts. Seated at a small table kept dark by the blinds along the bay window, you will encounter overdressed couples scanning the wine list and maybe a middle-aged man who's had a few glasses of that wine, warning his parents about the undocumented alien in the White House. So, yes, a big, noise-neutralizing wall hanging could help. Happily, the standard complement of salmon, pork chop, steak and roast chicken is a welcome distraction. The antipasto includes olives and beet-flavored pickled onions. Those salty, pan-fried Padrón peppers popping up everywhere are well done here, with a balance of mild and spicy specimens. The classic Caesar salad offers an explosion of salty, fishy delight with both anchovies and anchovy-flavored croutons. The serving staff will tag-team you to keep the dinner courses—and drinks—coming at a steady pace. Eat, drink and ignore the conspiracy theorist. JOHN LOCANTHI.

Ideal meal: Sliced cured Italian meats, provolone cheese, Italian olives and marinated mushrooms Caesar salad grilled pork tenderloin with braised greens Creole bread pudding.

Best deal: Daily lasagna and a Manhattan for less than $15 at happy hour.

5-9:30 pm Thursday-Saturday, 4-9 pm Sunday. $$.

7742 SE 13th Ave., 206-3291, acenapdx.com.

[RUSTIC ITALIAN] It's fitting that A Cena is nestled along Sellwood's antique row. The Italian restaurant's hearty, flavorful offerings recall vintage treasures—at least, from the window shopper's vantage. Italian basics like bruschetta, caprese, pizza and eggplant dishes are all on the menu however, A Cena's attention to detail sets it apart. The aforementioned caprese, for example, features a housemade burrata cheese. That involves a rather laborious process for such a common appetizer, yet the extra effort shines in the velvety texture. You get the impression executive chef Gabe Gabreski wants patrons who may be fresh from the antique shops that surround his restaurant to take the same approach in digging for the hidden uniqueness in each dish. Main courses, such as the Sweet Briar Farms pork loin paired with crispy potatoes and grilled peaches, are simple yet intensely flavorful, a nod to the décor and environment of the restaurant. Butcher paper lines the tables and, if it happens to be uneven, your server will graciously correct it. A simple gesture, but one that so perfectly fits A Cena's subtle charm. MICHAEL LOPEZ.

Ideal meal: Caprese, braised greens, pappardelle.

Best deal: The pork cut varies daily and is market price, but is a well-rounded portion.

5-9 pm Monday, 11:30 am-2 pm and 5-9 pm Tuesday-Thursday, 11:30 am-2:30 pm and 5-10 pm Friday, 10 am-2 pm and 5-10 pm Saturday, 10 am-2 pm and 5-9 pm Sunday. $$.

2838 SE Belmont St., 235-4900, accantopdx.com.

[THE BABY] Accanto was intended to be a modest, casual complement to Genoa, the proud older sister which shares its building. In fact, the name means "next door." But by borrowing big sis's prettiest outfit—simple handmade pastas outshine the rest of Genoa's extravagant prix fixe menu—to pair with familiar fare like bruschetta, gazpacho and a lamb ste ak, Accanto ends up taking the top bunk. Wine and cocktails are appropriately unfussy. The big little-gem salad, a hybrid Caesar with anchovies, croutons and Parmesan dressing, should be split. The charcuterie plate is wonderfully direct: spicy salami with loud and creamy cheeses and a little bread. We had great luck with two daily specials. A grilled white-fish dish with steamed green beans and polenta was refreshing. Fat, slurpable spaghetti in hearty marinara with four giant, parsley-bombed meatballs took the opposite tack. A popular brunch menu includes familiar fare like bacon, toast and eggs along with duck hash and an Italian tripe stew. Arrive between 5 and 6 pm for happy-hour steals—they're even sweeter as you pay the modest check just as fatter wallets start arriving next door. MARTIN CIZMAR.

Ideal meal: Meat-and-cheese plate, fried squash blossoms, potato gnocchi and grilled pound cake.

Best deal: Listen closely to the daily specials or go with the miniaturized prix fixe menu, $24 for three courses.

11 am-10 pm Monday-Thursday, 11 am-midnight Friday-Saturday, 9 am-2 pm Saturday-Sunday. No reservations. $.

1314 NW Glisan St. 228-9535, andinarestaurant.com.

[PER OOO] It only took one generation for Peruvian chefs to pin their national cuisine to the world map through innovative exploitation of their unmatched array of chilies, potatoes and seafood. Despite all the Novoandina panache on Andina's massive menu, the elevated basics on the tapas page make the deepest impressions. Take the tortilla de patata, a Spanish-style potato quiche served in cheesecake-sized slices drizzled with an aioli spiked with Peru's signature yellow chile. It's peasant food, my Peruvian neighbor laughs, but Andina's version is worth the premium price and making a reservation at this Pearl restaurant, which is still rapidly populated by National Geographic Traveler subscribers every night nearly a decade after opening. The same can be said for the anticucho, skewers of beef heart marinated until the muscle is soft enough to enjoy dipped in a salsa of the red Peruvian rocoto pepper. Though it's easy to make a meal of tapas, the double rack of lamb and a roasted chicken half served with quinoa and a sweet potato beckon. Oh, and save room for the flan—Andina's version of the traditional custard gets a red-wine caramel sauce and is served with a grape sorbet that will make it your new standard. MARTIN CIZMAR.

Ideal meal: Tortilla de patata, roasted chicken with quinoa and flan.

Best deal: The wonderful free bread (See page 31.)

11:30 am-2:30 pm daily, 4-9:30 pm Sunday-Thursday, 4-10:30 pm Friday-Saturday. $$.

4741 SE Hawthorne Blvd. 233-1286, apizzascholls.com.

[CORNER!] There's a way to avoid the obnoxious line separating you and Portland's best pizza. On slow midweek nights, Apizza Scholls will let you carry one of its massive, modestly priced and stupefyingly delicious pies right out the front door of its crowded little Hawthorne shop. It feels like robbing a bank. But you have to order it in person, not by phone. Oh, and they switch the nights its allowed. Also, they toss the boxed pizza on the bar to cool when it's done, no matter when they told you it'd be ready. For your trouble, you won't have to sit in a muggy room devoid of any atmosphere save for the servers hollering "Corner!" as they walk into the kitchen, as though they're escaping a collapsing mineshaft. So maybe just suck it up and either make a reservation two weeks in advance or put your name on the waiting list. Whatever the conditions for acquiring inarguably the best pie in town and arguably the best on the West Coast, who are we to complain? Order a beer while you wait, then get the antipasti plate and the sausage-and-pepper pizza—which was actually even better when they still used Mama Lil's peppers. If you feel yourself getting itchy, get a second beer. The pizza will come and it will be totally worth it. MARTIN CIZMAR.

Ideal meal: A bowl of olives and the sausage-and-pepper pie.

Best deal: The massive house salad ($8).

5-9:30 pm Monday-Saturday, 4-8 pm Sunday. $-$$.

1733 NE Alberta St. 287-2400, aviarypdx.com.

[IT SOARS] The best dishes at Aviary can challenge what you consider edible. The most exciting restaurant in town, and our Restaurant of the Year, Aviary makes a crispy pig's ear that looks like shreds of the cartilage my dogs gnaw on. Served with avocado, greens and nubs of sausage on a bed of sweet coconut rice, it's a game-changer. The fried chicken skin salad is exactly what it sounds like—salty, greasy skin from a piece of fried chicken on top of cooling watermelon with a smear of baba ghanoush. Tempura-fried green beans come with a green curry sauce you'll mop up. Even the desserts here impress, turning mashed-up breakfast cereal and tart strawberries into something simultaneously fresh and decadent. Go, enjoy and see if you don't consider snatching that ear from your pooch. MARTIN CIZMAR.

Ideal meal: Tempura green beans, fried chicken skin salad, crispy pig's ear, a dessert to yourself.

Best deal: Most of the happy hour isn't great, but you can get the green beans for $5.

5-10 pm Monday-Thursday, 5-11 pm Friday-Saturday. $.

836 NW 23rd Ave., 229-1925 310 SE 28th Ave., 232-5255, bamboosushi.com.

[SUSTAINABLE SEAFOOD] Bamboo Sushi not only opened its second location this summer in Northwest Portland, the restaurant also donated $250,000 to create and fund a marine preserve in the Bahamas. The latter is a bold and beautiful move and makes eating at both restaurants all the sweeter—er, saltier. The Nob Hill Bamboo serves the same delicious, sustainably sourced sushi and elevated Japanese dishes as the original Southeast location in its large and well-serviced dining room. Even though expertly prepared sushi is the draw, try at least one or two other dishes. The grilled shisito peppers tossed in miso butter with Nueske's bacon and bonito flakes are crazy good, and so is the smoked and seared wagyu brisket. LIZ CRAIN.

Ideal meal: Gin Henson cocktail wild Alaskan salmon sashimi Marine Stewardship Council-approved "local" roll with albacore, jalapeño and cucumber topped with East Coast red crab the "house on fire" mackerel topped with red chili oil and pickled mustard "caviar" whatever else you have room for.

Best deal: Any of the tasty vegetable dishes ($6-$7).

4-10 pm daily, Northwest location 4:30-10 pm daily, Southeast location. Reservations for parties of seven or more. $-$$.

2138 SE Division St., 517-0808, baravignon.com.

[GLASS HOUSE] The cornerstone of this convivial Southeast Division Street corner boîte is a sharp list of Northwest, French and Spanish wines. But those bottles, and two dozen excellent by-the-glass options, are just one of the charms of this boisterously romantic spot. Try sharing a big bowl of plump mussels in creamy wine sauce and a tiny plate of tender octopus paired with green goddess dressing in a raised booth, or nibbling a trio of international cheeses and a flight of rieslings while perched elbow-to-elbow with your neighbors at the long bar that takes up much of the wee, dimly lit dining room. There's not a lot of bargains to be found here, but the quality of the wine and the short menu of seasonal Northwest/Euro eats are worth the price tags. The staff is game to answer any and all vino questions, but after you've got a glass under your belt, transition to one of the bar's wickedly well-balanced booze concoctions like a Cherry Heering-laced Blood and Sand. KELLY CLARKE.

Ideal meal: Share rosemary-paprika hazelnuts, Spanish octopus salad and a bottle of whatever co-owner Randy Goodman tells you to drink.

Best deal: Those tarragon-spiked mussels are only $7 and the red, white or pink "wine of the day" is $5 during weekday happy hour (5-6 pm Monday-Friday).

727 SE Washington St., 235-8180, beakerandflask.com.

[BARTENDING 202] Peering from the circular depths of a tall black leather booth at the bartenders in this Southeast Sandy foodie fortress feels like watching a legion of rock-star scientists tinkering away in their boozy laboratory. They nimbly conjure up heady, elaborate cocktails whose ingredients are designed to wash over your palate one by one, a gustatory adventure that was guided by our delightfully cerebral server. Armed with the verbosity of a 400-level college class, he describes one drink as "a botanical sidecar with the apricot right in the front," and another as "super-herbaceous." We loved the aptly named Eternal Sunshine, a gentle citrusy sipper, and the Devil in a Boot, a militantly stiff scotch concoction buoyed by Cointreau and bitters. But as excellent as the liquid offerings are, the food is even better. A special small plate of hushpuppy-battered scallops with thick romesco dipping sauce is pure comfort, while the crispy pig ears are crunchy, bacon-topped glory. The watermelon salad is a bizarre, triumphant amalgam of sweet watermelon chunks, savory feta, oily black olives and gorgeous edible flowers. And the Oregon Albacore, resting in soft, meaty slabs atop a light fingerling potato salad and surrounded by explosive smoked tomatoes and curly baby octopus, is perfect. EMILY JENSEN.

Ideal meal: Watermelon salad, Oregon Albacore, and panna cotta with fresh beignets.

Best deal: Crispy pig ears ($4). Just do it.

5-11 pm Monday-Saturday. $-$$.

5425 NE 30th Ave., 841-6968, beastpdx.com.

[MARK IT] Beast is bratty. Like a gifted but precocious teenager, this tiny Concordia restaurant delivers a superb prix-fixe meal with all the bravado of a slamming bedroom door. Having won a skirmish with animal-rights activists over foie gras—an important victory, as a decadent gelée-topped bonbon of goose liver was the very best taste of our six courses—Beast decorates its doorstep with a graffitied protest sign. It's also slapped with a sticker bearing the familiar logo of seminal punk band Black Flag—honoring the "punk rock" spirit of any $75 meal. Ignore the froshy Nietzsche quote in the bathroom and owner/chef Naomi Pomeroy's bloody promo photos and enjoy what you're brought—it'll be delicious, largely seasonal and slightly different than you'd expect. And, because it's Beast, you'll slice it up with a Jean DuBost knife that looks like a switchblade. There's been talk of Beast moving to a space downtown, an odd idea as most seatings sell out among more modestly priced real estate, but it would be interesting to watch the restaurant evolve surrounded by grown-ups. MARTIN CIZMAR.

Ideal meal: You have no choices. You will eat what you're brought.

Best deal: The beer selection usually includes a 22-ounce or 750-milliliter bottle perfect for splitting at about half the price of any wine.

Dinner seatings 6 and 8:45 pm Wednesday-Saturday and 7 pm Sunday by reservation only, brunch 10 am and noon Sunday. $$.

1639 NW Marshall St., 688-1655, thebentbrick.com.

[DRINKING FOOD] This casual, airy Slabtown offshoot of Park Kitchen, Scott Dolich's endlessly pleasing restaurant at the edge of the Pearl, combines practical considerations with lofty ambitions. As an excellent, affordable cocktail and wine bar in a rapidly gentrifying neighborhood, it hosts chatty post-work crowds for snacks and a drink or two, but Dolich and executive chef Will Preisch are pursuing new extremes of the regionalist culinary philosophy pioneered up the street, at Paley's Place. You'll find no imported spirits at the bar, and almost no bottles on the wine list—nearly all of Bent Brick's Oregon and Washington vintages are served from taps, straight from the barrel. Preisch's menu, at its best, offers inspired collisions of fast and slow food: Padrón peppers, which have their own AOC in Spain, are stuffed with cheese, breaded and deep-fried. The salade aux lardons comes with fried pickles and "deviled egg sauce." Country ham is accented by powdered Frank's hot sauce fried chicken livers are served on waffles, with a smear of liver pâté and a sprinkling of gooseberries. Can't choose? For $55, Preisch will serve you every one of the 19 dishes on the menu. If that sounds like too much food (it is), just get the tender poached mussels and a glass of Eyrie Pinot Blanc. BEN WATERHOUSE.

Ideal meal: Eat the whole menu. Whatever plans you had can wait.

Best deal: For $30, you get three items from the "small" section of the menu. (They aren't small, trust me.) The only catch is, you don't get to choose which ones.

Bete-Lukas Ethiopian Restaurant

2504 SE 50th Ave., 477-8778, bete-lukas.com.

[OUT OF AFRICA] Just off Southeast Division Street on the second floor of a mixed-use building, Bete-Lukas is the most upscale of Portland's Ethiopian restaurants. Separated from the cluster around Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard by both geography and atmosphere, Bete-Lukas is open for dinner only and gets busy enough for the maitre d' to put parties of two at the bar. That same maitre d' is not shy about suggestions. If you're going to introduce someone to the charms of East African cuisine for the first time, this restaurant offers a soft landing. Bete-Lukas is polished, with cloth napkins and white tablecloths. Also, the dishes, served in the customary communal style on pancakelike injera, have both well-trimmed meat and vegetables that are allowed to stay more crisp than at most Ethiopian restaurants. The beef dishes, including the lean kitfo served either raw or cooked, have ardent fans, but don't miss the fosolia, a lightly spiced green-bean dish. MARTIN CIZMAR.

Ideal meal: Veggie combo ($11) and meat combo ($14).

Best deal: Veggie combo ($11).

5 pm-close Tuesday-Sunday. $.

[POSH DASHI] Competition among Portland's Japanese restaurants heated up in the last year. So where does that leave Biwa, the subterranean dining spot that nearly had the izakaya landscape to itself when it opened in 2007? Recent meals showed, once again, that Biwa still ranks among the leaders in the small-plates-and-ramen derby. The menu is divided into cold and hot appetizers, snacks, yakimono (from the grill) and noodle soups. A great way to start is with a plate of Japanese pickles, which on our latest visit included watermelon rind, fava beans, kohlrabi and a curried egg. Hiya yakko, chilled soft tofu topped with bonito flakes, was delicate and flavorful. Sashimi of Atlantic diver scallops tasted as good as anything you'd find in a sushi bar, served in a dashi broth with bloops of red chili oil and basil from Biwa's garden. The restaurant also grows its own shiso, which was a costar in a special of heirloom tomatoes and housemade mayo. The staff is friendly and helpful, happy to explain what's in your dish or what you should be drinking with it. A complimentary offering of unfiltered sake paired well with the rich flavors of grilled chicken livers. Many diners come here to get their ramen fix. That usually means hot soup, but on a warm summer evening we opted for chilled noodles in a pool of dashi and topped with picture-perfect sections of sliced chicken, carrot, cucumber, onion, bean sprout and pickled daikon. It was refreshing with light, subtle textures. Much like Biwa itself. ROB FERNAS.

Ideal meal: Japanese pickles, hiya yakko, sashimi, chicken livers, ramen.

Best deal: The Biwa hamburger ($8) is available after 9 pm.

250 NW 13th Ave., 226-3394, bluehouronline.com.

[HAUTE PLATES] This swanky Pearl institution, which has been feeding the well-heeled in Portland for more than a decade, seemed to grow a little stale over time. That changed last year when Thomas Boyce was hired to succeed founding chef Kenny Giambalvo. Boyce, whose résumé includes a lengthy stint at Spago, Wolfgang Puck's flagship restaurant in L.A., has reinvigorated Bluehour's menu while maintaining the high standards set by his predecessor. The food leans toward Italian and French, but Boyce isn't afraid to stray outside those lines. One of his best starters, a terrine of octopus, exhibits a Korean flair with spicy marinated daikon and shiso—the whole prepared like a delectable cephalopod head cheese. Another starter, a foie gras parfait, was light as mousse, served under a layer of riesling gelée and accompanied on a board by cherry compote and tart pickled gooseberries. It was paired perfectly with a glass of Sauternes. The kitchen's deft touch with fish was apparent in a complimentary amuse bouche of albacore tartare with plum and cucumber marinade, as well as in two entrees. Sauteed Alaskan cod with sweet Maine shrimp, baby artichokes and cippolini onions all simmered nicely in a saffron-shellfish broth, and the roasted king salmon came swimming in a pond of caramelized corn and benefited from a sweet/salty balance with the fish's crisp skin. Sweet corn also shines in the tortellini, among several interesting pasta dishes on the menu. As for the atmosphere, it doesn't get much more stylish in Portland. Bluehour's milieu resonates like a Mondrian painting—all clean lines and angles, with the high ceilings broken by 16-foot-high drapery panels. A signature elegance comes from black wire-hung chandeliers with globes like glowing softballs. Servers are courteous and efficient. Of course, eating here doesn't come cheap—unless you stick to happy-hour fare served in the bar area. Is it worth it? For those who can afford it, most certainly. ROB FERNAS.

Ideal meal: Terrine of octopus, pasta, fish.

Best deal: Bluehour burger with smoked bacon cheddar and fries ($12) at happy hour (until 6:30 pm).

11:30 am-2:30 pm and 4-10 pm Monday-Friday, 5-10 pm Saturday, 5-9 pm Sunday. $$-$$.

1028 SE Water Ave., 719-5698, bokebowl.com.

[THE NEW NOODLE] With its clean lines, design-conscious self-branding and techy iconography, Boke Bowl's interior looks more than anything like an Apple store. It's the iPad of Portland ramen houses: a coolly pragmatic American gloss on Asian aesthetics and cuisine, and a place where convenience comes in the form of high-priced, minimalist efficiency. Even when the place is full, meals often arrive within minutes of being ordered at the counter, leaving precious little time to watch the noodles being made at the restaurant's rear. Unlike Apple's closed manifolds, however, at Boke Bowl everything is modular. You choose your dashi (broth) from pork, caramelized fennel, seafood miso or the only occasionally available duck, and bring in somewhat eccentric add-ons to taste, with options including buttermilk-fried chicken and cornmeal-crusted oysters. The mammoth bowls are beautifully complex, and bespeak a flavor profile as Northwest continental as it is Japanese. Authenticity, after all, is the hobgoblin of narrow palates. In addition to the ramen, the menu offers a shotgun blast to the wall map: Korean pickles, Momofuku-style folded steamed buns that look like little Chinese gorditas, fusion forms of American Midwestern and Southern treats (namely, Twinkies and fried pies). The little steamed buns are uniformly pleasant but are a quite small meal without sides. Boke Bowl's chef and owner are at play with cuisine, and even with the idea of a restaurant. It's a sense of play that sneaks into the experience of eating. It's fun to be at Boke Bowl. MATTHEW KORFHAGE.

Ideal meal: Caramelized fennel dashi with pork belly and slow-poached egg add-ons. Or pork dashi with fried chicken.

Best deal: Boke Bird dinner, a half-chicken and sides for $25.

10:30 am-3 pm Monday-Wednesday, 10:30 am-9:30 pm Thursday-Saturday, Boke Bird dinner served 5-9:30 pm Thursday. $.


Restaurant Guide 2012: Listings by Cuisine

[ALL-DAY MEAT COMA] The Country Cat bills itself as a “dinner house,” but that’s just co-owner and head chef Adam Sappington being modest. Its name and inviting wood interior suggest a down-home breakfast spot, and in truth, this 5-year-old Montavilla diner does brunch just as well as supper. As a restaurant that proudly hangs its cleaver on delivering classic Southern comfort food, the chicken-fried steak is perfection, but the true winner of the early menu is the Slow Burn, two eggs atop knee-weakening pork chile and a bed of creamy grits. (Also, the bloody marys come garnished with Sappington’s housemade beef jerky.) As for the meal on the proverbial marquee, each week the menu shifts to accommodate a different meat experience. Plan to visit whenever pig is the featured animal and order the “Big Ass” pork chop, served with blackberries, rosemary walnuts and those unbeatable grits. Not a hog person? Well, you’ve probably chosen the wrong place to get dinner, but the impeccably moist cast-iron skillet fried chicken—available at brunch with toasted pecan-bacon spoonbread and maple syrup—is hardly an afterthought. MATTHEW SINGER.

Ideal meal: The mercurial Whole Hog sampler—pork chop, pork belly and pork shoulder all on the same plate—isn't always available, but when it is, accept nothing else.

Best deal: A three-course meal of heirloom tomatoes and bacon, red-wine-braised beef and potatoes, and honey lavender semifreddo with blackberry compote for $25.

Irving Street Kitchen

[THE NEW SOUTH] Chef Sarah Schafer has a strange ambition. She aims to elevate Southern food—that staple of back porches and barbecue pits—to haute cuisine, one renovated dish at a time. This is akin to composing a symphony for banjo and mouth harp, but gosh darned if Irving Street Kitchen doesn’t get most of the way there. The infusion of French and Pacific Northwest elements into most dishes is initially off-putting (and I still can’t quite get behind the signature fried chicken, which is injected with Tabasco, butter and garlic but somehow has a medicinal aftertaste), but the results often dawn upon you at the second or third bite. That’s certainly the case with a slow-baked Chinook salmon that my server warned was “earthy.” True enough, but it barely hints at how the fish joins with mushrooms and polenta to feel more like a forest creature. The dining room above the First Thursday crowds is one of the Pearl District’s more splendidly grandiose spaces that expansiveness is echoed in a corn soup flavored with huitlacoche (a fungus also known as “corn smut,” which offers an oil not unlike seaweed), and a bourbon butter-glazed cornbread so large and sweet it counts as cake. What I’m saying: Irving Street Kitchen is best when it’s corny. AARON MESH.

Ideal meal: White corn soup, baked Chinook salmon.

Best deal: These are Pearl prices, darlin’, but the Ken’s Artisan Bread is free.

4:30-10 pm Monday-Thursday, 4:30-11 pm Friday-Saturday, 4:30-9:30 pm Sunday brunch 10 am-2:30 pm Saturday-Sunday. $$.

231 NW 11th Ave., 227-2421, theparishpdx.com.

[AW SHUCKS] This New Orleans-inspired bistro from Tobias Hogan and Ethan Powell, the owners of North Williams Avenue’s EaT: An Oyster Bar, takes its name from Louisiana’s equivalent of counties. Opening in the Pearl District in May, the restaurant is more elegant than EaT, embracing the ecclesiastical connotations of its title through booths that have a gothic geometry and a host station made from a salvaged pulpit. The menu, divided into six categories, is about as easy to parse as Leviticus. For all the churchiness of the space, the Parish worships only at the altar of the almighty oyster, up to a dozen varieties that are available in a dozen raw, baked or fried. Go raw. They come well-shucked and sparely dressed, with only some lemon to offset the brine. For the best view, grab a captain’s chair at the bar and watch the shuckers at work while you sip a glass of bubbly or a Pilsner. Non-fish dishes are inconsistent, but the other seafood dishes are invariably enjoyable. The creamy shrimp étouffée has a peppery kick, and the soft-shell crab on a soft roll is what every fast-food fish sandwich aspires to be, dressed with mayo and pickles like a Big Mac but with a delicious, crisp-fried crab in place of a soggy tilapia patty. Grilled jumbo shrimp are excellent, crisp but still tender, with a pimento bite. All were improved by a glass of white from the restaurant’s surprisingly affordable wine list, which includes a number of sub-$30 bottles. BEN WATERHOUSE.

Ideal meal: A half-dozen raw oysters and the octopus salad with rabbit sausage.

Best deal: The $25 prix fixe offers savings equal to getting a free dessert.

11 am-10 pm Monday-Thursday, 11 am-midnight Friday, 3 pm-midnight Saturday, 3-10 pm Sunday brunch 10 am-3 pm Saturday-Sunday. $$.

1625 NE Killingsworth St., 281-3700, podnahspit.com.

[BRISK ME] The barbershop-dotted intersection of Northeast Killingsworth Street and 16th Avenue has been regularly colonized—noted socialist Barack Obama rented a state campaign headquarters here in 2008—but since Rodney Muirhead relocated his barbecue emporium to the corner last year, it has served as an outpost of Texas. You can smell the Waxahachie smoke from a block away. That Ole Hickory Pits smoker fires up at 5 am daily, fueling huge plates of ribs and brisket for a spacious white room that looks like a country art gallery. The kitchen paints in surprisingly delicate strokes for a place that offers free slices of white bread as a perpetual sauce-dauber: The dry rub on the half-racks is administered moderately enough for the full flavor of the meat to yodel through, while the traditionally monotonous starter that is an iceberg lettuce wedge is spiked with a lusty Thousand Island dressing. The best sides are rotated on and off the menu—here’s wishing you the chance to order a green-chili mac ’n’ cheese, which is flat-out the best iteration city-wide of that common dish, with a barely burnt crust on top accentuating the fire of the peppers. The only patrons likely to be disappointed are those who order an exhaustingly vinegar-laden pulled pork. And, of course, vegans: This place is to herbivores what a haunted mansion is to Hollywood starlets. Call it the House of Waxahachie. AARON MESH.

Ideal meal: Brisket plate with baked beans and mac ’n’ cheese.

Best deal: Frito pie ($4.50). But everything here is dirt cheap.

11 am-9 pm Monday-Thursday, 11 am-10 pm Friday, 9 am-10 pm Saturday, 9 am-9 pm Sunday. $.

[LINE STARTS HERE] The paradox of Portland’s most formidable brunch line is that you stand for an hour before you sit down to eat, but it’s after the meal that you need a long walk. If Southerners actually took their comfort in such large portions every day, they could have formed a human wall to stop Sherman. Still, it’s the sort of Dixie cooking that puts on airs like a belle: not just hush puppies but hush puppies flecked with peppers, and a honey Creole mustard dipping sauce. (My lawd!) The pecan trout is a very nice fish, simply but carefully prepared, and I will never refuse mashed potatoes this rich. The hero of the menu is actually a snack—divine pimento cheese with housemade crackers. But let’s talk honestly: This is not the best chicken and waffle in town, or even close, and long waits carry with them a form of meal inflation familiar from every family Thanksgiving where you waited through an entire Lions game for the food. Like that meal, this one will make you want to sleep afterward, and you’ll dream you were perfectly rewarded for your endurance. AARON MESH.

Ideal meal: Pimiento-cheese-and-bacon breakfast sandwich.

Best deal: Organic oatmeal ($4.75).

5:30-9pm Sunday-Monday, 5:30-10pm Tuesday-Saturday brunch 9 am-2:30 pm Saturday-Sunday. $.

413 NW 21st Ave., 373-8990, smokehouse21.com.

[HOWLIN’ FOR YOU] There’s something inexplicably decadent and wonderful about a restaurant offering a koozie to keep your beer cold and your hand warm. Smokehouse 21 has its own house-branded koozies, the perfect sleeve for a $2 PBR while enjoying some of the best pulled pork in town. This is bougiecue: Meat like what the Civil War’s losing side eats while watching stock car races and MMA bouts, sides that incorporate slightly more vegetable matter and less cheese, proper napkins, show-quality taxidermy and the Black Keys. The pulled pork is the reason to come to this Alphabet District bistro. It’s juicy and rich with smoke. Get a sandwich on a brioche bun from Ken’s, pick your favorite sauce, and have at ’er. The sides are equally impressive. The greens are sharp with vinegar, but their perfect consistency—crisp yet fully cooked—makes up for it. Baked beans and macaroni and cheese, both topped with a cornbread crust and infused with leftover meat, are pleasantly rich. Fingerling potatoes, shallots and grainy mustard give the potato salad a wonderful earthiness. MARTIN CIZMAR.

Ideal meal: Pickled watermelon, pulled pork sandwich with fingerling potato salad and a PBR.

Best deal: A quarter pound of pulled pork ($3.50).

2225 NE Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., 284-3366, oxpdx.com.

[EXTRAORDINARY ARGENTINE] After two fruitful years as hired guns at Pearl District wine bar Metrovino, Gabrielle Quiñónez Denton and her husband and co-chef, Greg Denton, have their own place on a block of Northeast Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard once better known for dive bars and Ethiopian restaurants. The restaurant describes itself fittingly as “Argentine-inspired Portland food.” One of the most impressive new restaurants in town, Ox is a trifecta of delicious dishes, superb service and an alluring atmosphere. The centerpiece of this splendid restaurant is the beef, lamb and pork coming off the elaborate wood-fired stainless-steel grill, which is raised and lowered by hand. For all the seeming complexity of this apparatus, meat cooked on it consistently arrives at the proper temperature, buttery tender and seasoned assertively but not excessively. The meats are transcendent, but the rest of the menu is what makes Ox more than a steakhouse with a sexy Spanish accent. Bone-in halibut and maitake mushroom, both grilled, are no mere sop to the red meat-averse. Salads with grilled radicchio, arugula and chevre, or gem lettuces, fried chickpeas and feta also impress. A well-trained service staff knows the menu and to avoid the “everything is great” fail-safe. They are pleasant without excess familiarity and efficient without rushing you toward the door. You may want to linger a while—watching the cooks manage that grill and letting your steak settle. MICHAEL C. ZUSMAN.

Ideal meal: Chilled seafood sampler, grilled radicchio salad and skirt steak.

Best deal: Asado Argentino for two ($60).

5 pm-close Tuesday-Sunday. $$.

3862 SE Hawthorne Blvd., 206-8292, luckystrikepdx.com.

[FIRE IN THE BELLY] Diners whose only experience with Sichuan cooking is ordering from the “Szechuan” section of the menu of your typical Chinese restaurant may find Lucky Strike somewhat challenging. While there are many dishes this Hawthorne eatery produces that won’t require a sweatband to eat, like a seafood pancake ($8) done Korean style, brimming with shrimp, squid and oysters showered in shaved bonito flakes, the real action is with those items that crank up the Scoville and make generous use of Sichuan peppercorns. If it’s on the menu, snag a bowl of Drunken Belly ($12), a mound of braised pork belly swimming in fiery soy ginger sauce, and revel in the tingling, numbing sensation provided by the peppercorns, allowing you to eat far more of the chilies than is medically recommended. Easing your way into the menu is also a possibility, as the less spicy Beans and Beans ($8) pairs some of the best stir-fried string beans in the city with the salty funk of fermented black beans. Do keep in mind, as you down your third helping of Spicy Rib and Potato Stew ($13.50), the numbing effects of the peppercorns don’t carry over to the following morning. BRIAN PANGANIBAN.

Ideal meal: Drunken Belly, Beans and Beans, a mound of white rice and the next day off.

Best deal: Again, the Beans and Beans. Some places charge more for a cocktail.

4-10 pm Sunday-Thursday, 4-11 pm Friday-Saturday. $.

[DIM SUM] There are many things to be confused by while eating dim sum at this always-crowded, enormous 82nd Avenue Chinese restaurant. For one, what is the hooked mystery meat slowly dripping fat under the heat lamp by the register in between the whole fried duck and pork belly? It’s barbecued pork—now you don’t have to ask. Carts of steamy, mostly savory dumplings, noodles, buns, stir fries, short ribs, boiled chicken feet, congee (Asian rice porridge) and more roll through the dining room during daily dim sum, and there will often be one or two mystery items considering that the women who push the carts usually speak very little English. Boldly try the unknown or settle for the easy-to-read shrimp dumplings, which are worth the trip alone. Go with your gut and with a large group. That way you can sit at one of the large round tables with a Lazy Susan and share. You can always order from the gigantic menu as well, which offers everything from crispy garlic fried chicken and sautéed snow pea tips to a braised rockfish and tofu clay pot. LIZ CRAIN.

Ideal meal: Pot of hot tea, crab cooked one of nine ways, pork and shrimp shumai, pork bun, shrimp wrapped in rice noodles, golden egg custard bun for dessert.

Best deal: For weekend dim sum, two can eat like carb-loading kings and queens for less than $30 and with much less of a wait then at Wong’s King.

9:30 am-midnight daily, dim sum 9:30 am-3 pm daily. $-$.

2446 SE 87th Ave., Suite 101, 772-1808, purespicerestaurant.com.

[EAST CHINA SEE] Pure Spice’s maddeningly well-lit fish tank of a restaurant—in a mostly Chinese strip mall across Southeast Division Street from a shop offering eyebrow tattoos—looks far from promising from the outside. But it is a world of eclectic, oft-unfamiliar splendors, all reasonably priced. The housemade cilantro-onion rice noodle appetizers look like soft baklava and are mild, rich and delicate to the point of ethereality. The experience, a companion said, was “like eating clouds.” One could eat them to the point of drowning. Pure Spice’s likewise housemade kimchee was beautifully and numbingly spicy—made with crisp, brightly acidic baby bok choy—while its massive boat of tan tan noodles are the sweet and not the Sichuan hot-oil version, mildly spiced and sledged over with a dense magma flow of pork and peanut. The hot pots may as well be homestyle European stews, coddled by the juices of the meat and slow-cooked to tenderness. While you eat, an eternal flat-screen slide show on two walls flips through pictures of the massive menu’s dishes, a constant reminder of everything you’re missing and everything you want. And so you will egregiously over-order, and your server will—gently, dryly—make fun of you. But you won’t mind. MATTHEW KORFHAGE.

Ideal meal: The one where your eyes are bigger than your stomach. But don’t miss the rice noodle appetizers, and make a point of ordering one of the whole-fish items, which they will bone for you at the table.

Best deal: The $10 clay pots handily serve two.

8733 SE Division St., No. 101, 788-8883, wongsking.com.

[FAR EAST] Amid freeways and tow yards, between Xotic Tan’s grim neon and the chainlinked hawkers of parking-lot pottery, the palatial Wong’s King remains Portland’s long-running home to lunchtime dumplings and fine Cantonese. Its lobby still advertises the world silver medal in Chinese cuisine Wong’s earned for its abalone dish ($42 on the menu) in 2004, but most come for the hectic midday clatter of dim sum. After loitering among massive waiting-room crowds—managed as briskly and efficiently as at any Olive Garden—diners are ushered past bubbling lobster and crab tanks into a massive rec-center dining hall filled with extended Chinese families, big-eating Greshamites and pairs of wan aesthetes partaking in perhaps their only real indulgence: a motley and often random-seeming assortment of shrimp sheeted into rice noodles, sweetly egg-glazed French buns, and teardropped hum bao filled with pork. The menu’s true indulgences, however, are on the dinner menu—for example, a $16 bed of garlic-soy-scallion clams studded with scallop surprises, or a $15 pagoda of bok choy, black mushroom and bamboo pith. This last ingredient is much better than that same plant’s bland shoots: It is the bone marrow of the vegetable world, rich and spongy and densely saturated with the flavor of everything around it. All, here, is pith and sloppy bounty. MATTHEW KORFHAGE.

Ideal meal: Show up super-early to avoid the lines, poke around the dim-sum carts for the soy-gravied rice noodles and egg-glazed rolls, and tide yourself over while waiting for brunchtime seafood ordered off the dinner menu. You’ll have to ask for the dinner menu three times.

Best deal: Those four fist-sized rolls with the meat filling? In the metal tray? They’re $2.50. Enjoy.

10 am-11 pm Monday-Friday, 9:30 am-11 pm. $-$$.

1733 NE Alberta St. 287-2400, aviarypdx.com.

[IT SOARS] The best dishes at Aviary can challenge what you consider edible. The most exciting restaurant in town, and our Restaurant of the Year, Aviary makes a crispy pig’s ear that looks like shreds of the cartilage my dogs gnaw on. Served with avocado, greens and nubs of sausage on a bed of sweet coconut rice, it’s a game-changer. The fried chicken skin salad is exactly what it sounds like—salty, greasy skin from a piece of fried chicken on top of cooling watermelon with a smear of baba ghanoush. Tempura-fried green beans come with a green curry sauce you’ll mop up. Even the desserts here impress, turning mashed-up breakfast cereal and tart strawberries into something simultaneously fresh and decadent. Go, enjoy and see if you don’t consider snatching that ear from your pooch. MARTIN CIZMAR.

Ideal meal: Tempura green beans, fried chicken skin salad, crispy pig’s ear, a dessert to yourself.

Best deal: Most of the happy hour isn’t great, but you can get the green beans for $5.

5-10 pm Monday-Thursday, 5-11 pm Friday-Saturday. $.

102 NW 4th Ave., 229-7464, pingpdx.com.

[SINGAPORE FLING] Portland does not have a single Malaysian, Singaporean or Indonesian restaurant. That’s crazy. Appreciate, then, just how important Old Town hole-in-the-wall Ping is to this city’s gastronomic ecosphere. It’s the only place in the city (that isn’t a food cart) you can get dishes from this region—and it does most of them really, really well. The restaurant is perhaps best known for its extensive menu of grilled skewers, which, at $1.50 to $3, pull in the bargain-hunter crowds for after-work nibbles. They’re good, but don’t fill up too much in place of delving deeper into the menu’s more hard-to-find fare, like the coconut milk-based spicy laksa noodle soup or the crunchy Burmese lentil salad. Ping started out as an Andy Ricker (of Pok Pok fame) venture, and although he’s no longer part of the restaurant, his fingerprints can still be seen in several Thai dishes, like the salted duck-egg salad and stewed duck-leg noodles, and a large selection of Pok Pok’s drinking vinegars on the drinks menu. RUTH BROWN.

Ideal meal: Ping opens at 11 am on weekdays and makes for an amazing hangover breakfast. Get the nonya-style “carrot cake,” an excellent rendition of the Chinese-Malaysian dish chai tow kway, a stir-fry of soft radish cake cubes, bean sprouts and egg, doused in a generous amount of kecap manis. To complete the liver-damaged Southeast Asian backpacker experience, pair it with some thick, fatty kaya toast or the perfectly greasy roti flatbread, and coffee sweetened with condensed milk.

Best deal: Cheap eats at happy hour include $1 potato skewers, $3 steamed buns, and $5 fried pork chop sandwiches.

11 am-10 pm Tuesday-Friday, 2-10 pm Saturday. $-$$.

4605 NE Fremont St., 229-0995, smallwarespdx.com.

[BIG FLAVORS] The lanterns hanging over the tables at Smallwares, our runner-up Restaurant of the Year, shed a lot of metaphori cal light. Round bulbs in nylon netting, they recall antique glass Japanese fishing floats but were made on a tight budget for first-time restaurateur Johanna Ware. The edibles at this “inauthentic Asian” restaurant are similarly enterprising, from “lollipops” of fried chicken to noodle dishes like somen noodles lathered with a Korean chili paste and grounded by the earthiness of black strands of fibrous hijiki seaweed. Ware does some of her best work with hot peppers, including singeing Scotch bonnets in the oxtail curry. MARTIN CIZMAR.

Ideal meal: Fried kale, fingerling potatoes, mapo dofu, somen noodles and hanger steak.

Best deal: Eggplant with sausage, $10.

11:30 am-10 pm Monday-Friday, 5-10 pm Saturday-Sunday. $-$$.

Bete-Lukas Ethiopian Restaurant

2504 SE 50th Ave., 477-8778, bete-lukas.com.

[OUT OF AFRICA] Just off Southeast Division Street on the second floor of a mixed-use building, Bete-Lukas is the most upscale of Portland’s Ethiopian restaurants. Separated from the cluster around Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard by both geography and atmosphere, Bete-Lukas is open for dinner only and gets busy enough for the maitre d’ to put parties of two at the bar. That same maitre d’ is not shy about suggestions. If you’re going to introduce someone to the charms of East African cuisine for the first time, this restaurant offers a soft landing. Bete-Lukas is polished, with cloth napkins and white tablecloths. Also, the dishes, served in the customary communal style on pancakelike injera, have both well-trimmed meat and vegetables that are allowed to stay more crisp than at most Ethiopian restaurants. The beef dishes, including the lean kitfo served either raw or cooked, have ardent fans, but don’t miss the fosolia, a lightly spiced green-bean dish. MARTIN CIZMAR.

Ideal meal: Veggie combo ($11) and meat combo ($14).

Best deal: Veggie combo ($11).

5 pm-close Tuesday-Sunday. $.

300 N Killingsworth St., 285-4867.

[ETHIOPIAN KING] Ethiopian restaurants often seem interchangeable—same dishes, similar décor, same distinct serving style. There is a hierarchy, though, and the food at Enat Kitchen is at the top of Portland’s heap. This humble spot caters to the immigrant community, with the requisite African décor up front, while booths and a television showing the Blazers provide the real atmosphere. Enat puts warm, rich flavors on big, juicy cuts of chicken and beef. If you’re going with one meat dish, make it the alicha wot, an incredible curried beef. The salad is delightfully fresh with loud citrus, and the vegetarian sampler comes with masir key wot (lentils) and gomen (collard greens) that are stewed to strike the perfect mean between salad and mush. And, yes, injera varies about as much as loaves of Italian bread, but the spongy teff at Enat has the perfect tang of sourness. MARTIN CIZMAR.

Ideal meal: Splitting a meat combination and vegetable combination.

Best deal: The lunch buffet is $8.

11:30 am–10 pm Monday-Saturday. $.

2930 NE Killingsworth St., 227-2669, cocottepdx.com.

[LITTLE BISTRO] For all of the complaints that Portland doesn’t do seafood right beyond a few sushi spots, let’s have a drum roll for Cocotte. This pretty little corner bistro on Northeast 30th Avenue’s restaurant row (neighbored by Beast, Yakuza, Autentica and DOC) is all about small plates and entrees from le mer. The smoked salmon salad over a fallen potato soufflé with tarragon aioli is topped with farm-fresh greens, moist and not too smoky salmon, and slivers of radish in a lemony shallot vinaigrette. It’s perfect. There’s another great starter, too: The olive-oil-poached albacore with sweet, fork-tender tomato-braised fennel-and-basil vinaigrette. There are classic cocktails, nice wines and beer to accompany other French classics with a twist, such as the cauliflower vichyssoise with English peas, escargot with brioche, and braised pork crepes. There are fresh roses on the tables and bar, botanical prints on the walls and French doors that open to outdoor seating. It’s classic and romantic, and even though Portland has opened a lot of Frenchy bistros in recent years, you should check this one out. LIZ CRAIN.

Ideal meal: Farm-fresh salad housemade egg noodles with market fish/shellfish, preserved lemon and basil and dark chocolate mousse over pine-nut shortbread crust topped with toasted marshmallow cream, which is essentially a refined s’more.

Best deal: Early and late-evening happy hour.

4 pm-close Tuesday-Sunday. $-$$.

738 E Burnside St., 546-8796, lepigeon.com.

[PIDGIN FRENCH] Heralded since opening in 2006, Le Pigeon remains equal parts maddeningly quirky and gastronomically awe-inspiring even with the culinary mind behind the affair, Gabriel Rucker, limiting his stoveside time here to weekends. The tiny place jams in 25 supplicants at a time, most at hateable cheek-to-jowl communal tables, the balance at ringside stools bunched against an L-shaped counter where interaction with lavishly tatted cooks is the norm. The style of cooking is French by way of Rucker, which is to say rich, unrestrained and kaleidoscopically choreographed. Offal, foie gras and other extravagant components are constants on a menu that changes weekly. In August, I sampled a splendid starter of tender-on-the-inside grilled octopus served with sweet/tart nectarine, hearts of palm and porcini. Foie gras with a chocolate- and garlic-filled mini-croissant was not to my taste, but I still admired the moxie it took to conjure the combination. Beef cheek Bourguignon, a twisted French classic, is a must-try stalwart among entrees. Otherwise, put on your adventurous-eater hat and enjoy the wild ride. Or, if you happen to be hosting Aunt Edna from a far-away red state, drag her along and have her order the burger, which is damn good. MICHAEL C. ZUSMAN.

Ideal meal: Go at opening time on a weekday outside summer tourist season and grab the two seats on either side of the corner of the counter. Order starter, entree and dessert.

Best deal: Five-course and seven-course tasting menus, $65 and $85, respectively.

5-10 pm Monday-Saturday, 5-9 pm Sunday. $$.

[BURGER JOINT] Gabriel Rucker wanted to make his second spot, Little Bird, “more accessible” than his original, Le Pigeon. Cue the bistro burger. Lured by the half-pound brioche-bunned hamburger and fries, which is offered in limited quantities east of the river, Rucker filled a Rolodex with clients in the glassy buildings perched above this vaguely French comfort-food restaurant. This clubby bistro’s few ostentatious touches—“petit oiseau” painted on the door, pages of Larousse Gastronomique on the back of the menu—could be read as either lighthearted fun or Euro Disney chintz. Let’s give the benefit of the doubt, given the consistent excellence you’ll now find at the 2-year-old restaurant. Sure, it’s hard to miss with macaroni and cheese, crab cakes and a ham sandwich, but Little Bird deserves serious credit for doing everything from steak tartare with potato chips to clafouti very, very well. An excellent selection of wine by the glass and decadent desserts, including a cocoa-rich brownie tart and buttery madeleines with a mascarpone crémeux, round out a great little bistro experience. MARTIN CIZMAR.

Ideal meal: Field greens, salmon carpaccio, grilled hanger steak, and any of the wonderful desserts.

Best deal: The burger and fries ($12).

11:30 am-midnight Monday-Friday, 5 pm-midnight Saturday-Sunday. $$.

1937 NW 23rd Place, 719-4599, noisetterestaurant.com.

[NEW COURSE] Chef Tony Demes’ new French-modern restaurant Noisette is good for both dinner and a show if you do it right. Couvron, his much-missed previous restaurant—which Demes moved from Portland to New York in the early aughts—was well known for its four-hour, many-course tasting menus, and Demes has carried this tradition into the new venture. While the oh-so-petite dishes are available a la carte ($8-$19), the true heart of the place is still in the full $75, eight-course, ever-changing tasting menu, an enveloping two- or three-hour experience dedicated to the notion that dining can be a full evening’s entertainment in its own right, not just a decadent prelude to later spectacles. Noisette is traditional fine dining for people who appreciate the way servers orient each beautifully plated dish to the diner with terrific precision, as if framing a portrait over a settee. In a town that rightfully prides itself on its whimsically homegrown fresh-local-casual approach to dining—we have achieved in only 15 years something of a genuine regional cuisine—Noisette manages to be both appropriate to the city and something that we nonetheless mostly lack, which is true high-end traditional fine dining. MATTHEW KORFHAGE.

Ideal meal: Spring for the full tasting menu even if you skimp on the wine you’ll still leave feeling somehow drunk and rosy.

Best deal: And yet, you can also approximate the experience for half price by ordering a scattering of six plates and sharing.

5-10 pm Tuesday-Saturday. $$.

2039 SE Clinton St., 360-1281, stjackpdx.com.

[WITH TONGUE] Forget the Eiffel Tower, Édith Piaf and the entire Loire Valley. I’ll take France in the form of St. Jack’s amazing pommes frites: skinny, burn-your-fingertips hot, sea-salty fries served with an eggy, garlicky house mayo, both so good they’ll have you singing “La Marseillaise” in between mouthfuls. Chef Aaron Barnett’s chic Clinton bistro is a bacon-fat-scented love letter to France’s food capital Lyon, from the snug spot’s drippy mounds of candles and sexy soundtrack to plate after plate of ballsy, rustic Gallic eats. There’s creamy chicken liver mousse, a proper smoky-vinegary, lardon-studded salade Lyonnaise and super-juicy steak frites, not to mention specials featuring every part of a pig possible and a French wine list as long as your forearm. Do not leave the premises without devouring pastry chef Alissa Rozos’ truly special madeleines the lemony flavor bombs are baked to order and served warm, dusted with powdered sugar. The sugar maven’s goods, including habit-forming canelés and brioche, take center stage during the day when half of the restaurant space magically transforms into super-chill Patisserie St. Jack. Mon dieu. KELLY CLARKE.

Ideal meal: Chicken liver mousse, salade Lyonnaisse, cote de boeuf for two, madeleines.

Best deal: Pommes frites to share and a glass of sparkling wine. (Happy hour 4-5 pm daily.)

4-9:30 pm Sunday-Thursday, 4-10:30 pm Friday-Saturday. $-$$. Patisserie St. Jack open 8 am-3 pm daily. $.

527 SW 12th Avenue, 241-7163, grunerpdx.com.

[OCTOBER FEST] A meal at Grüner is constructed from the cornerstones of the Bavarian beer hall—schnitzel, sauerkraut—and the food pyramid of the American ballpark—hot dogs, pretzels—but it builds a culinary Neuschwanstein in the clouds. I’ve yet to find a chef in town applying every ingredient with the precision Chris Israel shows at his German joint, which looks like a ski chateau tucked in near the Portland Streetcar. Heideggerian essays could be written on the discoveries inside Grüner’s namesake salad, even though it starts with iceberg lettuce. The “choucroute garnie” plate is a veritable Oktoberfest of pig parts (the saucissson and tenderloin are standouts) heaped with wine-braised sauerkraut, while a pork schnitzel sandwich pairs ever-so-lightly fried meat with a plum relish. The burger is rightly celebrated, the pretzel bread is divinely soft, but the leader on a menu of equals is a Swabian ravioli called maultaschen. Bobbing in a thin broth, the squares of beef, pork and onion melt into delicate kisses of strapping saltiness—like being licked back to life by one of those Alpine-rescue St. Bernards. AARON MESH.

Ideal meal: Grüner salad, pork plate. Ask your dining companion to get the maultaschen and the burger. Share.

Best deal: How is that salad just $9?

11:30 am-2 pm Monday-Friday, 5-9:30 pm Monday-Thursday, 5-10:30 pm Friday-Saturday. $$.

[CRETAN CONSISTENCY] It could be easy to dismiss Eleni’s Estiatorio as yet another hub for staples of Greek cuisine. Yes, there are gyros, shawarma and dolmas, but don’t ignore the Cretan tint at this 12-year-old Sellwood institution. Many dishes incorporate the less-seen aspects of Greek cuisine—rabbit, eggplant and tiger prawns—and present them in a more subtle fashion, without overpowering sauces or marinades. The flavor is very much present in a dish like the seafood stew—a Greek paella of sorts—where the broth incorporates mussels, clams, scallops and hefty tiger prawns without overpowering you. Eleni’s does offer the well-trodden tzatziki and calamari, the latter served either pan-fried or grilled, as a reminder of how Greek cuisine gained popularity. Happily, those old standbys are no Achilles’ heel, even if the gold medals go to the stars from Crete. MICHAEL LOPEZ.

Ideal meal: Dolmas, exochiki salata, kotopoulo, baklava.

Best deal: Happy-hour lamb, chicken or pork pita greek meatballs giant lima beans.

5-10 pm Tuesday-Saturday. $.

2039 NE Alberta St., 971-200-4711, bollywoodtheaterpdx.com.

[DANCE NUMBER] Chef Troy MacLarty may have walked the streets of Kolkata to research the food for his Indian bistro Bollywood Theater, but in feeling his restaurant is pure Portland: upscale street food amid mismatched tables, variegated artisanal knickknackery and deeply ironized shrines to foreign film. MacLarty’s menu is full of India’s “poor man’s burgers” and mill-worker favorites, chutnied-beef kati rolls, Goan-Portuguese bastard foods made with buttered rolls—the food of streetside carts and home skillets. The kati rolls are a Mughlai hybrid food—hence the beef option—essentially kebab wrapped in Indian flatbread. They’re an unmitigated success, with achingly tender beef accented by the bright tones of green chutney and pickled onion. Most of the food at Bollywood Theater is gentle in its spicing. The pav bhaji, a potato-vegetable stew served on dinner rolls, wouldn’t offend the palate of a provincial uplands Englishman, nor would the vada pav, a savory potato-chickpea dumpling served as a sandwich with a mild chutney sauce. This is comfort food: carb-laden and savory, not overly challenging but wonderfully satisfying. Bollywood also follows Portland’s current yen for upfront counter payment and table service in its newest casual-chic restaurants, which works beautifully until you realize you want another mango lassi or Pimm’s Cup, at which time you find yourself standing back in line, in that most Portland way. MATTHEW KORFHAGE.

Ideal meal: Beef kati roll and pav bhaji appetizers, egg masala Thali meal ($11, comes with sambar, dal, raita, saffron rice, chutney) and a Pimm's Cup.

Best deal: The vada pav is $3, and filling. Add a sambar side for $2.

2088 NW Stucki Ave, Hillsboro, 531-9500, chennaimasala.net.

[INDIAN SUMMER] Tucked inside your standard suburban strip mall, its plain walls sporadically decorated with faux brick decals, Chennai Masala does not exude authenticity at first glance. But the countless positive reviews that also adorn its walls attest to its status as one of the metro area’s best Indian restaurants. While the menu includes a selection of familiar Northern specialties, like tandoor-based dishes and chicken tikka, Chennai Masala does Southern cuisine with special aptitude. The highlight is its staggering variety of dosa, the Indian version of a savory, crispy crepe, filled with potato, onion and vegetables and regularly served with a cool side of coconut chutney. Though the clientele includes a steady stream of Westerners, the restaurant does not cater to the timid when it comes to heat in its dishes. In particular, the sambhar vindaloo, another South Indian staple, will have you hailing the waiter for yet another water refill. This level of heat is not for everyone, but for those willing to go big, try tempering the burn with the thick and flavorful smoothielike mango lassi. KIMBERLY HURSH.

Ideal meal: Mysore masala dosa, mango lassi, and gulab jamoon (fried dough balls) soaked in a sweet syrup.

Best deal: Weekday lunch buffet for $9.95 (but the weekend buffet is far spicier for $12.95)

11:30 am-2 pm and 5:30-9:30 pm Tuesday-Sunday. $.

1429 SE 37th Ave., 236-6886, 3doorsdowncafe.com.

[DOOR PRIZE] Three doors down—get it?—from busy Southeast Hawthorne Boulevard is a refined and romantic Italian-cum-Northwest cafe with the laid-back vibe common to these parts. Seated at a small table kept dark by the blinds along the bay window, you will encounter overdressed couples scanning the wine list and maybe a middle-aged man who’s had a few glasses of that wine, warning his parents about the undocumented alien in the White House. So, yes, a big, noise-neutralizing wall hanging could help. Happily, the standard complement of salmon, pork chop, steak and roast chicken is a welcome distraction. The antipasto includes olives and beet-flavored pickled onions. Those salty, pan-fried Padrón peppers popping up everywhere are well done here, with a balance of mild and spicy specimens. The classic Caesar salad offers an explosion of salty, fishy delight with both anchovies and anchovy-flavored croutons. The serving staff will tag-team you to keep the dinner courses—and drinks—coming at a steady pace. Eat, drink and ignore the conspiracy theorist. JOHN LOCANTHI.

Ideal meal: Sliced cured Italian meats, provolone cheese, Italian olives and marinated mushrooms Caesar salad grilled pork tenderloin with braised greens Creole bread pudding.

Best deal: Daily lasagna and a Manhattan for less than $15 at happy hour.

5-9:30 pm Thursday-Saturday, 4-9 pm Sunday. $$.

7742 SE 13th Ave., 206-3291, acenapdx.com.

[RUSTIC ITALIAN] It’s fitting that A Cena is nestled along Sellwood’s antique row. The Italian restaurant’s hearty, flavorful offerings recall vintage treasures—at least, from the window shopper’s vantage. Italian basics like bruschetta, caprese, pizza and eggplant dishes are all on the menu however, A Cena’s attention to detail sets it apart. The aforementioned caprese, for example, features a housemade burrata cheese. That involves a rather laborious process for such a common appetizer, yet the extra effort shines in the velvety texture. You get the impression executive chef Gabe Gabreski wants patrons who may be fresh from the antique shops that surround his restaurant to take the same approach in digging for the hidden uniqueness in each dish. Main courses, such as the Sweet Briar Farms pork loin paired with crispy potatoes and grilled peaches, are simple yet intensely flavorful, a nod to the décor and environment of the restaurant. Butcher paper lines the tables and, if it happens to be uneven, your server will graciously correct it. A simple gesture, but one that so perfectly fits A Cena’s subtle charm. MICHAEL LOPEZ.

Ideal meal: Caprese, braised greens, pappardelle.

Best deal: The pork cut varies daily and is market price, but is a well-rounded portion.

5-9 pm Monday, 11:30 am-2 pm and 5-9 pm Tuesday-Thursday, 11:30 am-2:30 pm and 5-10 pm Friday, 10 am-2 pm and 5-10 pm Saturday, 10 am-2 pm and 5-9 pm Sunday. $$.

2838 SE Belmont St., 235-4900, accantopdx.com.

[THE BABY] Accanto was intended to be a modest, casual complement to Genoa, the proud older sister which shares its building. In fact, the name means “next door.” But by borrowing big sis’s prettiest outfit—simple handmade pastas outshine the rest of Genoa’s extravagant prix fixe menu—to pair with familiar fare like bruschetta, gazpacho and a lamb ste ak, Accanto ends up taking the top bunk. Wine and cocktails are appropriately unfussy. The big little-gem salad, a hybrid Caesar with anchovies, croutons and Parmesan dressing, should be split. The charcuterie plate is wonderfully direct: spicy salami with loud and creamy cheeses and a little bread. We had great luck with two daily specials. A grilled white-fish dish with steamed green beans and polenta was refreshing. Fat, slurpable spaghetti in hearty marinara with four giant, parsley-bombed meatballs took the opposite tack. A popular brunch menu includes familiar fare like bacon, toast and eggs along with duck hash and an Italian tripe stew. Arrive between 5 and 6 pm for happy-hour steals—they’re even sweeter as you pay the modest check just as fatter wallets start arriving next door. MARTIN CIZMAR.

Ideal meal: Meat-and-cheese plate, fried squash blossoms, potato gnocchi and grilled pound cake.

Best deal: Listen closely to the daily specials or go with the miniaturized prix fixe menu, $24 for three courses.

11 am-10 pm Monday-Thursday, 11 am-midnight Friday-Saturday, 9 am-2 pm Saturday-Sunday. No reservations. $.

250 NW 13th Ave., 226-3394, bluehouronline.com.

[HAUTE PLATES] This swanky Pearl institution, which has been feeding the well-heeled in Portland for more than a decade, seemed to grow a little stale over time. That changed last year when Thomas Boyce was hired to succeed founding chef Kenny Giambalvo. Boyce, whose résumé includes a lengthy stint at Spago, Wolfgang Puck’s flagship restaurant in L.A., has reinvigorated Bluehour’s menu while maintaining the high standards set by his predecessor. The food leans toward Italian and French, but Boyce isn’t afraid to stray outside those lines. One of his best starters, a terrine of octopus, exhibits a Korean flair with spicy marinated daikon and shiso—the whole prepared like a delectable cephalopod head cheese. Another starter, a foie gras parfait, was light as mousse, served under a layer of riesling gelée and accompanied on a board by cherry compote and tart pickled gooseberries. It was paired perfectly with a glass of Sauternes. The kitchen’s deft touch with fish was apparent in a complimentary amuse bouche of albacore tartare with plum and cucumber marinade, as well as in two entrees. Sauteed Alaskan cod with sweet Maine shrimp, baby artichokes and cippolini onions all simmered nicely in a saffron-shellfish broth, and the roasted king salmon came swimming in a pond of caramelized corn and benefited from a sweet/salty balance with the fish’s crisp skin. Sweet corn also shines in the tortellini, among several interesting pasta dishes on the menu. As for the atmosphere, it doesn’t get much more stylish in Portland. Bluehour’s milieu resonates like a Mondrian painting—all clean lines and angles, with the high ceilings broken by 16-foot-high drapery panels. A signature elegance comes from black wire-hung chandeliers with globes like glowing softballs. Servers are courteous and efficient. Of course, eating here doesn’t come cheap—unless you stick to happy-hour fare served in the bar area. Is it worth it? For those who can afford it, most certainly. ROB FERNAS.

Ideal meal: Terrine of octopus, pasta, fish.

Best deal: Bluehour burger with smoked bacon cheddar and fries ($12) at happy hour (until 6:30 pm).

11:30 am-2:30 pm and 4-10 pm Monday-Friday, 5-10 pm Saturday, 5-9 pm Sunday. $$-$$.

[UNGILDED ITALIAN] “Just good simple Italian food, right?” rolls off the tongues of the staff here so readily in response to compliments that it threatens to become litany, but it’s true. It’s doubtful you’ll ever find anything approaching overwrought on the menu at Caffe Mingo, and that is very much playing to its strengths. Even the nondescript bric-a-brac peppering the small space seems to imply that if you want sleek, modern Italian design, you’d be better served at the much larger Bar Mingo space next door. Caffe Mingo is for eating, and you can do that quite well here. A smashing special of rockfish in cartoccio ($28) forgoes any fussiness in the preparation to let the hyper-seasonal produce shine, the sweet cherry tomatoes blistered and burst by the steam in the parchment packet, releasing their sweet juice to mingle with the garlic and olive oil to make an impromptu sauce that buoys the fregola sarda pellet pasta nestled underneath. A meltingly tender lamb leg chop adorns a mound of toothsome risotto in the osso buco ($26), the hint of saffron in the rice an earthy counterpoint to a mildly pungent horseradish gremolata. Be warned, portions here are generous, so expect to have little room for dessert. BRIAN PANGANIBAN.

Ideal meal: Anything with artichokes (if in season). Otherwise, risotto.

Best deal: A no-frills plate of pasta with red sauce or garlic and olive oil is $6.

5-10 pm Sunday-Thursday, 5-11 pm Friday-Saturday. $$.

1001 SE Water Ave., 235-2294, clarklewispx.com.

[INDUSTRIAL EXPLORER] Long marooned on Southeast Water Avenue as an anomalous OMSI-adjacent dining destination, Clarklewis now casts its considerable shadow over an industrial cluster of worthy competition. But the nearly 10-year-old institution still might be the best place to enjoy the clash of tony conceits and the strangely soothing sounds of passing trains. There are certainly few better rooms in which to while away a summer evening, as the waning day wafts in through Clarklewis’ open garage doors to bless the clattering mass. It’s worth taking time with the Italian-inspired menu, and the attentive wait staff is very good at backing away to let diners do just that. A recent summery menu featured a colorful array of fresh Groundworks heirloom tomatoes ($12) spiffed up with balsamic, frikeh and blue cheese when complemented with the poached Oregon albacore, which makes like a deconstructed tuna salad atop a layer of tonnato sauce, the result is what picnics must be like for princes. Entrees like the hearth-roasted pork leg, subtly sweetened by blueberries, deliver on the promise of locally sourced ingredients, but don’t skip the housemade pastas in the menu’s middle. The tagliatelle with lamb ragu is al dente perfection on a date with tender, almost soluble meat, and it is not to be missed. CHRIS STAMM.

Ideal meal: The four-course tasting menu, as long as it includes the tagliatelle with lamb ragu ($55).

Best deal: Three-course blue-plate lunch special ($15).

11:30 am-2 pm Monday-Friday, 4:30-9 pm Monday-Thursday, 4:30-10 pm Friday-Saturday. $$.

5519 NE 30th Ave., 946-8592, docpdx.com.

[PHYSICAL CHALLENGE] There’s this awkward but inevitable moment whenever you step into DOC, where you hover awkwardly in the middle of a team of bustling cooks, trying not to knock over a plate of risotto or impale yourself on a boning knife. Relax. Just stand still, breathe deep and make “quietly freaking-out” eyes at the hostess until you’re seated. The brief threat of a Double Dare physical challenge breaking out is really the only downside to the quaint layout of this Italian-influenced hole in the wall, where the open kitchen is at the front of the room, directly behind the front door. Once you get past that part, it is genuinely charming and intimate. Reward your survival with the $60, five-course tasting menu. Intolerances and dietary requirements are catered to without fuss, and everyone typically receives different dishes than their dining companions. A recent meal netted two of us: fresh oysters two salads (one, made with fresh greens, dried capers, a tart, creamy dressing and seasoned liberally with salt and pepper, was the finest salad I’ve had this year) a summery, herb-packed risotto kale lasagne with a soft egg oozing over the top a pleasant fillet of seared salmon a cheese plate chocolate cake and panna cotta. Go all out with the $40 wine pairing (the sommelier knocks it out of the park with eclectic choices and knowledgeable preambles to each pour), and you’ll barely realize you’re stumbling back outside through a working kitchen full of hot and pointy things. RUTH BROWN.

Ideal meal: Tasting menu!

Best deal: Tasting menu!

6 pm-close Tuesday-Saturday. $$.

711 NE Dekum St., 954-1702, firehousepdx.com.

[SMOKY FARE] Firehouse is a fitting name for this Woodlawn-neighborhood favorite—not just because it is literally an old firehouse, but because the moment you walk in, you’re hit with a powerful aroma of smoke, charcoal and fire. The smell is not, fortunately, a lingering hangover from the building’s former profession (though there are plenty of photos and souvenirs scattered around if you’re feeling nostalgic), but rather a welcome byproduct of the wood-fired oven that takes pride of place in the kitchen and is responsible for most of the dishes on the menu. The entrees are hearty, Italian-influenced crowd pleasers like hanger steak, rotisserie chicken and meatballs, but tempting as they may be (and you will be tempted by the large plates of glistening meat coming from the kitchen), grit your teeth and order the pizza. Firehouse turns out some of the better pies in the city—certainly by far the best in the area. Though they’re scorched, chewy, thin-crust 12-inchers like the ones served at most of the city’s fancy knife-and-fork pizza restaurants, a generous hand with salt, garlic and cheese gives them that lick-your-lips, impulsively stuff-your-face quality that recall the floppy, saucy parlor slices of yore. RUTH BROWN.

Ideal meal: The buttery fried cauliflower with lemon creme fraiche for dipping, a margherita pizza and a pint of Heater Allen Pilsner.

Best deal: Any three appetizers for $13. Just make sure one of them is that cauliflower.

5-9 pm Monday-Thursday, 5-9:30 pm Friday-Saturday, 5-8 pm Sunday. $.

2832 SE Belmont St., 238-1464, genoarestaurant.com.

[OLD EMPIRE] It’s hard to imagine that Genoa was once edgy, but when it opened in 1971, the prix-fixe menu at the late Michael Vidor’s fine-dining restaurant was one of the most exciting meals in town: $7, seven courses, whatever the cook felt like making. The restaurant, rebooted in 2009, seems stodgy now. Scaled back to five courses, the tables are filled with the grayed former vanguard out for an anniversary dinner and older men impressing their younger dates with stories about the first bottles of Oregon wine. It’s a long night—service took just shy of three hours on one occasion, a little faster another—with food roughly on par with the city’s other top Italian restaurants. But a waiter in black will bring you new silverware for every course and wine will require the gentleman’s approval. Don’t rush through the pasta course, as the pappardelle con coniglio—double-wide carrot fettuccine with a rabbit sauce—was the highlight of our meal. Accanto, the restaurant’s casual bistro next door, has very similar pasta, of course. But you go to Genoa for the experience and to avoid eating with a soiled spoon. MARTIN CIZMAR.

Ideal meal: A fast one, clocking in just over two hours.

Best deal: Umm…well…Accanto does a three-course menu for $24.

5:30-9 pm Wednesday-Thursday, Sunday. 5:30-9:30 pm Friday-Saturday. $$.

1401 SE Morrison St., 234-2427, nostrana.com.

[OLIVE ME] With its strip-mall location, anodyne display of Italian pottery and clientele of retirees, it would be easy to dismiss Nostrana as something of an Olive Garden for wealthy old-Laurelhurst residents. The cavernous dining room almost always seems packed with large groups of sixtysomethings in Ralph Lauren polos and Dansko clogs, clinking glasses of riesling over wood-fired pizzas and radicchio salad. But this is not your average upscale neighborhood Italian joint—chef Cathy Whims is a 2012 James Beard Award finalist, and every single item that comes out of the bar or kitchen, from a fruit soda to gnocchi alla romana, is deftly executed with care and precision. Nostrana’s biggest draw, in addition to its somewhat epic wine list, is indeed perhaps its wood-fired, Neapolitan-style pizza, thin-crusted and chewy with just the slightest hint of char. The combinations of toppings are some of the best in town—don’t miss the Salumi, scattered with Calabrese salami, pickled peppers, provolone and housemade mozzarella and drizzled with honey, and the Diavola, studded with enormous balls of spicy sausage. Not in the mood for pizza? Come for special menus on “Meatball Monday,” “Gnocchi Thursday” or “Fish Friday,” or check out the daily-changing primi, pasta and secondi menus. Reservations are highly recommended. KAT MERCK.

Ideal meal: Salumi pizza ($15).

Best deal: Nightly happy hour (9 pm-close) features pizzas and small plates for $6 and under.

11:30 am-2 pm Monday-Friday, 5-10 pm Sunday-Thursday, 5-11 pm Friday-Saturday. $-$$.

1134 NW Everett St., 241-1600, ovenandshaker.com.

[PIZZA WITH PEDIGREE] Like a champion thoroughbred, this Pearl pizza and cocktail joint came bolting out the gates from day one in late 2011, and hasn’t slowed down since. With the seasoned stables of restaurant baron Kurt Huffman, Nostrana chef-owner Cathy Whims and cocktail consultant Ryan Magarian behind it, it’s perhaps no surprise this place was a born winner, but if we learned anything from the fiasco that was Corazon, it’s that nothing in this industry is a sure thing. The menu’s staple is crispy, 12-inch thin-crust pizzas with generously portioned, creative toppings like pork belly, collards and egg, or mascarpone, honey and chili oil the drinks, categorized under headings like “fresh” and “strong,” are on point and give the joint a leg up on other comparable fancy pizza places the atmosphere is lively and, well, loud, but walks the line between bar and restaurant well and the concept is crowd-pleasing enough to appeal to people who live in the Pearl, and trendy enough to appeal to those who work in the Pearl—which, of course, means it’s packed just about every night of the week. Pro tip: If you don’t mind eating pizza for brunch (and who does?), it opens at 11:30 am on Sundays and there’s usually no wait. RUTH BROWN.

Ideal meal: The rich and earthy mushroom pizza comes with more ’shrooms than a Grateful Dead concert, but it’s worth sharing one between two people so you have room for the excellent arancini. To drink, the Pepper Smash, made with yellow bell pepper juice and Aquavit, is both easy-drinking and exotic.

Best deal: Margherita pizza ($7) at happy hour.

11:30 am-midnight daily. $.


Portobello Vegan Trattoria

1125 SE Division St., 754-5993, portobellopdx.com.

[ANIMAL-FREE ITALIAN] As a vegan Italian joint, Portobello could easily survive on the uniqueness of its niche. The restaurant is proud of its meat- and dairy-free philosophy and its locally sourced produce, but it’s not cruising on that. This unpretentious and playful restaurant, with tiny animal and vegetable figurines hiding on the uneven wood-paneled walls, is suitable for diners of all types. Portobello’s menu changes frequently, but always includes a variety of salads, pastas, pizzas (a recent pie featured figs, kale and cashew cream) and main dishes (a deep-dish cornmeal crust pie was both hearty and bright, zucchini and sweet roasted corn mingling with tomato-basil sauce and cashew cheese). That cashew cheese is a standout—it’s also featured in the beet tartare, a sizable sphere of it capped with minced beets, carrot aioli and capers, and served with baguette. The mushroom fries, which are more like tempura, are fun—like gussied-up, vegan mozzarella sticks. You’ll also enjoy the creative cocktails and mocktails—the alcohol-free Ginger Rawgers, with peach puree, ginger, lemon juice and kombucha, really hit the spot on a warm day. REBECCA JACOBSON.

Ideal meal: Beet tartare, spicy arrabiata pizza with seitan-based sausage and chili-fennel marinara, gnocchi.

Best deal: A 12-inch pizza runs $9-$12.

5:30-10 pm Tuesday-Saturday, 10 am-2 pm Sunday. $.

836 NW 23rd Ave., 229-1925 310 SE 28th Ave., 232-5255, bamboosushi.com.

[SUSTAINABLE SEAFOOD] Bamboo Sushi not only opened its second location this summer in Northwest Portland, the restaurant also donated $250,000 to create and fund a marine preserve in the Bahamas. The latter is a bold and beautiful move and makes eating at both restaurants all the sweeter—er, saltier. The Nob Hill Bamboo serves the same delicious, sustainably sourced sushi and elevated Japanese dishes as the original Southeast location in its large and well-serviced dining room. Even though expertly prepared sushi is the draw, try at least one or two other dishes. The grilled shisito peppers tossed in miso butter with Nueske’s bacon and bonito flakes are crazy good, and so is the smoked and seared wagyu brisket. LIZ CRAIN.

Ideal meal: Gin Henson cocktail wild Alaskan salmon sashimi Marine Stewardship Council-approved “local” roll with albacore, jalapeño and cucumber topped with East Coast red crab the “house on fire” mackerel topped with red chili oil and pickled mustard “caviar” whatever else you have room for.

Best deal: Any of the tasty vegetable dishes ($6-$7).

4-10 pm daily, Northwest location 4:30-10 pm daily, Southeast location. Reservations for parties of seven or more. $-$$.

[POSH DASHI] Competition among Portland’s Japanese restaurants heated up in the last year. So where does that leave Biwa, the subterranean dining spot that nearly had the izakaya landscape to itself when it opened in 2007? Recent meals showed, once again, that Biwa still ranks among the leaders in the small-plates-and-ramen derby. The menu is divided into cold and hot appetizers, snacks, yakimono (from the grill) and noodle soups. A great way to start is with a plate of Japanese pickles, which on our latest visit included watermelon rind, fava beans, kohlrabi and a curried egg. Hiya yakko, chilled soft tofu topped with bonito flakes, was delicate and flavorful. Sashimi of Atlantic diver scallops tasted as good as anything you’d find in a sushi bar, served in a dashi broth with bloops of red chili oil and basil from Biwa’s garden. The restaurant also grows its own shiso, which was a costar in a special of heirloom tomatoes and housemade mayo. The staff is friendly and helpful, happy to explain what’s in your dish or what you should be drinking with it. A complimentary offering of unfiltered sake paired well with the rich flavors of grilled chicken livers. Many diners come here to get their ramen fix. That usually means hot soup, but on a warm summer evening we opted for chilled noodles in a pool of dashi and topped with picture-perfect sections of sliced chicken, carrot, cucumber, onion, bean sprout and pickled daikon. It was refreshing with light, subtle textures. Much like Biwa itself. ROB FERNAS.

Ideal meal: Japanese pickles, hiya yakko, sashimi, chicken livers, ramen.

Best deal: The Biwa hamburger ($8) is available after 9 pm.

1028 SE Water Ave., 719-5698, bokebowl.com.

[THE NEW NOODLE] With its clean lines, design-conscious self-branding and techy iconography, Boke Bowl’s interior looks more than anything like an Apple store. It’s the iPad of Portland ramen houses: a coolly pragmatic American gloss on Asian aesthetics and cuisine, and a place where convenience comes in the form of high-priced, minimalist efficiency. Even when the place is full, meals often arrive within minutes of being ordered at the counter, leaving precious little time to watch the noodles being made at the restaurant’s rear. Unlike Apple’s closed manifolds, however, at Boke Bowl everything is modular. You choose your dashi (broth) from pork, caramelized fennel, seafood miso or the only occasionally available duck, and bring in somewhat eccentric add-ons to taste, with options including buttermilk-fried chicken and cornmeal-crusted oysters. The mammoth bowls are beautifully complex, and bespeak a flavor profile as Northwest continental as it is Japanese. Authenticity, after all, is the hobgoblin of narrow palates. In addition to the ramen, the menu offers a shotgun blast to the wall map: Korean pickles, Momofuku-style folded steamed buns that look like little Chinese gorditas, fusion forms of American Midwestern and Southern treats (namely, Twinkies and fried pies). The little steamed buns are uniformly pleasant but are a quite small meal without sides. Boke Bowl’s chef and owner are at play with cuisine, and even with the idea of a restaurant. It’s a sense of play that sneaks into the experience of eating. It’s fun to be at Boke Bowl. MATTHEW KORFHAGE.

Ideal meal: Caramelized fennel dashi with pork belly and slow-poached egg add-ons. Or pork dashi with fried chicken.

Best deal: Boke Bird dinner, a half-chicken and sides for $25.

10:30 am-3 pm Monday-Wednesday, 10:30 am-9:30 pm Thursday-Saturday, Boke Bird dinner served 5-9:30 pm Thursday. $.

536 E. Burnside St., 467-7501.

[CHEF SHOWCASE] “No soy sauce! No sticks!” Chef Hiro Ikegaya admonishes each new customer as they receive their omakase—Japanese for chef’s choice, available at Mirakutei at a price floor of $30 and only available by calling a day in advance. Hiro, formerly of acclaimed Pearl District sushi joint Hiroshi and Lake Oswego’s Hiro Sushi, has a 30-year history in the Portland area as a sushi chef, serving both new-style and extremely old-school sushi. Mirakutei was opened originally as a ramen shop, and it still has some of the only yuzu ramen in the city—a variety made with the peel of Japanese citrus. But the heart of the restaurant remains with Hiro, his knife and his discerning eye for fish and what goes with it. Hiro is one of the last old-guard sushi chefs who insists, when making his omakase, that he apply the soy sauce (or other appropriate accent) and wasabi himself the wasabi goes between the fish and rice, invisible. If you add your own, you’re insulting him. You’re doing the same to yourself. He may be the most experienced, and is certainly one of the most respected sushi chefs in town, and is highly creative with his nigiri. Pay him the compliment of ordering your omakase ahead of schedule, and pay yourself the compliment of trying it. MATTHEW KORFHAGE.

Ideal meal: Omakase at the bar, across from chef Hiro. Maki at Mirakutei are perfectly good, but they’re for suckers.

Best deal: Still the omakase. Good sushi is never cheap, so get it in its best form. A tip, though: Pay about $50 a person (you set your own price over $30). The extra expenditure rewards you handsomely. After $50, you’re mostly just showing off. But if you like to show off, you do get some choice cuts at the $75 level.

11:30 am-2 pm Monday-Friday, 5:30-10 pm Monday-Thursday, 5:30-10:30 pm Friday-Saturday, 5-9:30 pm Sunday. $-$$.

200 SW Market St., 227-0080.

[FISH HOUSE] This small Japanese restaurant across the street from Keller Auditorium stands out among the city’s better sushi joints because it values tradition over hipness. The waitresses wear kimonos the sushi chefs are mature masters the soundtrack is quiet instrumentals and the food, for the most part, is prepared in an unfussy, straightforward manner. But it’s the quality of the fish that ultimately makes or breaks a place like Murata. A plate of yellowtail sashimi, the sliced fish nestled against strings of daikon radish, is notable for its delicate flavor and elegant simplicity. Ebi-su, a small bowl of shrimp, seaweed and cucumber in a sweet, light vinegar, is another winning starter, as is a refreshing daikon salad with miso dressing. At $13.50, the broiled salmon cheeks are a bargain, with several perfectly cooked pieces of cheek and collar filling the plate. The broiled eel and egg nabe, a kind of seafood omelet served in a crock, starts promising but ultimately grows cloying because of the overly sweet fish broth. Vegetable tempura is light and crisp, as it should be, with a preponderance of root veggies. The sushi is above average, though I’ve had better sea urchin and toro (fatty tuna) elsewhere in Portland. Service can be slow at the tables, so grab a seat at the sushi bar and watch the chef do his thing. ROB FERNAS.

Ideal meal: Yellowtail sashimi, vegetable tempura, sushi.

Best deal: Salmon cheeks ($13.50).

11:30 am-2 pm Monday-Friday, 5-10 pm Monday-Saturday. $$.

910 SW Salmon St., 688-5202, shigezo-pdx.com.

[UMAMI ON THE SPOT] Shigezo is a mammoth chain izakaya in Japan—Portland houses its first U.S. outpost—so you may come away with the notion that eating here is the equivalent of hitting up a Japanese Applebee’s. And to some degree, you’d be right: it is a large and friendly affair, warm of wood and dim of light, designed for reliable comforts both in its sturdy booths and in its menu full of izakaya standbys. But just as the Middle-American ribs at Applebee’s are miles better than the sinewy, underspiced travesties I’ve encountered in European bistros, Shigezo understands Japanese comfort food as well as almost anyone in Portland. Its kumamoto ramen is a smoky spectacle of mushroom and onion muddled with a soft-boiled egg, it becomes a richly frothy torrent of umami. The sushi is perfectly serviceable, but your menu’s home page should be among the hot and cold tapas, from lightly fried kara-age—Japan’s answer to hot wings—to cabbage-and-pork gyoza and a yellowtail carpaccio served with jalapeños. Although, do take mackerel or beef sushi wherever you find them. And take comfort where it comes: because Shigezo, truly, is a comfort. MATTHEW KORFHAGE.

Ideal meal: Kumamoto or Tokyo ramen, shared by two seared mackerel special sushi kara-age yellowtail carpaccio.

Best deal: A $9.50 bowl of ramen will complete you better than Renée Zellweger ever could.

11:30 am-10 pm Monday-Thursday, 11:30 am-11 pm Friday, 2-11 pm Saturday, 2-10 pm Sunday. $-$.

3113 SE Division St., 236-0205, wafupdx.com.

[JAPANESE FRONT] By the time you read this, Portland foodniks may consider Wafu to be the waiting lounge for the hotly anticipated Roe. Gifted chef Trent Pierce is opening a swank new set-menu seafood restaurant in the back room of his loud and fun Southeast Division Street izakaya. If so, it’ll be the best appetizer-and-drink spot in town. Pierce opened this Japanese-styled bar on the fly after his Hawthorne seafood restaurant, Fin, abruptly closed. He charted a smooth and direct course here, with unintimidating ramen, pork-belly buns and potatoes with Sriracha and bonito. Meals are consistently extraordinary, with everything from simple, hypersalty edamame to grilled mackerel with ponzu bettering the same dishes at similar restaurants. Pierce is interested in fish above all else, which suggests ordering from the rotation of sushi rolls or the decadently fatty grilled mackerel. These seem to suffer if he’s not in the kitchen, though. I’ve been most consistently impressed with the aburasoba, a bowl of dry ramen topped with sliced pork shoulder and a fried egg. There’s also an impressive selection of Scotch and Japanese whiskeys—which will serve Wafu well if it ends up being a waiting room for Pierce’s passion project. MARTIN CIZMAR.

Ideal meal: A flight of Japanese whiskey, edamame, papas bravas, beef tongue and aburasoba ramen.

Best deal: Banh mi Cubano ($6).

5-11 pm Monday-Saturday, 5-10 pm Sunday. $.

5411 NE 30th Ave., 450-0893, yakuzalounge.com.

[SASHIMI SHOGUNATE] Yakuza makes me wish I were fabulously wealthy. I imagine ordering with abandon, traipsing through the sizable slate of hot and cold small plates and sampling glasses off the poetic sake list (“Star Filled Sky” is described as “soft and earthy, hints of melon and citrus”). I’d move from a bite of the yellowtail sashimi, dressed with ginger vinaigrette and ornamented with Asian pear, blueberry halves, lemony sorrel and pretty nasturtium petals, to the beguiling scallop tempura, with shredded phyllo threads like a Troll doll bouffant, and then proceed to order every damn dish on the menu, confident they’d all enthrall. Fortunately for me (and for all you penny-pinchers out there), it’s also possible to feast at this Japanese-style pub on a more modest budget. Opt for a lighter dish or two—try the snap pea salad, latticed with slivers of zucchini and beet and pepped up with salty bits of nori—and the justly celebrated Yakuza burger, a mouth-stretching stack of beef, chevre, crispy shoestring potatoes, housemade ketchup and zingy mayo. Whether you dine in the sexy, low-slung interior or in the lush patio oasis, you’re sure to leave feeling like a million bucks. REBECCA JACOBSON.

Ideal meal: Snap pea salad, scallop tempura, black cod, burger.

Best deal: The small happy-hour menu (available 5-6 pm Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday and 10-11 pm Friday and Saturday), offers a kale salad, a few sushi options, pulled-pork katsu or the acclaimed burger for $4-$8.

5-10 pm Wednesday-Sunday. $-$$.

[FRESH FISH STORY] There seems to be a stigma attached to good sushi in this town: There’s not much of it, and when it is good it’s expensive. While Yama Sushi won’t compete with your average sushi-go-’round in bang for the buck (pieces of nigiri are sold individually rather than in the typical pair), the overall satisfaction index will be high enough to make it all worth it. At some sushi restaurants, fish that has been touched up with a pinch of seasoning or lightly sauced is usually indicative of past-its-prime product, but not here. The striped bass would still be stellar even without the hint of yuzu and truffle oil, and the crunchy tobiko on the buttery seared salmon contributes more texture than flavor. For the adventurous (or merely decadent), Yama has ankimo available as an appetizer, a Japanese take on torchon de foie gras, but with a pâté of monkfish liver in lieu of goose. It’s all the delicious unctuousness without the guilt, and remarkably priced. Pair it all with a bottle of sake from the thoughtfully designed list and you’ve had one of the better sushi experiences in the city. Congratulations! BRIAN PANGANIBAN.

Ideal meal: Ankimo, a bottle of Yuki no Bosha Nigori, and whatever assortment of sushi as long as the bass is involved.

Best deal: The ankimo ($7.50) is 1 percent swag for a 99 percent price.

11:30 am-2:30 pm and 4:30-9:30 pm Monday-Thursday, 11:30 am-11 pm Friday, noon-9:30 pm Saturday, noon-9 pm Sunday. $-$$.

130 SW 117th Ave., Suite H, Beaverton, 350-1801.

[Strip-mall Izakaya] If a crowd of Japanese diners is any indication, Yuzu is the go-to stop in Beaverton for the wide of range of boldly flavored small plates that typify izakya eating. This is food that matches well with serious drinking, and that mission can certainly be accomplished at Yuzu. But quaffing copious quantities of sake or sucking down tall bottles of Japanese beer are clearly not compulsory. Families, couples and twentysomething groups comfortably coexist during the dinner hour in this small, spartan, L-shaped room. Yuzu is less interesting than either of my favorite Portland Japanese joints, Biwa and Tanuki, but this is Beaverton, where the Cheesecake Factory and corporate swillholes reign supreme. Adventurous suburbanites should begin a small-plate odyssey with mentaiko, bright and briny spicy cod roe with seaweed, or shiokara, fermented squid that brandishes a distinct but likable seafood funk and looks like earthworms in snot sauce. Lower-impact options include pork-filled gyoza, miso-marinated black cod and grilled salmon. To round out the meal, order from the list of rice or noodle dishes on the last page of the menu. The cold soba (buckwheat) noodles are great in summer bowls of hot ramen the perfect cold-weather elixir. MICHAEL C. ZUSMAN.

Ideal meal: Go as a foursome and sample as many of the small plates as your group can consume, maybe two to three per person, including grilled beef tongue and deep-fried tofu.


Watch the video: Traditional Kashmiri Vegetarian Wedding Feast. Koshur Saal. Kashmiri Thali (November 2021).