28 October 2013
Man, I am falling super far behind. So let's talk about some of the best restaurants we've eaten at over the past month, and then we'll wrap up all the Portland with one more post. Good? Ok.
BEST TOTAL EXPERIENCE (and pizza besides): Lovely's 50/50, 4039 N Mississippi Ave.
This was a total surprise, as we had not planned to eat here even a little. Here's what happened: we went to Emily Blackapple's art show, which was excellent, and is running until sometime in November at the Land Gallery. You should go if you're in Portland. Sea creatures! I'm just saying.
Afterward we meandered up & down Mississippi deciding where we wanted to eat. Lovely's was not even on the initial list, but reading their menu of wood-fired pizzas was more than enough to get us in the door anyway. At that point we saw the house-made ice cream cooler, which included both basil and salted caramel flavors, and settled down to wait the ten minutes for a table quite happily.
We knew we'd made the right decision when our appetizer of marinated olives came out...and they were warm. I don't think I've ever eaten so many olives in a row ever in my life.
And then: PIZZA. John got lacinato kale with calabrian chilies, provolone picante, lemon & ricotta. I got housemade fennel sausage with red chard, kale & rosemary. And holy shit, you guys, they were so good. I haven't had pizza that good since we were last in Brooklyn and spent an evening at Franny's. OH. Why is there no pizza like this anywhere near where we actually live? Also, in case you were wondering, kale is a fantastic pizza topping. You should absolutely try it.
We finished the night with a scoop of miso toffee ice cream--very much in the salted caramel family. This was the only slightly off note in the night. It didn't actually taste of miso--just salt. It was certainly good, but it just wasn't miso. Maybe that's actually a good thing, but it was a small disappointment nonetheless.
But you know what? I don't even care. Everything else was so amazing that I have no complaints, and will certainly be back at some point.
BEST FOOD CART: Tabor, SW 5th & Oak pod
We had lunch with Michelle of The Hoot Eats at Tabor, home of the evidently famous schnitzelwich. How can you not eat something called a schnitzelwich? I got classic pork, because I knew there was no way I would be able to eat another one during the trip, considering how many other food choices are everywhere. Why not go with the most heritagenous version?
It was pretty amazing: a huge breaded fried pork cutlet on a ciabatta roll with crunchy lettuce and a roasted red pepper/eggplant? sauce. The texture of the pork was excellent: tender and delightful and not at all stringy or difficult. And I could barely even eat half of it. Next time I would definitely get a half schnitzelwich, which they also sell. SO GOOD.
Plus we got to eat outside on a bench and people-watch and hear all about Michelle's trip to Thailand and Cambodia. You can't argue with that!
Obviously there have been PLENTY of other very good food cart experiences, considering Portland, but still.
BEST RANDOM PLACE ON HAWTHORNE: Zach's Shack, 4611 SE Hawthorne
Here they have an assortment of hot dogs, including veggie dogs, that are all fancy and have many delightful toppings. John got two tofu dogs piled with jalapenos and sport peppers; I got one actual beef dog with cream cheese,tomato, and chopped onion. DELIGHTFUL. There is also beer and a full bar and ping pong! ZOMG.
It's very divey and comforting and relaxed, and of course you get to stuff your face with the dogs of your choice. I don't know about you, but I have a slight obsession with hot dogs--I mean, what person who's worked within a couple blocks of any NYC park doesn't?--so this was the best possible plan.
BEST BAKERY: Tabor Bread, 5051 SE Hawthorne
I got a loaf of their special wood-fired blueberry hazelnut spelt bread for Bethany's birthday, fresh out of the very smoky wood-fired oven at 8 am, and dang. There's definitely some actual bread happening here. The loaf was super tangy and a bit damp, almost like a sourdough. Do they use a poolish? Something like that. It wasn't a cake like banana bread; it was BREAD. We discovered that a quick toast and a whack of butter are an exceptional plan. I am also very interested to try it out in french toast form. This will probably not happen, since we've eaten most of the loaf, but hey.
I seriously regret being unable to eat more than a couple slices of bread at a time, is what I'm saying. Otherwise I would have bought several more loaves.
There is also a carafe of almond milk just out on the coffee bar. I'm just saying.
BEST DINER: The Cameo Cafe, 8111 NE Sandy Blvd.
John and I are definitely diner enthusiasts, which means it is especially unfortunate that we live in Silicon Valley, where the diners certainly aren't. What I would not give for a good diner within walking distance of downtown MTV! UGH.
Anyway, this means that when we're out of town we are always, always on the lookout for diners, and this time we found a doozy. The Cameo Cafe's menu is part very breakfast-oriented diner standard, with pancakes bigger than a plate and a massive slab of hash browns in process always covering half the grill top, and part Korean food, with things like pindaetuck (veg-stuffed pancake with rice) and kimchi ramen stir-fry. And it's all in this little oddly shaped building on one of Portland's many weird triangular blocks, filled with a long, angled bar, a bunch of little tables with wire-frame chairs, and a whole bunch of decorative paraphernalia everywhere.
Everyone is nice and the coffee flows freely & often, and if you order the french toast special you get a full three tablespoons of butter with it. There is also a coconut waffle filled with shreds of coconut, and homemade raspberry sauce to squirt across the top.
Every item at the Cameo Cafe is too big for me to eat, but that won't stop me from trying.
HONORABLE MENTION: Produce Row, 204 SE Oak
I ate my first banh mi ever here just last week. We're going again tomorrow night. Hooray!