My Portland Eating and Drinking Faves

March 7, 2016

We’ve lived in Portland about two and a half years. Though we’ve had some challenges and adjustments that needed to be made, we’ve managed to come across some great eateries, breweries and bars that I wanted to share with you. This is by far not a complete list but some gems we really love and want to highlight here in Portland.

Breweries. Tasting Rooms and Bars

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Hair of the Dog Brewing Company and Tasting Room

Hair of the Dog Brewing Company and Tasting Room

This may be a slight show of favoritism because I’m the Chef but I have to say, the beers at HOTD are world class. My favorites are Adam, an American strong ale and Blue Dot, a classic mildly hopped IPA. The brewery also boasts a robust aging program where you can try beers dating back almost 20 years. The brewery also uses a concrete ‘egg fermenter’ that imparts flavor through the minerals in the concrete and various barrel aging programs. The food is solid, sustainable and well executed. We are going to be updating the menu in the future so stay tuned!

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Lompoc Brewing

Lompoc Brewing

I was fortunate enough to land the kitchen manager’s position at their Oaks Bottom Public House in Sellwood. I was there almost a year and their beers and food are solid. They’ve won various awards for the ales including a silver for their Proletariat Red at the GABF. All menu items are made from scratch and each location, you can find different menu items to enjoy. Stop by Side Bar in Northeast Portland to sample barrel aged beers they have to offer.

 

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The Commons Brewery

The Commons Brewery

We’ve been to The Commons a couple of times. They have a solid beer program. Various styles and all well crafted. The brewery also has a tasting room that is in a restored warehouse in SE Portland that also has a robust charcuterie menu from locally sourced product. It’s a must try.

 

Baerlic Brewing

Baerlic Brewing

Baerlic is an Old English meaning ‘of barley.’ We aren’t really concerned about the etymology of the word but more about how good their beers are. There isn’t anything extremely chancy or high ABV with their beers but they are very consistent, solid and delicious. The service is very friendly and they have a great beer trivia game you can play while enjoying one of their seasonal ales. I really liked their Guze they offered the last time we were there. No real food to speak of but nuts and other small bar snacks.

 

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Gigantic Brewing

Gigantic Brewing

This is just a couple of miles from our house. Nestled in a SE industrial park area near Holgate, this brewery boasts of different an interesting styles of beers. The last time we were in, I tried a gin barrel ale that was terrific. They have bottles to go and the tasting room is comfortable if not small so get their early. The service can be a bit chilly but if you can get past that, your experience will be well worth it.

 

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Green Dragon Bistro and Pub

Green Dragon

This establishment boasts almost 50 beers on tap. Mostly a local list but we’ve seen offerings from California and Washington. They also offer about a half dozen of their own hand crafted beers on tap as well. You walk by what looks like a green barracks and directly next door is a huge warehouse filled with beer patrons and the last time we were in the place was packed. They have a full food menu which is well rounded and the service is friendly and fast. There are live big screen tv’s that list their current selection of beers and info about the beers. Right around the corner from Green Dragon is Cascade Brewing which specializes in Sour beers. Definitely a must try. cascade

 

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Apex Bar

Apex Bar

One of my favorite tasting rooms in Portland. They have a huge list that offers a wide varieties of styles of beers whether it’s a triple IPA or a chili beer.  A massive live feed TV shows a rotating and current list of beers available. It is cash only and expect to have your choice ready when you arrive. It can get busy and bartenders there will pass you up if you are not Johnny on the spot with your order. They have four pinball machines, an ATM but no food. There is a decent taqueria next door and huge patio. For the more daring, they have a to go bottle shop in the back but be prepared to shell out some hard earned cash. Some of the aged offerings are quite pricey.

 

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NWIPA

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This is my favorite local watering hole in Portland. Only four blocks from my house. They have a small tap list. Only six taps but the list is varied, always great and rotates very often. You can sit there, order a beer and a half an hour later, the tap changes. They have a small but delicious food menu that boats oysters, a monthly sous vide burger and other small plates. They also have a modest but decent to go bottle shop. The service is always friendly and accommodating.

 

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Belmont Station

belmont station

By far one of the most comprehensive bottle shops in Portland. Boasting now over 1300 beers to go, they are one of the most important bottle shops in the area. They also have a small tasting room adjacent to the bottle shop that offers over 20 beers of various styles on tap. Different styles as well as various pour amounts so you can sample different beers without committing to a full pint. They also have a spacious outside patio area and a food truck behind the shop for anyone wanting a sandwich to go with their beers.

 

 

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Saraveza

Saraveza

This bottle shop and restaurant’s name is word play on Sarah Pederson and Cerveza ala ‘Saraveza.’ The place is adorable with vintage beer coolers and a 50’s vibe interior. Their menu is British influenced with various pasties or meat plates with over 250 bottles to go and a 9 tap rotation with very interesting styles of beer. The service is top notch and friendly. We had the smoked trout plate the last time we were in and it was delicious. Highly recommended.

 

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Southeast Wine Collective

southeast wine collective

This is our favorite wine bar. Located on one of the most robust food corridors in Portland, Division St, this small but bustling winery has not only a great wine list but one of the best wine bar menus we’ve ever had. Insane charcuterie board, a die for deviled egg trio and the sandwiches look amazing as well. They have a massive by the glass, flight and tasting wine menu. The tasting room is tiny so arrive early. The service is very knowledgeable and friendly. A must try.

 

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Roadside Attraction

roadside

Though they do not have an actual website, I linked their facebook page to this blog post. We stumbled upon this amazing joint after sampling beers at Green Dragon. It is a glorious reclaimed nightmare straight out of junkyard heaven. Deceiving from the outside, the inside is what you’d expect Tim Burton’s house would resemble. Carefully designed scrap yard of shit that would make a junkyard dog proud to protect. Inside is adorned with crushed velvet, booths and free pool. They have a full food menu and some great local beers on tap. The crowd is varied from hipsters to old british drunks. They have an outside fire pit and there is plenty of space to chill. A new favorite of ours.

 

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Basement Pub

Basement Pub

Basement Pub Facebook

Their website appears to still be in development. I added their facebook page as well. This is around the corner from Roadside Attraction. Literally a basement, it is a cavernous and quaint pub that offers some of the coldest brews in town. Local craft beer, a modest food menu and a cute kitchen with a 50’s style stove. They also provide patio seating and the service was very friendly when we visited last.

 

Restaurants 

 

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The Tin Shed

The Tin Shed

Ok, I admit, I’m listing this first because my lovely wife Jude manages the place but it is still an important eatery in Portland. They’ve been around almost 15 years and have been an important part of a bustling NE Alberta restaurant scene for almost two decades. Yeah, it appears to be an actual shed with a corrugated metal exterior but the inside is cozy with a spacious patio with a wood fired stove to keep patrons warm on the weekend. The Tin Shed is probably one of the busiest breakfast spots in Portland with hour long waits to enjoy their comfort-food style breakfasts. They also have a full dinner menu, four rotating beer taps and a extensive infused liquor program. The service is always uber friendly and they also are dog friendly. They are participants in a local rescue adoption program with pictures and profiles of dogs in need of homes. They do not take reservations so do not go there ‘hangry.’ You could be waiting for a while.

 

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Gold Dust Meridian

Gold Dust Meridian

This is one our favorite happy hour place by far. Happy hour starts promptly at 2 p.m. and goes all the way to 8 p.m. The menu is varied with a lot of different choices. We highly recommend the mac-n-cheese, any salad offerings they have and the clams are excellent. They also have a flatbread that is delicious. The drink menu is also great and they have a number of rotating beer taps. Service has been hit and miss and can be chilly at times but it hasn’t discouraged us from enjoying well prepared happy hour food and drinks.

 

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Cibo Italian Restaurant

Cibo Italian Restaurant

This is our new favorite restaurant. We’ve been probably four times in the last three months. We aren’t necessarily Italian foodies but their menu offers a great variety of items the we not only love but need  sometimes. Things like fresh greens which in our business, can be looked over easily. They have an excellent if not one of the best happy hour menus in the city. Boasting over twenty years being open, their menu is polished and executed very well. We love their broccoli rabe, wilted spinach and mussels on happy hour menu. We also tried the escargot and they have a $7.00 margarita pizza that is amazing. They also offer $6.00 cocktails that are amazing. The service is top notch and always friendly and the interior is beautiful. A must try for people who like well crafted Italian fare.

 

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The American Local

The American Local

Though we’ve only been here once, we have to say it was probably the best dining experience we’ve had in Portland. Located on ‘foodie row’ on Division st. this amazing eatery does Asian-Gastropub fusion fare that will knock your socks off. They do spins on typical American fare and add an Asian flare to it and the results are stunning. We tried the smoked salmon toast. It was amazing. We also tried a bowl of beans and greens which had Asian spices laced through the dish. There a many small plates that we suggest trying and the wine list was approachable and affordable. If you can stand sitting outside with folks walking by as you eat, that is an option and most inside seating is family style. It’s an excellent restaurant.

 

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Bar Avignon

Bar Avignon

This is one amazing Bistro. Farm to table cuisine with a rotating menu. We suggest trying the oysters, and cheese plate. They also offer a charcuterie plate, shellfish and amazing salads. They have a wonderful wine list and the service is professional and polished. Reservations are suggested. The place is tiny and it gets packed quickly.

 

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Sushi Mazi

Sushi Mazi

We’ve tried a number of sushi restaurants in Portland and none of them have come close to what we’ve experienced at this Division St. eatery. The happy hour menu is excellent and their rolls are not only delicious but are very well constructed and beautiful. A big gripe of ours when eating rolls that can run you up to $13.00 per roll is that many times, they are just sloppily and carelessly created with some innocuous sauce splattered over it. Sushi Mazi’s chefs take the time to create very pretty food and the flavors are thought out and the product is consistent. They have an affordable wine list but do prepare if you are hungry to shell out $100.00 for a full meal with wine but it’s worth it.

 

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Tabor Tavern

Tabor Tavern

This was one of the first places tried when moving to Portland. It was by accident actually. We were just driving by and Jude insisted we stop in. It has been on our favorite list for two and a half years. The happy hour menu is great with a charcuterie board, happy hour burger and a to die for chicken sandwich. They have a generous tap list and the service is friendly and courteous. It’s located on an odd strip of Burnside and you can drive by it without even noticing it but once you try their pub grub, you will be an instant fan.

 

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Eastburn

Eastburn

We’ve been to this mid city gastropub a number of times. Every time the food, beer and service has been solid. They have an excellent happy hour menu, a great beer list with even more tap offerings in their annex basement bar and the food is well prepared. We suggest the mac-n-cheese. Locally sourced craft beers are on tap and happy hour offers $3.00 selected brews. Beware of the big screen sporting events though. It can get loud and if you aren’t into local sports, check your local listings.

 

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Boke Bowl

Boke Bowl

This is a really decent ramen joint on Water st. in the industrial section of SE Portland. They offer a number of different ramen bowls including rice bowls and they are famous for their steamed buns. We suggest the fried chicken steamed buns which are delicious. It is counter service only and add-on’s to your ramen or rice bowls with buns can run you up to almost $50.00 for two people without booze. Our only gripe was the music choices which tends to be exclusively geared towards screeching punk rock. The crowd was varied when we were there and thought the music should be too but the food has always been consistent. Just watch your wallet.

 

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Tasty n Sons

Tasty n Sons

We’ve tried a number of breakfast places in Portland but this was the best breakfast meal we’ve ever had here and I’m not just posting this because our friend Paige works there. We just decided to give it a try on a morning while in NE Portland. The food was stunning. We had their breakfast board, potatoes bravas and Kabocha squash enchiladas and I swear our taste buds were having tiny little orgasms. I shit you not. The service was very friendly and professional and the place is beautiful. It is located along the Williams food corridor but be aware, parking can be brutal during peak hours.

 

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Higgins Restaurant

Higgins Restaurant

I’m not even sure why we tried this place. We were simply driving around downtown and Jude said “hey, let’s go there for lunch.” I agreed and the experience was excellent. They were between service so they had a modest bar menu to choose from. The food was superb. Farm to table fare which was very fresh and tasty. Smoke salmon plate, a charcuterie board (yes, we like our meat plates!) and an extensive beer menu. They had Pliny the Elder on tap which was a huge win for us! We also tried some Belgians by the bottle. The service was professional and excellent. They place was quiet and comfortable. Be prepared to drive around the block a few times to find parking it being located in busy downtown Portland.

 

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Fifty Licks

Fifty Licks

Located on Clinton St. in SE Portland this tiny ice cream shop features off the beaten path craft ice cream that is to die for. The last time we were in I tried the ghost pepper ice cream which had tremendous but balanced heat. It was awesome and Jude had a salted caramel ice cream which we loved. They sell pints to go and the place is tiny but has outside seating as well. A must try.

 

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Reverend’s BBQ

Reverend’s BBQ

This is an excellent BBQ restaurant located in the SE Sellwood Neighborhood. The place is beautiful and the BBQ is very very good. I had the boneless fried chicken thighs and a pork rib and Jude has the brisket with a pork rib with mac-n-cheese and baked beans. We also had their Moscow Mule which blew us away. The service is extremely friendly and everything was top notch. BBQ plates range around $17.00 with one side but the price is worth it.

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Bertie Lou’s

Bertie Lou’s

This SE Sellwood hole in the wall is a must try for a great home cooked breakfast. Only about 8 tables and two outside benches, the place is always packed and the food is solid. Nothing fancy, just straight forward breakfast fare. Funky interior and even funkier wait staff. Be patient because it can be a hot minute before your food arrives but it’s worth it.

 

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Saint Pizza Lounge and Gladstone Pizza

Gladstone Pizza

By far one of the best pizza places in Portland. I shit you not. It reminds us of what East Coast pizza is and the flavors and toppings are top notch. We always get the Front of House pizza with arugula and sausage. Do not pass up the large chef salad with cured meats and pickles. They have maybe the best Margaritas I’ve ever had and there are about six rotating taps. The service is amazing and the music is too. Funky, fun and relaxing. You can’t pass this one up.

 

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Porque No?

Porque No?

Set in what appeared to be a burned out garage, this always packed all day long taqueria cranks out some really great local and sustainable mexican food with a farm to table twist. Taco Tuesday $1.50 tacos are a don’t miss. We get the porque no platter with one choice of meat that comes with beans, rice and salsa. For $10.00, it’s a huge plate of food. Their hot sauces are excellent and $7.00 margaritas and it’s a win win for your taste buds. Lines can form quickly but mid afternoon is best when the place is half empty.

 

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The Liquor Store

The Liquor Store

Part bar, part restaurant, part club, we visited during happy hour to avoid the club part of the business. Happy hour menu is varied with flatbreads which are excellent, amazing salads and a so-so mac-n-cheese. The ‘house punch’ was excellent for just $5.00. You order at the bar and the friendly staff drops the food off at your table. The interior is gorgeous and it’s nestled in the flourishing Belmont St. food corridor. We highly recommend. P.S. They have the best pretzel in Portland.

 

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Helen Bernhard Bakery

Helen Bernhard Bakery

What can I say but just the best fucking bakery in all of Portland. No need to elaborate. Just go and find out for yourself. Everything the make is pure gold.

 

Well, that’s my list which will be updated as we try more great places. I’m sure I’ve missed a couple but when they come to mind, I’ll be sure to add them to this great list of must try places. Thanks!

 

-Kevin.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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