North Portland’s Old Reliable
There are some restaurants where you go to impress a date (e.g. Le Pigeon), others where you go to dork out on food and hear each other talk (e.g. Park Kitchen), and still others where you go to pop the question (e.g. Paley’s Place). But then there are the restaurants that you go to with your one and only when you’re tired and hungry and you may still be wearing your gym clothes. A perfect example is Pause, the quintessential unassuming neighborhood eatery located at 5101 N Interstate Ave.
The menu is broken down into Soup, Salads, Snacks (think Chicken Drumsticks Confit for $6, Grilled Shrimp Skewers for $6, and a Pickle Plate at $2 per person), Sandwiches, Dinners, Kid Fare, and Sweets. It’s mostly “American” cuisine (which basically means there is a mish-mash of ethnic influences, as well fries and burgers), and most of it is $9 or less, barring a few dinner entrées that ring in at $10 (such as the Dijon-Cider Braised Pork Shanks with Mashed Potatoes and Alsatian Sauerkraut) and one high roller—the $12 Cornmeal Crusted Trout with Couscous Salad and Asparagus with a Lemon White Wine Caper Beurre Blanc.
But the real deal to be had is the Everyday Special —two sliders (one cheddar and one bacon-blue cheese; you can also do the veggie version), thick, firm hand-cut fries, and a Sierra Nevada or soda for $7 flat. The meat sliders are pretty damn juicy for little guys and the black bean veggie variety have great flavor and texture.
This is not the place to go for an earth shattering meal—the $8 Baked Mac & Cheese is a bit watery and needs salt, and the $7 Black Bean, Grilled Corn, Quinoa, and Greens Salad lacks black beans, corn, and quinoa—but it gets the job done in a fast and satisfactory fashion. The mostly-local beers are mostly $3.75 ($4.50 for cask conditioned brews and $2.25 for Pabst, of course), the mostly classic cocktails range from $6-$6.50, and wines go for $4-$6 a glass, with the most expensive bottle coming in at $29.
It’s cheap and easy—which, some may argue, is the best kind of date to be had.