Best of the City 2016: 11 Portland Eats, Spots, and Sips We Can’t Resist Right Now

Iced matcha-chai lattes to killer pastrami sandwiches, here are some of our city’s most delicious things.

By Kelly Clarke, Eden Dawn, Marty Patail, Benjamin Tepler, Karen Brooks, and Rachel Ritchie June 13, 2016 Published in the July 2016 issue of Portland Monthly

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Best A.C. for Your Face (or, if you must, Best Iced Tea)

Pip’s Original Doughnuts has many sugary charms. But when you’re deep into summer’s swelter, reach for its iced Japanese Garden latte: a jade-hued blast of fragrant matcha tea mingling with Pip’s delicate chamomile, fennel, and lavender Emmylou chai. Regulars have ordered the hush-hush, off-menu sipper, which teases with ice creamy sweetness backed with earthy tea tones, for a year, but it just started gracing the proper chalkboard this summer. Sweet.

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Best Bar Superhero

Stylish craft barware outfit Bull in China isn’t just another pretty PDX brand. In less than two years the bartender-owned company has become an industry go-to for durable, well-made drinking tools—especially their workhorse mixing glasses. (Tenders often break less well-made glasses on a monthly basis). Made by hand in Northwest Portland, the coveted $65 vessels are chic and practically indestructible—beyond local haunts like Teardrop and Rum Club, they’re now used to stir up cocktails across the country at chic spots like New York’s Eleven Madison Park and DC’s Columbia Room. 

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Best New Local "Junk" Food

If you were one of those kids who was deprived of Cap’n Crunch and Reese’s Puffs, now is the time to rebel. Puffworks Peanut Butter Snacks come coated in a salty, gooey peanut butter glaze with flavors like dark chocolate and spicy Thai barbecue, using minimal, health-conscious ingredients. Get snacking.

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Image: Michael Novak

Best Trend We Actually Love

Nowadays, you can find a microeatery for any kind of chicken, from Pollo Bravo’s Spanish rotisserie or Marukin Ramen’s fried karaage morsels to Boke Doke’s kimchi-topped sandwiches. One of our faves? Arrosto, the tiny yellow takeout window at Providore Fine Foods Market. Super-juicy “Mediterranean” chicken is wrapped in sticky-good, lemon-rosemary oil-rubbed skin and an orange Calabrian chile sauce built for drizzling over fat-basted, crackling Yukon golds. 

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Best Tragically Overlooked Veggie-Friendly Restaurant with Belly Dancers*

Northwest PDX’s Marrakesh has given us 27 years of Moroccan feasts—which we’ve consumed precariously on beautifully embroidered floor pillows while having our hands washed in rose water, sipping spicy wine, devouring spreads from moussaka to skewers, and cheering for belly dancers. Old Portland can’t live unless you give it love!
*...according to PoMo style editor Eden Dawn.

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Best Way to Cut in Line

Bunk. Pok Pok. Apizza Scholls. Your late-night couch cravings can move beyond cardboard pizza with Postmates and Caviar, two Uber-like mobile app–based services. Pick eats from more than 30 local spots; a driver brings your meal in under an hour. Your pants just took one more step toward obsolescence.

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Best New Food Cart Parked at an Urban Winery

The lefse-lovers behind Viking Soul Food recently hitched their wagon to Teutonic’s urban winery in Southeast Portland. The result? A Nordic-German lovechild dubbed The Wild Hunt, with excellent smørbrød sandwiches paired with ballsy Rieslings and gewürztraminer. Bonus: your bartenders made the wine. 

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Best Reason to Eat Dairy

Milla Woller, the petite presence behind Buttercraft's Compound Butters, has a message for Portland: “Step away from the olive oil, people. You need to eat more butter.” Between six and eight options rotate daily at her Sellwood shop, churned into a high-fat, Euro-style cultured specimen. The most interesting flavors so far range from cherry blossom or orange-honey to food cart Wolf & Bear’s bright green jalapeño-cilantro hot sauce, reborn in butter. Order the all-inclusive sampler board, arranged like Tiffany jewels alongside warm bread. —KB

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Best Reason to Road-Trip for Pastrami 

Until recently, OPB’s Think Out Loud host, Dave Miller, regularly found excuses to drive nearly 300 miles south to Ashland, Oregon, to devour Sammich’s New York Times–anointed pastrami sandwich, packed to the brim with house-cured Double R Ranch brisket on rye. Chicago import Melissa McMillan brines, steams, and smokes her Montreal-style pastrami over black oak and slices it into thick, fatty ribbons. Not up for the drive? Now Miller can try it locally at McMillan’s recently opened roving Pastrami Zombie truck. —BT

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Best Summer Cocktail 

We love our wine spritzers and patio sippers, but nothing compares to a perfectly balanced, eminently boozy slushy on a scorching summer day. Bit House Saloon has two frozen drinks on offer at all times, poured straight from an ever-churning machine behind the bar: you might encounter banana colada, or an eye-opening mélange of tequila and five-spice pomegranate, or an aptly named “Slurricane.” Whatever you find, savor it knowing that no matter how old you are, the singular joy of a slushie will always remain strong. —RR

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Best Community Garden Party 

Former Beast chef de cuisine Mika Paredes was known as a cook’s cook, a cool cat, and party girl supreme. Then she spilled, hard, spending the beginning of 2016 in rehab, a journey braved with raw transparency on social media. As she rebooted life and purpose, Bunk Sandwiches and Pizza Jerk honcho Tommy Habetz offered his garden, a budding landscape of raised beds in the back of his Northeast Portland punk rock pie joint, for her next project. Now, plans are laid for a new pop-up, Girls Club, with Habetz as sous-chef and collaborations with Portland’s best-known cooks. No idea is forbidden: disco picnics, rock-’n’-rock backyard parties, fine dining and French fries. “I didn’t know what to do with my life,” says Paredes. “Tommy told me my dharma was to be in the kitchen. I said thanks—thanks for shoving it in my face.” —KB

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