Every month, we dig through our restaurant listings to bring you a themed (and non-comprehensive!) roundup of places to eat out in Portland. In the July 2017 issue, we highlight 13 spots that don't mess around with their beer menus.
Steve Jones lives to share his latest cheese finds—the American farmhouse beauty, the insider artisan wheel, an oddball delight from a local or global up-and-comer. In 2015, the owner of top-notch Cheese Bar masterminded a sushi experience that makes cheese, not fish, the object of worship. Sit at the counter, where Jones’s changing collection of chizu (Japanese for “cheese”) gleams from glass boxes, 30 options daily, served by the slice and accessorized with little surprises like fresh-made wasabi hazelnuts. Grab a beer or a sake, and, to get in the spirit, name your price and order the omakase, or “chef’s choice.” Then watch a true fromage poet create a dream cheese plate to match.
At this rustic neighborhood nose-to-tail pub, timely patrons can be rewarded with a generous “2-fer Dinner Special,” a double portion of whatever hearty delight is on offer that day—steaks to roasted chickens, plus veg and beers. On a recent visit, duos tucked into tender grilled pork with a potato, beet, and carrot hash zinging with harissa paste—clinking their brewskies (Upright co-owner Alex Ganum keeps a seasonal cast of his award-winning brews on rotation at the bar) with the aplomb of those with full bellies and wallets.
One of the first farm-to-table restaurants to open in Portland in the early 1990s, Higgins has staying power. This can be attributed in part to its timeless cuisine: impressive house-cured charcuterie, seasonal risottos, and a walloping whole-pig plate, not to mention chef-owner Greg Higgins’s longtime loyalty to the local farmers who produce his ingredients, which translates to a surprisingly vegan-friendly menu. Regulars often skip the white-tablecloth dining room and settle in at the homey, wood-worn back bar, with its formidable beer list, uptown lunch menu, and some of the city’s best soups, changing daily.
This dusky North Mississippi watering hole lures the hungover and hungry on weekend mornings with balanced cocktails and burly breakfast fare, often soundtracked by ’80s rock. The menu runs from biscuits with boar sausage gravy to super puffy buttermilk poppyseed pancakes that taste like Costco muffins (in the best way) drizzled with zingy lemon curd. The finest mornings start with a salty, smoked, fried half game hen perched on a toasty house biscuit. Slather everything in tangy jalapeño butter and coffee–bourbon–brown sugar syrup, and devour every crunchy morsel between sweet, tart swigs of a gin-applejack-apricot Golden Dawn.
At La Moule, St. Jack’s Francophile chef Aaron Barnett reintroduces Portland to mussels and fries with a globe-spanning take on Belgium’s national dish, plus a side of moody lighting and great cocktails. Its comfy black booths are sweet, dimly lit nooks for sharable, date-night mussels steamed in four flavorful broths, with a menu bookended by French-inspired bar fare, like a burger with a thick slice of bacon and double-cream brie on top. La Moule pulls double duty as a serious bar. Cocktails like the Lilah are approachable, with sherry, green chartreuse, and Mellow Corn—an in-vogue corn whiskey. Meanwhile, the Belgian-inspired tap list, both European and local, is a traditional (and perfect) partner for the country’s favorite dish.
Loyal Legion is no Hofbräuhaus. This beer hall takes a different inspiration: our love of beautiful spaces, of all things local, of simply gazing into space and people watching. The exhaustively curated, 99-tap, all-Oregon beer list encourages methodical choosing and deliberate drinking. The food menu is dominated by beer-soaked Olympia Provisions bratwursts, frankfurters, and Käsekrainers. The cheesy, gooey, messy burger, served on a pretzel bun with a generous heaping of pickles, is an instant favorite.
Pendleton blanket–level comfort is the credo at this Northeast dining hall, especially at brunch: think flawlessly scrambled eggs, dense house anadama toast, and the adjacent meat shop’s smoky-sweet bacon. That prime pig is fried and nestled next to textbook French omelets stuffed with everything from smoked trout to korv sausage stroganoff. Save room for more salt potatoes: crispy, buttery, velvety Yukon golds the kitchen roasts, smashes, and then deep-fries to produce an addictive sort of potato chip spliced with a dinner spud. They are, we suspect, the reason brunch was invented in the first place.
Olympia Provisions’ fast-casual wurst concept on SE Division Street is a sausage party with a crazy-good beer and wine list. Suds are local and international, with a heavy emphasis on Germany—even a hard-to find Kostritzer Schwarzbier—while glass pours come from the crack team of sommeliers at the original OP on SE Washington Street. Everything’s bigger here than at the satellite Wurst locations, including a sprawling patio and kitchen that turns out a fresh shaved fennel and orange salad and an old-school griddle burger. Meanwhile, the Pine Street Market and Oregon City mini-locations offer a concise menu with their own “creative wursts,” like the Hound Dog with bacon, banana, and peanut butter.
→ OP’s Oregon City landlords, Oregon City Brewing, developed a special Provisions Pilsner—light and balanced for summer swilling, and also available at the Division Street location.
At Cheryl Wakerhauser’s Pix Pâtisserie/Bar Vivant, napkins litter the floor, scarlet damask lines the walls, and Champagne enthusiasts play a game of pétanque in the courtyard. Portland seems miles away in this world of wacky European vitality and sparkling wine obsession. While the Pix side stocks an award-winning sparkling wine list and elaborate sweets, Bar Vivant brings savory Spanish tapas and an extensive cocktail menu to Wakerhauser’s sweet equation.
The retooled, 130-year-old Ladd Carriage House mixes Portland’s pork terrines with Yorkshire puddings befitting of an English carriage house. Rabbit is a house favorite, atop dishes like three-cheese agnolotti and cooked two ways with sweetbread and chanterelles. “Historically inspired” cocktails find new plays on classic flavors. The old hayloft upstairs is a setting worthy of the building’s illustrious roots, courtesy of a gaping fireplace, a handsome billiard table, and leather furniture galore.
→ R&R now devotes one of its taps to local cask-conditioned (naturally carbonated) beer. Right now, they’re pouring Culmination’s Trumpet Major, a mix between a Burton ale and a Belgian strong. Next up? Cask-conditioned fruit beer.
This beer hall from the folks behind North Portland’s Prost lures bierstube enthusiasts deeper into the world of German brews while raising the bar for the country’s comforting cuisine. Stammtisch’s airy space and sidewalk beer garden boast an impressive, rotating 18-tap beer list that ranges from a rare, malty maibock to a smoked helles lager—the kind of craft beers one might find only in tiny towns in Bavaria—while the full-length menu flaunts classic schnitzels and a Bavarian pretzel, along with less common maultaschen (big Germanic rolled pasta) and obatzda (a paprika-spiced Camembert cheese spread). And the slow-roasted Bavarian pork shoulder, roasted golden-brown on a bed of spätzle and red cabbage—the pigskin fried to crispy, snackable perfection—is criminally comforting.
Tucked inside a cinder-block bunker off of E Burnside, this cozy neighborhood watering hole is home to some of the best late-night comfort food in town. Behind the bar, archival drinks like the Toronto croon dark melodies of rye and fernet, while the tiny kitchen works a rich vein of Euro-Oregonian pub fare, from St. Helens hanger steak to fried chicken and waffles at brunch. When the needle hits some old vinyl and the booze hits the big ice cube, the Tannery serves indie culture in its most refreshing form.
By Portland’s micro-loving standards, Ken Forkish’s Trifecta Tavern & Bakery is the Coliseum. The sky-high industrial ceiling makes room for a raucous marble bar shaking highbrow classics, a bustling, wood-fire-powered kitchen, and stretch-limo booths for all. The steak frites–meets–seafood shack menu hits a few potholes occassionally, but Trifecta is a steady Portland hangout. Your best bet? Snag a seat at the bar and share wood-fired plates like brussels sprouts with spicy house chorizo and apple butter or the simple, salty-sweet triumph of a fresh shucked oyster followed by house-cured ham, just-churned butter, and honey tucked inside a warm roll. “It’s the perfect chaser,” swears the bartender. He’s right.