• Posted by Califia Suntree on September 28th, 2012, 4:24 PM

    Four weeks in, I’ve eaten my way through what feels like an epic array of restaurants here in Portland, OR, but which is in fact just a weensy sliver of what this town has to offer. It’s really no wonder New York has a crush on Portland, something that is not lost on the locals. (It’s like when that one nerdy kid is beloved by the cool kids, mostly because he honestly doesn’t care if anyone likes him and he just does his thing. It’s pretty much exactly like that.) I’ve dutifully sipped Stumptown, though given the choice I’d much rather sip Heart–and if there’s one thing you have as a coffee drinker here, it’s choice. I’m sure it’s to combat SAD. My ranging included obligatory stops at Pok Pok and Salt & Straw, where the noodles and fudge sauce, respectively, did not disappoint. But here are some highlights from the first four weeks, should you decide to visit (and you should!):

    * Small plates at Navarre. Very market-fresh and easy delicious (juicy pork, local seafood, CSA salads), and over 50 wines by the glass! Afterwards, head to a $4 movie at the Laurelhurst. (What wouldn’t you see for $4?!)

    * Oysters at the brand-new Sauvage. They are topped with salmon roe and this very citrusy leaf called sansho, from a tiny tree growing in the dining room. Also a must-try: peach leaf granita.

    * I am a big fan of Broder for breakfast (their Solstice Board, sort of a classics compilation of Scandinavian breakfast bites, is pictured here).

    * It’s sort of cheating, since I went there in July, but Tanuki is not to be missed. The way to go is the “omakase” option–tell your server what you want to spend, and chef Janis Martin sends out what she thinks is suitable. ($20 per person was almost more food than I could handle). I put “omakase” in quotes because, as the sign out front says, “NO sushi, NO kids.”

    * The Best Happy Hour Ever prize goes to Accanto, where they offer tasty options from their regular menu–and full-size portions–from 5 to 6 pm for wonderfully low prices. The duck rillettes with apple mostarda was probably the best $5 I’ve ever spent.

    * If a coastal jaunt takes you to Manzanita Beach (and it should!), stop at Bread and Ocean Bakery for cinnamon rolls. (I’ve never had a better one.) Then make your way to Astoria to sample the eccentric seafood dishes of the Columbian Cafe. The food’s eccentricity pairs well with the incredibly sweeping scenery and odd waterfront. Seafood doesn’t get fresher.

    * Even if you are a tourist, go to the Saturday farmers market downtown. There seems to be as much prepared food as produce, and you kind of can’t go wrong.

    The rule for good eating are pretty easy overall here: drink the Willamette pinot noir when offered, eat dungeness whenever you can, enjoy the $4 beer, and come hungry. (But don’t go to Voodoo donuts. They are just bad.)

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