There are few cities that I have been to that have captured my heart or stomach the way Portland does; It’s an interesting combination of working class charm with modern metropolitan oddity. I decided to visit friends for my 32nd birthday and take them on my gluttonous city adventures. Bless them for their patience and their car, because it made the trip infinitely easier. Don’t get me wrong, Portland’s public transportation is stellar, but nothing beats friends piled in a car exploring the city. I didn’t get a chance to try all the restaurants I wanted to, but it was one of the most successful weekends of gluttony that I have had in my adult life. I also gave a homeless guy 5 dollars and he walked into a sex shop. It has nothing to do with anything, but it amused me for the rest of the weekend (don’t judge, it was Valentine’s day).
Boise Fry Co.
1902 West Burnside Street Portland, OR 97209 I took the MAX from the airport to my hostel in Northwest Portland. Several blocks down the street is Boise Fry Company, a small chain from Idaho that specializes in French fries. How many different fries can one restaurant make? Boise Fry Co. does them five ways, with 6 different potatoes to choose from; and with a bar full of different salts and sauces, the possibilities are endless. Feeling like a rich wallstreet fat cat? order the “Bourgeios,” fries cooked in duck fat and garnished with truffle salt! enjoy it you privileged sell out. For us proletariat foodies, we take control of the means of fry flavor production:
I thought poutine was going to be in my future, but I was pleasantly surprised to find out that Boise Fry Co.’s burger are really good. I gathered my buffet of sauces, a couple sides of salt, and ordered my dinner: The “Original” burger with purple curly fries:
Grass fed beef isn’t something I eat often, so I’m not sure if it was a factor, but the burger patty was stellar. I split the fries into two spice piles: Rosemary garlic salt and cinnamon ginger with spicy fry sauce, chipotle, and sweet mustard sauce; it didn’t take long before I went back and tried all the sauces, the spicy ketchup was really good too.
The Grilled Cheese Grill
SW Alder St & SW 10th Ave Portland, OR 97205
On Southwest Alder St there is a square of food stalls serving everything from Mediterranean to Southeast Asian cuisine. I bypassed all the international cuisine and ended up at the Grilled Cheese Grill, where I ordered one of the most American sandwiches that I’ve ever had: The Cheesus
The only thing that would make this more American would be a side of Ranch dressing. This one was a difficult one to eat, grilled cheese sandwiches aren’t exactly known for their sturdiness; it doesn’t help that there isn’t anywhere to sit down and eat either. There’s nothing clever or exotic about this sandwich, it’s just a lot of comfort food mixed together in a greasy union of delicious. In the interest of making balanced choices, I ordered a Diet Pepsi to drink.
1205 SW Washington St, Portland, OR 97205 Lardo was suggested to me by multiple foodies on instagram and with good reason. Their emphasis on quality meat and interesting sandwiches make it a must for any lunch enthusiast. While you can order all kinds of protein, pork seems to be their specialty. I took
1711 SE Hawthorne Blvd Portland, OR 97214 After a late night of drunken revelry, there are few things better than a good sandwich. There aren’t many late night places in Orange County, let alone late night restaurants that serve stellar food. Devil’s Dill not only has a badass name, but one hell of a menu. They’re open till 3 a.m. and also deliver late into the night, when all the pious have gone to bed and us sinners want something that isn’t greasy diner food. (click on pictures to enlarge)
Meat Cheese Bread
1406 SE Stark St, Portland, OR 97214 Meat Cheese Bread is a small restaurant connected with a great bar that has a huge beer selection. The Meat Cheese Bread side is small with a nice patio, but you have the option of grabbing a drink and having your sandwiches next door at Beer. The owners of these establishments obviously aren’t fans of frilly names, but the food is solid and the beer selection is admirable. My favorite sandwich was the bacon and sweet potato with goat cheese. It was the most unique sandwich I had all weekend. (click on pictures to enlarge)
Shut up and Eat
3848 SE Gladstone St Portland OR 97202 I don’t make it a point to try restaurants who impose ultimatums on me, but I was happy that I swallowed my pride and tried Shut up and Eat. Their menu has a lot of safe Italian inspired options, so if you’re not feeling adventurous but still want really well made sandwiches, Shut up and Eat is right for you. Their toasted Italian rolls are flavorful and perfect for holding their signature red gravy. Be sure to check out their breakfast menu too, there aren’t as many options but they are quite good.
On the final morning before my flight back to California, my dear Oregonian friends decided that I should be sent off with one more Portland sandwich in my belly. This Eastside Deli is nestled in the North Portland neighborhood of Saint Johns, but they have plenty of locations throughout Portland for you to choose from. They have a great selection of sandwiches on their menu, including a strong vegetarian/vegan menu.
Other Notable Portland things
Portland’s food scene is truly something to be experienced and appreciated but there is a lot more to do than just eat. While I went specifically to spend time with friends and consume ungodly amounts of calories, I was thoroughly impressed by the city’s culture and people. Whether you want to get lost in other worlds at Powell’s books or enjoy the many libations in downtown PDX, there’s something for anyone here.