USA Today writer Julian Smith rates his favorite foodie spots in Portland, Oregon. As a homegrown Portland foodie, here’s my take on his list.
1. Ataula – you betcha, I love Jose Chesa and everything at Ataula, including the cocktails and wine.
2. Ava Genes – I haven’t had a regular dinner yet at Ava Genes, but the Chef’s Week dinner was super. It’s hard to get a reservation, but we’ll have to plan an outing there.
3. Castagna – One of the best meals ever in Portland, they do molecular gastronomy right, even through changes in chefs. I’d go back there any time. The wine pairing is great, too.
4. Expatriate – I haven’t been there yet, but I have a certificate from Portland Food Adventures so I plan to go soon, being there right when they open in order to get a seat.
5. Le Pigeon – I’ve had some of my best meals there, Gabriel Rucker (pictured) is a very creative French-inspired chef. The dining room is always crowded and the noise level is high, so not the best for a “romantic” dinner, but it works for a fun foodie outing.
6. Nong’s Khao Man Gai – I’ve had her signature chicken and rice at Feast Portland and at a food cart festival and I am one of the few people who think it’s just kinda boring. It’s not something I’d spend money on when there are other options. As everyone else seems to swoon over it, I guess it’s like me and pho — I don’t get that, either.
7. Tanuki – I haven’t been there yet.
8. Roe – We had a Portland Food Adventure in the Roe space back when WAFU debuted. It was uneven, some dishes were great, some were clunkers. The foie gras casserole was especially nasty. But then a return to WAFU before they closed to reopen as Block + Tackle was a fantastic meal. So I’m looking forward to a return someday to Roe.
9. Sweedeedee – I had a Portland Food Adventures certificate and went there for a late breakfast about two years ago. I was underwhelmed by the breakfast plate I got, which was eggs baked in toast with a little salad on top. Boring, and it took over 30 minutes to get it after ordering. They had a radio playing VERY LOUD, so loud I almost asked if they could turn it down, it was painful. The whole atmosphere was a little too close to rural squalor – the mason jar water glasses are funky and the seating is back-porch informal/uncomfortable. But they end up on lots of lists as a must-go place. The USA Today writer says the sandwiches are great, so I may return for a sandwich.
10. Urban Farmer – I enjoyed some of their work at the Chef’s Week dinner and I’d love to enjoy a dinner at Urban Farmer.