Heading to Portland, Oregon soon? Trying to figure out the best places to eat? Whether you’re looking for some pork stuffed into a puff pastry or ice cream that packs a bunch of vices into one delicious flavor, we’ve got you covered right here with a list of the tastiest destinations to hit while you’re in town.
1632 NW Thurman St, Portland, OR 97209
This review of Olympia Provisions, as well as the following reviews of OX, Pok Pok and Salt and Straw all originally appeared Nov. 3, 2014.
If I lived in Portland, I’d weigh approximately 700 pounds. (Also, the fury at being banned by state statute from pumping my own gas might make my head explode.) Like Austin, Portland is an incubator for creative cooks, and that means something delicious has popped up on almost every corner. I began at Olympia Provisions, a charcuterie specialist with two locations in town. The house-made Italian sausage over a bed of polenta packed a savory wallop, but the star of the menu is among the appetizers. It's the pork rillette hand pie. Pork rillettes are basically a cross between Southern pulled pork and pate. Cubes of meat—in this case, it looked like shoulder or Boston butt—are cooked slowly in fat and then pulled apart until they can almost form a paste. At Olympic Provisions, the pork is then stuffed into a puff pastry. My only mistake was ordering just one. I have two hands, therefore I should have eaten two hand pies.
OX is an Argentinian-inspired spot near downtown that specializes in meat. The skirt steak was a perfect, juicy medium rare, and the chorizo exploded with spice. Perhaps the most impressive achievement at OX is the kitchen's ability to make cauliflower taste like meaty candy. Seriously, the carmelized cauliflower in golden raisin vinaigrette might be as good as anything on the menu that came from a cow.
Friday night, I visited Portland stalwart Pok Pok just to make sure they still make the best wings in America. I had the Ike's Vietnamese Fish Sauce wings at the Brooklyn location, but I wanted to try the original. The quality remains consistent on either coast, and the spicy, salty fish sauce makes the wings impossible to stop eating. I could only be pried from the table by the promise of a visit to ice cream purveyor Salt and Straw.
Salt and Straw
I had two scoops of the Stumptown Coffee and Burnside Bourbon flavor. If you're scoring at home, that's four vices (animal fat, sugar, coffee and bourbon) packed into one flavor.
Fortunately, I also managed some running, yoga and weights while on the trip. Otherwise, SI might have had to send a crew to break down the wall of my hotel room to extricate me so I could drive to Eugene to cover the game. Portland is dangerous, man.