Aaron N. Tubbs bio photo

Aaron N. Tubbs

Dragon chaser.

Twitter Facebook Google+ LinkedIn Github

Kenny & Zuke’s

Upon arrival in Portland, the first destination ended up being Powell’s, where lunch ended up being a chocolate almond croissant and a nice large latte. A few more hours of book browsing later, we’d worked up an appetite, so we walked into the nearest place with a line out the door, Kenny & Zuke’s Delicatessen. In the middle of the afternoon on a Tuesday, the place was packed and there was a 20 minute wait; that’s a good sign, right?

Their menu had something like a dozen root beers, and they had several beers on tap. Lots of traditional deli fare. Ended up starting with the pickle plate:

It’s hard to see everything, but there are some mangoes on the bottom of the pile as well. It was a pretty awesome pickle plate. Probably the best I’ve had. Unfortunately, this title lasted only a few more days; see an upcoming entry for more details on that.

The corned beef Reuben was good. It wasn’t amazing, but it was good. The fries were warm, and I can’t complain, good solid deli sandwich, on the wrong coast.

The pastrami Reuben was the best I’ve had, anywhere. Thick, chunky, perfectly marbled Pastrami. Perfectly spiced. Outstanding sandwich.

So, if you like your deli sandwiches, you need to go here. It’s awesome. Get the pastrami Reuben and a pickle plate. That’s probably enough for two people. It was plenty for us; didn’t really do dinner that night.

Bijou Cafe

Breakfast the next morning was at the Bijou Café. Warned ahead of time by the guide book that this place gets busy, we got there nice and early. There wasn’t much of a wait, but I think we beat the Sunday church crowd. Fresh-squeezed orange juice was exceptional; coffee was standard diner fare; oh well. Service was decent; nothing special one way or the other.

The brioche French toast was pretty good.

The oyster hash was pretty good, as well.

I wouldn’t say any of it was outstanding, for a neighborhood institution, but it was definitely the place the regulars seemed to gather at regularly. Good, warm, regular, etc. A return visit for an omelette, fruit plate, and quesedillas was similarly mixed. The quesedillas with spicy pumpkin mole were amazing; the rest was mediocre. I don’t know that it deserves all of its praise, but it’s probably a place worth visiting for a breakfast once.

Red Star Tavern

The Red Star Tavern wasn’t on the original restaurant hit list, but walking by it a few times it was always busy, and looked good. I think this may be an underrated destination. The interior feels a little huge and chain-like, but the service was good and the experience memorable. Highlights of the meal included the marrow appetizer, which was fantastic:

Half a duck with confited fingerling potatoes and parsnips, all of which were excellent:

And probably the standout dish was an exceptional blackened catfish:

The cornbread was just okay. Oh, and this was the amuse:

Was way too full to try dessert, but it sounded good. Good value, great service, great food; worth a visit.

Back at the Hotel

At Hotel Modera they have a lovely set of fire pits, which we enjoyed several evenings. Highly recommended if you want somewhere to hang out a little outside of the dining areas, but go for a suite; the normal rooms are pretty tiny. The fire pits are sadly inside the pay wall of the bar, but worth it on a cool evening. Here’s a bottle of Cristom from one of the evenings:

And the fire:

Rooms were like this, for the suites: