Though Willamette Burger Company recently relocated to a more spacious spot a mile away from its original digs, the burger makers still take the same gourmet approach to classic American fare that won the Statesman Journal's Best Burger award in 2011. Each patty contains more than 6 ounces of locally raised, hormone-free beef, delivered on stallion by a handsome cowboy and ground on-site. Made-from-scratch buns, house-made sauces, and Oregonian cheeses top each specialty burger, sandwich, or Hill’s Meats hot dog. The eatery strives to further improve on classic American flavors by hand-forming each one of their tater tots and cooking their french fries twice for a crisp crunch. Visitors can slurp root-beer floats and ice-cream shakes or savor wine and beer from local imbiberies such as Ninkasi and Gilgamesh. Each tabletop in Willamette Burger Company’s new location comes topped with a paper tablecloth and stocked with crayons for scribbled drawings or colorful personal manifestos. The resulting works could earn a spot on the eatery’s hallowed walls next to priceless pieces like Still Life with Cheeseburger and Les Hamburgers d'Avignon.
Under new ownership, Chen's Happy Garden’s chefs serve robust portions of Mandarin- and Cantonese-style dishes. Diners can start with an appetizer such as pot stickers, ideal for sharing among eight friends or ambassadors from each planet in the solar system. The mandarin steak's beef comes accompanied by bok choy, pea pods, and a spicy sauce. Vegetable-based and low-calorie entrees, including the braised bean cake with vegetables, satisfy herbivorous appetites. Combination dinners allow guests to sample several items—the #3 combo congregates pork chow mein, pork fried rice, sweet-and-sour chicken, and a crab puff into one dinner, as well as soup, hot tea, and a fortune cookie that tests the reliability of aging magic 8 balls.
The cooks at China Town Restaurant carefully pick fresh ingredients to use in their traditional Chinese entrees, striving to create healthy yet flavorful cuisine. Hot pots of stewed meats emerge from the kitchen alongside steamed spareribs and entrees with incendiary doses of sichuan sauce. Throughout each meal, servers also ply guests with small dim sum plates—including barbecue pork pies, deep-fried lobster balls, and stuffed jalapeños—from carts that navigate the dining room's red vinyl booths and warp tunnels dug all the way to China.
Newly opened, the family-owned Asian Food Center has stocked all the necessities for whipping up Eastern-inspired meals. Everything from noodles and spices to wines and imported candies line the shelves. Familiar and exotic produce abounds in the veggie section, while elsewhere display cases sport succulent cuts of meat as well as live seafood. These run the gamut from herbal medicines to housewares such as rice cookers and chopsticks.
Restaurants often claim they have something for everyone. But with a selection of more than 80 dishes, Best of Szechuan Chinese Cuisine could make that claim without engaging in hyperbole. The eatery's menu specifically revolves around cuisine from southern and western China, including spicy, savory, and colorful dishes from the eponymous mountainous province of western China. The restaurant's chefs hail from Sichuan itself—with years of experience at kitchens in San Francisco and Seattle—and they impart authenticity to their meals as they whip up spicy stir-fried pork, sizzling fire pots of brisket, rabbit, or frog, and string beans and eggplant cooked in dry spices and garlic sauce. Though Best of Szechuan's owner, Lin, reserves a special place in his heart for the hot pots and chili-filled stir-fries of Sichuan, he peppers the menu with meals from his home city of Fuzhou, famous for its seafood delicacies and savory broths.
Best of Szechuan serves these dishes behind a traditional Chinese-style façade with a peaked roof. Inside, towering crimson columns and hanging red lanterns brighten the atmosphere as guests try to estimate the number of times chopsticks have ever been mentioned inside a Chinese restaurant.