When her two sons came back from Europe raving about the traditional liege sugar waffles, Mary did what any good mom and professional pastry chef would do: she learned how to make them. But Mary wasn't content with mere imitation––she wanted her waffles to be something unique, and so she spent several weeks crafting her own super-secret recipe that blended Belgian-style traditions with hard-to-source ingredients. After all that work, she knew her waffles were made for more than just maple syrup, and a slew of waffle-based dishes was born, incorporating toppings that include everything from thick-cut bacon and housemade salsa to scoops of small-batch ice cream and Guittard chocolate. Soon, she began serving the treats out of a converted Dutch-style door window in her husband’s Bread & Ink Café, and her waffles quickly gained enough acclaim to be featured in Bon Appetit, as well as an episode of the TV show Portlandia.
Now operating from two locations, the staff still gives diners the option to devour their waffles on the go, but welcomes guests to linger longer in the warmth of covered indoor- and outdoor-dining spaces. There, steaming cups of locally-roasted Kobos coffee and glasses of blackberry-basil lemonade help wash down the waffley goodness, while a full line of frozen take-home waffles await to be warmed in home toasters or Mrs. Butterworth's loving embrace.
The chefs at Chez Machin gather fresh ingredients from the land around them, from the wild tuna that careen down the Pacific coastline to the juicy berries that grow on local farms. Favoring natural beef from and humanely raised poultry from Draper Valley, they create a variety of salads, sandwiches, and traditional French specialties—such as the boeuf bourguignon stew with braised beef, bacon, and red wine. The chefs are particularly skilled when it comes to crepe making, whipping up paper-thin pancakes from Bob's Red Mill organic buckwheat flour before layering them with savory and sweet ingredients. Their fresh-lemon-and-sugar crepe was lauded by reporters from the Portland Mercury as "light, wondrous, and crispy."
Diners sip on microbrews and fine wines at red-checkered tabletops in the cozy dining area, stealing glances at chefs as they bustle about behind the counter. Soft light streams in through the front window, illuminating the vibrant paintings that speckle the walls. The cozy back patio is decorated with colorful murals featuring surprising images, such as a cactus floating in midair and a successful football player revealing that he is also great at knitting sweaters.
For Barrio Star's owner and chef, Isabel Cruz, her Latino family's large, frequent gatherings have always revolved around food. She taught herself how to cook with help of friends and family from Puerto Rico, Cuba, and Mexico—and growing up in Los Angeles, she was also influenced by Japanese, Korean, and Thai flavors. Today, she infuses her global, modern recipes into five eateries spanning two states. Within the vibrantly painted, chandelier-lit confines of Barrio Star, she incorporates unexpected influences into the menu of Mexican soul food; wild blackened-salmon tacos are adorned with thai slaw, pineapple, jicama slaw, and chipotle aioli, as well as cilantro and lime. Coconut permeates her Brazil bowl, loaded with rice, black beans, mango salsa, steamed greens, and a choice of meat. Isabel chooses local, organic ingredients whenever possible to forge her modern, healthier versions of traditional dishes. Her chefs make all the salsas from scratch, rather than rehydrating astronaut salsa, and hand press tortillas from just-ground corn.
Much has remained the same at The Leaky Roof Gastro Pub throughout the eatery?s 60-year history. Luckily, the old roof, which once generously admitted the elements, has been replaced, but the sounds of revelry still rattle ranks of bottles on the original bar. Patrons perch there, sipping microbrews and an extensive selection of Irish whiskeys while warmth and light cascade into the room from a three-sided fireplace.
The aroma of Guinness-battered fish 'n' chips drifts from the kitchen, where chefs use local ingredients when possible and focus on sustainability. Their constantly rotating menu has featured inventive appetizers such as garlic truffle fries, which is infused with the restaurant's own truffle oil made with locally sourced black truffles, and country-fried chicken with mirepoix peppered gravy. In addition to buying local produce, the owners support the community by working with local businesses whenever possible, taking part in Portland's composting program, and not jumping motorcycles over town hall even if it would look awesome.
You might find Li Doyle up very early on a Friday, Saturday, or Sunday morning, making all of the breads and jams for Lili Patisserie's ever-changing breakfast, lunch, and dinner menus herself, combining them with cage-free eggs and local, organic produce whenever possible. Her challah bread becomes chicken club sandwiches or Cuban-style sandwiches, and her handmade ricotta gnocchi wind up on beds of sautéed spinach with san marzano tomato sauce.
In addition to fresh, seasonal items such as wild, line-caught coho salmon, Doyle prepares vegan and gluten-free options. Bright-red chairs and vintage-style furniture give the seating area a quaint european vibe, like the butter churn currently haunted by the ghost of Louis XIV.
Soho Asian Fusion Bistro & Lounge's chefs draw upon a vast history of culinary traditions to curate a menu focused on sushi, as well as Japanese and Korean cuisine. This diversity earned the eatery a spot on Fox 12's “Restaurant of the Week”, which showcased the Echo roll, an epic heap of tempura-fried rice topped with tuna, avocado, and caviar. Other signature rolls include the Soho roll, lined with shrimp tempura, crab meat, and cucumber, crowned with Hawaiian ahi poke, and drizzled with sweet chili and unagi sauces. Bento boxes are assembled with rolls, tempura, while sizzling Korean bulgogi beef makes its journey to tables with crisp asparagus and a miniature suitcase.