The menu at Slabtown Ribs & BBQ contrasts starkly with your garden-variety fast food menu. That's because Pitmasters can spend most of a day tending to their meats, with smokers set to low heats for long periods of time to bring out each cut's flavors. Though this flavor alone is juicy and savory, they can further enhance these flavors with one of their trio of barbecue sauces. Pitmasters take cues from barbecue regions from throughout the country to make sauces including the tangy Carolina mustard, the spicy Texas hot, and the complex Kansas City classic.
While the Pitmasters specialize in brisket?which they put in everything from platters and sandwiches to the house chili?they also prepare a range of other barbecued meats. They cook up Zenner's German sausage with a scoop of sauerkraut, serve barbecue chicken in a flavorful sauce, and grill their pork spare ribs St. Louis style?in one giant arch.
Before Memphis spare ribs or Kansas City rib tips are seared and glazed with barbecue sauce, Seven Rivers BBQ's pitmasters slow-smoke each rack for four hours. That's on the shorter end of the spectrum at Seven Rivers, where brisket cooks for 10 hours and Carolina pulled pork for 12. Once the cuts are ready, cooks pile them into lunchtime sandwiches, assemble them into feasts for up to six diners, or sell them by the pound in catered platters. Sides such as cajun macaroni salad accompany mains, as do libations such as three varieties of Johnnie Walker scotch whiskey. And while the business is a vendor for the Portland Trail Blazers, it also has its own dining room that serves as an homage to sports with billiards tables, buck-hunting arcade games, and rounds of tackle karaoke.
Stanford's Restaurant & Bar stays close to home, even as it explores and combines the diverse flavors of the US. In addition to buying fish from the Columbia River, its chefs obtain as many ingredients as possible from Washington and Oregon producers such as Inaba Farms, Ralph?s Greenhouse, and Dungeness Farm. The results: fresh grilled salmon with lemon-chive cream and a rib-eye steak that spends 48 hours marinating in pineapple and soy. As for their combinations, the chefs don't believe land and sea need to remain separate?just look at their Surf & Turf Kobe burger with dungeness crab, b?arnaise sauce, and roasted mushrooms. And both surf and turf tend spend a lot of time together atop the kitchen's wood-fired grill, too, soaking up the smokey flavor of the smoldering logs while coming to realize there aren't so many differences between them after all.
Salvador Molly's staff emulates legendary namesake Captain Salvador by pillaging culinary treasures from Ethiopia, Hawaii, Thailand, New Orleans, and Jamaica and gathering them together in an eatery that grew from humble beginnings as a hot-tamale cart. Frequent food challenges, the proceeds of which help low-income Oregon families foot heating bills, revolve around consumption of the menu's signature Great Balls of Fire fritters–spicy spheres featured on the Travel Channel's Man v. Food. Patrons who demolish all five habanero-cheese fritters with all the accompanying sauce get their picture added to the Hall of Flame and move onto the subsequent challenge of making out with a bonfire. Other far-flung entrees, such as the Hawaiian-inspired Tiki Mac with cheesy sweet potatoes, the Bayou Crunch catfish, and Molly's hot tamales, stuffed with yucatan chicken and cotija cheese, mirror the interior's exotic décor.
Photos of foreign locales crowd Salvador Molly's walls, surrounding colorful baubles that illuminate tables embellished with painted flames and vibrant cocktails. A wall dedicated to Africa flaunts a mural depicting desert terrain, stationed caddy-corner to African artifacts including a wooden mask. On Monday, diners feast upon culture by projecting two featured films directly into their mouths.
With 23 years of slow-cooking experience between them, co-owners Reo and Myra cook up a craving-quashing menu of soul food and wood-smoked southern fare. Beef brisket slathered with barbecue sauce rests atop a sesame hoagie bun ($6–$14), and coleslaw made with Myra's own secret dressing proves to be a satisfying side dish or acceptable sunscreen substitute. A quarter-rack of pork spare ribs ($10) comes with a choice of sides, such as collard greens and potato salad, which can also accompany a bowl of gumbo spooned over rice or cornbread ($12). A sweet tea ($2) washes down a belly-filling pork roast ($18) or a circus performer’s light-bulb appetizer. The family-style meal features heaps of barbecue chicken, pork spare ribs, and brisket, satisfying four diners as they enjoy bites of hot cornbread, barbecue baked beans, and coleslaw or southern green salad.