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.
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.
In addition to awarding Lucky Strike a spot on its list of Best Restaurants in 2009, Portland Monthly praised the eatery for its ability to "revise everything you know about Chinese food." While the chefs source ingredients from local producers whenever possible, they also embrace the fiery flavors of Sichuan cuisine by incorporating such traditional spices as prickly ash and Sichuan peppercorn. These incendiary ingredients appear throughout the menu, which includes signatures such as twice-cooked pork belly, braised eggplant, and sweet-and-sour chicken.
To complement bites, the restaurant features a selection of locally brewed beers that rotates regularly. Bartenders mix cocktails with spirits infused in-house, including the signature vodka with lemongrass, ginger, and thai chili.
Wine-red and jet-black walls lend a lounge-like ambience to the dining room, which features dark wooden tables and traditional Chinese wall art. From the ceilings, red chandeliers light the space more effectively than a portrait of a supernova.
Finely chopped vegetables. Seared slivers of chicken. Sauces that balance sweet and savory notes. These ingredients have come crackling together in the kitchen of Chen's Dynasty since the eatery’s eponymous founder opened it in 1985. Jacob Echeverria took the reins two decades later, and as a longtime associate of the Chen family, Jacob adopted their culinary style.
The Sichuan- and Hunan-style recipes belong to past generations of the Chens, who have eschewed photo albums and immortal butlers to pass down specialties such as peking duck glazed with honey and served with steaming pancakes and hoisin sauce. Another dish, pan-fried oysters, drops onto tables accompanied by onions and ginger, or sizzling with black-bean sauce.
Specializing in meatless Asian cuisine, Green Wok Vegan Restaurant's sushi menu includes a lineup of entirely vegan and vegetarian rolls. Nimble sushi chefs create a modest marriage of basic flavors with seaweed salad rolls ($2.50 each) and the landlocked tempura sweet-potato roll ($2.50). Mouths reeling from celebratory birthday shots of wasabi can cool oral jets with soothing sushi portions of avocado ($3) and the vegan cream-cheese salve of the crunchy asparagus roll ($5). Or double-down on bold flavors with the shiitake roll's aromatic alliance between marinated mushrooms and green onion ($5.25). Elegant Asian wall hangings surround Green Wok's handsome, WiFi-equipped dining space, where the casual atmosphere inspires diners to readily try adventurous new things such as vegetarian seafood and sewing various fillets together to make a stylish sashimi scarf.