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.
Rodney Muirhead may be far from his native Texas, but that doesn’t stop him from cooking up authentic Texas barbecue. How authentic? Each morning he wakes at 5 a.m. to fire up the pit, slow-smoking brisket, ribs, and even whole ruby trout over 100% oak hardwood—no gas or charcoal allowed.
Stanford's Restaurant & Bar stays close to home, even as it explores and combines the diverse flavors of the U.S.. Its chefs purchase as many ingredients as possible from local Washington and Oregon sources such as Inaba Farms, Ralph's Greenhouse, and Dungeness Farms. The results: buttermilk fried chicken with country sausage gravy and honey mustard glaze, and walnut crusted brie with house-made seasonal preserves. As for their combinations, the chefs don't believe land and sea need to remain separate?just look at their prime rib and grilled salmon with parmesan garlic mashed potatoes, seasonal vegetables, and Dave's horseradish sauce. Both surf and turf tend to 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.
Manzana is Spanish for apple, which might seem like a strange name for a restaurant that prizes its meats. But it's applewood that fuels the grill, and it's the grill that cooks everything from a roasted-artichoke appetizer to Manzana's specialty: Oregon-raised chicken. The chicken roasts on a rotisserie throughout the day, deriving flavor from no less than 30 spices, until it's served with mashed potatoes, vegetables, and gravy.
Manzana's other recipes marry northwestern ingredients with southwestern staples, producing enchiladas with Oregon Bay shrimp, and fresh salmon with cilantro rice. The beer and wine list also has a local focus: it features several brews that were bottled in Oregon and Washington, instead of bottles that were merely found bobbing in nearby rivers.