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.
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.
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.