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.
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.
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.
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.
Bamboo Garden's authentic Sichuan cuisine floods palates with spicy flavor while diners relax in a sleek, bamboo-trimmed dining room. Dinner patrons can follow up hearty servings of dip-friendly green-onion pancakes ($3.99) with popular dishes such as the tongue-scorching spicy basil beef ($10.95) and eggplant swimming in hot garlic sauce ($8.95) and snorkeling between the rocky outcroppings of diners' teeth. On the Wild Side menu, sour-and-spicy jellyfish ($6.95) appeases taste buds looking for an adventure more palatable than hanging out with Lou Reed. Lunch specials include entrees such as chopped-pepper hot chicken ($5.99), which prove appetizingly fiery and capable of swiftly silencing hunger growls.
Foodsmiths at Mandarin Cove craft generous portions of more than 100 classic Chinese dishes. The expansive menu, which has helped make this eatery a local favorite and intergalactic mystery since the '80s, includes mu shu pork ($11.50), sizzling scallops with prawns ($14.95), mandarin eggplant ($9.95), and mongolian beef ($10.95), which arrives at tabletops festooned with green onion, rice noodles, and hot peppers. With a wide variety of tasty choices, diners can pick and choose among poultry or vegetarian options, pairing their meals with hot soup ($5.95–$18.50) or shareable appetizers ($5.50–$8.95). The spacious atrium-style setting lends ample room for engaging in conversation with groups of friends or hard-working stunt doubles.