Even on a menu packed with beastly feasts, the B.S. burger is peerless. Not because of its name, which stands for Black Star, or even because of its ingredients, which include a half-pound of charbroiled Angus beef, bacon, and red onions, but because of the gauntlet it throws down. "WE DARE YOU!" taunts the menu. "IT'S LOADED!"
It's a challenge eaters at Black Star are happy to take up. The B.S. anchors a menu of likewise audaciously-topped burgers, hearty sandwiches, and entrees with cavalierly hearty portions, and while they may not all come with the same overt, exclamatory dare, the sentiment stands. For the burger dip, a charbroiled patty dresses up like a french dip and plunges into au jus like a mime in a parisian dunk tank, and the grilled roast beef and cheddar smuggles tomatoes between thick pieces of grilled sourdough.
La Bella Bean, a Portland Avenue café that opened in April 2013, welcomes patrons with a convenient drive-thru and a cozy deck with outdoor seating. Baristas brew cappuccinos, mix iced mochas with flavors such as white chocolate lavender, and blend refreshing smoothies. Snacks such as dessert bars and muffins round out the menu.
Great American Casino brings a little bit of Vegas to the Northwest, gathering hooting and hollering patrons around table games such as baccarat, Texas Hold 'Em, blackjack, and other styles of poker, such as Progressive Fortune Pai Gow. Most tables have a betting limit up to $300, and aside from the top-shelf thrill of walking away with the pot, regular players can earn rewards redeemable toward electronics, meals, hotel stays, and Great American merchandise.
Like the best Vegas casinos, Great American brings more to the table than just gambling. There's live entertainment most nights, including local bands and musicians from Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, and Vietnam. There are full-service dining rooms where the menus also bear an Asian influence, with dishes such as pad thai and Kalbi ribs. The menus are slightly different at each of the four locations, but generally encompass an international spread that might include pizza, pub-style fish 'n' chips, and creme brulee, much like the meatloaf served in the United Nation's cafe.
Padded black booths surround grills beneath gleaming hoods, which reflect the glow of sunset-orange walls as they sweep away rising warm air and spice-steeped aromas. On Palace Korean Bar & Grill's tabletop skillets, chefs sizzle menu items such as pearlescent curlicues of kimchi and cuts of seafood as well as bulgogi, spicy slices of brisket also known as Korean barbecue. During the all-you-can-eat special, silverware jangles endlessly like a knight looking for his car keys as diners tuck into bottomless helpings of marinated beef short ribs, tender marble brisket, spicy pork belly, and jumbo shrimp.