A bachelor’s degree in international language has lent Chaba Thai Cuisine & Sushi's owner, Lawan Seelawongsayree, an advanced understanding of human communication. However, at her restaurant—which she opened in 2004 and where she perpetuates family recipes passed through generations—Lawan speaks to her customers through her cuisine: a language primal yet international and sophisticated all at the same time.
Spicy, sweet, bitter, and citrusy flavors collide in dishes that hold true to Thai tradition while playfully thumbing their noses at stodgy conventions such as chewing. Curry dishes marry sweet coconut milk with spicy red-chili paste, a combination sewn with coriander and cumin threads in the massaman version. With every guest’s meal, Lawan aspires for a dining experience rich with sanuk, a term that denotes fun and pleasure at the table without forcing guests to sculpt mashed potatoes into Bobcat Goldthwait.
The Chicago Dogs crew prepares a menu of American comfort fare from all-beef hot dogs and local ingredients. The eatery’s signature Chicago dog ($2.89) earned accolades from the readers of the Portland Press Herald for its use of authentic ingredients, including celery salt, sport peppers, and housemade relish chopped with a Chicago bus pass. Diners can also select one of nine other dogs, such as the chili-cheese dog ($3.29) or the vegetarian soy dog ($1.99). A six-wing combo ($7.93) positions wing sentinels atop a mountain of hand-cut fries, and a large cheesesteak ($6.79) alternates layers of thinly sliced roast beef with onions, green peppers, and a sprinkle of cheddar-jack cheese. Chicago Dogs also vends a number of soft drinks ($1.95/16-oz.) and crafts five milkshake flavors, including chocolate, strawberry, and orange creamsicle ($3.99).
The edibles artisans at Beach Bagels Cafe feed hungry patrons with nine types of bagels and nine cream cheeses, a flavorful bounty of sandwiches stuffed with Boar's head meat and cheese, and 15 Gifford's ice-cream flavors. Ward off early morning vampire advances with a garlic bagel smeared with bacon and horseradish cream cheese ($1.09 plus topping), or take a trip to the batter-paved streets of Belgium with a belgian waffle cloaked in whipped cream and fresh fruit ($7.99). Unruly stomachs that only respond to meat-centric commands can comfort the black and blue burger, a beefy patty encrusted in black pepper and smothered in blue cheese ($8.49), while gastronomes that prefer the garden can nosh on a vegetarian wrap with fresh vegetables embraced in a tomato-basil, spinach, or whole-wheat tortilla ($4.49–$5.99).
The kitchen crew at JJ’s Eatery nurses grumbling gastros with hearty homemade eats for every meal of the day. Morning munching commences with create-your-own omelets ($4.50+), or platters of irish eggs benedict ($9.50) accompanied by a mound of corned-beef hash shaped like James Joyce's head. A velvety cup of chowder ($4.50) highlights a bill of noon noshes, which includes 8-ounce cheeseburgers ($8.95), and piping hot plates of mac 'n' cheese speckled with grilled hot dogs ($6.95). Pintsize feasters can practice reading skills and tip calculations with JJ’s Kids Korner menu stocked with favorites such as grilled cheese ($3.95) and hot dogs ($3.95).
Chefs at Hi Bombay have honed recipes for curry, vindaloo, and spicy masala over the course of 23 years, yielding a carefully spiced menu of Northern Indian classics and regional seafood specialties. Fresh-baked naan bread and whole-wheat roti sop up sauce from lamb and chicken dishes cooked in a clay-oven tandoor, and fish labadar from the Bay of Bengal simmers in a creamy tomato sauce. Hi Bombay also rents a 75-person banquet room for catered gatherings, and welcomes diners on major holidays such as Christmas, Thanksgiving, and the anniversary of Caddyshack II's DVD release.
Woks have sizzled in the kitchen of Chia Sen Chinese Restaurant ever since 1998, when the Wu family—originally from Taiwan—first opened the restaurant. In the woks, they prepare Taiwanese specialties such as pineapple shrimp fried in egg starch, and Chinese favorites such as general tso's chicken or sizzling peppercorn beef. Each dish is made to order, and is flavored with fragrant spices rather than MSG. Gluten-free and vegetarian menus are available. Pair your meal with one of the spot's specialty cocktails.