Pre – Cascadia Musts

Before the Cascadia Subduction Zone wreaks havoc on the Oregon coast and the city of Portland with all of its vulnerable bridges and potential ground deformations, I want to post 5 places that I want to visit before I let fear seep in so badly that I never Happy Hour anywhere but East of the Willamette River.

When I started college, I was 17 years old. My ACT score gave me permission to skip Freshman English, with the option of taking Honors English just for the hell of it. I loved English classes, so I took the Honors option. My professor required us to read The New Yorker on a regular basis. After decades of following The New Yorker, I have to say that this article has made the biggest impact on my life and well being.  Also, this article won a Pulitzer prize. It’s about what could happen when The Big One hits Oregon. I love you so much Portland, please prevail. These are the places I’ll visit in the very near future.

Ataula – if you click on the link, you’ll see their Instagram photo of Jamon Iberico de bellota. That is the kind of luxury on your tastebuds that pull at my heartstrings. I’ve had enough tastings to know that I want that as often as possible. Besides that, the menu really appeals to me. And I like their social media presence. They post enough, meaningfully, that I don’t forget them. I also like that they open at 4:30. I’m a 4 – 4:30 Happy Hour kinda gal.

Chesa – they’re owned by the same people as above, so of course! Check out their Instagram too.

Produce Row Cafe – Because frozé… ( frozen rose) sounds so good!!

Chicken and Guns – because I love Chris Tucker and The Fifth Element. Also, their food pics look awesome!!

La Moule – just look at the picture. That’s the kind of thing that makes my mouth water. I’m also a big fan of their other restaurant, St. Jack.

Now follow along on my Instagram to keep up with my progress!

Northwest 23rd


There’s so much to love about Northwest 23rd in Portland, Oregon, that I had to come back with another post on it. Above you see the Clams Nantua, with caramelized fennel, tomato, garlic, shallot, capers, shellfish nage, cognac, and cream. You can find this unforgettable dish on the bar menu of St. Jack. They have an excellent happy hour 7 days a week 4-6 pm and 10 pm to close.


The Fireside is another fun restaurant right on the same street. They have a really cool sign outside that is quite photogenic if you want to take a picture beneath it. They have great happy hour specials Monday – Friday 3-5:30.

20140929_141957  Above is a picture from Salt and Straw. There is a location on NW23rd, although my picture came from SE Division, which is closer to me.


The scratch made waffle cones smell so good when you walk in! But I’m not aware if they have a happy hour?

Three more places that I really enjoy that are located on NW 23rd are Blue Star DonutsGrassa, & Jo Bar & Rotisserie.

Jo Bar
Risotto from Jo Bar & Rotisserie

Seek and Explore PDX

Northwest 23rd is one of my favorite streets in Portland. There are so many great finds in this area. After brunch at our Sunday usual, The Waiting Room, we walked from NW Kearney over to nearby NW 23rd. We weren’t the only ones. The street was super busy and full of others out enjoying the perfect 68 degree weather.


No, this is not a smoothie bar. It’s Lush, and the girls are obsessed. Sasha found a blemish on her face this morning, so she wanted to find a mask from the makers of all natural, fresh skin products. I think of Lush as farm to face fresh. Doesn’t this bar of goodies for the face look like a delightful display?

Golden Curry

Just a few doors down, Gianna insisted I sample the golden curry popcorn from Poplandia. One taste, and I had to buy a bag. I love to support local vendors.

Moberi_Fotor Then we had a magnificent acai bowl from Moberi. A complete day. Yes, this is a bicycle blending smoothie operation. Only in Portland?

Experience Portland

A couple of my friends back home in Little Rock recently reached out to let me know that they’re coming to Portland to visit soon. They were wondering what dining recommendations I might have for them. While I haven’t had a chance to make it out to every restaurant that I want to visit in Portland, I can at least share the dishes and places I love here so far. I was chatting with my friend Donnie back home a few weeks ago, telling him that Little Rock is so underestimated in the national dining scene. He said I was pretty lucky to have access to the resources that I have in the Pacific Northwest. True, we eat sockeye salmon at least 3 nights a week, and I have local oysters on a regular basis too. I miss my regular places back home, but now I LOVE my new places here. (In no particular order)

Pine Street Market This market place at 2nd and Pine has some delicious offerings from many already established fooderies. Just check out the link, and you’ll get my drift. These tenants are popular among foodies because they all have other locations in town under different names and concepts, where they aim to please, and pleased Portland has proven to be. For example, below you’ll see a black raspberry dipped ice cream cone from Wiz Bang Bar, a venture at Pine Street Market from Salt and Straw.

My first visit to the market, I had lamb chops from Shalom Y’all, dashi with seared foie gras from Common Law, and a mimosa from the bar.


Le Pigeon I have been trying really hard to get out to sample this renowned restaurant. I pass it ALL the time on Burnside, mostly during the day when it is not open! While I haven’t had a chance to visit myself, many trustworthy friends have assured me it will win me over.

503 Burger Co. When you go out of town, you can’t just do foie gras and profiteroles every night, right? (Or can you?) Well, the burger lover in you probably will need one despite where you are in a week’s time.


Above you see my own burger from 503 Burger Co. and here you can see my favorite Portland food photographer’s shot: from Kari. Esquire also reposted the shot on their own Instagram.

Three Degrees In my past I’ve always enjoyed restaurants inside hotels. This restaurant is inside a Kimpton hotel. My friends back home know that One Eleven is inside The Capitol Hotel. This location sits near the beautiful waterfront area of Portland, a favorite place of mine. When my husband’s brother and wife came to visit, this was the first place we took them.


Carpaccio originated at Harry’s Bar in Venice. I don’t know if I’ll ever get there to try it, but I can eat carpaccio from Three Degrees over and over again.

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Ginger BBQ Shrimp from Three Degrees, Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

Por Que No Back home in Arkansas, I was addicted to Local Lime tacos. I found my match in Portland here.


Stay tuned, and I’ll be back with more places I love!

The Waiting Room

A great Sunday in Portland means some great eats during brunch! There are so many options that have already been written, Tweeted, and Instagrammed about. Some of those places require a long wait time. Which I am not usually up for.

Now you have my opinion of a really good way to spend a Sunday. So far, no wait. But they haven’t been open very long. So if the wait starts to get long on Sundays, I’ll be making Mondays my regular day. Because I know I want to be a regular here.


Sitting with a mimosa and seersucker napkin wrapped in twine feels like home to me. Anyone else? What a great way to prepare for some of the best fried chicken ever, perfectly crisp on the outside and super tender on the inside! And flavorful. Home run chicken.


I started my meal with one of each oyster on the brunch menu. The big grilled one in the middle, I think I almost licked clean. Like something Vince Vaughn would do in Wedding Crashers Part 2. Or maybe Isla Fisher.


My daughter had the chicken biscuit. Yeah, it’s beautiful. She loved it. Shrimp.jpgThe Ginger BBQ Shrimp had a great depth of flavor. The beauty of that sauce gloss really had me too. I can’t wait to get back in to The Waiting Room to have more of their food!

How Ramen Reigns in Portland


Noraneko is an outstanding choice for ramen in the city of Portland, Oregon. I love that it’s under the Hawthorne Bridge. I’m constantly singing the Red Hot Chili Peppers “Under the Bridge Downtown” as I think of it. The broth and noodles are delicious, and you get to choose from several add ons. The service was impeccable, even though we ordered at the counter.


I’m most personally swayed by the shio ramen from Hapa at The Gantry. I had the chance to chat with one of the owners on my first visit. This is so easy to do at food carts and trucks. Brick and mortars so rarely have owners and chefs present to do table greets. But when they do, it’s a treat! In the Hapa window, I loved hearing about the process of how the dashi is made, the noodles they use, and the training they received to make the best! Their noodles are my favorite, and I crave them all the time! They’re perfectly al dente and a bit curly.


The ramen shop that has received the most hype lately has been Marukin Ramen. Many of the foodies that I follow on Instagram have posted several pics of their bowls, so I had to try one for myself. Very delicious!

Portland Monthly says this place is unbeatable.


I like that you can have a seafood broth version of ramen with shrimp at Boke Bowl. They also have fantastic steamed buns.


Those noodles are the star, the shio broth is the moon, and everything else you see in the bowl make a perfectly aligned universe. I recently found Mizu Ramen at Cartlandia, which is near my home. I will probably be a regular there. I really like the bowl and spoon that you get for your ramen at this place too.

All of the places I’ve tried are delicious. I’m partial to noodles and proximity, but my new job will have me closer to the downtown area more often. So I feel lucky to have so many great ramen options in Portland!

Blog Connect: Up Close With Madi


The Portland food and blogging community has been so welcoming! I say this constantly about my move from Arkansas. People ask constantly about how I like it. My answer is always that I wish I’d moved up ten years earlier! This place was practically made for me.

One of my few worries about leaving Little Rock was that I had been with the same hair stylist for about 20 years. Michael was my friend first, and we got to know each other at our friend Norman’s place. I tried others here and there, but Michael knew just what my hair needed. Always. How would I find a replacement?

Through Instagram, I did. I’m not sure how we found each other, but I connected with Madeline of Up Close With Madi, and I’m so glad I did! I love the atmosphere at Empiric Salon just off of Hawthorne in Portland. After a cut and color, I know that this is my salon.  Check them out, and ask for Madi!

Favorite Family Restaurant 2015

Fogo de Chao December

The one unanimous restaurant that my husband, myself, and 2 daughters can all agree on is currently Fogo de Chao.  We each have other personal favorites, but this is the one place we can never object to going.


The Market Bar has so much to offer, such as smoked salmon, capers, prosciutto, a big wheel of Parmigiano Reggiano, plenty of vegetables…

Our picky daughter loves the bacon wrapped chicken offering, while our more adventurous older daughter likes everything I like, pretty much. In October, on my birthday, my husband told me to go treat myself to a nice meal. (He was working in Alaska) So I chose Fogo de Chao, after I browsed The Eat Guide.

After I shot him a few photos of our meal, he decided he had to eat there himself! So in 2 months, we’ve eaten there 4 times!! We all love it! It’s such an optimal meal, though. There’s no waiting. You walk in, get your table, go to the market table to get your “befores,” then when you’re ready, green chip up means you are ready. You will have a parade of meat brought to your table, including filet, flank, sirloin, chicken, and sausage. Plus the best cheese bread ever!!

The valet parking is also a big plus that we love. Eating in Portland is just so good!

Bun Bo Hue vs. Bun Bo Hue

Teo Bun Bo Hue

If you’re wondering what Bun Bo Hue is, catch up here: from Oregon Live or from Willamette Week.

After I read those two articles, I decided I wanted to try the restaurant that they wrote about, Teo Bun Bo Hue, so I put it in my phone and headed that way. Or at least I thought so. Somehow I ended up at Bun Bo Hue Restaurant instead. Which was not such a mistake.

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Bun Bo Hue Restaurant

There is something really special about the noodles at Bun Bo Hue Restaurant. Or is it in the way they cook the noodles to tender perfection?

BBH rare beef

I loved that at Bun Bo Hue Restaurant, you have the option of having rare beef brought to the table. When you dunk the meat in the hot broth, it cooks it. Then you have tender meat to go with the tender noodles.

Shrimp Dumplings

I also loved the shrimp dumpling appetizer, because who doesn’t love appetizers on a menu?

But some places don’t have menus….because they only serve one or two dishes.

Teo table

Because of this, Teo Bun Bo Hue serves up the dish hot and fast. The atmosphere inside is more modern. The condiment plate had more to offer than rau ram (Vietnamese coriander). Perilla and mint are great. But there was one turnoff about it.

I have friends who own restaurants, and I’ve dined in them with more notorious food writers. We have forgiven gnats and hour long cook times because of relationship. Without naming names. For those who have one chance to impress and gain regulars, front of house friendliness is your strength. Because when I left Bun Bo Hue Restaurant, I knew I wanted to go to Teo Bun Bo Hue the next day for comparison. Both dishes were neck and neck, but the experience at BBHR made me ready to return again ASAP.

Now, I realize that all individuals are treated differently. Do Vietnamese people look at me funny when I don’t speak to them back in Vietnamese? More often than not! Thanks to the man at Bun Bo Hue Restaurant for speaking English to me, because I’m better at it, while he’s better at Vietnamese!

Overall, both restaurants are great. We feel so fortunate to be in a great city serving up so many amazing Vietnamese dishes!

Vietnamese Spring Rolls (Cha Gio)

Pho Van
Pho Van

Are any two crispy spring rolls alike in Portland? I don’t think so. The Vietnamese Cha Gio that is offered on just about every Vietnamese restaurant appetizer menu has been the deciding factor on whether my husband and I will return. We always start our meals with them, so if they don’t hold up, we won’t frequent the place. We’re the same way about antipasto platters in Italian restaurants. He once commented that our appetizer looked like a board of Lunchables. It was a pricey place, and we expected more.

pho van spring roll

Pho Van delivers their crispy spring rolls to the table with green leaf lettuce and herbs, which is how we always ate them at my mom’s house. They’re also located near our home, and I can now get there without using navigation on my phone. Hey, we’re new here.

Duck Soup
Pho Van

The duck soup at Pho Van is also a favorite.

Duck Salad

The duck arrives on a delicious Vietnamese cabbage salad with the addictive ginger fish sauce dressing. I put the sauce in my soup, then ask for more for my salad.

Pho Zen
Pho Zen

You can also order vermicelli noodle bowls with cha gio, or crispy spring rolls. I was pretty happy with this order. It’s the combo bowl.

HVS Springroll

I prefer the rice paper fried springies over the other wrapped springies, but they’re okay on occasion. I once brought homemade spring rolls to friends at Good Food By Ferneau and Butcher and Public, explaining that they were more like Charles Phan’s recipe than what they’re probably used to. Travis said he was surprised I knew who Charles Phan was. I said I’m Vietnamese, I’m surprised you know who Charles Phan is! But Travis interned at Higgins here in Portland. So……

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Binh Minh

You can get one of these for under a dollar on Powell. Not too bad.

Binh Minh pate chaud
Pate Chaud

The Pate Chaud is also very good at Binh Minh. Pork meat filling wrapped in puff pastry.

SR Jade Teahouse

Jade Teahouse also has a nice offering! Please let us know if we are missing out on any delicious Vietnamese food anywhere, especially in the Pacific Northwest!

Luc Lac also serves outstanding crispy rolls. The wait is worth it! If you’d like to make your own at home, try my family’s recipe here: Vietnamese Fried Spring Rolls Here’s how they look…..