Review #10- Pepe Le Moko

WHERE: Pepe Le Moko, 407 SW 10th Ave., Portland, OR

 

Fridays are the days I get to myself, and I like to take that seriously.
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As much as I love spending time with my wife, getting out on my own and putting pavement under my shoes is a necessity. I can walk the up-and-down streets of Portland, breathe in the wet air, and be alone with my thoughts. When I was job-hunting, almost every day was like this- me, a heavy coat over a tidy suit, and a briefcase full of legal-sized hope looking for my next answer.

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Review #9- Kachka

It had been a very long day.
Emily and I had spent much of the day out shopping, and both of us were more than ready to put our weary feet up and get some solid dinner. The words of a trusted friend led us to the front door of a particular restaurant in the Cultural District of Portland… and no farther.
That’s the funny thing about spending the day shopping- as necessary as everything we got may have been, perusing the prices on the posted menu gave us pause. It sounded heavenly… but heaven would have to wait.

“Well shit.. where now? What are you tasting?”
“Umm… food?”
“…Yeah, same… don’t you have a list of places to try now?”

It was true. Since starting on this food writing gig, I’ve learned that one of the best ways to find good food is to hit the streets and ask where everyone is eating. As it happens, my friend Sam had given me a lead on some theoretically cheap eats a while back.

​”Hey, you feeling Russian?”

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Review #8- The Big Legrowlski

WHERE: The Big Legrowlski, 812 NW Couch St., Portland, OR, 97209

Let it never be said I’m not a sucker for a good gimmick.

I can’t remember when I first saw the cinematic cultural touchstone that is the Coen Brother’s “The Big Lebowski.” I think it may have been while I was flipping through channels and came across the stark and baffled faces of Jeff Bridges and John Goodman after the famous “ringer at the bridge” scene.

A moment later, John Goodman uttered the line that formed a cornerstone of my life philosophy since college, and I was a fan forever:

Since that boring night on the Jersey Shore, I have downed more than a few White Russian cocktails and irritated two girlfriends and my wife with viewings and trivia.
For the most part, they abided it well. (See what I did there?)

Thus, finding a certain bar during my perambulation of Portland can only be expressed as a sign from the Heavens.

I truly am a round-heeled pushover for the things I love, especially fandom.

The sign at The Big Legrowlski in Portland, Oregon

“That’s just like, uh, your opinion, man.”

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Review #7- The Bivy / Saint Burrito

Where: The Bivy/ Saint Burrito 113 SE 28th Ave., Portland

 

I was 25 when I was first exposed to the glory of food trucks.

My older sister invited me to visit her in New Brunswick where she was attending grad school. Besides record exchanges, all-you-can-eat mediocre buffet sushi, and other wonders of the modern world- Steph said I HAD to get a “fat sandwich” from one of the grease trucks while I was there.

Fat sandwiches are what the country would eat for every meal if no one discovered kale and Whole Foods fell off the face of the Earth. Everything you can fit on a New Jersey sub roll- usually starchy/meaty/deep fried things- all wrapped up into a 10-inch long heart-murdering missile of joy. She brought me to a square of trucks staffed by evil/enterprising young student bent on the perfection of these lethal concoctions, and I- to my only partial shame- finished a chicken finger/fries/meatball/cheesesteak/Parmesan/mashed potato sandwich in one sitting.
We sat in a parking lot, knocked them back with bubble tea, and felt no pain.

 

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Review #6- Neat

WHERE: Neat, 2637 SE Hawthorne Blvd., Portland, OR 97214

  Sometimes, you just want a good whiskey. Not complicated cocktails, not pastel drinks, not funny or cute names.
    You just want a place to be quiet, to relax, and to enjoy a goddamned whiskey.    Walking down Hawthorne Boulevard in just such a mood, I was on my way to another bar that had an interesting name. I’d passed by it before, and thought it looked fascinating.
     Neat is not that bar. It’s the bar that kept me from going there just after sticking my head in- everything I needed, and a shorter walk to boot.

Review #5- Pambiche

Where:  Pambiche, 2811 NE Glisan St., Portland, OR

 

Cuban food is one of those things I THINK I know more about than I do.  There’s a stereotype to be sure- rum, mojitos, lots of pork, absurdly powerful and sweet coffee drinks, and pressed sandwiches. As for Cuban sweets, I guessed there was a lot of dulce de leche (or caramelized sweetened condensed milk,) coconut, palm sugar, and tropical fruits.​

Lucky for me, I got to find out just how right (and wrong) I was.

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Review of the Week #4- The Liquor Store

Where: The Liquor Store, 3341 SE Belmont Ave. Portland, OR

 

“Oh hey, Matt! You just finish? Wanna come down to the Liq for a beer?”

In this neighborhood, everyone in the industry knows everyone. Restaurant workers finish their day, they go down the to bar their buddy works at for a post-shift. After two years, I can only say I’m a “regular” at a few bars- places where they know my face, and what drink I’m about to order. It’s a good feeling, and if I’m honest I hit the bars up in a rotation just so no one feels slighted.
If you know Victor, though- you find yourself a regular EVERYWHERE.

In every restaurant, there is (or should be) “a guy.” A man of means. Possibly crazy, possibly criminal, but with a good heart who’s been known to make things “appear” from time to time. A guy who can talk his way into and out of anything- and who has been thrown out of more places than you knew existed.
Victor the barista is our “guy” at the cafe. He’s the one that just recognized me on my bike after work.

Beer o’clock, it is.

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