Ideally, a meal out is more than just the sum of the ingredients – it’s an experience. Heading out to an eatery with a past can be fascinating and that much more memorable. Portland is a place of stories, and we have some incredible restaurants with some pretty unbelievable tales behind them – stories about family, about dreams, about connecting with the world and about Portland’s colorful past. Enjoying food and beverages at these Where To Eat Guide favorites is sure to be an adventure, one that you won’t soon forget. And who knows? You might even become a part of the story!
Pictured: Dan & Louis Oyster Bar. Photo: Natalie Migliarini
One of Portland’s most beloved seafood restaurants has a heartwarming history. Dan and Louis Oyster Bar is a five-generation family-owned business. The Wachsmuth family has been serving piping hot Oyster Stew and platters of crispy fried Cod, Prawns, Oysters, Calamari or Clam Strips (or all five!) to a devoted following since 1919. The family tale of adventure and entrepreneurship goes even further back than that! You can read the entire story on their web site or swing by Ankeny Alley for one of Portland’s best happy hours and hear the tale from the Wachsmuths themselves. Also, the soups and fried seafood are all gluten-free.
208 SW Ankeny St
Pictured: Pix Pâtisserie. Photo: Stephanie Forrer
Pix Pâtisserie opened in 2001 and has remained the pinnacle of dessert suppliers in Portland, presenting gasp-inducing macarons, eclairs, chocolates and cakes. Pix’s Bar Vivant offers Spanish tapas and award-winning wines (World's Best Champagne and Sparkling Wine List, London's World of Fine Wine Magazine, 2014 and 2015).
Owner Cheryl Wakerhauser, who had previously studied to be an astronaut, trained at the prestigious pâtisserie of MOF Philippe URRACA in Southern France. Cheryl regularly travels to France and Spain to increase her knowledge of pastry, tapas and champagne, passing the benefit of her knowledge on to Portland diners through Pix’s amazing creations and her collection of over 350 bottles of champagne.
2225 E Burnside St
Pictured: Crawfish Pasta at The Parish. Photo: Stephanie Forrer
Culinary entrepreneurs Ethan Powell and Tobias Hogan (EaT, get it?!) opened EaT on N Williams Ave and The Parish in the Pearl District to add some Cajun and Creole cuisine to the Portland dining landscape and to bring the freshest oysters to town (which they also provide to other establishments). What could be better than fluffy Beignets, Fried Catfish, Soft Shell Crab and Crispy Fried Chicken? Oh, and they do their own pickling. Ask about live New Orleans style jazz brunch!
EaT: 3808 N Williams Ave
The Parish: 231 NW 11th Ave
Goan Style Shrimp at Bollywood Theater. Photo: Bollywood Theater Facebook
Bollywood Theater Chef/Owner Troy MacLarty grew up in San Diego, California, eating Mexican food six out of seven meals. When he moved to Berkeley, he fell in love with Indian food. He then travelled to India to learn not only about Indian cuisine, but about how it felt to be there on the streets of Mumbai – what it smelled and sounded like. Bollywood Theater, with a location on NE Alberta and another on SE Division, is his way of passing on that experience to Portland diners.
You can try street food like Vada Pav (a spicy potato dumpling dipped in chickpea batter and fried, served on a roll with chutneys), small plates like Paneer Makhani (house-made cheese in a rich and creamy tomato and cashew curry, served with saffron rice) or Thali Meals (a choice of curry served with saffron rice, sambar, dal, raita, paratha and green chutney). Beer, wine and cocktails, as well as non-alcoholic drinks like chai, yogurt lassi, ginger-lime soda or Thum’s Up, a popular cola enjoyed in India, are all available.
In his video India to Portland (shown on Bollywood Theater’s web site), MacLarty says that approval of Bollywood Theater’s menu by Portland’s Indian community has been the ultimate validation.
2039 NE Alberta St
3010 SE Division St
Pictured: Zeus Cafe. Photo: Zeus Cafe Facebook
The Zeus Café is located adjacent to the famed Crystal Hotel and is part of the McMenamins empire. Each of the 51 rooms at the Crystal Hotel is decorated with the lyrics from a song by a past Crystal Ballroom performer. A meal and a drink at Zeus Café is a journey through Portland’s multi-faceted history. The hotel building was constructed in 1911. In 1946 it was renamed The Majestic and was run by the Zakoji family, who had spent several years in an internment camp. After World War II the ground floor was a rambunctious night club. In 1957 a federal investigation of Portland racketeering included the testimony of club owner Nate Zusman --hence the name Zeus Café. Current day bartenders at Zeus Café employ old school pre-Prohibition era techniques. Enjoy an expertly made cocktail with happy hour delectables like the Mini High Plains Bison Burger with harissa aioli, butter lettuce and white cheddar on a crystal brioche bun and Chickpea Fries or Truffle Fries. One last juicy detail as we head into Spring: the heated outdoor seating is pet-friendly!
303 SW 12th Ave