Red Coach (and a word about us)

First, the word about us...

It's becoming apparent to me as I read our blog and see the sheer amount of reviews we've put up in just the first 5 days (I think this one will be number nine) that one could read this and draw the conclusion that we are rich. Oh, how I wish that were true.

I'm noticing the vast majority of our posts are lunch-related (we keep them categorized, for your convenience in seeking reviews) and that's fitting, considering we all work downtown and are frequently scrambling for lunch. As such, generally you are getting reviews of meals that are about $7.50 at the most, so despite the fact that we may be hitting lunch spots more than you are (or, indeed, more than we should), you are getting reviews of places that fit in the "average Joe" framework that we're aiming for.

The fact is, we've been using the blog as an excuse to get out more. I think, over time, you will see us posting in fits and spurts as our wallets (and wives) protest our excitement at "research" (or eating, however you'd rather refer to what we do).

By the way, Gastro Boy is home with an ear infection. I imagine he'll be back in earnest in the next week or so...

Anyway, JLowe and I went to the Red Coach (there are two links there...) today for lunch. Located in a non-descript location on Broadway, a half-block north of Pioneer Courthouse Square, Red Coach is one of those places that's easy to miss, but hard to forget.

The restaurant itself is interesting. Originally opened over 30 years ago in another location, the restaurant has been in its present location for about 24 years now. It's down a hallway sandwiched between an optician and some other storefront, and occupies two floors on the backside of the Charles F. Berg Building. The decor, as I understand it, dates back to the original restaurant, so there are a bunch of plush leather benches situated throughout, some looking distinctly like half-benches that, I would imagine, used to be abutted by a wall. Visually, it's kinda shabby in a neat, "Keep Portland Weird" sort of way.

Each floor has its own grill, chef, and waiter/waitress. The guy at the front is one of the owners, and though semi-retired, he's always there for the lunch hour to direct you to an open seat and to take your money when you leave. And, I swear to God, he's always wearing the same exact outfit. It's eerie; every time I'm there, it feels pretty much exactly the same. The only thing that ever varies is the company.

The food is simple. Burgers, fries, sodas, and delicious milkshakes (I've never had one, but my friends rate them highly; be warned, one shake will usually satisfy two people). Though there is a menu, you don't need it. As one commenter on the Portland Metblog once noted, "Your only reasonable options are Carl's Special, Carl's Special with bacon, Double Carl's Special, [and] Double Carl's Special with bacon." And that's true.

All of the above options are cheeseburgers. The doubles have two patties instead of one. All specials come with fries and a soda. It's hard (unless you diverge and go for a shake) to spend more than $10 for lunch there. And you can feel good about spending what you do there, because everything's made with food from (more or less) local sources, including Franz Bread, Columbia Empire Meats, and Sunshine Dairy.

Today I opted for the Double Carl. I usually don't go so far, but JLowe owed me lunch (dating back to the Podnah's outing and some creative accounting). The burgers are straight-forward, no-frills affairs. The meat is good, there's not a greasy feeling to the food, and its substantial without being overwhelming. The fries are crispy and fresh. The soda has free refills. All good traits in a burger place.

Double Carl, fries, and a soda...Heaven!

We escaped for $17.25 between the two of us (and JLowe had bacon, that glutton). And we were both thoroughly satisfied.

If you go to Red Coach, bring cash. No checks or cards accepted. But, despite the hassle, the visit is well-worth it and you'll be back again and again.


J__Lowe said...

No, I do eat out this often.

Gastro Boy said...

Hey! the Red Coach is the place to get FAT in portland!!! no doubt! if you are dangerously under weight then this place should be on the top of your list. I love this place any one who does not love the Red Coach is helping the evil doers!

m a k i l a said...

OK. Next time you gents hit the Red Coach, I expect an invite! I've never been there before and it sounds heavenly.

Keep Portland Weird said...

From time to time in our office, someone will announce: "It's a Red Coach day." And we all know what that means. We'll troop en masse from the south end of downtown to the north end, enter that jumble of red vinyl booths and settle down to some of the best comfort food in Portland. Afterwards, God is in his/her heaven and all's right with the world.