Wynn's Hotdogs

I like a good hot dog. I don't generally go out of my way for a good hot dog, but if one presents itself, I'll happily oblige it with inclusion in my gastric contents.

So, a couple of weeks ago when loyal reader (and chum dating back to my days as a Madison Senator) Mak mentioned that she had gone to, and enjoyed, Wynn's Hotdogs (at 4th and Morrison), I took it as an invite to see if I liked them as well. Because we do accept reader ideas for places to try out. Hint hint.

And wasn't today a nice day to take a walk?

So, at 11:45 Gastro Boy and I walked down to 4th and Salmon, where we met JLowe. GastroBoy ended up heading over to Romano's Macaroni Grill (perhaps he'll write a review, since he's been slacking shamelessly) and JLowe and I forged on for weiners (cue the Beavis and Butthead laughs here).

As you walk up on the Wynn's cart, kitty-corner from Pioneer Place I and so close to Geraldi's sandwiches that I almost failed to stop, there's a sign advertising their 8-inch beef franks. That's a good start.

The menu is simple. Regular dogs, of course, and then a few specialty dogs. There's the Big Bad Red, which is a hot-link type sausage dog; The Chicago Dog (hotdog with fresh cucumber and tomato slices); the Seattle Dog (hotdog with cream cheese and bacon); and the Portland Dog (a combination of the Portland and Chicago ingredients). The specialty dogs are available with a hot-link instead of a regular frank. The non-specialties are available with cheese and kraut. There are condiments available, including relish, pickle spears, jalapenos, pepperoncini, and onions, plus the traditional mustards and ketchup.

JLowe opted for the Big Bad Red, with only yellow mustard on top. That was $4.25.

I opted for the Chicago Dog, to which I added onions, relish, deli mustard, and a thin line of ketchup. With a can of soda, I was at $5.50.

We then headed over to Pioneer Courthouse Square, grabbed a stair, and dove in.

My reaction? Mixed. The quality of the ingredients is not questionable. The beef frank was not fatty or otherwise suspect. The vegetables were clearly fresh. The bun held everything well and entirely refused to disintegrate. But the flavor was a bit of a let-down. The frank was non-descript and mostly unnoticeable. The cucumbers and onions didn't really do much to add to the flavor, and the whole thing just ended up being uninspiring. Which is sad, because I figure if you're going to go out of your way to eat food you otherwise shouldn't, there should be a payoff in the palate. This indulgence ended up just being sort of blah.

JLowe was pleased with his hot-link, however.

Now, I plan on going back. I have two more attempts in mind. I'll have the Big Bad Red with some cheese and kraut, and I'll have the Seattle Dog with a hot-link. I think one or both will probably prove worthwhile, and I'll try to let you know.

One thing that I shouldn't neglect to mention: the people at Wynn's are super-friendly and, in and of themselves, merit you stopping by. We saw Jim Francesconi, former mayoral candidate, walk by, which launched JLowe and I into a discussion about whether he'd run in the next mayoral race, and whether Tom Potter would as well. The people at Wynn's noted that Tom Potter had never been seen by them on the street, whereas they used to see Vera Katz all the time, and she'd even come by for dogs from time to time. I'm always happy to patronize a business where they can take part in your conversation without making it weird, and where you can walk away feeling like you've gained some sort of knowledge, even if it's relatively mundane.

So get outside and try a dog. Just make sure to really indulge, and go out of your way to add some flavor.



Rusty and I stopped into Kells last night before the Timbers game. It would be hard too not like Kells. We were just in time for Happy Hour. The following items were $3.00 each, with a minimum drink purchase, on the pub menu: Oyster Shooters (4), Jameson Hot Wings (8), a meat loaf sandwich, the Dublin Chicken Curry and Chips, and Kells Irish Nachos. Our total bill was about $25.00 and we were both very full and quite happy.

Any item, by itself and at full price, would have been disappointing. The shooters weren't as good as at Montage. The wings weren't very hot and kind of thin on meat. The meat loaf sandwich didn't compare to the meat loaf at Widmer Gasthaus. The Dublin Chicken and Curry Chips was truly skimpy. The Nachos lacked enough toppings.

But, all of this, taken as a whole, was fabulous. You can't beat the price.

And, of course, it's Kells. It's a beautiful pub.


Concordia Ale House

JLowe's already covered this place, just shy of a month ago, but I get a crack at it too, if only to explain new rule of sorts.

You see, tonight our wives were heading out to dinner, which meant that JLowe and I had to head out to dinner as well. I mean, really, we didn't strictly have to, but what fun is it to stay in?

We discussed our options. The first idea I had was Halibut's, over on Alberta, because I haven't had fish and chips for awhile. But, as we talked over that option, a couple of thoughts came to mind.

First, Halibut's (or any good fish and chips place) was a touch more expensive than I was down for this evening. And, second, I had my daughter and didn't remember if Halibut's had kiddie seats. So a new option needed to be found.

My next thought was Concordia. JLowe loves it. I like it a lot, too. And they have a wide selection of beer, which I like a lot. And they have kiddie seats, which I like a lot. And they serve good grilled cheese, which just made it too good to pass up.

So, off we went. As we arrived, we were both starved and, just as importantly, parched. The service was prompt, and beers were quickly ordered.

I went for the Caldera something or other, a beer from (I believe) Southern Oregon which was quite tasty. JLowe got the Nostradamus, and later opted for an ESB. Whatever. Beer is good, but it's not the point of a food blog.

We opted for an appetizer. Last time we did this, we downed some onion rings. This time we went big and ordered the Buffalo Wings.

I wasn't expecting much. Wings can be wildly inconsistent, depending on where you go. My old favorites used to be at Big Daddy's, until they started sucking. I've been at a loss for favorites since (though Fire On The Mountain, over on Interstate Avenue, is quite good, but that's for another day).

The order came out pretty quick (and, to my pleasant surprise, they brought my daughter's grilled cheese at the same time, which was great because I was dreading having to watch her sob as we ate spicy chicken and she sat, hungrily, being denied nourishment). The wings were quite good. Meaty, without an actual wing in the bunch. What was there were actually 10 smaller-size drumsticks. The sauce was nice and spicy. They came with ranch (really, I think wings should come with bleu cheese, but you can't have it all...) and an assortment of carrots and celery.

Having bitten off about as much as I could chew, I hoped that my burger would be quick so that I could down it before my body realized I was already at capacity. They obliged, which was nice, and also unexpected. I have to say this for CAH: in the past 6 months or so, since my first visit, the service has gotten much, much better.

I ordered the Firehouse, which is JLowe's favorite burger there, and mine as well. There's a picture of it on his prior post. It's a half-pound patty with a couple of onion rings, pepper jack cheese, a spicy sauce of some sort, and jalapeno slices. Very good. Very heavy. And very flavorful.

This leads me to one of my primary reasons for writing, actually. A little piece of house-keeping.

In the middle of eating, I mentioned to JLowe (who was looking on hungrily at my burger, since a recent dietary issue has him avoiding the Firehouse for a month or so) that my burger was very good tonight. He retorted by noting that he was considering in his mind whether the Firehouse was the best burger in town.

I stopped eating immediately. JLowe had blasphemed.

Though we haven't been there recently to allow a review (since all reviews must be posted within a day of eating at a place, to keep us honest and current), it is well-settled in my mind that Stanich's (and, particularly, the one in NE Portland) has the best burgers in town. Particularly the "World's Greatest Cheeseburger," an aptly-named behemoth topped with cheese, bacon, ham, an egg, and the ubiquitous special sauce (really, why does everyone think it's so special when we all know that it's thousand island dressing?). We've both acknowledged that this is the burger by which all other burgers are to be measured, and we've both universally failed to find anything even close to wresting the title away from it.

So, I was shocked at JLowe's impudence. He'd clearly lost his marbles. And, yet, I needed to really think this through because, damn it, the Firehouse is a really good burger.

A compromise was accomplished when I pointed out that we were comparing apples to oranges. Burgers have a traditional range of toppings, including (and pretty much limited to) cheese, tomato, lettuce, onion, pickle (or relish), catsup, mustard, mayo, special sauce, and for fancy folks mushrooms, eggs, ham, and bacon.

The Firehouse, therefore, isn't strictly a burger. It has an onion ring, jalapeno's, and a spicy sauce (as opposed to the special sort).

So, we've reached a compromise, and it will frame our future burger discussions. There are burgers, and there are "boutique burgers," which are those that have special and entirely non-traditional flourishes which remove them from the typical burger discussion.

The new rule set, and with an agreement that it would be posted forthwith, I returned to mowing through my newly-dubbed boutique burger. So far, the best boutique burger I've encountered in town.

And, by the way, I think this place has the best fries in the city. Bar none. If I find better, I'll let you know. But don't hold your breath.

With 4 beers, an appetizer, two burgers and a grilled cheese sandwich, the bill came up to $49. Not too shabby. And we got a new rule, a nice buzz (at least in JLowe's case), a full toddler, and a resolution to our hunger out of the deal.

If you can, go to the Concordia Ale House. It is very, very hard to walk out disappointed...


Rose's Deli

Teapot, meet kettle.

So earlier today I threw some smug JLowe's way for always going out to lunch.

Then my wife showed up downtown with my daughter, forcing me to go out to lunch for the second time in as many days.

I suck.

Anyway, we were on our way to The Spicy Pickle, which is a current fave (went there last week with JLowe and had a nice sandwich, but I didn't feel like re-blogging the same place). We walked past and realized the set-up really isn't all that conducive to a toddling little girl. So we passed by, and headed over to Rose's.

Rose's has history in Portland. Back when I was young, Rose's had two locations of which I was aware, one on NW 23rd and one out near Gateway in NE. They may have had others, but I wasn't aware of them.

The one on 23rd was a favorite hang-out in my high school years. I loved to go there, have some Matzo Ball soup, and then head up to Washington Park. The NE location was good for the occasional lunch with grandma, who lives out that way to this very day.

Both closed, to the chagrin of many people who really enjoyed their sandwiches and, perhaps more importantly, their desserts.

A few years ago, they re-opened in a smaller location on NW 23rd, closer to Good Sam Hospital. Much more deli than restaurant, the new location was uncluttered, simply appointed, and encouraged prompt eating over lounging about. But the food was every bit as good.

Other locations opened (they currently have five), but beyond the downtown location in the Wells Fargo Building, I haven't ventured any further to try them out.

Anyway, back to today. We headed to Roses, because although they don't have high chairs or anything like that either, at least there is some room to breathe and it's a bit more conducive to a kid-let.

The options are many. Generally, my advice is to stick with one of the Reuben's. They are all good (if a bit too-good) and you can't miss with any of them. However, given my recent attempts to clean up my diet a bit, I opted for the Gardenburger. My wife got the Turkey Club. For the daughter, grilled cheese.

The Gardenburger was disappointing. Served on normal whole-wheat bread (no other options were provided) with tomato and lettuce and nothing else, it was boring. Rose's offers a variety of local Beaver-brand mustards on the tables, so I ate one-half with deli mustard and one-half with spicy hot. Okay, but certainly not great.

I sampled the wife's Turkey Club, which was great. Served on sourdough, the turkey was plentiful and delicious, and the bacon was chewy-but-not-crispy (just the way I like it) with little discernable fat. The sandwich comes with mayo on it, and really nothing else was needed.

Wanting to be very thorough for you, my intrepid reader (there may be more than one, but I don't want to assume too much!), I tried the grilled cheese. Crappy. The bread was too-soft and not at all buttery, which I think are two signs of a poor grilled cheese. There was plenty of cheese, so no let-down there, but I wept for my poor child.

Sandwiches come with a choice of chips or potato salad. The potato salad is good; I believe it's home-made. My wife has an aversion to potato salad that is to "mayonaisse-y," and for her this potato salad didn't cut it, but for most people I think it would be just great. My daughter loved it.

The finishing touch is the pickle. The Spicy Pickle gives you a spicy spear. Rose's gives you a flavorful-yet-painless whole pickle. It was good. I could tell not only by eating it, but by the hilarious frowns my daughter made with each successive taste, showing me that although she hated it, she had to have more. I wish I'd brought my camera.

For the three of us it was about $21. A tad over-priced, but not too shabby.

Rose's is a decent option for a good lunch. If you want a Reuben, it's a can't miss. If you're looking for less deli and more healthy, there are better choices downtown.

Pastini Pastaria

Man, that JLowe goes out to lunch alot.

In fact, I can report to you that he went out to lunch yesterday. I know this because I was there.

It goes like this. I used to work with JLowe, and also with some other people. I don't miss JLowe at all, since he's widely known as my "Hetero Lifemate." But I do miss some of the other people, so I invited one in particular out to lunch.

Now, I'm a married man. The person I invited out is an unmarried, attractive woman. She's a great person and a good friend who used to work in the same department of the office that I did, so that was why I asked her out. But I know better than not to bring a wingman to maintain the appearance of propriety, so I invited JLowe.

The plan was for lunch last Friday. In fact, I went out and had pictures of my 19 month-old daughter printed up so that my friend, CW, could see them (whenever I see her at the coffee shop or whatever, she asks to see pictures, and I didn't feel like being that lame-ass dad who only has the ones on his cell phone when she asked again).

Friday turned into Tuesday when my boss surprised us with a lunch meeting. I had been assigned the job of picking a place, and I threw that job back on CW because I picked the last time we went out to lunch (which, I believe, was last fall). She shifted the job over to JLowe.

JLowe and I happened to go to the driving range on Saturday, and on our way back into my area of town we passed a billboard for Pastini Pastaria. And we were surprised with some knowledge: they have a new store at 9th and Taylor, downtown, well within range of our various offices. And so the decision was made, at that point, that lunch would be there.

Pastini Pastaria is a local chain with 5 locations hitting most of the major areas of town (they aren't in NoPo yet, but I bet that's just a matter time). Their hallmark is affordable, delicious pasta dishes served quickly. Not really any frills.

We got there at about 11:55. We ended up being a party of five, thanks to some last-minute (and entirely welcome) additions from my old office. Noone chose the same dish.

I ended up ordering the Linguini Misto Mare, which is shrimp, halibut and seasonal shellfish with garlic, lemon, herbs, butter and white wine. It comes with some nice bread on the side. It cost $8.95.

The dish itself was well-sized. Not so much that eating it all made you feel at all guilty. Not so little that you were left wanting any more. Exactyl perfect. The fish wasn't skimped on (there were four mussels, four shrimps and several chunks of halibut). It was just about perfect, as far as portioning goes.

Food was served to our group about 7 minutes after it was ordered. We were able to have good conversation, order, be served, and eat in an unhurried manner and were done by 12:40, which was, in my mind, pretty good given the range of pastas we selected and the number of people being served.

Most importantly, everyone was pleased with their food. No complaints.

The only disappointment was that none of us ever remembered to ask them to split the check, and they never offered. I think a downtown place during lunch hour ought to, but that's really a minor gripe. Just be sure to ask for it, if you need it.

So, go to Pastini Pastaria. I've been to two of the five locations, always been happy, and never felt like I over-paid.


Thai Go!

There are a lot of very tasty Thai restaurants throughout Portland. But, I must admit, one of my very favorites is located in the food court at Pioneer Place.

Thai Go! opened up about two years ago. There are two ways to get your food: 1) there are some dishes under a heat lamp or 2) you can order it fresh. I've never had the stuff under the heat lamp.

Yesterday, I had the Showering Rama, which is baby bok choi in peanut sauce, with your choice of chicken, pork, beef or tofu. I had the chicken, spicy level 5 (1 is mild and 5 is as hot as they will make it). They added some broccoli. Meals cost $6.50 and there is a lot of food on the plate. I haven't finished a meal in a very long time.

The best part is the punch card. Each time you go, they mark off your card. Buy nine dishes, and your tenth is free. Yesterday, I had my forth free one.


Happy Bowl

You're in a hurry, you have $5 in cash, and you want something tasty. Whatcha gonna do? Whatcha gonna do?

If you're like me, you'll run down to Happy Bowl, at 5th and Salmon.

I love Happy Bowl. Not necessarily because the food's so yummy. It's marginal. But the value is excellent, and it's just so easy.

On any given day, you can go in at lunch hour and walk out 5 minutes later. I always get the beef teriyaki, shown here:

What do I like about it? First, it's enough for two lunches. Between the beef and the rice, it's pretty filling. The beef is sometimes a little suspect, in terms of little bits of fat or what-not, but generally it's a good value.

The service is always super-friendly, and the place has some devoted regulars. A couple of tips:
  1. Cash only. There's an ATM there, but I would guess the fees are hideous.
  2. Use the condiments. If you take the bowl as-is, you'll find it boring. I usually load up on extra teriyaki sauce and then cover a portion with the Red Rooster/Sriracha sauce to mix in.
  3. You can eat it all in one sitting, but you'll feel bloated after. It really does make a nice two-lunch, cheap option if you have a fridge at work.

Happy Bowl is one of the first places on my list for cheap convenience in downtown Portland. Don't go if you're seeking an enlightening food experience, but go if you need a quick, inexpensive, filling lunch.



I've been eating at Stanford's forever. Once upon a time, my sister worked at Stanford's. Today, I am headed to Florida with my wife, child and mother-in-law. We are currently at the airport and we just finished dinner at Stanford's. Yes, there is a Stanford''s here at the airport. And the best thing is that Stanford's at the airport is the very same price as anywhere else, a refreshing change from the usual airport restaurant.

I cannot say that any of the food at Stanford's is remarkably unique. But, I have found that it is always tasty. Meals are a couple of dollars more a plate then I would like, but clearly that has not been a hindrance to my returning time and time again.

It's been a long time since I ate at Stanford's on a Wednesday. Do you know how I know? Each day there is a different soup. And Wednesday is cheese soup day. I love a good cheese soup. And the cheese soup at Stanford's is really good. I think it is better then the cheese soup at Henry's. Which I now, all of a sudden, find to be odd...I just realized that Henry's and Stanford's are both owned by Pacific Coast Restaurants. Anyway, neither cheese soup is quite as good as the cheese soup at the Widmer Gasthaus. (you would think they were paying me...but I assure you, they are not).

But here is what really made me happy tonight at Stanford's. My wife and my mother-in-law decided to split a salad (I do love the salads at Stanford's). Both got a piece of cheese bread. The server brought the salad split into two bowls...and when we got the bill, there wasn't that annoying little split fee that many restaurants charge. And, we were all full and happy for $26.00 (+ tip, which I will not disclose). Stanford's has been my fall-back restaurant for a long time, and it shall remain so.


La Terrazza

I've eaten at La Terrazza dozens of times. They have simple, quick hearty pasta dishes, a daily soup, salads and sandwiches. You pay before you sit, so you can just leave when you're done (my wife's favorite feature). My wife always gets the Fettuccine Pesto Y Pollo.

Today, I was having a lunch meeting with an old friend and we decided that this would be the place to get lunch. I ordered the Ciabatta Turkey Pesto, but that's not what I got. Instead, the Ciabatta Prosciutto and Mozzarella showed up. But, I didn't realize it 'til I was half-way through the sandwich. I was hungry and not paying attention. When I finally came to my senses, and started thinking about what I was eating, I found myelf disappointed with the Ciabatta Prosciutto. Why didn't I say something about getting the wrong sandwich? But, it's the first time that I've really been disappointed at La Terrazza. I will return, as I'm just chalking it up to an exceptionally busy day for the restaurant. La Terrazza is located at 3rd and SW Salmon.



20 minutes. That’s how long it took this morning from the moment I stepped into the line to order until I was walking out with my cup and bag in hand. It’s become a one-sided game for me…how long will it take today?

My wife and I started coming to Crema as a compromise. I hate Starbucks and all that it stands for (intentionally and unintentionally. I especially despise the coffee that Starbucks produces. I need coffee, daily. My wife really likes going to Starbucks (for much the same reason everybody that goes there does…it’s always the same). My wife also likes a little something with her coffee.

So, we heard about the wonder that is Crema. And the reason we return time and time again is due to Crema’s fabulous baked goods; cheese corn biscuits, zucchini muffins, honey bran muffins, the morning bun, etc. Scratch, baked in the back daily and always delicious, Crema has some of the best baked goods in Portland. We’ve been back about 20 times now.

The coffee is…good. I personally am not a fan of Stumptown. I appreciate Stumptown’s roasting methods and what Stumptown stands for…but it’s only good to me, and not terrific. Granted, I am quite biased when it comes to coffee (which is why you will never see a blog from me on this site about a place that is strictly a coffee shop). My Dad owns three independent shops and has his own roaster…and I am taking my inheritance early once cup at a time…enough said.

But, I can at least comment on my frustration with Crema’s coffee…it takes too long. Yes, each drink is hand-made with loving care…but explain to me why they need that beautiful tri-group espresso machine if they are only going to have one barista making each drink, one drink at a time??? A well-trained barista should be able to MULTI-TASK. Today, the barista was exceptionally fast for Crema standards. It only took seven minutes once the order had been placed for my wife’s drink, a double 12 ounce non-fat vanilla latte (I had my espresso somewhere else earlier and really didn’t need any more this morning).

The other HUGE problem with Crema is that they don’t know how to manage a line. There is a single register. The place has a huge staff (at least seven employees are working there at any given time). But, if there are more then three people in line, expect to be in that line at least 10 minutes.

So, here it is…if you have the time, go to Crema. The food is always great (baked goods, sweet treats, soups, sandwiches, bread, etc). There is lots of space, free wi-fi, plenty of tables, personal French-press coffee and a nice atmosphere. But, if you are only planning to pop in quickly to get something to go, be very prepared to spend 15 to 20 minutes in line waiting…this is not a quick stop. Crema is located on the corner of 28th and SE Ankeny.


Bella Faccia

Tonight, even though it's a Friday, we decided to stay in. It's been a long week. And during the drive home, the conversation turned to dinner. I really didn't feel like cooking tonight, and I kind of expected to eat out, 'cause it's Friday. So, we settled on pizza. But, "settle" really isn't the word when you decide to get a pizza at Bella Faccia.

It's located at 2934 NE Alberta and it's great pizza...not that typical fast-food-call-and-get-it-delivered-with-a-special-price-for-the-first-two-toppings pizza, if you know what I mean. Bella Faccia will deliver for orders over $100 with advance notice, but otherwise it's eat in the shop or take it away. Yes, we took it home.

Bella Faccia only has one size (18 inches and thin), or you can buy it buy the slice. We got a split pizza...she wanted the SCHMO (tomato sauce, mozzarella, chicken sausage, mushrooms, black olives and onions (but opted for roasted garlic instead of onions)). I wanted the Green & White (Basil pesto covered with dollops of creamy ricotta, mozzarella, roasted red and yellow peppers, roasted garlic and a sprinkling of pine nuts). We also got an order of the Garlic Knots.

Normally, my wife gets the Brooklyn Veggie and I get the Popeye (tomato sauce, bacon, mozzarella, spinach, onion and garlic). I love the Popeye, but the Green & White was just as good.

The pizza will cost you between $16.50 (cheese) to $25.00 (split with other stuff) and it's worth every penny. I was only able to eat two slices. My wife ate one piece...breakfast and lunch tomorrow!


Widmer Gasthaus

We had dinner with friends last night at Widmer Gasthaus. It is a lovely place, located in an out-of-the-way location. It's always so clean and cheery inside. And, I always enjoy the food. Last night I decided to try the Meatloaf sandwich. You have a choice of adding bacon for about a buck more. Yup...I added the bacon. The meatloaf is very savory and kind of spicy. The bacon added a nice salty flavor. And, for $8.95, it filled my belly well. Now, the bowl of cheese soup I had before the sandwich and the potato salad that came with the sandwich did help. But, I probably could have done with out either of those items and still have been satisfied. Normally, I order the Sauerbraten (extra Sauer please!), but this sandwich was just as good. For the buck, I felt fully satisfied. By the way, they do serve beer, in case you were wondering.