Posts Tagged ‘portland’

After a long afternoon meandering through the Oregon Zoo in 95 degree heat, we sluggishly made it to Brunch Box to refuel and rehydrate.  Originally a food cart, Brunch Box is now small brick and mortar on SW 9th Ave between Alder and Morrison. Upon entering, I immediately noticed their huge menu above the front counter and a few tables along the wall. We were greeted by the woman behind the counter, then grabbed a few menus off the counter and sat down. After a few minutes looking over the menu, I placed our order at the counter.


entrance off sw 9th

entrance off sw 9th

order when ready

order when ready


burger royalty

burger royalty



The Food:



youcanhascheeseburger $8.5

youcanhascheeseburger $8.5

Initially reading the description, this burger seems like your typical backyard bbq burger; ¼ beef patty, American cheese, lettuce, tomato, grilled onion, ketchup, mustard & mayo. Not so bad, right?! Oh, all those basics were nicely nestled between two texas toast grilled cheeses sandwiches! From the small bite I sampled, everything came together as you’d expect. The beef patty was well cooked while rich gooey American cheese filled every bite. I especially enjoyed the texas toast, which was toasted perfectly and had necessary strength to hold everything together.


omg $12.5

omg $12.5

I ordered a burger named OMG, and rightfully so. Besides the basics, it also came topped with bacon, ham, spam and a fried egg. I made the mistake in taking the burger out of the wrapper, because as soon as I took my first bite, both top and bottom buns pretty much disintegrated – like a wet tissue against a boulder.  As the ingredients started falling out and with mustard running down my fingers, I contemplated finishing with a fork. I had to put the burger down and re-strategize my approach. Watching in my struggles, Cherry made the suggestion, “Why not just wrap it back up?!”  Genius!  So I wrapped what was still left back in the wrapper and used it as my burger blanket. Despite the disappointing bun, everything inside was solid. The bacon was thick and crispy, the egg added a nice creamy flavor and the spam added an extra savory and salty kick that was delicious. Unfortunately, the ham got lost amongst everything else.



My Conclusion:

Brunch Box definitely appeals to those who aren’t afraid to get a little messy.  Despite being enormous, these burgers are tasty and well made. I didn’t realize it until I was done with my meal, but you can substitute the burger bun with texas toast at no additional charge, which may be a better option for some of the bigger and messier burgers.  They also allow you to substitute your beef patty for a turkey, fried chicken or veggie patty. If the monstrosities described above frighten you, never fear, there are more modest selections to choose from too.

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On our latest PDX trip, Cherry and I hit up three extremely popular spots for food… and we did some sight seeing too.


Podnah’s Pit

Located in the middle of a residential street on NE Killingsworth, Podnah’s  Pit is a popular BBQ spot in Portland, that’s also been featured on Food Network’s Diners Drive-Ins & Dives. There was already a good sized crowd waiting outside as we pulled up and we ended up waiting about 30-minutes before we were seated. As soon as we were seated, we got the unfortunate news that they were out of ribs for the night 😦

 podnahs outside

crowd of hungry peeps


podnahs brisket sand

chopped brisket sandwich $11

Since there were no ribs, Cherry opted for the sliced brisket sandwich. Her first bite was a piece of meat that was falling out the side, which she stated was very dry. She actually had to take a sip of her  root beer to help get it down.  The meat carried a clean and lean flavor that worked well, but it was overly dry. There was a selection of various house-made sauces that Cherry had to take advantage of to help get through each bite. The coleslaw was bright and refreshing with nice heat from the diced jalapenos.


podnahs brisket plate

 creekstone farms brisket $16 + smoked hot link $3.5

 I went with the smoked brisket as well. The first thing I noticed was a nice smoke ring around edge of the meat. The brisket carried a nice smoky flavor and also cooked very well. Like Cherry’s sandwich, it was a dry, but I guess that’s what the table side sauces are for. I also ordered a hot link on the side which was extremely flavorful full of heat and not overly fatty like some sausages. My two sides were the collard greens and the green chili mac ‘n cheese, which was the daily special. The greens were cooked perfectly and had a deliciously rich and earthy flavor. The green chili mac was also done well with just the right amount of heat from the green chiles mixed in with the cheese.


Big Ass Sandwiches

With two locations in Portland, Big Ass Sandwiches is a food cart that’s earned a ton of popularity and press! We went to the 2nd ave location and got there a little before they opened (11am). It was a good thing too, because 10-minutes before opening 3 cars pulled up and a line started forming!

bigasssand outside

lil tin box

bigasssand richwich

the richwich: roast beef, bacon, grilled onions, fries, bechamel cheese $10

Cherry and I decided to split a sandwich and went with the one that won the Best Sandwich in the Northwest. We ordered it with turkey though, because Cherry doesn’t like roast beef. The sandwich had a lot going on from the large amount of crispy and savory fries to the pieces of bacon and onions thrown in the mix. The homemade bechamel cheese was awesome. It rich and creamy and did a very nice job blending all of the ingredients together. There wasn’t a whole lot of turkey in the sandwich and the thin slices that were present were a little dry for my liking. As a result, the turkey was lost in the shuffle. I regret not ordering their aardvark sauce in their sandwich, which is their secret habanero sauce.


Kenny and Zukes

The powers of social media guided us to our last stop before returning to home to Seattle, Kenny and Zukes. Located on SW Stark St in downtown Portland, K&Z is a popular deli offering house cured pastrami and corned beef and fresh made bagels.  The wall of windows surrounding half the restaurant provided plenty of natrual light throughout the restaurant.

k&z pastrami fries

pastrami cheese fries $11.95

If gluttony decided to take form on the savory side of food, this plate would be it. Despite being smothered in an already rich and creamy melted cheese, the seasonings and brine of the pastrami was still very present. The fries were crispy and well seasoned and had an additional layer of flavor from the rub that came fell off the pastrami.

k&z reuben

classic reuben: corned beef, grilled kraut, swiss, russian dressing $13.75

Reuben Sandwiches are one of my favorite so it was it was a no brainer to order this. The reuben here was very good. Like the pastrami, the corned beef had great flavor and the brine they used has great balance. The bread was toasted nicely and all of the ingredients came together to provide great textures and flavors.


My Conclusion                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   

Podnahs: Our overall experience with Podnah’s was favorable. The portions were filling and the flavors were on point. I don’t know why our brisket was so dry, but I’ll chop this occurrence as an anomaly. The interior was clean and our server was friendly. One thing that cost Podnah’s some points in my book was how the table next to us ordered after we were told the ribs was sold out, but someone in their party still got ribs on their platter. I didn’t want to put up a big stink about it, but definitely felt it necessary to let them know. As we left, I explained what happened to our server and let her know our disappointment. She sincerely apologized and stated the kitchen must have had “one last serving.” 

Big Ass Sandwiches: The Richwich is a tasty and well made sandwich. They’re definitely big enough to share with another person but I would have liked a little more meat in my sandwich. It’s more of a french fry sandwich with the fixin’s added on. I do plan on visiting again in the near future and will get the aardvark sauce with my big ass sandwich. As far as winning Adam Richman’s Best Sandwich in the Northwest, I know a few spots in Seattle that would beg to differ!

Kenny and Zukes: Nice deli located in the heart of downtown Portland. The food is made with care and the ingredients are fresh. That being said, I’m not sure the prices are justifiable. $14 dollars for a reuben sandwich is very pricey, especially since its an extra $3 for fries or any of their other sides! I will say that our server was rad! He was extremely sociable, attentive and friendly.




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Cherry and I planned a weekend trip to Portland as a “last getaway” before our baby comes. Yep, we’re having a baby this December! Portland is definitely the “weird” red-headed step sister to Seattle, with an abundance of uniquely northwest microbreweries and foodie spots. With only a limited amount of time there, here are the spots we visited.

1.)  Joe’s Crab Shack


classic sampler $12.49


sunset fire-grilled steampot $26.49

One thing I hate, is seeing commercials for restaurants and stores nowhere near your place or residence. Enter Joe’s Crab Shack. Nothing says foodie spot, like a national seafood chain but being the only one within 150+ square miles of Seattle, we made the exception to stop by as we drove down. Plus, years of seeing the commercials finally took its toll on us! Cherry and I shared a classic sampler and an individual order of the sunset fire-grilled steam pot. The sampler included crab dip, fried calamari and their “great balls of fire” which  are panko breaded and deep-fried balls of seafood, crab, jalapenos and cream cheese. The calamari had a nice crispy breading and the crab dip was tasty. I liked the great balls of fire, but I would have like more heat. The steam pot had both snow and dungeness crab, shrimp, sausage, corn and potatoes. The spicy seasoning provided nice heat and everything was well cooked with the focus of the pot, the crab, being fresh and sweet.  Joe’s is a fun place to bring the family, but it’s more expensive and you get less for your money compared to a place like the Crap Pot.

2.) Bridgeport Brewery


beer sampler $9


chipotle beef chili $8.95

With my growing passion for good beer, we attended a tour of Portland’s oldest craft brewery. It was awesome going behind the scenes to see how beer is crafted and what was especially impressive, was that they produce, bottle, and distribute their entire product on a staff of four! There’s even a laboratory in the back of the packaging floor where college students come as a part of their courses. A major point our tour guide and brew master emphasized throughout the tour is that for everything they make (beer & food), they practice the acronym: FLOSS, which stands for fresh, local, organic, seasonal and sustainable – I like that! After the tour, we got a small bite at the bar. Cherry went with their bowl of chipotle beef chili  which was hearty but lacked the bold flavors of spice and worcestershire normally associated with chili. I decided I’d rather drink my carbs and just ordered their beer sampler, which featured three of the year-round beers and five seasonal. All of which were equally good in their own way, but their Hop Czar was too hoppy for my taste.

3.) Noodles and Co.


bbq pork sandwich $6.99


indonesian peanut sauté $7.98

Interesting spot featuring a wide variety of made to order “noodle” dishes ranging from spaghetti and meatballs to phad thai. Cherry went with the bbq pork sandwich and side of tomato basil bisque and I went with the indonesian peanut sauté. The pork sandwich was surprisingly very good. The meat was tender and flavorful on its own, but the slaw was lackluster at best. The bbq sauce also provided a nice pep to each bite. The tomato bisque was rich and had a nice balance of tomato and basil. My noodles weren’t that great, keep in mind I’m a noodle snob and have high expectations when eating any kind of noodles.  The flavors were bland and the chicken was dry. I was expecting the flavors of “spicy peanut sauce” to at least be present, but instead this dish was a haphazard attempt at something “Asian.” The only positive thing I can say about that dish is, I wasn’t hungry anymore after I ate it.

4.) Mother’s Bistro




busy breakfast service


pork apple sausage & cheddar scramble $9.95


joe’s scramble

This spot has received a ton of positive feedback from the “foodie” world and I was extremely eager to see for myself what the craze is about. As I parked, I saw a line out the door and a mob of people waiting outside. I immediately felt a disappointingly warm smile creep across my face, like a child that was just given time out in their room… full of video games and toys. The wait wasn’t bad for a 2-top though, only about 30-minutes. I think another big reason for the unusually large amount of people was due the fact that the Portland Marathon was also that morning. Many runners ready refuel their bodies with a carb-loading session after a cruel and self-punishing run. Cherry went with the pork apple sausage & cheddar scramble. As usual, in Portland fashion, everything used is fresh and local and you can really taste that. The scrambled eggs had an almost creamy texture that held everything together nicely. The apple sausage was both savory and sweet and wasn’t greasy at all.  The breakfast potatoes were cooked perfectly and had nice subtle flavors of the herbs they used. I ordered the daily special which happened to be a joe’s scramble that featured their house-ground natural rib-eye. Everything came together wonderfully to provide a great dish. Often overlooked during breakfast is the side of bread that usually accompanies the dish. The wheat bread at Mother’s Bistro definitely cannot go unnoticed. It was unique in that each bite was clean almost like a cracker, but you knew you biting into toast.

My Conclusion:

Portland is such a spunky and quirky city that I almost want to drive down every weekend to try a new spot! Cherry and I have come down at least once a year for the past few years and always discover something different. I’ll leave you with a photo I took at Roloff Farms of Cherry’s baby belly… hope you’ve enjoyed!


30-weeks and counting!

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If it weren’t for the phenomenon that is social media, I may have never known Pok Pok existed! I happened to stumble upon a picture posted by a celebrity chef on one of his recent visits to the City of Roses. The funny sounding name intrigued me… and the fact that if it’s good enough a Top Chef  Master, then it’s gotta be good enough for me! I looked up the menu and immediately knew we would come here on our future road trip to Portland to see a show. Fast forward a month or so; Cherry and I arrive. Located on a residential street on SE Division Street, Pok Pok is literally a house that’s been converted into a restaurant – offering foods from Northern and Northeastern Thailand. As we walked up, we were greeted by the hostess and seated inside one of two outside dining areas… both of which are enclosed with thick canvas tarps that keep the heat in and the elements out… and located in the driveway. Walking out and to the left, you see a separate small building in front of the garage that appears to have been the kitchen and if you keep walking, you can enter a third dining which is on the ground level of the house. Inside this area is a dimly lit dining floor more seats and tables, a bar in one corner and the bathroom and a bathroom (behind the bar.) Navigating around seems almost like a maze due to the narrow walkways and segregated dining areas.

view off SE Division


pok pok


seperate kitchen



The Food:


ike’s vietnamese fish sauce wings: fresh natural chicken wings marinated in fish sauce & palm sugar and deep fried, then tossed in carmelized Phu Quoc fush sauce and garlic $12.50

These are the best wings I’ve ever had! No joke, my mouth is watering as I write this post. The large wings were perfectly fried, juicy and fell off the bone. The focal point of these wings was the marinade and sauce they were tossed in. Surprisingly, these wings didn’t have a terribly strong fish sauce flavor, but had an incredible depth of flavors that really rang through. We chose the spicy wings, which carried a satisfying heat through each bite. Balancing the heat was the savory and bold flavors of the caramelized fish sauce and garlic, as well as the subtle sweetness from the marinade. My taste buds were through the roof in the midst of these contrasting flavors.


hoi thawt: crispy broken crepe with steamed fresh mussels, eggs, garlic, chives and bean sprouts with shark sri racha sauce $12

This dish was tasty on its own, but in comparison to the other two, it was my least favorite of the meal. The crispy crepe had a bright crunch and rich flavor that was accented by the chives and garlic. The egg added a subtle creaminess to the plate and the steamed mussels added a clean yet briny flavor. The Shark sri racha is traditionally found in Thailand and carries a more subtle spice that doesn’t overpower and isn’t as sharp as the Rooster Brand traditionally found in the states. The sauce actually carried a very mild spice but complimented the dish very well.

sii khrong muu yaang: carlton farms baby back ribs marinated in whisky, soy, honey, ginger and Thai spices, slow roasted $12

These baby back ribs were extremely tender and full of flavor. It came with two dipping sauces; a sweet tamarind sauce and a spicy chili sauce – both of which provided nice countering flavors. The flavors of the soy, honey and ginger were very apparent in the meat, but I didn’t get any whisky flavor. I would have liked to see one more rib served… but that’s just my chubby side talking.


My Conclusion:

Pok Pok is an excellent restaurant for anyone looking step out of the proverbial box and sample comfort foods and dishes from Thailand. They don’t serve the mainstream staples like Phad Thai or popular curries, but instead offer an authentic selection of dishes in found in the homes and on the streets of Southeast Asia. Oh yeah.. and Pok Pok’s chef owner, Andy Ricker, was the winner of the 2011 James Beard for Best Chef: Northwest … which has to account for something, right?!

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