Creative Eats At These Portland Hots Spots | Oregon Tasting Table

A city that lives up to its hype

The City of Roses and all its alternative deliciousness has a reputation that precedes it, thanks to Internet memes, T-shirts and even a satirical TV show. But as our recent eating excursion there revealed, that rep can't begin to convey all of Portland's culinary creativity.

Ox: We've already cooed over the appetizers and drinks. Forgive us, but this pyromaniac's love story of a restaurant is worth another mention. The menu, constructed by Greg Denton and Gabrielle Quiñónez Denton, relies predominantly on meats cooked to perfection over an Asador Etxebarri-like open fire. We were equally blown away by the nonmeat outliers, including a rendition of clam chowder that was flanked with bone marrow and smoked breadcrumbs.

Imperial: Paley's Place has been an anchor of the city's dining scene for more than a decade, and now chef Vitaly Paley has brought his finessed cooking downtown. Head into the day with a breakfast of matzo brei or Dungeness crab Benedict, or wind down from it with a cocktail from top bartender Brandon Wise.

Riffle NW: Portland might be less than 100 miles from the Pacific Ocean, but it's the East Coast that is setting the tone for the city's best seafood. Former New York chef and avid fishermen Ken Norris is using the Pacific's bounty in dishes like beet-cured salmon tartare and grilled octopus in chorizo cream. The cocktail menu, complete with an intricate ice program and cocktails on tap, is worth a separate trip.

Lardo: Chef Rick Gencarelli's pitch-perfect sandwich shop was, appropriately enough, born of a food cart. Having wowed hungry pedestrians with sandwiches like the Coppa Cubano, Gencarelli's brick-and-mortar space has an expanded menu. A lunch of griddled mortadella with provolone or an over-the-top pork burger with lardo sauce is hard to beat.