Oso Market + Bar

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Sometimes, the name of the game is simplicity. In this food-obsessed city, I think sometimes the restaurants are over-thought, dishes over-embellished and menus over-complicated. Not the case at the new eastside eatery Oso Market + Bar. It’s a lovely spot serving lunch or dinner that feels like a small bar or lunch counter, and it’s simple in the best way possible.

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I had lunch at Oso last week, and the above picture curried chickpea sandwich was pretty great — simple, warm, made with great house-made ingredients like pickled fennel. They served it with a side house salad that was just simple. Simply dressed, simple greens, and exactly what I needed for a nice workday lunch. The menu does have lots of meaty options too, and the charcuterie looked mighty delicious. It’s certainly not just for veggies.

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Stop into Oso Market for a meal, and browse their selection of oils, wine and other local products. Maybe I’ll see you there for a simple workday lunch!

Oso Market + Bar is located at 726 SE Grand Ave., just next door to Dig a Pony. They’re open from lunch until late every day.

Harlow

Harlow, Portland, Oregon

Can we all just admit for a minute that breakfast in this town has gotten ridiculous? Don’t get me wrong — I love it, and when I’m on vacation in another city, I miss the incredible options we have here. All I’m saying is, we are seriously lucky.

Since we’ve been in love with Harlow’s sister restaurant Prasad (in the Pearl District’s Yoga Pearl building) for quite some time, we wanted to try the one across the river and it has wedged its way into our hearts for those Sunday mornings where we want to take our time over breakfast.

Harlow, Portland, Oregon

Prasad focuses on raw, vegan fare, but at Harlow the focus shifts to more gluten-free food. You can still get raw and vegan stuff though. I’m head over heels for the quinoa pancakes with blueberries, and Eric hasn’t yet stopped ordering the huevos rancheros (pictured below) exclusively.

Harlow, Portland, Oregon

The beverages are also sublime, from fresh juice concoctions that will start your day right to the dreamy Peruvian hot chocolate I enjoyed last weekend, complete with malty maca and melted dark chocolate.

Harlow, Portland, Oregon

Harlow is located at 3632 SE Hawthorne Blvd., right in the heart of that lively district. Go for weekend brunch or make a day of it and take in a bit of the neighborhood.

Bushel & Peck Bakeshop

Bushel & Peck Bakeshop, Portland, Oregon

This time of year makes me want something warm to drink in my hand every hour of every day. Luckily, we live in a town blissfully full of coffee and tea shops, each with their own lovely little arrangements of goodies to go with them.

Bushel & Peck Bakeshop, Portland, Oregon

I love Bushel & Peck Bakeshop becuase it’s close to my office, because they make a bar with pretzels, almonds and caramel that is heaven and because it makes me nostalgic for the nights I’d spend the night at my friend Julie’s house when I was a kid, and her mom would tuck us in and tell us, “I love you a bushel and a peck, a bushel and a peck and a hug around the neck.” This spot is also just a great, relaxing place to pull up a chair and unplug for a few minutes.

Bushel & Peck Bakeshop, Portland, Oregon

Bushel & Peck Bakeshop serves Trailhead Roasters coffee, Townshend’s Teas and and assortment of lovely specials for breakfast and lunch, or treats anytime. Pick a chair at the long farm table, grab a newspaper and prepare for a few minutes of hot-beverage zen.

Bushel & Peck Bakeshop, Portland, Oregon

Bushel & Peck Bakeshop is located at 3907 NE MLK Jr. Blvd. in NE Portland. If you know what’s good for you, you’ll go there now and get one of those caramel pretzel almond bars. Trust me.

Fireside

Fireside Restaurant, Portland, Oregon

Have you ever tried to describe Portland cuisine to people who haven’t been here? Usually I end up saying things like, “Lots of pork belly,” “New American” or “Comfort food.” It’s hard to define sometimes, the places that we love here in Portland who aren’t serving a style of food, per se, but food that we like. It has fresh ingredients, it’s prepared with care and we often get to enjoy it in well-designed, cozy spaces with people we care about. We are lucky to live here, indeed.

Fireside Restaurant, Portland, Oregon

I was introduced to Fireside (in what used to the the Music Millenium building on NW 23rd) by some clients of mine. I had a bowl of their leek and potato soup, and I came back three days later for lunch because I couldn’t stop thinking about it. Fireside does that Portland thing well — comforting, well-prepared food from stellar ingredients, served in a cozy space. The people watching is good, the menu selections are delicious and varied and I’ll be back for more very soon.

Fireside Restaurant, Portland, Oregon

Fireside is at 801 NW 23rd Ave. Go for lunch, happy hour or dinner and for the love — have some of the daily soup.

Case Study Coffee

Case Study Coffee, Portland, Oregon

I could blog about coffee shops all day long here and never run out — and I don’t even drink coffee! But there’s something special about a place to sit and enjoy a warm beverage, a pastry and a moment of solitude. I love to hit a coffee shop in the morning as my day ramps up, or in the afternoon when I need a minute to sit and be quiet and be refreshed.

Case Study Coffee, Portland, Oregon

Case Study Coffee is located in NE Portland, in the Hollywood district (they’ve got another on SW 10th in downtown). It’s a light-filled cafe on NE Sandy Blvd. where you can find a warm cup of something — whether that’s Case Study’s own roast, or the full selection of Foxfire Teas they serve. Pair it with a pastry from local bakeries Nuvrei or gluten-free/vegan darling Petunia’s Pies and Pastries and you’ve got a real coffee shop moment.

Case Study Coffee, Portland, Oregon

Case Study Coffee is located at 5347 NE Sandy Blvd. Their downtown location is 802 SW 10th.

Two Tarts Bakery

Two Tarts Bakery, Portland, Oregon

Sometimes you need just a little something sweet — and I always appreciate a place that makes something small and perfectly crafted. Two Tarts Bakery is like that — their signature item is a sandwich cookie in a few flavors that melt in your mouth and in just one bite. I think they’re the perfect little pick-me-up if you’re window shopping on NW 23rd. Pictured below: the vanilla cookie with strawberry buttercream, cappuccino and chocolate with vanilla buttercream.

Two Tarts Bakery, Portland, Oregon

The little sandwich cookies range from classic (their chocolate with vanilla buttercream) to seasonal (vanilla cookies filled with buttercream laced with the freshest seasonal berries and fruit) to peanut butter and cappuccino. They also stock their shelves with other delicious little bites — which you’ll just have to go there to discover. If you don’t live here in Portland where you can get a fix, Two Tarts offers a brilliant and sweet monthly shipment program and for $26 a month, they’ll ship you 2 dozen of their cookies to keep you satisfied at a distance.

Two Tarts Bakery, Portland, Oregon

Two Tarts Bakery is located at 2309 NW Kearney Street, just off NW 23rd Ave. Find them online for great ramblings on the blog and a complete rundown of their treats.

Cedo’s Falafel & Gyros

Cedo's Falafel & Gyros, Portland, Oregon

I love a falafel — I loved falafel before people knew what the heck falafel was. But I guess those are the street-cred perks of being a young vegetarian. My friend Alice introduced me to Cedo’s this year and it’s a favorite spot now. It’s simple, inexpensive and most of all, delicious.

Cedo's Falafel & Gyros, Portland, Oregon

At Cedo’s, I highly recommend the falafel sandwich or the mixed platter, which gives you options — falafel balls, hummus, baba ganouge etc. If you’re into meat, I hear the gyro’s good too. I love this place for lunch because it’s simple and easy.

Cedo's Falafel & Gyros, Portland, Oregon

Cedo’s Falafel & Gyros is located at 3901 NE Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. Find them on Yelp.

PBJ’s Grilled

PBJ's Grilled Food Cart, Portland, Oregon

My father-in-law, Ernie, is a total sweetheart. When it comes to peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, he’s also a total creature of habit. I’ve been a member of his family now for 6 years and I’ve been watching this man’s PB&J routine like a hawk. I appreciate the attention to detail and the ritual that goes along with it.

Here’s how it goes: First, the bread is usually Dave’s Killer Bread. I do wonder if this was an upgrade from some other kind of bread he used before that was widely available. Surely Ernie has been eating PB&Js for longer than Dave has been making bread.

PBJ's Grilled Food Cart, Portland, Oregon

The jelly needs to be Welch’s Concord Grape jelly. No exceptions — although I do spot some marionberry jam from time to time in the cupboard at my in-laws’, so I don’t know if that’s an occasional substitute in a pinch.

Now on to the peanut butter: Adams. I appreciate this choice because I grew up eating Adams peanut butter, direct from the monster bucket my mom bought at Costco. I think there’s a clause about some kind of shelf-stable peanut butter being used in some contexts, but I can’t speak to this specifically when it comes to Ernie’s PB&J routine.

To enjoy it, the best way is to sit at the table (in ideal circumstances, this would be the table inside Ernie’s fifth child, his awesome Airstream trailer) and enjoy it with a cold glass of milk. This is the time-tested PB&J routine, and it’s just the way he likes it.

PBJ's Grilled Food Cart, Portland, Oregon

The PB&J that I found at PBJ’s Grilled in NW Portland would have thrown Ernie for a serious loop. These concoctions are delicious, but some of them sound a little off the wall. Because I wanted a vegan option, it was recommended that I try the Thai PB&J. I was a little nervous — I can be adventurous, but peanut butter with sriracha? Basil? Orange marmalade? I took a risk and went for it.

Now I can’t even think about it without my mouth watering. It was spicy, sweet and totally unexpected. And it was on Dave’s Killer Bread — so maybe I can get Ernie to try it next time he comes to town. What do you say, E-man?

PBJ's Grilled Food Cart, Portland, Oregon

Get your own crazy PB&J routine on at this food cart at 919 NW 23rd. You will not regret it.

a n d Cafe

and Cafe, Portland, Oregon

My family all lives nearby, and we get together a lot. There are 11 of us now (just from my immediate family of my sisters and parents) and between us, we have a hilarious grouping of food allergies, intolerances and preferences. We’re also always in flux.

For awhile, one of my sisters was paleo while we were vegan and my other sister’s family was gluten-free and dairy-free (except for one kid). By the next gathering, it was plant-based for a few of us, flexitarian for others. My parents then went vegan for awhile but are notoriously flexible. But recently, we’ve had my mom stumped. She has resorted to telling us all to bring our own dinner when we come over. It’s just too much to keep track of.

and Cafe, Portland, Oregon

I’m pretty amazed in Portland at how many options we have. I don’t see a menu very often that doesn’t include something for the vegan/vegetarian/gluten-free/paleo/what have you among us. And I think that’s a part of what makes Portland’s restaurants so cool and enjoyable and unique.

We ended up on a recent Saturday morning at the a n d Cafe on E. Burnside. Tons of options, including a special hash with vegan gravy and herbed tofu mixed with brussels sprouts.

and Cafe, Portland, Oregon

a n d Cafe is located at 5420 E. Burnside. They make breakfast and lunch, the service is snappy and friendly and they have lots of options for those of you with, let’s say, needs.

New Deal Cafe

New Deal Cafe, Portland, OR

Two years ago, Eric and I went on a two-week trip to India. We were there for a wedding (which meant I was working) and the wedding was one of the more stressful things I’ve ever been involved with. All in all, it wasn’t a super-relaxing trip. I’m so glad we went, but next time it’s going to be under different circumstances.

We only spent a couple days in Delhi, and the rest of the time we were in a smaller city in eastern India. I love Indian food, but eating it for breakfast, lunch and dinner for 13 days started to get a little monotonous. Then, to top off the rest of the experience, I got some kind of water-borne illness on our last two days there. I drugged myself to the max just to get myself on the plane. I can’t ever remember wanting to be home so badly.

The next morning, we woke up in Amsterdam. As we got off the train at Amsterdam’s Centraal Station, the sun was just beginning to make an appearance and the bakeries began to open their doors. At last, I thought. The western world!

We ditched our suitcases and walked down the street, browsing for a place to have our first meal. It only took us a few steps and we were standing in front of an adorable cafe with an 8€ all-you-can-eat breakfast buffet with bacon, scrambled eggs, granola, yogurt, coffee and hash browns. I had barely eaten in two days.

I’m sure we didn’t represent our country very proudly that morning, inhaling plates of bacon and hardly saying a word to each other, except, “Breakfast is so good.” 

New Deal Cafe, Portland, OR

And you know what? Breakfast is so good. That’s why I’m so glad they serve it until 4 p.m. every single day at The New Deal Cafe in NE Portland. It’s welcoming and casual, you can camp out for awhile to work or read and the food is completely delicious. With specials like banana chocolate chip pancakes, how could you possibly go wrong?

New Deal Cafe, Portland, OR

The New Deal Cafe is located at 5250 NE Halsey St. Go for breakfast, anytime.

New Deal Cafe