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.

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

Smaaken

Smaaken, SW Portland, Oregon

Eric and I wandered the aisles in the Macy’s store at Washington Square with a large scanner device in one hand. We pointed to things we’d like for our wedding, and scanned them in. Food processor? Check. Hotel collection towels? Yes, please. We were going to be totally outfitted with all this registry swag.

Then we came to the waffle maker.

“Ooh, a waffle maker!” I said, approaching the shiny little workhorse with our scanner.

“Wait just a minute,” he said. “Do we really want a waffle maker?”

I’m sorry, what? Who doesn’t want a waffle maker?

“I just don’t really like waffles,” he said. My jaw dropped. I was about to agree to spend the rest of my life with someone who doesn’t really like waffles?

“I’ll eat enough for both of us,” I said. Must have been a really attractive sentence. So I registered for it. And someone bought it for me.

In six years of marriage, I’ve used it twice.

Smaaken, SW Portland, Oregon

I don’t usually need to make my own waffles since there are hot, delicious ones available at Smaaken, a food cart in SW Portland’s Hillsdale neighborhood. Topped with sweet or savory toppings (like veggie sausage — my favorite — or banana and nutella) and folded to go, they’re a favorite of lots of Wilson High School students, who congregate around these food carts.

Smaaken, SW Portland, Oregon

Smaaken is located in the Hillsdale Food Park, near Wilson High School at the intersection of SW Capitol Hwy. and SW Sunset Blvd. Stop in for a breakfast waffle with coffee or a lunch waffle piled high with savory fillings.