Pine Shed BBQ

So this place made #5 on Oregonlive for Portland BBQ restaurants. Which may be a valid ranking, but here is the problem. First, people in Oregon generally don’t know good BBQ. Second, there are not many good BBQ options in Portland so don’t be fooled when Oregonlive ranks this place as #5.

For my first trip to this place I tried the sausage, pulled pork, brisket, and tri tip. I will go in order of good to bad.

Pulled Pork – Pork butt is a very forgiving meat when it comes to smoking, so when I try a BBQ place for the first time I always get the pulled pork. If a place screws that up you can bet the rest of what they cook is bad too. The pulled pork at Pine Shed is average. It won’t blow you away but it is not bad either. The house BBQ sauce is really good so when combined with that it becomes an above average meal.

Brisket – The brisket was ok. It was a bit over smoked. Smoke flavor should compliment the meat and the rub. It should not be a distraction or overpower the meat. The smoke on the brisket was not quite to the overpowering level. However, it was too much and a distraction to the beef flavor.

Tri-tip – I may be a bit biased here but tri-tip should not be smoked. There is only one legitimate way to cook tri-tip and that is Santa Maria style. They don’t do that at Pine Shed. It is smoked like any other meat. Smoking tri-tip means you are over cooking it. Consequently, the meat was overdone and lacking in strong beefy flavor. This place would be better off learning how to cook it Santa Maria style and serve it that way.

Sausage – TERRIBLE. The fact that Oregonlive says this is Pine Shed’s “blue ribbon” meat speaks volumes to the lack of quality BBQ in Oregon and Oregonlive’s understaing of good BBQ. The sausage is terrible. The casing is not stuffed enough so when it is cooked the sausage does not hold its form when you cut into it. As for flavor, it is more garlic flavor than pork. There is zero spice to be found so not sure how they call it a spicy link. It is bad.

There are not many good BBQ options in Portland. Pass on this place. The #5 ranking by Oregonlive is misleading since you only need one finger to count the number of great BBQ places in Portland. A 5 ranking means it is four restaurants removed from being good.

Bottomline – avoid.

Thus far, the only BBQ place worth its salt in Portland is Podnah’s.

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Ranking Portland Airport’s Restuarants

In recent years PDX has really transformed the food options available at the airport.  They have really taken on the foodie culture that exists in Portland and put it in the airport.  The restaurant options in the airport have been substantially upgraded as a result.  There are now 27 restaurants at PDX, which considering the small size of the airport seems like a lot to me.  With so many options to choose from, lets break them down from the bottom of the barrel to the cream of the crop.

Bottom of the Barrel:  Skip these.  This is the fast food list. There are better options that serve the same type of food and better quality.

  • McDonald’s
  • Burgerville
  • Panda Express

Third Tier:  This is your average standard airport fare.  Not bad, not great, but will fill you up and might be overpriced for what it is.

  • Capers Cafe
  • Mo’s
  • Beaches
  • Beach Shack
  • Henry’s
  • Roses
  • Sandoval’s
  • Tequila Grill

Second Tier:  These are solid choices that would probably be top offerings at most other airports, but not at PDX.

  • Elephant’s Delicatessen
  • MOD
  • Pot Belly
  • Cafe Yum
  • Petite Provence
  • Hissho Sushi
  • Stanford’s

First Tier:  This is the cream of the crop at PDX, these are restaurants that are worth going to outside of PDX.

  • Koi Fusion (Food Cart)
  • Pok Pok (Food Cart)
  • Bro Dogs (Food Cart)
  • Laurelwood
  • Rogue
  • The Country Cat

Left off the list were Starbucks and Coffee People.


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July is Craft Beer Month

If you have not heard by now, Portland is a beer city.  Portland’s craft beer tradition got started 30 years ago with breweries like Bridgeport and Widmer.  Today, Portland has more breweries than any other city in the world.  You can hardly turn a corner in this city without running into a brewery, take a look here.

July is our designated craft beer month.  All month long there is some sort of event, special tasting, or gathering nearly everyday. has the full list here.  In this post however, I want to highlight the festivals, starting with the Portland Craft Beer Fest which starts today.


The Portland Craft Beer Festival takes place in the Pearl at Fields Park.  The PCBF is a celebration of Portland beer and features only beer brewed within Portland city limits. Given that there are 50+ breweries in town, there will be no shortage of beer.  The PCBF starts today at 4 (although may open early) and admission is $20.


The Sour Beer Festival is hosted by the best bottle shop in Portland, Belmont Station.  If you have yet to try sour beer I highly recommend giving the sour beer festival a try.  Sour beer is actually pretty good and it is fun to try something from brewers who are not trying to out hop each other.


The Oregon Brewers Festival is the granddaddy of all Oregon beer festivals.  What started out as a couple of brewers tapping some kegs on the waterfront has turned into a premier beer event attracting people from all over the world.  This year’s event will feature 90 craft beers from across the country and 15 international beers.  Admission is free, however, to taste beer you will need to purchase a $7 mug and $1 tasting tokens.  As all always the event will be on the Waterfront.


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Miho Izakaya: A Delicious Japanese Restaurant In North Portland

This weekend my wife and I had a rare opportunity to actually go out to dinner without kids!  In North Portland there is a Japanese restaurant that has been on my to do list for a long time.  I had a gut feeling it was not a place I would want to take the boys so when we had a couple of hours of freedom we jumped on it and headed over to Miho Izakaya.

Before I get to the food, let me start with the bad.  It is not a real Izakaya restaurant.  A traditional Izakaya is a japanese drinking establishment centered around a grill.  The chef skweres various meats and grills the meat over the charcoal.  Food is served small plate style like a tapas bar.  By invoking the name Izakaya, Miho is conveying that it is a essentially a Japanese tapas bar.  Now, on to the food (which was spectacular).  And sorry for the poor pictures the lighting was not great.

We started dinner with cocktails and a couple of starter plates.  My wife had the seaweed salad and I had miso soup.  My wife says the seaweed salad was delicious.  The Miso soup was good, but tasted like miso so nothing extraordinary.

Miho Miso and Seaweed Salad

Next up, we ordered a Mussels, and Calamari Salad.  Both were phenomenal.  The mussels tasted fresh so I was surprised to hear they were from New Zealand. I’m not sure what the sauce was but it was very good and complimented the ocean flavor of the mussels.

Miho Mussels

As for the calamari salad, I’m not sure what to say other than it was the highlight of my dinner.  It was honest to goodness the best salad I have ever had.  I understand how silly that sounds since I am talking about a salad, but it was damn good.

Miho Calamari Salad

Next up was the main course, a huge bowl of Pork Ramen.  We debated between this and the Ahi Poke, but my wife really wanted the ramen.  She had it for the first time in Hawaii and I think she has been craving some since our return.

Miho Pork Ramen

The broth I believe was a pork broth to go along with the thin slices of pork in the bowl. The noodles soaked in all that flavor and were excellent.  I’ve been trying various Ramen places in Portland and I would put this bowl of ramen up against the popular Ramen joints in town.

Everything was so delicious we decided to stay for dessert and ordered a chocolate cake.

Miho Chocolate Cake

The cake looks amazing and tastes even better.  Just like everything we ate at Miho Izakaya it was spectacular.

The cocktails were also very good.  I had a gin cocktail and a bourbon cocktail.  My wife had a couple of tequila cocktails.  Again, spectacular (I feel like a broken record).  Our meal at Miho Izakaya was one of the more satisfying meals we have had a in long time. Every bite was amazing and best of all no kids!  I highly recommend you check this place out.

Miho Izakaya on Urbanspoon

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Visiting Portland? 5 Tips to Become a Temporary Local

There are certain travel philosophies that I try to follow.  The biggest one is when visiting a place I try to become a temporary local.  This doesn’t mean I try not to look like a tourist, but it does mean that I try to experience a place like a local.  I try to follow the old proverb “when in Rome. do as Romans do.”

On that note, here are 5 things you can do to experience Portland like a local.  You’ll notice that this list is entirely geared towards food.  That’s because Portland is a foodie town.  Within the city we do not have a lot of tourist attractions.  Instead we have a character and a way of life that in my opinion revolves around food and food culture.

1.  Learn to like beer

It is no secret that Portland likes it beer.  We have more breweries than any other city in the world.  Not only do new ones open every year, I can only think of one that has gone out of business in the last 7 or 8 years.  Just when you think Portland has reached its brewery capacity another one opens and it does well.  So if you are visiting Portland, learn to like beer.  There is a beer for everyone.

2.  Skip Breakfast, Eat Brunch

This epiphany struck me one day when I went to Pine State Biscuit late morning on a Thursday.  I was on a staycation so I felt like I had an excuse to be out and assumed it would not be crowded.  Boy was I wrong.  Portlandia was not far off the mark when they said Portland is where 30 year olds go to retire.  What do retired people do?  Eat brunch of course.

3.  Eat Trendy

Portland is not without it’s chain restaurants, but I swear restaurant openings by well known chefs are treated like a red carpet event.  Well known chefs?  Yep, cooks get famous in this town.  Restaurants come and go in Portland.  Find the next wave and check it out.  Where to find these restaurants?  That leads me to number 4.

4.  Get out of Downtown!

Seriously, locals only go downtown to work and shop.  There is nothing downtown. Everything that is “happening” in Portland exists outside of downtown.  If you want to find the trendy places look east across the river.  If you want to be cutting edge the the central east side neighborhood is getting a lot of attention these days.  North Williams is also booming.

5.  Go Artisanal

Of all things Portland this might be the most parodied, but it’s true.  To fully appreciate this aspect of Portland, I thought I would make a list, off the top of my head, all things artisan, not named beer, in Portland.

  1. Charcuterie: Olympic Provisions
  2. Coffee: Stumptown
  3. Chai: Pip’s Original
  4. Bagel: Bowery
  5. Salt: The Meadow
  6. Donuts: Blue Star
  7. Butchery: Laurelhurst Market
  8. Bread:  Pearl Bakery
  9. Pasta: Pastaworks
  10. Ice Cream: Salt & Straw

Next time you visit Portland try to incorporate some of these things, if not all, into your visit. I think it will improve how you experience Portland and you’ll start to get all the inside jokes on Portlandia!

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Epic Beer Hall Coming to Portland in April


In 2013 the Portland Police Athletic Association sold its building on SE 6th and Alder to a developer.  At the time no one was sure what would become of it, would it stay a gym? Oh wait…did I say gym? I meant bar.  In fact I meant seedy dive bar in the Central Eastside neighborhood, but I digress.

The Oregonian reports this week that the former PPAA building will become the Portland beer hall to end all Portland beer halls.  Let’s go through our checklist of must haves for a epic beer hall.  Craft beer?  Check.  Lots of it?  99 taps in fact, so check.  Oregon only craft beer?  Yep, check.  High quality olympic provisions sausage?  Check.  Sweet close-in location?  Check.   Ladies and gentlemen I give you the Loyal Legion.

To say I am excited about this would be an understatement.  It is also going into a neighborhood that is receiving a lot of attention recently from developers and will just add to what is a growing list of new and exciting restaurants/watering holes in the area.  The Loyal Legion will be 100% dedicated to Oregon craft beer.  No out of state beer will be served.  I predict this place is going to go high on the list of must visits for Portland beer tourists.  The Loyal Legion is set to open in April.

H/T Oregonian, read the full article here.



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Portland’s Best Take Out Restaurants

Last night neither my wife nor I felt like cooking dinner.  Going out was not an option since the kiddos did not nap and were being a tad cranky.  Our normal go to take out restaurants did not sound appetizing either.  We were in a dinner funk.  Looking for inspiration I got on the google machine and googled “Portland take out”, hoping to find something.  Sadly there was not much, most of the lists focused on food carts.  Food carts on a list of best take out restaurants seems like cheating to me, all food carts are take out.  Plus they keep irregular hours so it was not particularly helpful.

Then like a curry flavored lighting bolt it dawned on me what we should do for take out, Indian.  I called up my favorite Indian restaurant, Dwaraka, placed an order and we were out of our take out funk.  Once my belly was full I started thinking about how lousy the few lists I saw online were.  Good take out restaurants soon began flooding my brain, thus the inspiration for this post.

Dwaraka:  In my opinion this is one of the best Indian restaurants in Portland.  The food is delicious and flavorful.  My first visit to Dwaraka was with my in-laws and we ordered a wide variety of dishes.  My recollection was that every dish was excellent.  Each dish comes with a choice of rice or naan.  My take out tip is make rice at home and order naan with each dish.

Frank’s Noodle House:  I love Franks.  These noodles are made fresh from scratch are my favorite asian noodles in Portland.  Frank’s was the first handmade noodles in Portland, and they are still the best.

Fire on the Mountain:  Fire on the Mountain is the go to wings joint in Portland.  Fire on the Mountain is not as good as it once was but is still way better than Buffalo Wild Wings. Their sauces are still excellent and my preferred take out for the super bowl.

Du’s Grill: Du’s is a delicious teriyaki restaurant in NE Portland.  It is mainly a lunchtime operation where they churn out pounds of tasty grilled teriyaki beef, chicken, and pork.

Luc Lac:  Luc Lac is a very popular Vietnamese restaurant in downtown Portland. Luc Lac used to be a small little operation inside the food court next door.  It quickly outgrew the confines of the food court and moved into its own space.  It is a wildly popular lunch spot with the local workers bees and for good reason, it’s good.

Papa Murphy’s:  No take out list can be complete without a shout out to the king of take and bake pizza, Papa Murphy’s.  Papa’s is not great pizza but it is good, reliable, and cheap.


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Pause Kitchen and Bar: A Pleasant Surprise in North Portland

As I have mentioned in my last couple of posts on restaurants I have been in a bit of a funk lately with my dining out experiences.  I have been striking out left and right on new places that I have tried, culminating in a very disappointing experience at the Woodsman Tavern.

This being Portland, I would eventually come out of this funk and the funk recently ended with a stop at Pause Kitchen and Bar.  This is a nondescript little restaurant on a less than ideal stretch along North Interstate.  I tried Pause for the first time a few months ago and was impressed.  We went again last week and I was curious to see if the food experience was a fluke or the real deal.  Turns out it was the real deal, this place is good.  With our second visit Pause now ranks as one of our favorite restaurants in North Portland.

On this trip my wife ordered seared albacore tuna with fingerling potatoes, green beans, and a kalamata olive muffaletta.

Pause Kitchen and Bar

My wife was kind enough to share a bite with me and man was it good.  I’m normally not a huge fan of albacore tuna.  I prefer ahi and I usually associate albacore with tuna fish sandwiches.  Don’t get me wrong I love a good tuna fish sandwich but thanks to that mental association I don’t really eat albacore.  It’s fish from a can, right?  Wrong! This was good and flavorful.  I think I will need to rethink that mental association.

I ordered a smoked pork chop on greens and latke.

Pause Kitchen and Bar1

This was easily the best restaurant pork chop I’ve ever had.  My only complaint was that it was too small.  I thought I was in for a good chop when the server warned me that they serve the pork chop medium rare. Unbeknownst to her, I love pork and I am well versed on the proper temperature to which a pork chop should be cooked – e.g. medium rare.  I also don’t like greens, so I mean this as a huge compliment when I say they were edible. They did not take away from my enjoyment of the meal at all. Lastly, the latke that was wrapped under the greens was crisp and flavorful.

After having a very disappointing experience with the Woodsman Tavern, Pause was a real joy.  I also thought it was a good value.  Both our meals were reasonably priced and kids eat free!  I highly recommend this restaurant.  They also have a good happy hour.

Pause Kitchen & Bar on Urbanspoon

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Woodsman Tavern: Overpriced, Overhyped

My usual practice is if I eat out at a place and I don’t like it, I don’t write about it.  The Woodsman Tavern falls into this weird category where I would say the food is good but I wouldn’t recommend it because it is so overpriced.  As I mentioned in my last post, Portland is really lucky to have so many great places to eat.  One benefit of us living in such a foodie town is that even the neighborhood pub has to step it up a notch because we expect more.  The other side to that coin is if you are going to bill yourself as a high end restaurant you better freaking bring it.  The Woodsman Tavern tries that but falls short.

We went to the Woodsman for a friend’s birthday party and we sampled a variety of things on the menu. Nothing was bad, it was all good. But there was also nothing outstanding about it. It was, I think by Portland standards, average. For the price that you are paying ($25-$29 main course, $9-$12 apps) you should be saying wow. Also, the portions sizes for the main courses were huge, too big in fact. I like leaving a restaurant feeling full not gross and I don’t know about you but when I pay $30 for a meal I feel compelled to eat it.

As for the service I thought it was average. My biggest gripe was waiting 20 minutes for a server to show up at our table after being seated. Which is not a huge deal just annoying. But again, at this price point I expect better.

If I had one word to describe the Woodsman it would be overpriced.  I do not mind paying for an expensive dinner if the food is worth it.  At this price point there are better options in Portland, where you can have a meal and think wow.  If you want to drop a $100+ on dinner I would suggest going down the street to Ava Genes. Nothing at this place justifies the cost. This is Portland, there are plenty of places where you can get better food for less money, so why come here?

The bottom line is the food is by Portland standards is good but not great, and the price just makes it not worth going to. They should cut the portion sizes in half and reduce the prices by a third and this place would be worth going to.

The Woodsman Tavern on Urbanspoon

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When It Comes to Restaurants, Do Portlanders Know They’re Spoiled?

It has been awhile since I posted a restaurant review.  Which, at least on my end is poor blogging practice since restaurant reviews are some of my more popular posts.  It’s not like I haven’t gone out much, we still go out once a week, but I haven’t really been any place spectacular.  I usually reserve the restaurant posts on here for places that I think are worth going out of the way for.  That isn’t to say where we have been has not been good, they have, just not special.  But then something occurred to me the other day.

We were having dinner at our neighborhood pub, Darcy’s up in St. Johns.  This is the kind of place where you can order breakfast for dinner (which I did).

photo (40)

My wife ordered a bacon cheese burger, which is a half pound of angus certified beef, and a darn good burger.

photo (41)

So I’m eating dinner, drinking a beer (West Coast IPA, soo good and I couldn’t believe they had it on tap), and I think to myself man we have it good!  This place has at least 10 very good craft beers on tap and the food is good.  In spite of all that I would say for Portland standards, this place is average.  You will never see this place make a list on the Oregonian, Willamette Week, or Portland Monthly.

The great thing about Portland is that every neighborhood in town has a place like Darcy’s.  Where you can get good food and find a variety of high quality craft beer. Portland is such a foodie town that I think it lifts up all restaurants because the customers just expect more and that is a great thing.

So I write this to say, if you are visiting Portland don’t forget the places where locals go day in and day out.  Visit the marquee spots but try these places as well.  You are not going to find a list of these places.  You just have go out and explore but chances are if you just walk around and see a crowd of locals you can bet it’s worth trying.

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