Yam Yam's

7339 NE MLK, 978-9229

One of the few Southern food joints in Portland that offers all the fixins, Yam Yam's is top notch. As you might expect, the sweet, buttery yams are one of the highlights, along with the tangy, baked-in-a-pan macaroni and cheese. The collards have quite obviously been cooked all day, and have a strong pork flavor and tasty chunks of tender meat, as do the red beans and rice. The deep-fried okra is pretty good, but I wouldn't give up any of the more flavorful sides for this one. My favorite main dish is the catfish, fried in a light cornmeal breading, and served up in piles. Be warned though; Yam Yam's isn't fancy dining. You order at the counter, the Blazers game is often on, and you should expect to spend about eight to 12 bucks on a meal. KS

Holden's

524 NW 14th, 916-0099

Muted lights, a sleek bar, and slick-looking waiters juxtapose well against the bare wood beams that crisscross Holden's lofty ceiling. And while the look is swank, most of the dinners are familiar fare (burgers, skewers with rice or grits, steak, pasta, fish tacos) with a sly twist. It must have been tempting for Holden's to blindly follow the trend of over-stylized dishes, tossing in mango chutneys and oven-dried tomato spreads, but their restraint is appreciated. The blackened salmon is simple, juicy, and fresh--managing to retain the richness of the salmon. And at only ten dollars and some change for most dinners, the quality is remarkably high. PB

Juniors

1742 SE 12th, 235-5474

Tucked away on SE 12th Avenue, on the periphery of Ladd's Addition, Juniors is cozy, cute, and one of Portland's great breakfast joints. Friendly staff, with fresh brew in their carafes, give Juniors an atmosphere that is perfect for the early to bed/early risers, or the late to bed/hungover. The food gives you a good bang for your buck, with affordable and tasty omelets and fried potato specials. A sucker for good decorating, I give Juniors six stars. The restaurant is decked out in green and gold, save one particularly fabulous geometric blue painting. SL