19 SW 2nd, 226-2122
Berbati's is, somehow, as "Portland" as it gets without trying. Is it the location? The uncanny list of indie bands that grace the Pan? The absence of pretension? Whatever it is, it works. Their "kind of Greek" dishes--grilled lamb and feta sandwiches ($5), saganaki (kasseri cheese in fiery ouzo; $6), or pita bread pizza with artichoke hearts ($4)--won't disappoint. At the very least, fuel up on their fried calamari before roaming the streets on First Thursday.
1932 NE Broadway, 288-3333
The folks at Colosso know a hip restaurant has three things: good food, cocktails, and 40-watt bulbs. The low-lit tapas bar has inventive dishes like bacon-wrapped dried plums ($5), crab and avocado crepes ($7.50), and eggplant with goat cheese in pomegranate glaze ($7.50), plus a yummy salad with squash chips, blue cheese, and leek dressing ($7). The cocktails will put a sultry smile on your face. Not a boozehound? The house ginger ale, with lots of shredded ginger, is magic.
Crowsenberg's Half & Half
923 SW Oak, 222-4495
If you're looking for a fluffernutter like the one your mom put in your Mr. T lunchbox, look no further. The Half & Half, on that sharp block across from Powell's, serves 'em up, even toasted if you like. They make great desserts like chocolate cream pie and homemade "Oreos" (chocolate cookies sandwiching white frosting, $1.50). They carry sundries on an old-style pharmacy pegboard, too. A sandwich. A Moonpie. Sudafed. A shower cap. Who can stop you?
2521 SE Clinton, 235-0203
Dots famed sock monkey "tree" was torched in a fire years back, and the place has a new slick decor. But, you can still get a lime rikki, a Gentle Ben (garden burger Rueben), and ranch dressing with your fries. Props go to whoever selects the tunes: Apples in Stereo, Crooked Fingers, Elliott Smith... when life ain't great, it's better here.
Escape From New York
622 NW 23rd, 227-5423
Ah, New York City. Museums that no one goes to, shoebox apartments, gridlock traffic, and garbage strikes in August. At least the pizza is good. Happily, Escape offers an authentic East Coast-style slice without the East Coast.
301 SE Morrison, 234-1324
Le Bistro Montage's aloof wait staff is the stuff of legend, but the blackened catfish, gumbo, and jambalaya keep reelin' in customers. The smoked cheddar mac is great if you're not up for frog legs or alligator. Choose an oyster shooter and your order is hollered to the kitchen. Dinner too big to finish? Your server will skillfully foil wrap it in the shape of a pig, duck, or other barnyard pal. It's worth noting, they don't take plastic, no way, no how.
3244 SE Belmont, 230-4866
For 12 years, owner Jennifer Adams has stocked this mellow Victorian with an eclectic array of munchies like baked brie with hazelnuts date and cheese plates, veggies with roasted pepper feta and olive tapenade, warm ginberbread cake, and banana splits. The list of beverages, alcoholic and non, is staggering, including Belgian ales, local Erath wines, kava, and genmaicha (Japanese rice tea). Hookah pipes ($13) are available on the patio.