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Favorite Places

    Located in a garden level walk down in the Pine Street Studios building, Biwa is a simple, high-quality Japanese restaurant, emphasizing everyday Japanese cuisine. Ramen and udon noodles are made in-house, and there's also a large selection of skewered vegetables and meats (including unusual cuts like pork belly and pork cheek). Much of the menu is available vegan or vegetarian.
    The place where all the cool kids go, Dot's is a one-of-a-kind Portland icon of sorts. It's overpoweringly dark, but once your eyes adjust, you can enjoy velvet paintings of doe-eyed children, anti-drug posters from other countries, and more from their rotating collection of kitschy art. Dot's serves some fantastic junk food and a fine variety of classic cocktails and sodas (Lime Rickey anyone?). Jalepeño cheese fries, the Gentle Ben (the vegetarian version of the Ruben), the generously portioned Caravan Platter (falafel, hummus, olives, tomatoes, feta, pita), and a frosty PBR for me, please!
    Stuffed between a Baskin Robbins and the rather sorry looking Fabric World on a particularly gray stretch of North Lombard, the Fishwife doesn’t seem a likely contender for best seafood restaurant in town. The view is of a Shell gas station and whatever kook happens to be passing by. They don’t do reservations; the early crowd is seniors and tables jammed with families. But it’s about the fish—Alaskan cod, local salmon and halibut, either grilled, poached or (the best) blackened. The fillets are always perfectly cooked, fresh, flavorsome. Chunks satisfyingly flake off. Paired with the garlic mash it becomes a source of deep contentment, unbelievably simple and yet astoundingly good. I know people who travel across town for this. They are also good at details: the salad dressing, and tarter and hot sauces are all house made, the bread is from Grand Central. There are more elaborate specials, but I’ve found that the straight-up fish is the best way to go, though the smoked salmon Alfredo is good; I’ve been meaning to try the fish and chips, especially as they have a $6 lunch deal. They also do take out, and half-priced wine Tuesday dinners. They’ve been going 20 years and I hope it doesn’t change one bit. MJ SKEGG
    Than Thao is pretty much your basic Asian diner with cheesy decor but don't let that turn you off. They serve some decent Vietnamese and Thai with a little Chinese and even Indian thrown in. It's usually fairly crowded but worry not, service is often lightning-fast.

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