I have, admittedly, mixed emotions towards the Bite of Oregon. I love that its proceeds go to the Special Olympics. I love that it’s a place for new restaurateurs to expose themselves to a much wider (waisted) audience. I even love it for its kitschy Brian Boitano flare and its amazing people watching.

Beyond that I have some serious problems with the event. The main problem is that it’s not really built for eating. The lines can be excessive for places you could go to any time, and when you finally get to order it can hard to find a place to perch while you awkwardly eat your quickly cooling (if not already cool) sample from a sagging paper plate. Add to that the excessive cacophony of various stages, the odd corporate booths, and the masses of zoned-out wandering families, and it’s just not a place I really want to be.

I understand, though, that it might be a place you’d like to be. If you’re braving The Bite, let me make a few suggestions.

Best Bets at the Bite after the Jump!

Gerry Frank's Oregon Chef's Table:

This is a great leap by Bite organizers to pull in the decidedly more food obsessed, and features a few folks I’ll happily recommend.

Friday, August 6th, finds Budd and Grae Lewis of Domo Dog slinging some interesting Japanese influenced tube steak starting at 4:30 pm. Intriguing for sure.

On Saturday check out the grilled polenta cakes et. al. from Chef Abby Fammartino of Abby's Table at 11 am. Then come back later for corn chowder from Cameron Addy of Belly at 4:30 pm.

Finally, return on Sunday at 4 pm to check out Chef Edward Martinez from Pitxi, who will be throwing down a duck mousseline that will likely freak the shit out of the yokels.

The Iron Chef Oregon Competition:

The event, which starts with prelims on Friday at 5:45 pm, should be a good time. It’s always entertaining to watch chefs do their thing. Especially when they're trying to be creative under the gun with no preconceived notions about the dishes they have to make. If you’d rather just skip to the final, it’s Saturday at 7:30 pm.

Joey “Jaws” Chestnut:

He’s a legend; he’s an amazing eater; he’s the US Competitive Eating champion; he’s an all around nice guy. And he’ll be taking on all comers in a mini eating contest, Saturday on the Garden Stage. Sign up on Friday at the Pepto-Bismol booth, natch.

Food Cart Cuisine:

Stop by and say hello to your favorites, including Whiffies, KOi, and Garden State. I know you can see them anytime you want without paying admission, but if you’re there you might as well have a fried pie or something.

And really that’s about all I’m willing to endorse, which is honestly the most I’ve ever endorsed.

$10 gets you a weekend pass, $8 gets you a one day pass. The Bite begins tomorrow.