Polar Lights

HOLY CHRIST ON A CRACKER, is shit ever awful right now. We’ve got a petulant sociopath at the helm of the free world, everyone’s losing their health care and being deported, your rent got doubled, and you’re looking at another Valentine’s Day alone. All that “Fighting the Power” wears down one’s very soul—so go ahead, honey. Eat your feelings. Here are my top recommendations for temporarily numbing the god-awful pain of reality.

St. Jack’s Cream of Tomato Soup

Regular-ass tomato soup from a can would fit the bill, but St. Jack’s Crème De Tomate en Croute is like memories of your sweet grandma smiling at you through hazy sunlight, holding a freshly baked pie in her hands. But instead of a pie, it’s a tureen of creamy tomato soup with puff pastry baked on top, and instead of your sweet grandma, it’s an aggressively attractive waitperson. You gingerly poke your spoon through the gossamer layers of golden, flaky pastry and make a crumby mess all over the table, but then the server comes with a little crumb-scraper and gleefully makes all that bad mess go away. For a moment, you think about what life would be like if our country had a magical crumb-scraper to make all this bad mess go away. St. Jack’s, 1610 NW 23rd

Pimento Bun Woodsman Tavern

Woodsman Tavern’s Pimento Buns

First of all, Woodsman has a whole menu section called “Hot Buttered Buns.” Just let that set your heart at ease for a moment. You can get the crab, pimento, or beef and broccoli-cheddar (or all three!), but my money’s on the pimento bun. It’s like one of those top-split lobster roll buns, all chewy and soft and crispy-edged, gilded with decoratively piped pimento cheese. Still feeling blue? They also have just a straight-up bowl of mashed potatoes and gravy. Everything’s gonna be okay, baby. Woodsman Tavern, 4537 SE Division

Tad’s Chicken ’n Dumplins

If you don’t mind making the 25-minute drive, the chicken and dumplings at Tad’s are the edible version of someone stroking your hair and saying “shhhh.” You can gaze out at the Sandy River while you spoon warm, gravy-poached wads of dough and shredded chicken into your face. Perhaps you’ll opt instead to have a big bowl of chicken livers in gravy, or if you’re the same particular amount of despondent as I am, you’ll crave the liver and onions. Bonus: There’s a 70 percent chance you will be called “hon” by at least one person in the restaurant. Tad’s Chicken ’n Dumplins, 1325 E Historic Columbia River Hwy, Troutdale

Laurelhurst Market’s Mac and Cheese

They also have shepherd’s pie, which brings us back to the aforementioned healing properties of mashed potatoes, but vegetarians will take solace in a dish of mac and cheese. It comes with a potato chip crust. In these desperate times, I like to add ketchup to my mac and cheese. (If I’m being honest, I prefer mac and cheese with ketchup all the time, because sometimes it’s okay to eat as if a first grader is making the decisions.) Laurelhurst Market, 3155 E Burnside

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A Giant Sack of Taco Time

While I would never deign to kick a Crunchwrap Supreme out of bed, I will always be, in my heart, a Taco Time girl. Their veggie burrito is my go-to: whole wheat tortilla with the expected beans, rice, cheese, iceberg, and tomatoes, plus sour cream and—get this—sunflower seeds. Sunflower seeds! What a fun surprise. And where else can you find a foot-long tube of fried tortilla filled with shredded meat or beans (AKA the Crisp Burrito)? Plus, they’re a Pacific Northwest-based chain, so you can almost convince yourself that you’re supporting a local business, which, let’s face it, is occasionally all you can muster. Taco Time, various locations

Chungdam’s Boodae Chigae

Sometimes you need to eat the pain away with a few friends, so you head on out to a dystopian mini-mall on 82nd and order a dish that was invented during the Korean War. Boodae chigae, or “army base stew,” is All of the Things in one bubbling hotpot: fiery broth, kimchi, Van Camp-style canned pork and beans, rice cakes, ramen noodles, tofu, bacon, hot dogs, Spam, American cheese, oh and what the hell, a handful of green onions to make everything all healthy. As you wade your way through, it dawns on you that this is a product of scary wartimes. This king of all hotpots serves three or four comfortably (or two very sad people), and it’s impossible to not feel a little bit okay after eating it. If you’re there late enough to order off the late-night menu (after 9 pm), you can get fried chicken and cheesy corn, making this a holy trifecta of good vibes. Chungdam Korean Fusion, 7901 SE Powell, Suite A1

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