Eat and Drink Guide Fall 2017

Breaking the Mold

Chalino Gets Inventive with Mexican

Döner Kebab Forever

Spitz Specializes in the Turkish Granddaddy of Street Food

Ray, Rain or Shine

Jenn Louis Proves Celebrity-Chef Status with New Israeli Restaurant

Jackrabbit Hops Over the Top

SF Celeb Chef Shows You Can Take Decadence Too Far

There’s a Lot of Thai to Be Thankful For

Farmhouse Thai, Paadee’s Issan Nights, and Pok Pok NW

East European Wines on the Rise

Obscure Wines That Might Just Blow Your Mind

The Jell-O Shot Mega List

The Best Bars for Gettin' Jiggly with It

The Cocktail Explorer’s Club

Local Drinks (and Drinkeries) You Have to Try

Digesting Feast

A Recap of Portland’s Most Popular Food Festival

Interview with the Foodie

Where Gary Okazaki—AKA Gary the Foodie—Sees Portland’s Culinary Scene Going

Brunch Outside the Box

Breaking Out of the Breakfast Rut

Soul Food, Redefined

Salimatu Amabebe’s Nigerian Pop-ups Are Spicing Up Portland’s Vegan Food Scene

A Beginner’s Guide to Portland Beer

What to Drink, and Where to Drink It.

What is humanity’s fascination with the Jell-O shot? The titillation of spiking a childhood fave with booze? The delight of having a drink and eating a snack at the same time? The miraculous transformation of alcohol from a liquid to a solid colloid state?

I don’t know for sure, but I do know I love Jell-O. As a troubled youth, I’d mix a fifth with a packet of lime Jell-O so I could get inebriated undetected on public transportation. I later evolved to create champagne Jell-O shots dusted with edible glitter for New Year’s Eve, and cake-shaped jigglers that were served on a tiered platter for my wedding.

If you’re a Jell-O connoisseur like me and—unfortunately—Bill Cosby, here are the best bars in Portland for gettin’ jiggly with it.

FoPo Tavern (5902 SE Foster) takes Jell-O shots from novelty act to main attraction. Once a month, the bartender loads up her shopping cart with little cardboard boxes, then spends her day off making Jell-O “like a witch stirring a cauldron” to keep up with the demand: 1,200-1,500 Jell-O shots a month. The mellow amaretto sour and watermelon Jolly Rancher Jell-O shots ($2) made me think that FoPo’s “Taste the Rainbow” flight (all 25 flavors for $30) might not be as bad an idea as it sounds.

If you like to eat your Jell-O in a rocks glass with a demitasse spoon, try Interurban (4057 N Mississippi) or Aalto Lounge (3356 SE Belmont), where the shots ($3) aren’t just spiked Jell-O, they’re gelatinized cocktails in sophisticated flavors like Lion’s Tail, Manhattan, French 75, and Aviation.

With a rotating selection of artisan Jell-O like wasabi and salty-spicy hibiscus margarita, you never know what to expect at Tanuki (8029 SE Stark)—except greatness. The sakura (with a real cherry blossom suspended inside) went down smoother than the human-insect J-porn playing on the monitor in the corner.

Pudding shots are Jell-O shots for when you have an appetite. You’ll get a tummy ache before you’ll get a buzz off the cheesecake pudding shots ($2) at mahogany-paneled Sundown Pub (5903 N Lombard), but they are yummy. The “2 Smurfs 1 Cup” ($2.50) at Mad Hanna (6129 NE Fremont) is a two-bite parfait: icy, boozy blue pudding topped with a swirl of whipped cream and a tiny peanut butter cookie. The pudding shots ($1.50) at Mock Crest Tavern (3435 N Lombard) are as fluffy as chocolate mousse, taste like Kahlúa, come covered in whipped cream, and—if you look like you wanna party—rainbow sprinkles.

My exchange with the bartender at Sandy Hut (1430 NE Sandy) went like this. Me: “What flavors of Jell-O shots do you have?” Him: “Red.” At a rock-bottom $1 each, red worked for me. Leave it to the punks at Star Bar (639 SE Morrison) to come up with a vegan Jell-O shot that blows the competition out of its plastic cups. Their tart and pungent Kamikaze Jell-O Shot ($2) is made with tapioca instead of hooves.

For anyone who’s just getting into Jell-O, the tasting flight ($7 for four Jell-O shots) at Crackerjacks Pub (2788 NW Thurman) is a good place to start—though the impressive flavors will spoil you. My lineup consisted of a sweet-n-salty dill pickle garnished with a real gherkin, a “Total Eclipse” made with Blue Moon beer, an orange Creamsicle that came cracklin’ with Pop Rocks, and a shot of “Red Velvet” as cute as a cupcake—and together they just about did me in.

Scooter McQuade’s (1321 SW Washington) Jell-O shot flavors may be indistinguishable in a blind taste test, but people will keep coming here for the jiggly stuff ($1.75) as long as the neon “Jell-O Shots” sign continues to burn in the window. In fact, the guy ordering Jell-O next to me said that when he was in rehab across the street, he used to gaze at that sign and dream about the stuff. And after slurping so many shots all over town, I realized that the old adage is true: There’s always room for Jell-O.