Hello, Portland eaters! I’m filling in for our resident food columnist, Janey Wong, this week—and I took the opportunity to patronize three small, specialty food shops in my little corner of Southeast Portland.
This trio of shops all have different niches and business models; what ties them together is a bounty of fresh, vibrant ingredients that are worth stretching out your quick single-stop grocery run into an all-afternoon affair. Whether you want to cook an elaborate meal, looking for a few fun treats, or seeking a proper prepared lunch, there’s something delicious for you in this column.
Three Sisters Nixtamal
If you have been living and eating in Portland for any amount of time, then you should know about Three Sisters. Their wonderfully textured tortillas served at some of Portland’s best taquerias are a reminder that corn actually does have flavor, and put your standard, preservative-dense grocery store brands to shame.
But what you might not know is that you can order tortillas, masa, hominy grits, Oaxacan black beans, and other delights directly from Three Sisters via their website, and pick them up from their production kitchen on a quiet strip of Southeast 72nd. Every single item Three Sisters sells is delicious, but I was most excited to buy some tamale masa. With a coarser grind than masa for tortillas, this product is made-to-order, so you have to request it two days in advance—and it’s completely worth it. You can choose yellow, white, or blue corn masa; I got blue, which added some aesthetic depth to my partner’s day-long tamale endeavor.
7475 SE 72nd
Portland Fish Market
Portland has no shortage of excellent seafood shops and restaurants. Tucked away in the Woodstock neighborhood, Portland Fish Market has a loyal following for their fish and chips window. It’s everything you want in the staple: Crunchy-crispy batter, fresh fish, and a generous portion of fries. Special options like salmon, oysters, or albacore tuna keep things interesting.
After you enjoy your lunch on one of the picnic tables outside the window, take the time to venture inside the shop. The thing about seafood is that it doesn’t need much culinary fussing to taste good—a little lemon, a bit of garlic, maybe some heat—but it does need to be fresh. Portland Fish Market is owned by an Oregon fisherman, so you know that whatever you pick up there is going to be quality. My favorite move is to grab a tub of pre-shelled crab meat (sorry, I’m lazy!) and mix it into a linguine with tons of lemon, garlic, chili paste, and shallots for dinner that night.
4404 SE Woodstock
Unlike Three Sisters and Portland Fish Market, Southeast Foster’s Bread and Roses doesn’t specialize in one specific product type. Rather, Bread and Roses is a small gourmet grocer that… how do I put this… only sells the good stuff? A killer wine and beer selection, a freezer full of local pasture-raised meat, gourmet ice cream sandwiches, a produce section that doesn’t quit, what appears to be every single grain Bob’s Red Mill sells, lots of vegan options, coffee and tea brands I’ve never seen anywhere else… I guess it’s time to expose myself as someone who watched a lot of the Game Show Network as a kid, and say that Bread and Rose’s selection can best be described as “big money, no whammies!”
As the Portland Business Journal reported recently, Bread and Roses has seen a boost in business during the pandemic, thanks to its neighborhood focus and impeccable COVID-19 safety protocol. You can help keep its business booming by picking up a few delightful treats for yourself today.
6360 SE Foster