The Rose & Raindrop

532 SE Grand, 238-6996

Looking for a "nice" place to meet a date or take friends in from out of town? Head to the Rose & Raindrop for an evening of comfortable lounging in what looks like an old-world swanky hotel bar. They offer spectacular liquor drinks made with fresh-squeezed juices, 37 tap beers, and the food is pretty damn good, too. Reliable favorites are their huge cheeseburger with fries, baked mac & cheese, the generous Mediterranean plate, or the fish and chips. Try the dining room if you're going to eat a real dinner, the white table cloths and piano music make for an elegant, but not too expensive dining experience that doesn't require dressing up. KS

Cool Runnings Café

4110 NE Fremont, 282-2118

A mix of Jamaican, Caribbean, and Cajun food, Cool Runnings' fare is prepared with care, skill, marvel, and big serving spoons. They offer gumbo, jambalaya, blackened catfish, collard greens with black-eyed peas, delicious Cajun breakfasts, ribs, salads, and even a blackened tofu sandwich. They also serve exotic meats like the delicious, lamb-like goat in a creamy curry sauce, and crawfish tail or gator po-boys served on a crispy baguette; although the more standard oyster poy is my favorite. Cool Running's specials--quite often fish-related--are always worth eating, so don't be shy to try something new. KS

Utopia Café

3308 SE Belmont, 235-7606

From meat eaters and vegetarians alike, I always hear that the Utopia has "the best" tofu scramble, and it's true. Made simply with vegetables (zuchini, onions, tomatoes, garlic) and chunks of grilled tofu, it's completely delicious, especially for a healthy breakfast. For those who don't like health mixed with their breakfast, however, the bacavo scramble (bacon, avocado, blue cheese) is awesome, as is the corned beef hash made with huge chunks of corned beef, the Utopia's spectacular signature seasoned potatoes, and a sauce so rich and buttery you'll be licking it off the plate. All that plus friendly service and Stumptown coffeeÉ In short, the name suits it. KS