When it comes to holiday feasts, don’t look to me to prepare the main course, but I will generally bring an interesting side. From the moment my sister infuriated our grandmother by putting leeks in mashed potatoes—which Grandma wanted as pure as driven snow—I’ve delighted in discovering new side dishes to have at my table.
These 2020 holidays are a weird sauce and whether you’re Stay Home feasting on your own or doing the complicated quarantine math to safely hang out with others, you might want to treat yourself to something delicious and easy with any of these side dishes from local restaurants.
Collard Greens from Miss Delta
Back when Miss Delta offered a late night Happy Hour, my friends and I pumped our tired legs over to North Mississippi for the Southern comfort restaurant’s collard greens alone. Miss Delta is the ideal restaurant to have on this list because they already sell their sides in bulk sizes so you can easily share. You won’t want to, but you can. For the every-night side-piece lover, Miss Delta also offers an entree dinner of your choice of three sides, plus cornbread and honey butter—neatly packaged against the cold weather. I’ll always prefer the greens that come with a little topping of the pork they’re stewed in, but there’s a perfectly delightful veggie version, too.
Miss Delta, 3950 N Mississippi, 503-287-7629, missdeltapdx.net
Herring Under a Fur Coat from Kachka
If you’re on a mission to expand your holiday tastes, allow me to stress the addition of Kachka’s wonderful Russian layer salad, colloquially known as Herring Under a Fur Coat. Shredded cooked potato makes up a base layer beneath salted, pickled herring, both of which are buried under further layers of carrot, beet, hard boiled egg, and fresh dill. The end result is a tangy rainbow salad that can be scooped onto bread or eaten by the forkful. Additionally, every visit to Kachka offers the opportunity to peruse their upstairs deli, Kachka Lavka, which is bursting with frozen dumplings, preserved fishes, and countless other goodies to add to your meal.
Kachka, 960 SE 11th, 503-235-0059, kachkapdx.com
Latkes from Ben & Esther's Bagels and Deli
Latkes are the ultimate form of the potato. We know this because we see them across many cultures, by many names. They’re pressed into pancake shape, shallow-fried to crispy golden perfection, and served with the best things the food kingdom has to offer: sour cream, caviar, pickled stuff, etc. While you can order four potato draniki from Kachka for $10, the latkes at Ben & Esthers Bagels and Deli will only set you back a scandalous one dollar per! You provide the fixin’s, but at that kind of price, you can easily look like a hero and bring more than enough latkes for the whole table.
Ben & Esthers Bagels and Deli, 6912 NE Sandy, 503-477-5714, benandesthers.com
Crispy Brussel Sprouts from Laurelhurst Market
I love cruciferous vegetables and I cannot lie. Whether you view this dish as merely another vehicle for butter or you’ve tried on a few vinegar reduction possibilities, Laurelhurst Market’s approach to Brussels sprouts is sure to rate near the top of your list. The $11 serving, which comes tossed with toasted sesame seed, Medjool dates, and fresh herbs—is perfect for one person or a generous pair, but getting enough of this roasted sensation could begin to add up. It’s worth it, though. These sprouts were, hands down, my favorite part of writing this piece.
Laurelhurst Market, 3155 E Burnside, 503-206-3097, laurelhurstmarket.com
Okra Stew from Akadi
When you have a sibling who loves okra, this earthy, sweet vegetable makes an appearance at every family holiday gathering. However, it doesn’t often make its way onto many Friendsgiving table spreads. Do you people not know about okra? Luckily, Portland has a couple bang-up places offering this stewed side. This year Akadi chef Fatou Ouattara’s smokey, tomato-y okra stew became my new favorite. In fact, Akadi’s menu of West African dishes is chock-full of items that would be a welcome addition to your festive table—including many vegan ones. Consider this: You won’t usually see French fries in a holiday spread... but fried yuca? Oh, now that’s classy as hell.
Akadi, 3601 NE MLK, 503-477-7138, akadipdx.com
Rabbits Salad from Sizzle Pie
As a fan of salads, I’m borderline insulted by what most restaurants pass off as eight dollars worth of ruffage (a cool $15, if you want protein), but I’ve noticed that quite a few pizza places don’t shirk their sacred salad duties. It might sound a little obvious, but the best side salad for your money is honestly Sizzle Pie’s Rabbits salad, which comes laden with sliced hot peppers, tomatoes, red onion, croutons, vegan “Baco” bits, and the pizzeria’s house vegan ranch dressing. Honorable salad mentions go to Pop Pizza’s Caesar salad, which comes with long, artful gratings of parmesan, and Atlas Pizza’s Garden salad, yet another great veggie-laden masterpiece.
Sizzle Pie, various locations, 503-234-7437, sizzlepie.com