photos by Jason Kinney

Even in these harsh economic times, sometimes you still want to splurge. Or not. Depends on the day. Depends on the situation, the mood, and the amount of money in the bank account. While sometimes you want fine dining, other times you just want good eats. Here's a guide to both.

Breakfast

THE SPLURGE
Bijou Café
132 SW 3rd, 222-3187

I haven't eaten at the Bijou for a while, but I remember the oyster hash ($12) like it was yesterday. Tender potatoes, caramelized onions, and fresh oysters make this breakfast worth the price of a dinner and then some. And if you're not feeling seafood, try their burger. It has turned vegetarians to bloodlust. KS

WHEN YOU'RE BROKE
Kettleman Bagels and Bakery
2235 SE 11th, 238-8883

I almost wish I'd never gone to Kettleman Bagels because now I have to drive clear across town to get a goddamn bagel. This place boils then bakes their bagels, New York style, and you'll admire the authenticity. In fact, you'll admire it so much that you won't be able to eat the bready piece of crap you get from your local supermarket or coffee shop. Instead, you'll be wasting $8 in gas to get a $3 bagel, unless of course you live in the neighborhood. KS

Cheerful Tortoise, 1939 SW 6th, 224-3377;
Jolly Roger, 1340 SE 12th, 232-8060

Want a cheap breakfast along with your Bloody Mary? Cheerful Tortoise offers two eggs, hash browns, and toast for under $4. That's so cheap, you'll be forced to eat. Both locations are pretty smoky and bar-like, though, so don't dine here if you're on the verge of puking. KS

Steak

THE SPLURGE
El Gaucho
319 SW Broadway, 227-8794

Oh goodness, I wish I was rich enough to sit in a dark room with a bunch of new money showoffs who validate their lives by spending $38 on a top sirloin, $58 on a rib eye, or $130 on Chateaubriand (filet mignon) for two. Pair dinner with a $220 cocktail and you're pretty much the biggest jackass I've ever met. In El Gauge-o's defense, though, their side dishes are reasonably priced (but not included in the cost of your steak) and delicious—try a baked potato with butter, cheese, cracked pepper, and scallions, fluffed tableside, or roasted corn with chipotle honey butter, or lobster mashed potatoes (wait... $21). Also, the service is impeccable, if you're one of those people who prefers babysitting to table service. Sorry folks, I can't get behind this splurge when I can make an equally delicious steak on the barbecue, and have it delivered with a tableside fluffing that's 10 times as good as the one I'd get at El Gaucho. KS

WHEN YOU'RE BROKE
Poor Richard's
3907 NE Broadway, 288-5285

When I want to step out with my honey for a big steak dinner on the town, I want to do it like I live in the 1950s. I want a big glass of whiskey with my meat, I want to follow my meal with a cigarette, and I don't want to be out more than three hours of pay. Poor Richard's allows me these simple pleasures, with their two-fer top-sirloin dinner deals for around $20. Dinner comes with salad, baked potato, garlic bread, coffee, and ice cream. So yeah, if you're bloodthirsty and strapped for cash, this is the spot. KS

Acropolis Steakhouse
8325 SE McLoughlin, 231-9611

Rumor has it the owner of the A-crop strip club/steakhouse has a nearby cattle ranch, which is why the steaks are so cheap ($5.25). I choose not to confirm or deny this rumor, because I don't want to find out that my giant slab of beef came from somewhere other than a local organic beef farm. So fantasies intact, an evening of beef, beer, and boobs makes for a riotous Vegas-style romp, without those pesky Vegas-style prices. KS

Burger

THE SPLURGE
Pause Kitchen and Bar
5101 N Interstate, 971-230-0705

This is sort of a stretch as a splurge, but when you taste Pause's burger, you'll feel like you're made of money. They hand grind their meat daily and aren't afraid to serve it bloody as hell. The other night I ate one of their burgers topped with blue cheese and bacon ($10) and didn't even feel guilty about it because it was so goddamn good. They also serve meatloaf for about the same price, and it's far better than any you've ever made at home. KS

WHEN YOU'RE BROKE
George's
5501 N Interstate, 289-0307

George's is one of my favorite places to drink because the people are so friggin' nice. Also, the food is surprisingly delicious and super cheap. A hefty burger comes along with fries for less than six bucks, and a prime rib sandwich is $6 and comes served with awesome white trash potato salad. Mind you this is not fine dining, this is your local dive... but in my experience a local dive comes in handy. KS

Club 21
2035 NE Glisan, 235-5690

Club 21 is the best dive bar you've ever been to. Well, besides George's. But the one thing that's better than George's is that Club 21 serves free sliders on Fridays. You remember those legendary White Castle burgers you used to eat when you were growing up in the Midwest? Well, these are pretty much the same. Except, they're free. No one needs an excuse to get wasted on Friday, but anyway, now you have one. KS

Fowl

THE SPLURGE
Kenny and Zuke's Delicatessen
1038 SW Stark, 222-3354

What started out as one of their daily specials has now become one of Kenny and Zuke's specialties. Their buttermilk chicken is skillet fried in duck fat, making it heathenishly rich and delicious and worth plunking down the substantial price of $16.75 a plate. But then, this is one of those meals you just have to have, despite your empty bank account and the spare tire around your waist. KS

WHEN YOU'RE BROKE
Cider Mill Restaurant/Fryer Tuck Chicken
6712 SW Capitol Hwy, 246-7737

If you ever wanted your perfectly greasy fried chicken served in an old-man bar, now you got it. And for $7, you get baked beans, salad, a roll, and your beloved chicken. The bar also serves a diverse selection of beers, which go along splendidly with your bird. So overdraw $20, and make a night of it. KS

Pine State Biscuits
3640 SE Belmont, 236-3346

When I think biscuits and fried chicken, I think gut bomb. Twenty minutes of delight, followed by eight hours of sluggishness and regret. Such is not the case, however, after dining on one of Pine State Biscuits' delicious pieces of greaseless fried chicken sandwiched in a light, airy biscuit ($4). Their storefront, likewise, is light and airy, and nothing like the greasy spoon where you consume 95 percent of your yearly quota of biscuits and gravy. That said, they do offer a sandwich called "The Reggie" ($7) that puts fried chicken, bacon, cheese, and sausage gravy together in a biscuit. And somehow, even that isn't a gut bomb. Are these people magicians? KS

Veggie

THE SPLURGE
Nutshell
3808 N Williams, 292-2627

Vegans go so crazy for this place, you can barely get a table there. And rightfully so. The food is delicious and you won't even miss the meat. Their Jamaican BBQ platter ($14) comes with an assortment of grilled veggies, perfectly seasoned beans and rice, and sweet little delicious corn balls (what are those things called, again?). Drink a beer with your dinner and you'll be as full as you would be after any meal that previously had a face. KS

WHEN YOU'RE BROKE
Dalo's Kitchen
4134 N Vancouver, Ste. 217, 808-9604

I actually have Dalo's Kitchen in my cell phone because the food is so amazing, and incredibly cheap. A $6 veggie platter is enough for two meals, and enough for two people if you're eating at the restaurant. It comes with an assortment of spicy and not-so-spicy lentils, spinach, and a potato stew. They recently expanded and put in a bar, so now I'm more inclined to eat here at night, and even with drinks two people can easily get out for under $20. With these prices, I don't know how they stay in business, but I'm not asking questions. KS

Veganopolis
412 SW 4th, 226-3400

If you want to eat cheap at Veganopolis, check out the à la carte menu. There sits a perfect vegan hot dog that will keep you full for hours. As is the case with everything at Veganopolis, the hot dog is just as delicious as the real deal. They cook the "meat" on a panini grill and serve it on a hearty whole wheat bun. Plus, they'll add whatever toppings you can think up. Trust me, you won't miss the nitrates. KS

Sandwich

THE SPLURGE
Ford's on Fifth
121 NW 5th, 226-2828

If you already love Ford's delicious, hearty, and affordable sandwiches served at reasonable hours (reasonable being 2 am), and you have a few extra bucks to spare, then do not miss their signature house sandwich, "The Executive" ($145). An exquisitely prepared sandwich delicately made with only the finest filet mignon, this royally sumptuous sammy is rightly served with a chilled bottle of Dom Pérignon. (Twenty-four hours notice is required.) But is it really worth the whopping $145 price tag? Well, of course it is. It's one thing to drop that much change at the Heathman—but to roll in to Ford's in the wee hours of the morning, wearing a top hat and monocle, and drunkenly throw money around like Arthur? The experience alone is priceless! WSH

WHEN YOU'RE BROKE
Thanh Thao Market
6517 NE Sandy, 284-4129

Okay, here's what Wikipedia says: "Bánh mì is a Vietnamese baguette sandwich made up of thinly sliced pickled carrots, daikon, onions, cilatro, meat, or tofu. Popular bánh mì fillings include pork, paté, chicken, and head cheese." WHOA! Head cheese? None for me, thanks. However, I will agree that a bánh mì is the most delicious sandwich you'll get for the least amount of moolah. My fave place is a little Vietnamese grocery on Sandy called Thanh Thao Market, where around lunchtime they have a pile of these delectable sandwiches (only $1.50 each) next to the cash register (right alongside a hum bao steamer, filled with succulent pork-filled steamed pastries for only $1). I'm serious, folks. I come out of there stuffed for $3, and feeling like I ate something of nuanced substance. And with all the money I save? I can use it to buy gas to drive me there! (Oh, you cursed double-edged sword.) WSH