We're big fans of the Portland deli Kenny and Zuke's, particularly those pastrami fries on the menu. Owner Ken Gordon opened the deli in 2007 with buddy Nick Zukin after much commiseration over the lack of pastrami and bagels in town. They changed all that, and ever since have been recreating classic Jewish deli fare with a touch of Portland flair. And they just announced that they'll be opening a bagel shop, Bagelworks, soon.
Ken is one of those guys we'd call up for eating tips and trust every word he said. So where does he like to nosh on burgers, pizza, and sandwiches? Ken shared all of his PDX favorites with us!
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Best sandwich: Okay, if I can't list the Reuben at my own Kenny & Zuke's, I'd have to go with the Pork Belly Cubano at Bunk. Not fair, though!
Best breakfast: Again a conflict of interest, so I'm going to go with Tasty n Sons. They soar with their version of Steak and Eggs.
Best coffee: Ristretto. Nice folks, local, and the perfect cup.
Best ice cream: Cool Moon's Dark Chocolate Chili haunts my dreams!
Best chocolate: I just adore Salt Caramel Chocolates of any kind, but John di Paula's may be the best of them.
Best cheap snack (or meal, or snack-meal): Dim sum at Ocean City, a shopping trip to Tortilleria y Tienda de Leon, pho at Pho Oregon all qualify. But the omakase at Tanuki, $20-25 for 8 or 9 dishes of some of the best Japanese food you will ever eat, takes the prize.
Best date night: St. Jack, hands down. I've had three out of my four best meals in Portland in the past year there. Great service, perfect wine list and cocktails, and they completely "get" French bistro. Had a Roast Quail stuffed with Foie Gras and Mushrooms with Lentils and Housemade Sausage that I still think about.
Best use of pork: Ping's Steamed Pork Buns completely redefine the genre. I could live on them...well, maybe for about a week.
Best cocktails: Beaker and Flask. Their "Sal Minion," a grown-up pina colada with fresh pineapple syrup, aged rum, and coconut water ice cubes is my favorite cocktail ever. [See our Portland cocktail roundup here.]
Best dive bar: George's in North Portland. Games on the tube, crappy burgers and longshoreman. Need I say more?
Favorite beer: Slightly out of the area code, but Double Mountain Kolsch from Hood River, Oregon defines good beer for me these days.
Best bakery: Pearl Bakery. Great bread, rustic pastries; all delicious.
Best late-night eats: Tie between Biwa—whose Japanese-accented food is spot-on any time of day—and Golden Horse in Chinatown, a standard Chinese menu executed exceptionally well.
Best Sushi: Murata. 83-year-old Mr. Murata still puts out the best. I don't know where he gets his eel, or what he does with it, but it's in a class by itself.