Telephone: (503) 420-0799
Rostra rating: 3.5
It took a long time for Team Mago to visit Belmont Fermentorium, the Portland outpost of San Diego’s Modern Times Brewing, because we miss The Commons the way an amputee perceives his missing limb even after it has preceded him into the Great Majority. We have absolutely nothing against Modern Times founder Jacob McKean, who has long sought a venue for his beer in Beervana, even though he and his beer are from SoCal.
As far as Team Mago can tell, McKean is a friend of Commons owner Mike Wright, who asked McKean to lease The Commons building after the company succumbed to cash flow problems associated with their move into the a 10,000 square foot tap room and collocated brewery.
The Fermentorium has been open since early 2018, but it is only the first step in a big push into the PNW planned by Modern Times. This facility will produce all the Modern Times keg beer distributed in Oregon, Washington, and Idaho, while another and adjacent 10,000 square foot shell will be built out into a packaging hall and tank farm that will produce all of their PNW canned beer.
Plans also call for a coffee roaster and café, an expanded food menu, and a rooftop patio. And I remember when Willamette Week’s Martin Cizmar was bitching about the lack of chairs at The Commons!
On our first visit to Belmont Fermentorium I spent three pints comparing their Lomaland saison to (my memories of) Common’s Urban Farmhouse Ale. It was a far better experience than what I had been dreading since the Commons goodbye party. While Lomaland is not in any way a replacement for Urban Farmhouse, it is a very decent substitute. And McKean also brews a bunch of IPAs and other “mass market craft beers,” being less of a purist but apparently more of a business man than Wright. While their line-up is not as exciting as Commons, Modern Times beer is generally well made and quite fresh.
The younger crowd gives the place some serious energy, and the all plant-based menu stands out for a tap room even in the beating heart of Vegandom.
The Fermentorium has more furniture than The Commons, but could still use some more and they really ought to figure out a way to open some of those large, old, gorgeous, and evidently sealed windows. The real game changer, however, will come when the roof patio kicks in.
Mago Tip: Even without a happy hour, Belmont Fermentorium gets crowded around beer thirty. If you want to sit, drink, eat, and talk (all at the same time) try mid-afternoon or after 8 PM on weekdays.¿Por Qué No? Taqueria
Despite the fact that tacos are priced from $3.25 to $4.75 (outside of happy hour), the queuing hordes at ¿Por Qué No?? are there for a good quality affordable meal. And compared to the excellent but spendy Mexican cuisine served up at places like Xico they have a point. But that point only goes so far. Afuri
Afuri is the Cadillac (make that Lexus) of Rip City ramen. Everything was beautifully plated and absolutely delicious. We especially liked the Housemade gyoza dumplings with pork, chives, garlic, ginger, napa cabbage, scallion, and leek. Best. Gyoza. Ever. We’ll be going back to try out the ramen soon.Amberlight Cannabis House
Located at the eastern end of Division's restaurant row in the Richmond neighborhood, Amberlight delivers high-end VFM cannabis within stumbling distance of some of the best eateries and bars in Rip City.Ankeny Tap and Table
A small garage bar that used to be catty cornered Coalition Brewing's tap room, Ankeny Tap and Table is a small gastropub blessed with a kitchen that is actually larger than its interior dining space. Make no mistake, this place is all about the beer. A fanatically curated 12 taps rotate every week. The food is also curated. The kitchen is particularly fanatical about Brussels sprouts and humus, offering a different appie based on them everyday. Apex
What do you call a beer hall with fifty taps, great outside seating, a laissez faire approach to any and all outside food, and a strict cash-only policy? That would be Apex.Apizza Scholls
Yep, the best pizza we've eaten in Portland. I found their product firmly at the intersection of U.S. east coast utility, Neapolitan, and Sicilian (that would be the type of pizza they serve on Sicily as opposed to what they serve in the US and call Sicilian pizza). Like all killer pizzas, the secret is in the crust.Atlas Pizza
If you want to hang out, play pin ball, drink draft beer, and eat pizza, then go to Atlas Pizza on SE Division in Portland. You can get pizza by the slice and it's always good.Ava Gene’s
It ain't really Roman, but I like it. Ava Gene's is a great place to enjoy Italo-PNW inspired cuisine on Portland's premier restaurant row while the Eternal City sorts out its current crisis driven by the twin scourges of ubiquitous government corruption and metastasizing mass tourism. One of our favorite dishes was that spaghetti all'amatriciana. Another was the bread with lovage butter, porcini, and lemon.Bar Avignon
We love eating at Bar Avignon in Portland's SE district. The food is French and tasty. Although the wine is pricey, there are some excellent beers on offer. It also has a great chefs counter and friendly service. What more do you need? Bar Casa Vale
The best thing about Bar Casa Vale is Chef Louis Martinez's food. You absolutely must try the fried pig ear, even if you do not like aggressively swinish fare, you will love these as long as you like bacon (so about 95% of the world's population or thereabouts). Martinez actually does make a silk purse out of these strips of deep fired porker pinna -- crunchy, fatty, rich, and aggressive seasoning.Bar Vivant
While Toro Bravo and Ataula produce exceptional small plate Spanish-PNW fusion cuisine, sometimes you just want a real deal Spanish tapas experience. When that particular jones takes hold in Rose City, it is best to head for Bar Vivant.Bazi Bierbrasserie
Bazi Bierbrasserie is one of the better Portland pubs specializing in Belgian beer. With sixteen rotating taps (one is usually dedicated to a rotating cider) there is always a huge selection of beers from Belgium and Belgian-style beers from elsewhere.Biwa
The older sister of Noraneko does not really measure up to her younger sibling. The 100% counter service even in the evening, cramped space, and the disappointing menu makes it a poor second to Noraneko. The staff was really nice, though.Bollywood Theater
If you like Indian food, but most Indian restaurants leave you non-plussed, then Bollywood Theater is the place for you. Chef Troy MacLarty's two East Portland locations are dedicated to VFM Indian street food. Unless you are a true aficionado of subcontinental cuisine, the menu will be a bit challenging at first. But just start ordering dude, and you are going to like what shows up. We gave it a coveted four stars!Bread and Ink Cafe
The Bread and Ink Cafe was a huge disappointment for breakfast. It's a good idea in theory, but it was poorly executed. Avoid the chicken and waffles and go for the huevos rancheros, which were pretty decent. Bread and Ink probably works best as a place for an afternoon or early evening drinkie and maybe a couple of their small plates (dinner menu) for nibbles. For breakfast, near-by go to Trinket or the Fried Egg I'm In Love food cart.Cafe Castagna
We just don't get it. The Cafe Castagna burger didn't come close to many of the burgers at some of our other favorite eateries. The pizza was good. The crust was the key, lightly blackened, crisp, and very flavorful. The other ingredients were of good quality and sparingly applied. And yet, and yet... what is the fuss all about?Chicken and Guns
This is some of the best grilled chicken that we've ever eaten, served up with the choice of a salad or or par-baked potato bits that have been deep fried to crispy perfection and then semi-emersed in salsa crude and excellent Peruvian aji sauce.Coquine
Coquine is a darling of chefs, foodies, and social media, but MagoGuide just does not get all the hype. Yes, it is a very pretty little restaurant in a very nice Mt. Tabor neighborhood location, but the inevitable wait without a reservation or the strictures and penalties associated with making one, are not justified by the food. Cricket Cafe
As if having Jam on Hawthorne, Trinket, and Screen Door Kitchen wasn't enough, we've now found the newly reopened Cricket Cafe in SE Portland. Yet another excellent breakfast spot that's going to lay on some competition for the rest. Especially good was the Rising Sun skillet is a delicious case in point: roasted pork shoulder, roasted potatoes, green chilies, roasted corn, onions, cilantro, and pepper jack topped with two eggs any style as well as roasted poblano sauce.
Telephone: (503) 235-9348
Rostra rating: 3.5
Danwei Canting, a Beijing work unit restaurant masquerading as a New Portland industrial cookie cutter eatery, is the perfect blend of good food, good service, and inviting atmosphere. But it's the flavors that keep us coming back to this most interesting restaurant. Dots Cafe
Dots has stood the test of time as the Clinton Division restaurant row expands, sweeping other dive bars and dingy diners into oblivion. Dots is a dive bar without dyspeptic dipsomaniacs and a diner without foodie pretentious. It's our new local hang out place.Double Barrel Tavern
Happy hour, especially all day on Sunday, is a decent deal with 50 cents off already cheap drafts and decent burgers for $5.Double Dragon
A nice inner SE Portland bar with an eclectic Asian-leaning menu and very nice staff.Farma
Farma is one of the coolest stores in Portland for buying cannabis.Farmhouse Kitchen
Farmhouse Kitchen may not be the best Thai restaurant in Portland, but it is great competition for Pok Pok. The Panang Neua (slow braised bone-in beef short rib in a Panang curry served with grilled broccolini, bell pepper, onion, fried Thai basil, and blue rice) proved to be the longest short rib I have ever encountered, and if it is not Chef Saengsawang's signature dish then it should be. An amazing braise, unctuous and spicy with just a little bit of tooth.Fried Egg I’m In Love
The Fried Egg I'm in Love food carts serve great breakfast fare, but you will not escape a wait equivalent to many brick and mortar breakfast spots in Portland. Our favorite is the Sriracha Mix-a-lot wherein a fried egg, is paired with seared ham, fresh avocado, tomato, havarti cheese, and a decent hit of Sriracha.Genies Cafe
The food at Genies Cafe chokes pretty damn good. We especially liked the medieval hash made up of locally sourced spicy salami, golden dates, blue cheese crumbles atop O’Brien potatoes topped with hollandaise, two eggs any style, and a dash of Tabasco. The pickled, sweet, savory, and rich elements of this composed monster worked pretty close to perfection. Grand Central Bakery
Grand Central Bakery is one of the best in the city making delicious bread.Hawthorne Hophouse
The beer and food were good, especially the burger. Skip the fries. Or better yet, walk on over to the nearby Short Round to eat.Jacqueline
Located in the original St. Jack location on SE Clinton, Jaqueline is a romantic and intimate space serving up some excellent French cuisine. Check them out on Mondays when they have their Fish Fry special, a great deal. The fish and chips were seriously amazing, especially the Rainier-battered cod, which was the best fried fish I have ever ingested, full stop. Jam on Hawthorne
At Jam on Hawthorne the eggs are always correctly cooked and the Morningstar vegetarian sausage a really pleasant surprise, as was the very potable coffee.Kati Portland
Nobody should have any difficulties finding a vegetarian or vegan eatery in Portland for out of town herbivore guests. But Kati serves up delicious food that even stone cold carnivores like Team Mago opt for without the excuse of vegan couch surfing friends from Montucky.Ken’s Artisan Pizza
Sad to say, Ken's Artisan Pizza is the worst of the venerable baker's four pizza venues. We recommend you head for Pine Street Market (Trifecta Annex) or the original Trifecta to see what Ken Forkish can really do with pizza.La Moule
La Moule comes pretty close to a Platonic form in terms of the food, beer, and experience it seeks to provide. The 4.5 rostra rating really says it all.Lardo
Lardo specializes in super sandwiches, soups, salads, and great side dishes. We highly recommend the dirty fries that included fried pork scraps, marinated peppers, fried herbs, and parmesan cheese scattered on top. We have found the food far more reliable at their SE Hawthorne location, however.Laurelhurst Market Restaurant
The restaurant utilizes the butcher shop's product for a venue that a) has no trace of steak house decor or 'tude, b) has plenty of fish and veggie offerings for non-carnivores, and c) is packed and very noisy most nights making reservations essential and timing important (as in go early or late if you want a normal decibel conversation with your dining companions).Lauretta Jean’s
Lauretta Jean's has friendly, down right perky staff, Dylan on the sound system and the best pie in town, Kitty. However, the crust is the key. The crust at Lauretta Jean's has more in common with expertly made puff pastry than what you normally find at the bottom of someone else's pie.Little t American Baker
This has some of the best bread and cookies in SE.Loyal Legion
Best. Beerhall. Ever. Loyal Legion has 99 taps and every beer in the place is brewed in Oregon. Those pristine tap lines are flushed every day, cleaned every other week (slower selling beer lines are cleaned more frequently), and all their beer is served at less than or equal to 38 degrees.Modern Times Beer
On our first visit to Belmont Fermentorium I spent three pints comparing their Lomaland saison to (my memories of) Common's Urban Farmhouse Ale. It was a far better experience than what I had been dreading since the Commons goodbye party. While Lomaland is not in any way a replacement for Urban Farmhouse it is a decent substitute.Nong’s Khao Man Gai
We went to Nong’s for the khao man gai - chicken, rice, soup, and sauce. At the risk of being booed by the masses, we have to admit that we found the khao man gai kind of borning. As far as we are concerned, the best thing about Nong's chicken and rice is her dipping sauce, traditionally made with yellow soy beanpaste, thick soy sauce, chili, ginger, garlic and vinegar. Bottom line, though, go next door to Marukin.Noraneko
Noraneko, described by owners Kina and Gabe as 'a ramen shop/ futuristic post-whatever diner', is a cultural appropriation success story. Located under the eastern end of the Hawthorne Bridge, this bright and inviting space screams come and get warm in the winter while offering a break from Portland's hot and crowded east side bar and foodie scene in the summer.Nuestra Cocina
Although Nuestra Cocina makes a nice impression up front, we thought the food very disappointing. Nuestra Cocina's cuisine lacks bold flavors and any real heat. Take the chile relleno, for example. To earn that title a pepper must be stuffed, battered, and fried. This watery nightmare came over-cooked (oven-baked vice pan fried), unadorned, and wrapped around indifferently seasoned pork shoulder that still managed to drown out whatever the kitchen was going for with those almonds and raisins. Olympia Provisions Southeast
Olympia Provisions is one of our favorite places to eat in Portland and their Southeast (OPSE) restaurant does not disappoint. We particularly liked the octopus a la plancha and Cardoons. The lack of variety in the beer was the only disappointment.OP Wurst on Division
If you liked OP Wurst at Pine Street Market you will flat out love the new Sausage Bar on SE Division. All the offal tubes from the Pine Street location are available at the Sausage Bar, but the much larger menu is fleshed out with sausage and beer flights, weisswurst, chorizo, a burger, salads, a seasonal tartine, and (ahem) a veggie platter.Oui! Wine Bar + Restaurant
Oui's motto could be 'come for the wine, stay for the food.' Chef Althea Potter has produced a jewel box menu of small plates, substantial entrees, and two prix fixe family-style tasting dinners.PDX Sliders on Division
We were very impressed with the sliders. PDX sliders are somewhat larger than the canonical dimensions of a bun two inches across covering a 2 oz. patty, but they are still classic one-handers. Any of the beef sliders are exemplary. They came cooked to a Platonic standard of medium rare without the need to specify.Petite Provence
With seven regional locations, an executive bakery, and a farm in Aurora, the La Provence/Petite Provence empire seeks to be all things French to greater Portlandia's hoi polloi. While their business model seems to be profitable, the resulting food is not very rewarding given the many French bakery cum bistro options available to denizens of Rip City and its suburbs.Pine State Biscuits Division
At Pine State Biscuit you will find the four key ingredients for a successful eatery in today's USA (even, or especially, in the Great Gastropolis): affordable prices, large portions, decent product, and killer branding. Pok Pok
Perhaps you're paying in part for its fame, but we're still impressed with Pok Pok's service and tasty food. Wednesdays right at opening time is the best for avoiding long lines and equally long waits.Pure Spice
Pure Spice is Team Mago's idea of a great Chinese joint. Pure Spice's essentially Cantonese cuisine scratches all our Chinese cuisine itches. The majority of Pure Spice's clientele are Asian, but the ever changing list of specials on the wall are thoughtfully translated. The dining space is bare bones and almost achingly bright, but you don't come here for ambience, you come for the food.QuarterWorld Arcade
There are a lot of pinball arcades in Flip City, but only one of them is located right next to Apizza Shoals. Quaterworld has over 34 different pinball games and 63 classic and new arcade games, a full bar, draft craft brewskis, and a Tesla Coil that plays songs using lightning bolts as musical notes.Rockin’ Crab Cafe
After a shaky start, it turned out that we liked the Rockin' Crab Cafe. Head into its kinda welcoming bright and empty arms whenever you want some serious soupage. The Taiwanese boiling pot composed of sliced beef, roe stuffed fish ball, pork intestine, clams, corn, tofu, white mushrooms, enoki mushrooms, Napa cabbage, and vermicelli noodles was a swiney revelation. Excellent pork and chicken stock underpinned a spicy nasty pigginess (think andouillette ramen). Rogue Eastside Pub and Pilot Brewery
Rogue is the Grateful Dead of craft brewing: they have been around forever (like 30 years) and their fans actually are fanatically devoted to them (the Rogue Nation numbers at least 270,000). The beer is good, the food is good, and on the first Friday of every month there is free comedy in the back.Roman Candle Baking Company
The pizza bianca at Roman Candle Baking Co. may not be the equal of that baked at Rome's Forno Campo de’ Fiori, but it is pretty damn close. In fact, Roman Candle is to Italian bread what Ken Forkish and Philippe Garcia are to French baking in Portland--except that the coffee is better at Roman Candle. Sake Isakaya
Team Mago recently visited into Sake Isakaya in SE Portland for lunch. We're glad that we went, but the next time we're in the neighborhood we'll be looking for another isakaya to visit.Sckavones Restaurant
Located on the development frontier between bougie lower Division and endangered but defiant lumpen proletariat upper Division, Sckavone's gastronomic ethos boils down to a not so subtle diss of Portland's foodie culture and prices.Scottie’s Pizza Parlor
Scottie's makes the best east coast utility pizza in Rip City, period (or at least so far as MagoGuide's voracious inhalation of all things pizza has gone to date). Their crust is the key, a thin, crispy, slightly sourdoughy platform for minimal, but often artisan (as in bespoke mozzarella and ricotta) toppings.Short Round
Short Round in SE Portland, the younger sibling of Fish Sauce in NW, really has it all; excellent riffs on Asian cuisine, a cozy atmosphere, and an excellent bar where even the wine is on tap.St. Honoré Boulangerie in SE
St. Honoré Boulangerie is consistently good across all four locations serving an impressive array of sandwiches, salads, and desserts.
Telephone: (971) 279-4433
Rostra rating: 3.5
If you are interested in eating very good tacos in a short amount of time, then skip the lines at Por Que No and head for Stella Taco. The meat tacos are best at Stella, especially for those who dig on swine, but the fish versions are quite tasty, and the veggie options are just fine as long as you do not believe, as Team Mago doesn't, that vegan tacos are a culinary oxymoron.Tahrir Square
The gyro was spicy, savory, messy, and delicious.
Telephone: (503) 270-8482
Rostra rating: 3
Owner Pierre Boutros clearly knows his business. At the Tarboush Lebanese restaurant in SE Portland we enjoyed the setting, the staff, and most especially the food.Teote
Teote may not be the most authentic take on Venezuelan street food, and there are significant DIY duties expected of the clientele with respect to ordering, securing a table, and bussing one's leavings, but the food and drinks are very good and the space friendly and welcoming.The Goose
The Goose is yet another nice TweBu bar sporting nine taps, an extensive New Mexican cuisine menu, and a galaxy-class margarita list. An all female front of the house was a lot of fun on the night Team Mago staggered in for one more beer and a bite at the end of an extended crawl along the frontier of Rose City's southeast and northeast quadrants.The Richmond Bar
On a street of tap houses, Asian drinking food bars, and basically trendy everything, The Richmond Bar is an old-school comfort zone. The Toffee Club
The Toffee club is a great place if you like European football and British beer. And the food is OK. Team Mago found the Big Sam -- a Full English breakfast ensconced in a sandwich -- particularly innovative. The eggs were a bit overdone and the sausages were not quite up to Cumberland quality (although they did have that fine offal tube grind that is quintessentially English), but the bacon, beans, 'shrooms, and especially the black pudding were the real deals.The Woodsman Tavern
Although we loved the double cheese burger at The Woodsman Tavern (juicy and cooked to a perfect medium rare), everything else we had was flawed one way or the other. For example, how can you have oyster shooters that won't shoot? We'll try again when Chef Doug Adams moves on to the Bullard hotel.Toji Korean Grill
Toji is a large Korean grill restaurant popular with a younger crowd for its large portions and VFM prices. As far as MagoGuide is concerned, however, you could do better at any number of Korean grills in Beaverton, to include price. Trifecta Tavern and Bakery
Trifecta serves up some of the best pizza (sorry, that's flatbread in Forkish-speak) that we've had in Portland. And the other offerings are great too.
Telephone: (503) 841-6675
Rostra rating: 4
Any place that declares forthrightly that their duck eggs Benedict will always be on the menu, the service is friendly and patient, and the generous but not ridiculous portions are served on carefully mismatched plates... is the place for us. Upper Left Roasters
All in all, Upper Left is pretty spendy for what you get. Don't be fooled (again) by social media. Go to Spileman Bagels at the other end of Ladd's Addition for great coffee and real bagels or Little T itself just a bit further east on Division, which also does a much better breakfast than Upper Left.Wayfinder Beer
Go to Wayfinder in SE Portland for a really fun afternoon or evening. The space is gorgeous, the beer the best, and the food is way good. The outdoor seating is also inviting, especially in nice weather.Whiskey Soda Lounge
This interesting and friendly SE Division Street bar is far more than the green room for Pok Pok. It is a very nice destination in and off itself.Wong’s King
Wong's King proves that you want to eat where and when the locals eat. That means you want to go on the weekends at peak lunch time, so be prepared to wait to be seated and expect some chaos during the wait. But the dim sum served hot and delicious is worth the effort.Xico
Although the frugal minimalism of stainless steel tables, plastic chairs, and napkins made from recycled something might give one pause, the food at Xico is genuine Mexican cuisine, as opposed to TEXMEX build the wall food. Team Mago highly recommends the smoked salmon tostadas, citrus salad, octopus, pozole, and lime cake with coconut custard (aka everything we have eaten at Xico so far). Yama Shushi and Izakaya
Yama (meaning mountain in Japanese) provides a nicely appointed one stop shop for sushi, Japanese drinking food (known bizarrely here and at other Portland Izakaya as 'tapas'), and ramen with locations in SE and the Pearl. There is better ramen to be had nearby both locations, but the sushi, sashimi, and other Japanese drinking food is some of the best in the Portlandia gastrosphere.Yataimura Maru
We were underwhelmed by the ramen at this SE outpost of Shigezo. Stick to the other things on offer, which have a lot in common with the Shigezo across the river.