IMAGE: Taylor Schefstrom
Sellwood: Jade Teahouse
Lucy and April Eklund’s airy cafe offers dozens of teas from around the world, delightful pastries and enormous platters of Thai and Vietnamese standards. Always good are the minced chicken with mint and cilantro, steamed hum bao, chile noodles and salt-and-pepper squid. Don’t be shy about ordering from the lengthy list of daily specials, either. BEN WATERHOUSE. 7912 SE 13th Ave., 477-8985, jadeteahouse.com.
Downtown: Great Hall Restaurant
The decor at this music-themed cafe and open-mic bar is seriously out of tune, from the hokey Tron-meets-Portland bridges mural to the Life mag covers (Herb Alpert and Bing Crosby?) that adorn the beige walls. But inside this bland shell lurks some great, eclectic vegetarian fare: creamy, tomato-y corona beans that taste like an XXL-sized baked-bean picnic on a plate; crisp, sesame-spiced Asian slaw; and addictive roasted sweet potatoes tossed with sunny yellow squash. KELLY CLARKE. 1406 SW Broadway, 477-7335, greathallrestaurant.com.
Slabtown: Justa Pasta
I have eaten lunch at Justa Pasta, which is a short walk from WW’s offices, more than 100 times in the past four years—not because I’m indecisive, but because the food is consistently great. The bucatini Amatriciana—hollow spaghetti topped with a pancetta-studded tomato sauce—is excellent, as is the risotto with arugula and shiitake mushrooms. There is also a rotating list of freshly made pasta shapes, served with marinara, pesto, bolognese or other sauces, which changes every couple of weeks. NIGEL JAQUISS. 1326 NW 19th Ave., 243-2249, justapasta.com.
82nd Avenue: Ha & VL
This sandwich shop in Wing Ming Square turns out a fine banh mi, but the reason the walls are hung with framed reviews from every paper in town is thanks to the daily noodle soup specials—big bowls of fragrant broth and proteins from peppery pork balls (Wednesday and Saturday) to crab flakes (Thursday) and shrimp cakes (Monday). BEN WATERHOUSE. 2738 SE 82nd Ave., No. 103, 772-0103.
Vancouver/Williams: Eat: An Oyster Bar
The New Orleans-inspired menu of this North Williams Avenue taproom is racked with fried, stewed and spiced Cajun fare like shrimp étouffée, surf or turf po’ boys and fried pickles. The real deal, however, is farm-direct raw oysters from Oregon Oyster Farms, Hama Hama Oysters, Taylor Shellfish Farms, Chelsea Farms and others. Step inside and check out the chalkboard by the bar for the day’s raw selection. LIZ CRAIN. 3808 N Williams Ave., 281-1222, eatoysterbar.com.
Gresham: Pollos a la Brasa El Inka
Head to this Peruvian joint for the best wood-fired rotisserie chicken around. The juicy, sweetly smoky birds, spiced with a secret rub and slowly cooked in the dining room’s brick oven, are freakishly good. Other El Inka standouts include the escabeche (fried seafood in a spicy vinegar sauce with rice) and the aji de gallina (shredded chicken in a spiced milk gravy). LIZ CRAIN. 48 NE Division St., Gresham, 491-0323.