This Portland institution's longevity owes as much to its ability to reflect the attitudes of native Portlanders as to the quality of the food it puts in front of them. Greg Higgins' eponymous restaurant has been preaching the gospel of local and sustainable for nearly a decade and a half, and the ever-changing menu here does its best to showcase the benefits of his philosophy. A late-summer Niçoise salad, a small loin of oil-poached tuna sitting atop perfectly dressed greens, was replaced as the seasons shifted by an earthy, warming combination of marinated artichokes, tabbouleh and yams. Risottos here are excellent blank canvases for whatever Chef Higgins may have found intriguing at the farmers market. A recent variation sported smoked salmon and leeks. If the white-tablecloth dining room isn't your speed, the cargo-shorts set will appreciate the warmth and fabulous people-watching of the bar.
Order this: Higgins is definitely deft with meat, but the kitchen also has a surprising facility with vegetarian items, which often outshine everything else on the table.
Best deal: $7 will net you a lovely bowl of one of the two soups of the day and bread, perfect for a light meal.
I'll pass: If you're not sharing, skip the focaccia on the bistro menu. It's delicious, but it's a starch bomb that'll put you to sleep for the rest of the day.