Restaurants of the Year
Hail to the Chef
Bite Club
We Will Serve No Rind Before Its Time
Restaurant Listings

Here at Willamette Week's Dish Desk, we get asked for advice about a variety of situations where a restaurant is needed. To further help with your gustatory planning, we've provided this handy cheat sheet for reference year round. This isn't for those of you who prowl and write the names of restaurants on the back of your hand as you drive by--this is for the people who freeze up whenever they're asked to make a reservation. To read further about the mentioned restaurants (and to get contact info), you'll find them listed in alphabetical order starting on page 19.

Dear Miss Dish,
My parents are coming to town, and they want to take me out. They have simple tastes, get agitated by newfangledness and have big bucks to spare. Where should I go to get the best of their generosity?

Dear Simple-Taste Spawn,
Meat-and-potato parents were made to visit Jake's Famous and Jake's Grill--two institutions of surf and turf that are quaintly old-fashioned. Likewise, Huber's (Portland's oldest restaurant) does a great turkey and ham. Red Star Tavern and Roast House specializes in American regional classics and can please the most finicky eaters. Portland City Grill offers simple steaks and a view of Portland worth showing off. Mother's Bistro elevates comfort food to an art. And then there's the legion of steakhouses that dot the city: Morton's, Ruth's Chris and El Gaucho, to name a few.

Dear Miss Dish,
My parents are coming to town and they want to take me out. They consider themselves down with the gourmet posse and love to brag about the restaurants they've visited around the globe. Oh yeah, and they've got barrels of cash to spend on me.

Dear Well-Bred,
You might want to take your folks to television's own Caprial's Bistro (it's not Emeril, but it's close). Wildwood, Higgins and Paley's Place are renowned for their way with Northwest cuisine--you can debate what that means over your meal. Bluehour is stunning and sumptuous. Castagna shines on the Southeast side. The seven-course spectacular at Genoa should make your list. Cafe Azul's careful way with regional Mexican cuisine is something to talk about. And the Heathman, helmed by James Beard Award-winning chef Philippe Boulot, always awaits.

Dear Miss Dish,
Yea! I'm getting married/degreed/anniversaried/ older/etc., and I want to have a party in a private room at a restaurant. Where can I go?

Dear Party Snooper,
You're in luck--many restaurants recently have tacked on private party rooms to accommodate you. Right in the Pearl, there's Paragon (high-end comfort food), ÁOba! (inventive South of the Border) and Bluehour (decidedly French and Italian, decidedly delicious). Downtown there's Pazzo's Italian touch and a wine cellar you can rent for private functions.

Dear Miss Dish,
Help! I want to take my friend/lover/brother out, and he/she/it's a (gulp!) vegetarian.

Dear FOM (Friend of Morrissey),
Fear not, many great restaurants tackle the V issue with aplomb. Even Genoa can provide its signature seven-course meal in veg-head format if given proper notice. Some of the most enticing entrees on Higgins' menu are vegetarian, and if you look to the east, Typhoon!'s and Lemongrass' Thai, Abou Karim's and Al-Amir's Lebanese, and Legin's and Sungari's Chinese should suit your scenario.

Dear Miss Dish,
I want to feel like a queen on my pauper's salary. Where do I go?

Dear Royal Cheapskate,
Great deals abound in Portland's restaurant scene. The Daily Cafe in the Pearl boasts nimble cooking and affordable prices for the level of cuisine provided. Our celebrated restaurants Pambiche and Pho Van Bistro offer lively ethnic cuisine at mucho reasonable prices. Zinc Bistrot's prix fixe dinner, ringing in at under $20, is a steal. Caffe Mingo's made a name for itself by serving up on-point pasta that doesn't cost a pretty penny. Alexis and Berbati offer plentiful Greek platters that could fill a conquering army and still give you change. Noble Rot is a wine bar first, but the small plates under $10 make sure you're not just full of grapes.

Dear Miss Dish,
My boss has stupidly entrusted me to pick a restaurant that will impress our clients enough to make them sign another contract. Help!

Dear Dilbert,
You should try to suss out what kind of people your clients are. If they fancy themselves fancy eaters, see the answers to the second question. Several Japanese restaurants--such as Sinju and Madame Butterfly--offer tatami rooms where you slip off your shoes and can get down to business in private. If you're not sure, you might consider El Gaucho or Morton's, where the flesh theatrics are enough to amaze and entice anyone craving food products set aflame and put on display; as the flambé's torching, hand 'em a pen to sign on the dotted line.

Dear Miss Dish,
Believe it or not, someone loves me. I wish to take this person whom I love (and who, in case I haven't mentioned it, loves me) to an achingly romantic dinner. Where to?

Dear Loved,
Fetch your fetching one and head to East-meets-kinda-West Oritalia; make sure you reserve one of the curtained booths in this gushingly romantic spot. Lucere will serve you fine French food, and since it's on the waterfront, you can take a lovey-dovey moonlit stroll on the banks of the beautiful Willamette River après dining.

Dear Miss Dish,
It's stopped raining: Hallelujah! Where can I get good eats and sit outside?

Dear Sun Worshiper,
Enjoy it while you can. Compass World Bistro has a lovely outdoor eating area in the back. Laslow's Northwest has a porch that's sweet (and packed) as all get out during the sunny month(s). The Veritable Quandary has a glorious garden area outside that makes you forget you're flanking the onramp to a bridge. And Wild Abandon has a newly reconfigured area for your alfresco enjoyment.