Mack & Dub's Excellent Chicken & Waffles
3601 NE Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., 933-7662, mackanddub.com.
Waffles and chicken from James McClendon, better known as J. Mack of the U-Krew rap-R&B quintet ("If U Were Mine") and "the strip-club king of Portland" for his column in Exotic magazine. If this soul food doesn't quite equal what the church folk are dishing up at Po'Shines Cafe De La Soul in Kenton, it makes up for it with party atmosphere, complete with a sexy Isley Brothers soundtrack, zebra-striped bowls, and a turntable for late-night sets. AARON MESH.
2140 E Burnside St., 236-7195, luceevents.blogspot.com.
This casual little Italian spot from Navarre's John Taboada was recently named one of the 10 best new restaurants in America by Bon Appetit. I wouldn't go that far, but it is a nice place to get a bowl of housemade pasta and a build-your-own-feast of $2 antipasti. That highfalutin magazine mention means things can get pretty busy for dinner, so swing by at lunch, when $15 will net you a half-serving of spaghetti, three antipasti and a glass of wine. RUTH BROWN.
Bob's Red Mill
5000 SE International Way, 607-6455, bobsredmill.com.
Sure, it exists primarily to build brand identity by loading sightseeing pack mules down with bushels of steel-cut oats they could buy at their neighborhood grocery, but the Bob's Red Mill restaurant is a mighty nice place to get breakfast. Opening at the good, honest hour of 6 am, there's a big ol' water-spun milling thingy outside and big ol' bowls of organic muesli and grits inside. You will want to try making Bob's scratch biscuits at home—which is part of its plot. MARTIN CIZMAR.
Otto & Anita's Schnitzel House
3025 SW Canby St., 452-1411, ottoandanitas.com.
Why must Bavarian food be limited to Oktoberfest? At this charming faux-European country cottage, tucked away on a side street off Capitol Highway, the sausage and schnitzels flow year-round. Try the zigeunerschnitzel, pork loin slathered in red wine sauce and served with chewy spaetzle. And don't skip the dill pickle soup. No, it's not made from pickle juice: It's marvelously creamy, and so much better than its name implies. MATTHEW SINGER.
8307 N Ivanhoe St., 285-4839, facebook.com/baowrystjohns.
Finally celebrating its graduation to a brick-and-mortar restaurant inside the renovated house next door (rumored to be a former crack house), this mainstay St. Johns cart expanded its menu to include happy-hour banh mi; a host of small plates; noodles in broth with mussels, prawns or vegetables; and larger entrees like Szechuan steak and sizzling rice soup. However, the lure of the bao remains strong—duck confit, pork or a slice of surprisingly meaty fried tofu and coconut-fat terrine are $3-$4 each, or opt for the two-person DIY platter with four plain buns, two fall-off-the-bone-tender Peking duck legs, green onions, pickled vegetables, and housemade hoisin and plum sauces for $22. KAT MERCK.
Tan Tan Cafe & Delicatessen
316 SE 123rd Ave., Vancouver, 360-892-3400.
Like most things in the 'Couv, Tan Tan is in a strip mall. Stifle the urge to run fast and far, because its lemongrass pork salad rolls would roll over any Portland joint's offerings in a throwdown. The special pho is easily on par with Pho Oregon and Pho An Sandy, and the addition of a fried egg to Tan Tan's classic or lemongrass chicken or pork bahn mi elevate the sandwich to lunchtime sublimity. ANDREA DAMEWOOD.