Albatross & Co., 225 14th St., 741-3091.
Local foodniks were thrilled when Eric Bechard left his lauded McMinnville restaurant Thistle to bring "fallow deer heart tartare with his marrow" and "wood pigeon liver custard with elderflower and pickled huckleberries" to Southeast Portland. Six months later, he left us for Astoria and this tavern of exposed brick, whiskey-on-whiskey cocktails and fancy bottled beer. Order the Anchor burger ($9) with cheddar sauce, caramelized onions and a cotton ball-soft bun that crush together and melt into one.
5 pm-late night Tuesday-Sunday. Very casual. $-$$.
Restaurant Beck, 2345 U.S. Highway 101, 541-765-3220, restaurantbeck.com.
That rare combination of great food and a spectacular view is available at Justin Wills' restaurant inside the Whale Cove Inn. Suit yourself with either the tasting or a la carte menu (main courses run around $30), and you'll find refined cuisine rivaling the seasonal, local focus of Portland's best, with a view the city can't match.
5 pm-close daily. Semiformal, reservations recommended. $$$.
Belly, 30 E Broadway, 541-683-5896, eatbelly.com.
For those post-football game celebrations or rarer commiserations, Eugene offers no finer than this eccentrically decorated but endearing downtown restaurant. The menu tilts from Southern (spareribs) to Mexican (sopes) to Mediterranean (lamb cheeks), but high-quality seasonal produce glues it all together.
5-9:30 pm Tuesday-Thursday, 5-10:30 pm Friday-Saturday. Casual. $$-$$$.
Nick's Italian Cafe (pictured above), 521 NE 3rd St., 434-4471.
Nick's opened in 1977, just as the Oregon wine industry established itself, and has been a clubhouse for pinotphiles ever since. Think of it as a stodgier older cousin to Ava Gene's, with delicate housemade pasta, chummy service and an exceptional wine list. The pizza, added when the second generation took over back in 2007, has a homespun quality, with loafy crust, creamy mozzarella and housemade sausage.
11 am-3 pm and 5-9 pm Tuesday-Saturday, Sunday noon-8 pm. Semiformal. $$$.
Rack & Cloth, 1104 1st Ave., 541-965-1457, rackandcloth.com.
Hood River has the booze-and-pizza game down—Double Mountain Brewing's excellent Neapolitan pies draw huge lines. Next time, drive five miles east to a tiny cidery and pizza shop in the town of Mosier (pop. 433). The flagship cider is an admirably dry and quaffable drop called Stony Pig. The bare-bones menu listed on a posterboard is always in flux, but on our visit included a very nice hummus plate, a sturdy broccolini salad and a very nice pie of roasty eggplant, feta and basil.
4 pm-close Tuesday-Sunday. Casual. $$.
Storrs Smokehouse, 310 E 1st St., 538-8080, storrssmokehouse.com.
This barbecue joint is the super-casual side project from the owners of the nearby Painted Lady, and serves a sampler called the Gran' Daddy on a red plastic cafeteria tray lined with white butcher paper and heaped with four meats. Ribs are best, a trimmed-down St. Louis cut that's tender but pleasantly ropey below a crust of peppery dry rub.
7 am-7 pm Thursday-Monday. Casual. $-$$.
Local Ocean Seafoods, 213 SE Bay Blvd., 541-574-7959, localocean.net.
Considered by some the best seafood spot in Oregon, this casually excellent Newport market and restaurant sits only a few feet from the boats that supply it. Arrive early—we've seen a two-hour wait on weekends—and order whatever the fishermen are bringing in fresh, especially if it's tuna mignon season.
Summer hours: 11 am-9 pm Sunday-Thursday, 11 am-9:30 pm Friday-Saturday. Winter hours: 11 am-8 pm Sunday-Thursday, 11 am-8:30 pm Friday-Saturday. Casual. $$-$$$.
Los Laureles Taqueria, 611 N Pacific Highway, 981-0797.
The majority-Latino town of Woodburn is the state's mecca of Mexican food. Where to go, though? After an epic survey, we settled on Los Laureles. Jump to the "Especialidades" section and order up a tlayuda, Oaxacan pizza on a rustic corn tostada griddled to a crackly crunch then topped with refried beans, a magical elixir made from carnitas drippings, shredded queso Oaxaca, tomato, cabbage, steak and avocado.
9 am-10 pm daily. Casual. $.