In life, you often get what you pay for; when it comes to dining out, a top-notch meal often concludes with a high-price bill. June, however, offers a break from this depressingly traditional economic theory. For the entire month, diners can enjoy three-course meals from some of Portland's most celebrated restaurants for just $25—no dish washing necessary.
June marks the second Dining Month Portland, a best of both worlds event that combines haute cuisine with low prices. Sixty-one restaurants from 23Hoyt to Yakuza Lounge will offer a $25 menu. Dining Month opens itself to any full service restaurant in the Portland area, so long as they produce a three-course menu. The menus, available during dinner hours, allow diners to experience the restaurant's offerings at a more universally manageable price.
"I feel really good about the list that we have, it’s a really high caliber list, there are a lot of really good values on that list," Courtney Ries, Executive Director of the Downtown Marketing Initiative, which sponsors the event along with Travel Portland, told WW.
The event is especially exciting for newcomers to the food scene, who can try innovative or unusual dishes (salt and pepper fried quail with pickled red and green strawberries from Gilt Club, for example) and take risks with their palates without a big price tag.
"Explore a new restaurant, find something different, or try something new at your favorite. For 25 bucks its pretty low risk," Ries says.
The menus, though fixed, are not limiting. Diners can choose from a spectrum of cuisines, from traditional Northwest inspired to Indian to French. Some restaurants allow the diner to choose between two or three options for an appetizer, entree or desert, and menus will be updated weekly throughout the month. Many participating restaurants include vegetarian options as well; diners with special dietary restrictions are encouraged to call the specific restaurant they're interested in to see if they can accommodate the menu to fit their needs.
"What's really great about this promotion is that the restaurants are really involved and really engaged," Ries says, noting that serving a prix-fixe three course menu for the entire month of June is a big commitment from the restaurants. Restaurants are rewarded for this commitment, however, by increased traffic and larger revenue. According to Ries, participating restaurants saw a 10 percent increase in sales last June.
Dining Month also gives diners a chance to give back to the community. For every reservation made on Open Table through this link the Downtown Marketing Initiative will make a donation to the Oregon Food Bank. (Open Table is a sponsor of the event.)
If you don't know which of the 61 restaurants to begin your month with, start by checking out the restaurants' menus at the Dining Month Portland website. You can sort the restaurants by location or search them by name.
If you're short on time, here are five sure bets from some of our favorite restaurants (sadly, Lincoln, Paley's Place, Nostrana and Metrovino haven't yet announced their menus):
Gathering Together arugula with an Oregon blue cheese terrine, roasted beets, glazed walnuts and sherry vinaigretteSecond course
Housemade tagliatelle with SuDan Farm Lamb ragu, rosemary and pecorino Toscano
Olive oil pound cake with spring berries and sabayon Karam Lebanese CuisineFirst Course (Choose One)
Fatayeer- 4 triangular shaped dough filled with seasoned beef tomatoes and onions served a side of hummus
Makale- grilled eggplant, zucchini, tomatoes, onions, and topped with parsley and side of tahini sauce
Veggie grape leaves- Grape leaves wrapped in rice,tomatoes, parsley, onions with side of tahini sauce
Meat grape leaves- Grape leaves wrapped in rice,tomatoes, parsley, onions and ground beef with side of tahini sauce
Second Course (Choose One)
Goat bil Riz- Goat cooked with garlic tomatoes, seasoned beef, tomatoes and onions, served with basmati rice garnished with pine nuts
Samke Harra- Salmon baked with spices, tahini sauce and walnuts sautéed with cilantro garlic and homemade hot sauce
Eggplant stew or Artichoke stew- your choice veggie or meat both served with Rice
Third Course (Choose One)
House Special for the day
Bousa Arabie -Ashta Ice cream filled with Pistachios and mastic
Knafe-Shredded filo filled with sweetened cheese topped with our homemade rose syrup
*Vegan and vegetarian food offered upon request Lauro KitchenFirst course (Choose One)
Moroccan Lamb, Chick Pea, Spinach and Rice Soup
Singing Pig Farm Organic Salad with White Balsamic Vinaigrette
Second course (Choose One)
Chicken Tagine with Olives, Fennel, Preserved Lemon and Couscous
Pork and Clams "Alentejo" with Chouriço, Peppers, Potatoes and CilantroThird course (Choose One)
Pudim Flan, a Portuguese Port Custard
Chocolate Midnight Cake with Crème AnglaiseMeriwether’s Restaurant & Skyline FarmFirst Course
Everything Spring Salad – artichokes, asparagus, garden peas, crumbled goat cheese vinaigrette
Smoky Pork Shoulder – Skyline Farm shoots sauté, green lentils in mustard cream
Chocolate Angel Food Cake – caramel rhubarb, house-churned ice cream Yakuza
First Course (Choose One)
Cucumber: Cucumber, avocado, sesame, togarashi
Kale: Shaved Kale, Shallots, Lemon, Edamame
Asparagus: Grilled Asparagus, Jalapano Ponzu, SesameSecond Course (Choose One)
Scallop Tempura: Shredded Filo, Creamy Spicy Sauce
Nori Yakuza Burger: Chevre, Shoestring Potatoes, Catsup, Spicy Mayo
Duck: Seared Duck Breast, Apple Ginger Dipping SauceThird Course (Choose One)
Salmon Avocado: Troll King Salmon, Avocado, Mizuna Sprouts
Dungeness Crab: Dungeness Crab, Avocado, Crème Fraiche
Yakuza Roll: Crispy Japanese Eggplant, Seasonal Vegetables
Pear Jalapeno: Minced Yellowtail, Asian Pear, Avocado, Jalapeno