Chicken and waffles. Chicken and waffles. Chicken and waffles. Yes, Screen Door became what's probably the most interminably packed restaurant in Portland—one whose shape-shifting jumble of almost-diners has become an omnipresent metaphor for our city's decadence—on the back of that gut-bustingly beautiful mountain of crispy, juicy goodness, fluffy starch and syrup ($14.95).
Once you summit Mount Chicken and descend to the rest of the menu, you'll find a wealth of thoughtful pan-Southern cooking that isn't necessarily the grease fest you've been imagining.
The Screen Door Plate ($14.75) lets you mix and match sides like fried catfish and baked beans with seasonal salads from a rotating "local/organics" menu, like a take on a caprese with heirlooms and sherry vinegar that was a nice complement to a sizable scoop of mashed potatoes served in a ramekin of gravy.
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But make no mistake, Screen Door is soul food through and through. You'll struggle to find a way to order less than 2 pounds of food, and even those who triple down on salads will find themselves in a rock slide of Gorgonzola or Quadrello di Bufala. Screen Door may have blown up because of the chicken, but the depth to its menu keeps everyone coming back.
Eat: Screen Door's portions are gigantic, making starters unnecessary unless you're angling for leftovers. The Screen Door Plate is the customizable go-to for dinner, but the airy fried catfish comes highly recommended as one of your options. And you just can't go wrong with the fried chicken ($16.75).
Drink: The $28 bottle of Cava is an excellent, gently dry foil to a very luxuriant meal. Plus, there's something great about sparkling wine and fried chicken.
Most popular dish: Chicken and waffles.
Noise level: 90/100
Expected wait: Has anyone ever waited less than 30 minutes for a table? Expect 45 minutes to an hour at peak times. Wait it out over a boozy slushy at the Standard around the corner. Come on weekdays for breakfast and lunch, especially Tuesday and Wednesdays.
Who you'll eat with: Screen Door is Portland's everyman restaurant, so expect everyone from hip kids to dads to pot-bellied Midwesterners.
Year opened: 2006