Ox is Portland's best steakhouse. That's a mean feat for the Argentinian bar and grill, considering the depths to which this city loves cows and taters.
This year, Ox's chef-owners demonstrated their limitations with a disappointing modernist small-plates spot called SuperBite (telling detail: as of press time, The Oregonian's critic hasn't reviewed the sequel to his favorite restaurant of 2013), a situation that just underlined the elegant simplicity of this spot's perfectly seared short rib.
Ox makes meat, on a grill. Lamb shoulder, lamb heart, grass-fed Uruguayan beef rib-eye, beef tongue, beef tail—meat, on a grill. They grill hearty vegetables, too, and serve it all up with bread and that magical parsley-based elixir known as chimichurri.
The subtly spiced housemade chorizo is, likewise, tasty and a nice match for the plate of blistered padron peppers or a spread of baked ricotta with mushrooms and brown butter. There's nothing especially inventive about blistered padrons and rare rib-eye, but there doesn't really need to be, either.
Eat: Rib-eye or skirt steak with beans and salad.
Drink: Avoid the cocktails with names seemingly borrowed from Old Town (Dirty Grandma Agnes, Pillow Fight) and get the Ox Blood ($12) with bourbon , beet syrup and tarragon.
Most popular dish: Always the clam chowder.
Noise level: 40/100
Expected wait: It can be long. This is a steakhouse, so your best play is to go during a prominent sporting event—we went during a much-anticipated NFL matchup and got seated right away.
Who you'll eat with: Guys in blue button-up shirts with no ties, women in layers.
Year opened: 2012