PHOTOS: Matt D'Annunzio

We've already written at length about how much we love the food at Laurelhurst Market, the heroically renovated former mini-mart that Ben Dyer, Jason Owens and Dave Kreifels, the men behind Simpatica Dining Hall and Catering and Viande Meats, have transformed into the city's best steakhouse. The juicy moules frites, the perfect steak tartare and the surprisingly complex side dishes are all worthy of the highest praise. But little has been said about the innovatively democratic nature of the restaurant. Most steakhouses, at least the good ones, are monuments to wealth. The white-aproned captains, extravagant wine lists and immense cuts of meat that cost a day's wages are calculated to make diners feel like kings, sequestered away from the masses in dimly lit, luxuriously outfitted halls. And that's nice, sure, but there's something to be said for popular enfranchisement in dining. At Laurelhurst Market, the menu is designed to be accessible to penny-pinching students and West Hills lawyers alike. It is easily possible to have an excellent, satisfying dinner for two with wine for $40, and just as easy to drop $100. The restaurant's shared entrance with the deli, the dining room's immense sliding glass walls and the outdoor bar tucked in the corner of the lot are all designed to be inviting, to make the building seem open to all comers. Want a beer with your steak? No problem! Want an appetizer for your entree? Feel free! If you're unfamiliar with, say, plugrá or guanciale, you'll get an explanation without a drop of condescension. This is a brasserie for everyman. The only downside? Everyman will have to wait a while for his check.

  1. Order This: House-cured salt cod fritters—the pingpong-ball-size lumps of battered, deep-fried fish are the best bar snack in town.
  2. Best Deal: The salads—a large makes an entree for two—and sandwiches.
  3. I’ll Pass: The bacon cheeseburger is an exercise in excess, topped with bacon, cheese and pimento, arugula and bread-and-butter pickles. It’s simply too much food.
3155 E Burnside St., 206-3097, Dinner Wedneday-Monday, deli open 10am - 7pm daily. Reservations for six or more. Wheelchair accessible. $$-$$$$ Moderate-very expensive.