Best Floating Food Cart
If you're hungry on the water in Portland, there's only one real solution. You have to find the Dood. For years, boaters everywhere have been faced with a crisis. Fitting food in a cooler already filled with Pabst Blue Ribbon is hard, but finding a restaurant with precious dock parking is even harder.
Enter Weenies on the Water, the Columbia and Willamette rivers' solution to the great floating hunger crisis. Owner and chef Jeff Dood—his real name, although he'll answer to "El Capitan"—calls Weenies "an ice-cream-truck concept. Except it's hot dogs. On water. For boats." He has one pontoon boat with a three-burner grill, and in the summer the Dood works overtime to pump out his weenies as fast as possible.
"When the order is ready, I perform the still-yet-to-be-perfected handoff maneuver," Dood says. "Taking the money ($6 for a Screemin' Weenie) and handing over the bag of food in one, quick motion between two boats drifting at different rates in the current, bobbing around wildly, all at arm's length, without touching or dropping food or money in the river." Did you like Apollo 13? Well, this is about as close to docking two modules in outer space as you are going to get, and the payload is a tasty, freshly cooked weenie.
The boat is hard to miss: It's a pontoon with a giant sausage spinning on the roof. But it doesn't have a jingle like an ice-cream truck or a PA yet. "Maybe one day if I get big enough, I'll have a weenie jingle," Dood says. For now, you have to use Twitter or Facebook to find him, and hope he gets his planned GPS-enabled website up in time for the bulk of this year's floating season. PARKER HALL.
Best Hot Sauce
It's the Germans, I think. The weak-tongued kraut bastards who settled this land after it was severed from Mexico had no use for chilies. Their effect on our native cuisine lingers, leaving a local cuisine that is simply too mild for those of us who know the culinary delights experienced only after one has loosened and opened the buds of taste with a pepper of appropriate heat.
Nikki Guerrero knows my longing, for it is also her own. And in Hot Mama Chile de Arbol Chili Oil she has created a spicy condiment that's capable of finally bringing peppers to Portland.
"I've been making it for many years for myself, but I started making it for sale," she says. "It's my favorite thing I make. It's what I eat."
You can't create a culture of heat just by throwing some hot shit together, of course. With apologies to Secret Aardvark, there's a lot of good hot sauce in the world.
Guerrero's plot was more ambitious, and involved our native soil. A few years back, she got Morgan's Landing Farm on Sauvie Island to grow the Arbol peppers she needed to make her sauce.
"It's a hot-weather chili, and we weren't sure we'd be able to do it," she says.
But do it they did. Once they had the peppers, which need to be dried indoors here, unlike in Oaxaca, where chili oil is a regular table condiment like ketchup or yellow mustard. That takes between one and three months. Then she stems the chilies and cooks them in peanut oil with garlic. Finally, she turns off the heat and adds the sesame seeds.
"It's basically as slow toasting in the oil," she says. "You want that garlic to get golden and roasty."
Between the peanut oil and the sesame seeds, the heat of the chilies is balanced out by deep earthiness and nuttiness. Try it for yourself with a jar from the farmers markets in Kenton, St. Johns, Hollywood, King and Woodstock or the New Seasons in Arbor Lodge, Concordia, Hawthorne, Grant Park, Nyberg Rivers and Progress Ridge. MARTIN CIZMAR.
Best Farm-To-Trolley Service
A sliver of civility carved within the wilds of East Portland between 92nd and 102nd avenues, Maywood Park has existed as a separate city within Portland since 1967, when the fight over I-205's design turned neighbor against neighbor. The city has lower taxes, higher property values, negligible crime, and a fiercely curated small-town atmosphere, but it appears freedom isn't free: There's no food. Whereas East County might famously lack variety in its grocery outlets, Maywood Park doesn't even have a convenience store. Like so many island paradises, it has to rely on imports for its food supply.
But if you've got nowhere to put a store, why not bring one in on wheels? A retired Texas streetcar named Molly the Trolley now visits the Maywood Park green space at 10 each Saturday morning and sets up shop till noon, selling groceries from Whole Foods.
Kevin Atchley, co-owner of Food Network-tested and Oprah-approved local franchise Pine State Biscuits, happened to have some connections with the retail giant, which partnered last year with Portlander Amelia Pape's My Street Grocery, a service that travels around setting up temporary shop in neighborhoods without access to healthy foods. In November 2014, Atchley and other community members brought the trolley to Maywood Park for a trial visit. It has since become a permanent stop.
"It's kind of a community gathering," says Maywood Park Mayor Mark Hardie. "When the trolley comes into the neighborhood, a lot of people take advantage and head over there to sit around. They buy their French bread, their fruits, their veggies, have their coffee, and kibitz. It's pretty nice." JAY HORTON.
Best Pig Explosion
And at the Igpay food cart (4631 N Albina Ave., 970-556-3280) next to Albina Press, Des Moines native John Shaffer and wife Regina Reale make probably the best version this side of the Rockies. The beauty that is the Iowa Bob starts with a tender cut of pig, thrown through a hand-cranked tenderizer that looks like what the Inquisition would have used on Porky. But it's the breading, a secret spice blend mixed with crushed saltines, that sets it over the edge. Like many Iowan things—the sliced-bread industry, fields of wheat so endless they make you existential, the day the music died—the Iowa Bob pork tenderloin offers both simplicity and excess. It is merely a fried cutlet the size of your face, hit with standard yellow mustard and held between buns that never stood a chance. And it's perfect. AP KRYZA.
Best Ketchup and Mustard
The family-run Beaverton Foodsâlocated, strangely enough, in Hillsboroâis already a titan, a favorite of the late chef James Beard that was dubbed by National Mustard Museum curator Barry Levenson as âthe New York Yankees of the mustard world.â This is because they are winners, not because theyâre evil: At this yearâs World-Wide Mustard Competition, their Beaver and Inglehoffer mustards won more medals than anyone else in the country, bringing home three golds and nine medals overall amid the 16 judging categories.
They won first prizes with their brand-new Sriracha mustard and wasabi horseradish mustard, sure, but the real classic among the gold-medal winners was the simple Inglehoffer sweet-hot, gussier of every single homemade sandwich of my youth. It is the only sweet-hot that matters, and their Coney Island mustard is possibly the most perfect refrigerator hot-dog topping imaginable.
The biggest difference between Regular Portland Bread and regular Portland bread? Regular Portland Bread is food.
"At some point," says RPB owner Nick Burger, "bread became something you put food on. With this bread, the bread is the food."
He's not exaggerating. Burger's super-dense square loaves, which weigh a pound and occupy roughly the same space as six stacked CD jewel cases, are the best bread I've had in this city.
Chances are you haven't had them yet—he moves only a couple hundred loaves a week through New Seasons, local co-ops and farmers markets, including Hollywood.
Maybe you don't believe me about how good this bread is. Well, let me burnish Burger's bona fides a bit before sending you out to spend $5 to $6.50 on a loaf.
Before striking out on his own, Burger was the man in charge of dough at both Apizza Scholls and Ken's Artisan Pizza. Yeah, he made the key ingredient for the best pizza in Portland. And then for the other best pizza in Portland. The man knows bread.
"I could be another guy making pizza," he says, "but this was such a unique thing that I wanted to do it."
This is his best project yet. These dark brown loaves are dense, nutty and moist. They have layers of mild sourness—they're almost beery. And they keep forever. Burger says they're modeled on the sort of traditional German breads "that last for two years," though I'd recommend keeping them in your fridge for only about a month.
"It ferments for about 12 hours at room temperature, which is a very long fermentation. Any sort of bread you pick up off the shelf ferments for an hour or so," he says. "That long fermentation does all sorts of magical things. People who don't like how normal bread makes them feel often [prefer] long-fermented breads like this one because the long fermentation breaks down a lot of the gluten. It helps your digestive system and it makes you feel super-full."
Yup, it does. It really is the best bread. MARTIN CIZMAR.
Best Lunch in a Time Machine
On a lake that's no longer a lake, there sits a cafeteria that time forgot. The old Guild's Lake is now a bunch of Northwest Portland warehouses, but at the Guild's Lake Inn (3271 NW 29th Ave., 226-0260, guildslakeinn.com), you'd never know it. Owner Bryan McAdams will step out from behind the till and use a laser pointer to show you, in one of the many sepia-toned photos hanging from the walls, the site of the 1905 Lewis and Clark Centennial and American Pacific Exposition and Oriental Fair, on an island in the lake.
"The first world fair ever to make a profit," he says proudly.
Guild's Lake Inn isn't quite that old—McAdams has had it for 14 years and estimates it's been around for a little over 30—but it is the kind of cafeteria where Peggy Olson spent her lunch breaks. You stand in line, grab a tray and place an order that will hopefully include some meat-based sandwich and a pasta salad. It's all about the salad that isn't really salad here: pasta salad, taco salad, tuna salad, chicken salad, egg salad and, of course, "fancy" egg salad, which comes in sandwich form. The secret about the salads, though, and all the food, is that it's delicious and cheap. The trays are really just for drinks and transporting a vast array of Beaver mustards back to your wooden table set in a wide dining room filled mainly with white-haired men, because the hot food is always brought to you by one of Guild's Lake Inn's friendly employees, or McAdams himself. Guild's Lake Inn will finally make you understand what people mean when they talk about "the good old days." LIZZY ACKER.