Being stoned and hungry in Portland does not have to mean settling for tacos or pad thai. The quality of dining options here is unmatched by most cities twice its size. You owe it to yourself to sate your munchies with something nice and exciting from time to time.
Most stoners are well aware Portland is home to some of the most celebrated chefs in the Pacific Northwest. But getting a delicious meal from them does not always mean entering the stuffy world of white tablecloths and esoteric flatware. You may want to put a real pair of pants on before emerging from your hazy cocoon, but don't worry about someone asking you to ditch the dirty Carhartt beanie.
If you're baked out of your skull but worried about breaking the bank, you can still join the leisure class in their fancyish environs, if you know where to go and when. Here are some of your best options for when pizza rolls just won't cut it.
Next door at Le Pigeon, you'll probably need a reservation booked weeks in advance for the privilege of shelling out around $30 per plate for celebrity chef Gabriel Rucker's dazzling nouveau French fare. At Canard, Rucker's latest foray into finding clever ways to embellish as many dishes as possible with truffle oil, foie gras and duck fat, the menu is a tad less expensive but no less decadent. You can still plunk down $20 for a stack of pancakes doused in duck gravy and a duck egg, but the vibe is decidedly more chill, thanks to its walk-ins-only policy and generous happy-hour menu. Every day between 4 and 5 pm and 10 pm and midnight, you'll find garlic fries with Gouda and green goddess dipping sauce ($4), pork and eel terrine with housemade giardiniera and unagi sauce ($7), and a killer $3 steam burger with American cheese that Rucker gleefully admits is an homage to White Castle. Harold and Kumar would be proud.
It's hard not to be intimidated by Nostrana. But don't let the 25-foot ceilings lined with sepia-toned paintings of the Old World and bottles of wine worth more than your car trick you into thinking you're not worthy. The best dishes at this award-winning Italian powerhouse are as simple as they are elegant, and many of them can be found nightly after 9 pm on the happy-hour menu. The margherita pizza ($9) and the mini charcuterie board ($5) are obvious standouts that check all the boxes for flavors a high person might crave. But you'd be a fool to overlook the Insalata Nostrana ($4), a gorgeous radicchio salad covered in just enough Parmesan, croutons and fresh Caesar dressing to make you forget you're eating something moderately healthy.
Little Bird Bistro
Nothing screams "luxury" like enjoying oysters ($2 each) and chicken liver mousse ($4) while the clatter of MAX swirls outside. Yet again, head chef Gabriel Rucker defies pomp and convention at this dimly lit downtown bistro, bringing rich and indulgent Franco-American fare for the masses. There's nothing more crowd pleasing than a happy-hour menu that features a double brie burger dripping with gooey cheese and sizzling grease. It's a paltry $7, making it easy to add a side of crispy frites and aioli for an extra $4. Roasted beets ($10) are an excellent choice for those in search of a more well-rounded meal, which is exactly what you'll get if you arrive between 2:30 and 5 pm (6 pm if you're at the bar) or after 10 pm.
Vitaly Paley was one of Portland's first celebrity chefs, and he pays homage to the city's unpretentious roots with one of the most approachable happy hours you'll find at a respected tent pole of the fine-dining scene. Offered Monday through Friday from 2 to 6 pm and 3 to 6 pm on weekends, the big catch at Imperial's bar-only happy hour is the $6 flat-top burger, which pairs a juicy slab of beef with sweet grilled onions, creamy aioli and melted sharp cheddar. Add some fries ($3), a kale-and-vegetable salad with goat cheese dressing ($5) and a smoky sweet Vieux Carré ($6) to wash it down, and you've got a fancy night out that'll leave you with plenty of cash left over to cop that new oil cartridge you've been pining for.
Speaking of Paley, Rosa Rosa is his brand-new pan-Mediterranean restaurant located on the ground level of the Dossier Hotel. Don't let the glossy sheen of the lobby and the expansive selection of elegant Italian classics located in the "backroom" menu fool you into thinking it's a stuffy restaurant. The happy-hour menu, available daily in the "front room" from 3 to 6 pm, is as casual and comfortable as it gets. Bring a friend and stuff your face with all kinds of Georgian, Turkish and Italian classics for under $5, like the Boyos (strips of fluffy spinach-and cheese-stuffed bread, $4), a neon-green hummus platter ($3.75) or a kebab of herbaceous and tangy chicken chkmeruli ($5). Miller High Life is $3.25 at all times, but you may as well reward yourself for slogging through downtown with a fancy draft cocktail like a bubbly 750 Spritz ($6) or the smooth, bittersweet A Night in Tunisia ($8).
We love sushi-go-rounds just as much as the next stoner, but graduating from pulling loose portions of California rolls off a conveyor led by a toy train is an adult goal every West Coaster should aspire to. The happy hour at each of Bamboo Sushi's four locations in Portland proper make that easy, provided you're willing to show up right when they open (with the exception of the Southwest Portland location, which is open for lunch). Enjoy a carefully selected array of discounted rolls, like the avocado- and albacore-loaded Camo Roll or a classic Philly Roll ($11 and $7, respectively) alongside izakaya classics like vegetable tempura ($5), chicken karaage ($6) and a rotating selection of chef's choice steam buns for just $4 a pop.