320 SW Alder St., 444-7813; 2921 NE Alberta St., 206-6148; darsalamportland.com. Lunch and dinner Monday-Saturday.
This excellent, casual Iraqi restaurant has made some of the best Middle Eastern fare in town since opening as a cart operated by a pair of refugees who fled the chaos of their native Baghdad after Dubya's mission was accomplished. On Alberta, in fact, they still cooked out of the cart while serving diners in a bungalow covered in photos of the old country. Salam makes the staples—steaky kebabs with lots of sumac, super-creamy hummus, extra-nutty baklava—plus an array of must-try specialties, including a pretty pink beet and yogurt dip and a unique version of shredded chicken shawarma served with a side of chickpea marga. The lavishly decorated downtown spot has a wall of evil eyes and a spectacular tile mural re-creating the Ishtar Gate, built by Babylonian emperor Nebuchadnezzar II.