As the name implies, Erik Van Kley's small-plates restaurant sits just off the train tracks that run through Portland's inner eastside.
Van Kley's cuisine reflects a similar hedge: a little bit of a lot of influences play together, nicely, in dishes, such as a grilled octopus wide-noodle pasta ($16) that meld fat- (Parmesan, uni butter) and umami-rich (octopus, chili) traditions in Italian and East Asian food to a balanced finish, less nicely in a take on chicken and waffles ($16) that doesn't quite succeed in blending soul food with a spice profile borrowed from the Indian subcontinent.
The star of the show is the Singaporean fried snow crab ($33), served with a startlingly deep sweet chili sauce and bread rolls that sop up all the goodness in just the right way. But don't skip the raw starters: A yellowtail sashimi ($14) was expertly dialed with gently sweet ponzu and pluot, and our table fought over an albacore dish ($16) pushed into silken luxury with confit chicken, fried chicken skin and coconut milk.
Eat: For two people, start with the yellowtail ($14) and graduate to the octopus pasta ($16) and Singaporean crab ($33). If you're hankering for some veggies, the green beans with peppercorn dressing ($11) are an upscale, ranchy delight.
Drink: Taylor Railworks' secret weapon is its cocktails. The Floridian (rum, lime, dry cacao, grenadine; $10) makes strange, beautiful bedfellows of lime and chocolate, deftly pulling off a tricky balancing act between acid and earthy cocoa.
Most popular dish: The Noodles Alla Johnny ($16), with crab, tomato and prawn, blend Italian technique with a piquant Vietnamese flavor profile.
Noise level: 50/100, except when a big, friendly train rolls by and blasts its horn at a volume loud enough to cross the barrier from "deafening" to "endearingly deafening."
Expected wait: Taylor Railworks sits in a large space and still falls in that sweet spot between underrated hangout and big-name restaurant, which means it's never quite slammed. You shouldn't break a 20-minute wait.
Who you'll eat with: Hip, toned couples on single or double dates and larger groups of young professionals getting a big dinner in before hitting the inner eastside bar district.
Year opened: 2015