Expatriate is Everything We Like About Chef Naomi Pomeroy

At brunch, addicting fries and salads give way to addicting burritos and waffles.

In a black-walled lair in a former hair salon just off Northeast Killingsworth Street, a group of baby boomers titters over a $6 "James Beard's Onion & Butter Sandwich." It arrives crustless, roughly the size of an iPhone Plus, and contains only what's listed in the name. A woman in a low-backed evening gown picks up one half. She turns over each side, slightly squinting, and takes a bite. "It's actually really good!" she exclaims in what sounds like relief, passing it around the table as if it were a joint.

Though Expatriate is not a restaurant per se (no minors allowed), most come exclusively to experience James Beard Award-winner Naomi Pomeroy's portfolio of mostly Asian-inspired bar snacks—the kind of unpretentious, indubitably craveable fare chefs themselves like to eat when off the clock.

Related: Portland's 2014 James Beard Award Winners: Naomi Pomeroy, Andy Ricker and… Fred Armisen

The drink menu, created by Pomeroy's husband, Kyle Webster, is arguably an equal draw, running the gamut from tropical and fruity (the coconut-and-rum False Flag, $14, comes in a whimsical hurricane glass dotted with little palm trees) to refreshingly bitter (the Charleston, $12, is lit-up pink with a splash of blueberry syrup). However, if you're here to get full, try coming back at brunch (10 am-2 pm Saturday-Sunday), when addicting fries and salads give way to addicting burritos and waffles.

Related: Expatriate Is Portland's Fifth Best Restaurant of 2014

Eat: The Expatriate nachos ($12), available only between 5 to 6 pm, late-night and at brunch, pair fried wonton chips with Thai chile-cheese sauce, spicy crumbled lemongrass beef and herbs. You will eat the entire thing yourself, and only be marginally sorry.

Drink: It's impossible to go wrong with anything from the cocktail menu, but if you truly can't decide, go with the Diplomatic Pouch—a customized creation made with your choice of spirit and a descriptor.

Most popular dish: The hot-and-sour Indian spiced fries with a variety of dipping sauces ($8) seems to grace every table.

Noise level: 75/100

Expected wait: Smooth sailing before 6 and after 10 pm; almost always a wait at brunch, though, because Portland.

Who you'll eat with: 50-something tourists enjoying a drink or three before their seating at Beast across the street.

Year opened: 2013

5424 NE 30th Ave., expatriatepdx.com. 5 pm-midnight daily. $$.

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