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.
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.
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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