You could be forgiven if the only thing you think of at Olympia Provisions is the meat. At Oregon's first and best certified dry-cure salami house, Elias Cairo's meat wizardry makes for a nonstop holiday celebration for your taste buds, earning fans all over the world: His sausages and pâtés are sold as far away as Japan.
And if you appreciate charcuterie, you should always start with the French, Spanish or Italian board, which respectively brings that mighty salami into relief against rillettes, the city's best house chorizo, or lovely mortadella and capicola. Pair that board with the wonderful cheese from top makers from both Europe and the States, whether a fruity raw cheese from Oregon's Ancient Heritage washed in merlot wine, or a milky and nutty majorero from Spain.
If Olympia excelled only at meat and cheese, that would be more than okay. But the menu at the Northwest Portland location goes far beyond that world-class baseline. Chef Eric Joppie's root-vegetable soups make the winter bearable, and the summertime fruit gazpachos (plum was recently replaced by watermelon) are the stuff of which dreams are made. Meanwhile, the beer and wine menus are eccentric and wide-ranging, from a world-beating Bordelet perry to Belgian krieks and acidic, earthy Plavina wine from Croatia. It's hard to believe a restaurant this good is hiding underneath the Fremont Bridge.
Pro Tip: Though the large meat entrées are good here, they aren't the reason this is one of the best places in Portland to get a meal. Treat the restaurant as an elegant picnic. Those $19 charcuterie plates are the main event, garnished with that beautiful cheese ($15 for three, $25 for five), pickles, great vegetable plates and grilled sausages from andouille to luscious käsekrainer.