1. RingSide Steakhouse
2165 W Burnside St., 503-223-1513, ringsidesteakhouse.com. 5-9 pm Monday-Thursday, 4:30-9:30 pm Friday, 4-9:30 pm Saturday, 4-9 pm Sunday.
For the first time since the start of the pandemic, RingSide will be open seven days a week. The iconic steakhouse remained closed on Mondays and Tuesdays once it resumed indoor dining, but let’s face it: Sometimes you really need to carve into a dry-aged, bone-in rib-eye to get your week started on the right foot. The $48 three-course prime rib special has returned to its normal Monday slot, and if you’re looking for some quality meat for a Memorial Day weekend meal without the work, RingSide is selling its baby back rib kit for the holiday.
2838 SE Belmont St., 971-383-1619, blutospdx.com. 11 am-10 pm daily.
Bluto’s, named after John Belushi’s hard-partying character in Animal House, comes from Lardo and Grassa mastermind Rick Gencarelli and the ChefStable restaurant group. Like Lardo and Grassa, it aims for that fancy, fast-casual niche, with counter service and midrange prices belying some seriously tasty cooking. Bluto’s portion sizes are perfect for sharing, so covering a table in a variety of dishes and allowing the flavors to mingle is the right way to eat here. The zippy citrus and sour labneh in the chicory salad should be eaten in between bites of the savory skewers and hummus scooped up with pita bread.
3. Yes Please Smash Burger
3950 SE Hawthorne Blvd., 707-500-2117, yespleasesmashburger.com. Noon-5 pm Wednesday-Sunday.
As the child of a naturopath and a herbalist, Tai Pfeifer grew up eating fresh and healthy, and was determined to bring that to his slow fast food. The Yes Please Smash Burger is grass-finished (as opposed to “grass-fed,” a term that still allows grain consumption), and until recently, Pfeifer ground the meat himself, using a mixture of brisket and heart. He also makes his own American cheese from real cheddar, which doesn’t have the dozen-plus ingredients you’ll find in Kraft Singles. It’s also actually a cheese sauce, which gets poured directly on the burger during cooking, resulting in an almost fricolike crusty crispy cheese halo.
4. Mercato at Caffe Mingo
807 NW 21st Ave., 503-226-4646, caffemingonw.com. 11 am-9 pm Tuesday-Friday, 2-9 pm Saturday-Sunday.
Mercato’s Jerry Lasagna is named after Mingo chef Jerry Huisinga, who’s been feeding Portland pasta for three decades. This is a petite and classic white lasagna, with a strongly nutmegged béchamel sauce playing the starring role in every bite. The noodles and the pork-and-beef Bolognese add texture as much as flavor, with one cheese, grana Padano, capping it off. Add a salad and some bread and you’ll definitely get two servings from one order.
5. Phuket Cafe
1818 NW 23rd Place, 503-781-2997, phuketcafepdx.com. 5-10 pm Monday-Friday, 10 am-2 pm and 5-10 pm Saturday-Sunday.
Rocketship Earl has catapulted skyward again. Phuket Cafe, located inside the compact former Ataula space in Northwest Portland, is Akkapong “Earl” Ninsom’s newest restaurant and co-venture with bartender Eric Nelson. After barely a month, waits can run long for Ninsom’s new, twisted take on Thai cuisine, a niche he owns. It’s a challenge to describe the menu, but it reflects the pair’s recent travels in Thailand, and includes everything from oysters on the half shell to bacon bites to paella to a glorious pork chop—a massive 18-ounce Tails & Trotters cut, sliced from the bone for service.