$ Cheap (entrees less than $10)
$$ Average (entrees $10-$18)
$$$ Expensive (entrees $19-$25)
$$$$ Half a paycheck (entrees $26 and up)
Ratings are based on a four-star scale
**** Excellent food, creative items and top notch service.
*** Good food, good value and nothing below reasonable expectations.
** Two stars are given to restaurants that are adequate but need improvement. You wouldn’t go out of your way to eat there again unless changes in quality and menu were made.
* One star is reserved for places that you would not recommend under almost any circumstances.
Pine State Biscuits
3640 SE Belmont Street, Portland
2204 NE Alberta Street, Portland
Needing to fuel a healthy appetite? Curious about the Food Network’s buzz on a joint in Portland that serves, of all things, biscuits? Pine State Biscuits delivers on the buzz like a fairy godmother, transforming simple biscuits into gourmet adventures. From hungry families to hangover cure (evidenced by the line of taxis often seen dropping off blurry eyed patrons on a Sunday morning), Pine State Biscuits is for one and all. Don’t let the line that spills outside and snarls around the block scare you away—they mean business. It is an order-first, seat-second kind of joint, as posted at the door. In short: Order. Eat. Clear. With the exception of shrimp and grits, everything at Pine State is served on a biscuit. Comfort food at its finest. The acclaimed entrée is The Reggie: fried chicken, bacon and cheese topped with gravy choice. For those who need a token green with their biscuits and gravy, try The Regina, eggs over easy topped with collard greens and doused with Texas Pete Hot Sauce. For a lunch or dinner style option, there is the BBQ biscuit: pulled pork from Portland’s own Podnah’s Pit BBQ (previously reviewed in 1859 ) topped with slaw. A heavenly side of hashbrowns completes any order, or try Hash Ups—hashbrowns with country ham or flank steak, grilled onions, mushrooms and melted cheese. You won’t need to eat again for a week. Though with price points of $2 to $8 for just about every menu item, Pine State Biscuits could become a weekly stop. And good news for night owls with late night munchies, the Alberta location stays open until 1 a.m. on weekends.
2337 E Burnside Street, Portland
Screen Door on E Burnside is a lovely place to be on a windblown rainy night in Portland. While most other restaurants in the area are but half full, Screen Door is standing room only, with people who have come for the comfort and left their calorie counters at home next to their yoga crystals. The cuisine here ranges from South Carolina low-country, to Cajun and Creole. The crispy fried buttermilk-battered chicken served in tasso ham gravy with mashed potatoes and collards ($15.75) is a star attraction. A veteran Screen Door diner counsels us not to miss the butter lettuce salad ($7.50) with radish, blue cheese, bacon and buttermilk dressing. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. The appetizer special is a cane syrup and chili-glazed pork belly over spoonbread with a butternut squash purée and topped with toasted pumpkin seeds and arugula ($9.95). You’ll want to split the fried chicken with your date to get a chance at her Cascade Natural barbeque beef brisket, topped with crispy fried onions and a complement of horseradish-bacon potato salad ($15.75). Though crowded, the service is professional, excellent and not just along for the fried chicken as we are.
Papa’s Soul Food Kitchen
400 Blair Blvd., Eugene
A trip to Papa’s Soul Food is a bit like sitting down in the kitchen of a Southern culinary genius. The restaurant is cozy, with about a dozen plain wooden tables and music posters adorning the walls. The waitstaff is friendly, but the food is what really shines here. The hot plates, which come with an entrée and two sides, are the best deal. The BBQ ribs and BBQ pulled pork ($10) melt in your mouth and are slathered in a delicious sauce. The fried chicken ($10) or baked jerk chicken ($9) are decent alternatives. When it comes to picking sides, the yams and collard greens are both quite good, but it’s worth paying the extra $1 for the mac and cheese or the fried okra. This is a place where you should expect to go home with leftovers, but if you happen to have some room left in your stomach, it’s definitely worth trying the bread pudding ($5). Served in portions big enough for four people and sitting in a pool of caramel or bourbon sauce, this rich dessert will send you out into the night warm, happy, and wondering when your waistline will allow you to make a return trip.