Steak and Seafood
A Portland tradition since 1907, Dan and Louis Oyster Bar (208 SW Ankeny St., 503/227-5906, www.danandlouis.com, 11 a.m.–9 p.m. Mon.–Thurs., 11 a.m.–10 p.m. Fri.–Sat., noon–9 p.m. Sun., $10–22) occupies a very atmospheric bar and dining room at the heart of Old Town. Filled with old photos and a century’s worth of maritime bric-a-brac, the dining room is designed to look like the interior of a wooden ship. However, don’t come here looking for the latest evolution of seafood cuisine—this is the place for old-school fish and shellfish preparations that point to the 1950s. However, you can’t beat the oysters.
Jake’s Famous Crawfish (901 SW 12th St., 503/226-1419, 11 a.m.–11 p.m. Mon.–Thurs., 11 a.m.–midnight Fri., noon–midnight Sat., 3–11 p.m. Sun., $15–35) has been one of Portland’s most popular restaurants since 1892. It’s also the prototype for an entire genre of clubby brass- and oak-paneled seafood establishments across the country, but this is the original. An old-fashioned fish and steak house, Jake’s is emblematic of traditional Northwest cooking at its best—dozens of fresh fish choices, hefty cuts of beef, and oysters on the half shell from the region’s most pristine bays are all well prepared and served up by a knowledgeable white-jacketed staff. The dining room is full of character, hung with vintage gilt-framed landscape paintings, and the adjacent bar is simply full of characters. Expect rowdy crowds, local celebrities, and a good time.
For dinner in a classic setting, try Jake’s Grill (Governor Hotel, SW 10th Ave. and Alder St., 503/220-1850 or 800/554-3456, 6:30 a.m.–11 p.m. daily, $12–36), which offers a wide selection of prime beef, fresh fish, and seafood, as you’d expect, but with the addition of comfort food selections such as meat loaf and chicken pot pie. The bar, filled with carved oak and hung with elk and bison heads, is very popular 3–6 p.m. for great value $1.95 appetizers. What sets Jake’s Grill apart is its stylish dining room, preserved intact from the 1910s as part of the grandly refurbished Governor Hotel. It’s a glorious space, with towering ceilings, mosaic tile floors, burnished oak booths, banks of windows, and acres of red velvet curtains. At least stop by for a drink, or better yet, breakfast—the dining room is lovely in the morning light.
Portland’s top steakhouse is El Gaucho (319 SW Broadway, 503/227-8794, www.elgaucho.com, 5–10:30 p.m. daily, steaks $27–62). Suave, dimly lit, and exclusive, El Gaucho offers a steakhouse experience from a more gracious era, with tuxedo-clad waiters hovering at the table, tossing Caesar salad, carving chateaubriand, and flaming cherries jubilee. The beef is indeed notable: 28-day dry-aged Angus prime, available as steaks, tenderloin, ribs, and on flaming swords (a kind of fiery shish kebab). Rack of lamb, chicken, ostrich, and several fish and seafood options are also available. The open kitchen and swank bar are all very atmospheric, and so are the prices. The late-night bar menu, available 10 p.m.–1 a.m. and all evening Sunday, offers night owls a chance to sample the beef without the staggering prices.
by Judy Jewell and W. C. McRae from Moon Oregon, 8th Edition, © Elizabeth & Mark Morris and Avalon Travel