Review: Skyline Restaurant

Skyline Restaurant
1313 NW Skyline Boulevard
Portland, OR 97229
503-292-6727
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[rating: 4.5]

Foodies around the world know the name James Beard, one of the most acclaimed American chefs of all time, so it’s a little odd to see a browned-with-age newspaper clipping framed on the wall at Skyline touting Beard’s professed devotion for this tiny retro diner’s burgers.

I happen to share Beard’s devotion to Skyline, and I have been visiting for more than two decades. Even though I don’t live as close as I did growing up, the food and atmosphere keep calling me back and Skyline never fails to satisfy.

Established in 1935, you would guess by looking at the former drive-in that very little has probably changed since the days when teenagers cruised up through the West Hills to enjoy some late-night hamburgers and milkshakes.

The drive-in service is gone, but the burgers and shakes survive. The dining area is a smattering of cozy booths and a handful of stools at the counter, all of which tend to fill up quickly during peak hours. The wood paneled walls are covered with children’s crayon drawings, mementos collected over their years in business and lots and lots of business cards (some pinned to the wall four or five deep). All of which add to the charm of this bygone-era establishment, but also take into account that their bygone-era approach means this is a cash only restaurant. (They do have an on-site ATM.)

The menu is plentiful and retains a definite diner feel with some modern upgrades (like the vegan black bean burger), but the main draw to Skyline is the burgers with their toasted, buttery buns. Continue reading Review: Skyline Restaurant

Review: Rose’s (Lloyd location)

Rose’s Restaurant and Bakery
(Lloyd Center location)
1200 NE Broadway
Portland, Oregon 97232
503-954-2758
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[rating: 4.5]

On a recent rainy, dreary Portland day, my lunch partner and I were looking for some hearty comfort food to get us through the bleakness that is fall in the Pacific Northwest. We took off toward Lloyd Center hoping to find something new and, hopefully, really tasty.

Rose’s isn’t exactly a new name in the Portland restaurant scene. The original Rose’s deli and bakery opened in 1956 over on NW 23rd Avenue. Since that time the restaurant has grown to six locations across the metro area. The Lloyd Center location is the newest, which opened in July 2008.

The reason Rose’s has been able to flourish over the past 50 years is simple: the food is great and the service is outstanding. The menu is packed with deli goodness, like Rose’s Famous Reubens, half-pound burgers, specialty sandwiches, pasta dishes, a plethora of salads and tummy-warming soups (including the popular Matzo Ball). And don’t forget the meat-friendly house specialties like pot roast, baby back ribs, meatloaf and pork chops.

When we arrived the restaurant was pretty dead, so we were seated quickly at one of the large booths. The walls of this Rose’s location are lined with flat-screen TVs and there are two quirky Portland-themed murals, which add to the bright and light atmosphere. Continue reading Review: Rose’s (Lloyd location)

Review: Billy Heartbeats

Billy Heartbeats
(Lloyd Center Mall)
2039 Lloyd Center
Portland, OR 97204
503-288-6010
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[rating: 3.5]

The conversation usually starts like this: “I want to get a malt,” he says.

Lunch Lady: Rolling my eyes because I know where this is going.

Him: “Let’s go to that diner place at Lloyd Center.”

LL: “You always say you want to go there to get a malt and then you never order one.”

Him: “But they also have real cherry Coke.”

LL: “Fine, whatever. Let’s go then.”

Yes, that is exactly how I end up a Billy Heartbeats every single time. It’s not that I have anything against the Johnny Rocket’s knock-off, but I feel like I get tricked into going.

To be honest, Billy Heartbeats isn’t bad at all, and it’s certainly better than most of the other greasy, bland food court options at Lloyd Center, although I am always tempted by Hot Dog on a Stick.

I typically indulge in the cheeseburger delux, which is what you’d expect—a hearty cheeseburger with fresh toppings, toasty bun and a mountain of very fried fries. Continue reading Review: Billy Heartbeats

Review: Biscuits Café

Biscuits Café
460 SW Miller Road
Portland, Oregon 97225
(503) 297-3880
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[rating: 1.5]

     

What do you order at a place called Biscuits Café? Biscuits, of course! Even though it was definitely lunchtime, I decided to opt for a little bit of breakfast for my midday meal. I ordered the biscuits and gravy with a side of hash browns.

The menu at Biscuits Café goes way beyond biscuits. They offer a large selection of breakfast item, including omelets, pancakes, French toast and waffles. The lunch menu includes burgers, fish and chips, sandwiches and salads.

The restaurant is only open for breakfast and lunch, but the entire menu is available until they close. Unfortunately, even with lunchtime breakfast options, I don’t think I’ll be going back.

The restaurant’s motto is “We don’t serve fast food…we serve fresh food as fast as we can!” Sadly, they’re just not all that fast. Continue reading Review: Biscuits Café

Review: NW Burger

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NW Burger
101 NW 2nd Avenue
Portland, OR 97205
(503) 219-9447
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[rating: 2.5]

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The first time I stumbled upon NW Burger it was very late at night when one of my friends was hungry for a hot dog. This place is pretty much a hole in the wall, but the food is actually not as bad as you might expect from the slightly worn looking storefront in the heart of Old Town/Chinatown.

The menu is simple: burgers, hot dogs, polish sausages and fries. So it’s not necessarily a good pick for veggies. But if you enjoy a grilled burger and crispy fries, this place is at least worth trying. Continue reading Review: NW Burger

Review: Virginia Café

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Virginia Café
NEW ADDRESS: 820 SW 10th Avenue
Portland, OR
503-227-0033
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[rating:4]

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[Editor’s Note: It’s official, the Virginia Cafe has moved to 820 SW 10th Avenue, just across from the library. We are planning to check out the new digs and let you know what we think very soon!]

Over the weekend I had probably my last lunch at the Virginia Café at its current location on SW Park Avenue. You see, just over a year ago the landmark restaurant and bar announced they would have to close down or move because the building within which they are housed is going to be torn down to become yet another shiny retail/condo high-rise. Luckily, the owners have found a new location for VC, but now it’s time to say goodbye to the old dwelling.

Sure, the place itself is nothing fancy; the décor is kitschy, the upstairs bathroom is pretty scary and nonsmokers curse the free-for-all smoking policy (that will change in the new location as they will be going non-smoking).

But there is something undeniably charming, cozy and Old Portland about the location they are vacating. Where else hipsters mix with preppy downtown workers mix with 50-somethings without batting an eye? If Pioneer Courthouse Square is Portland’s “living room” then VC is Portland’s den with a wet bar. Continue reading Review: Virginia Café

Review: Ford’s on Fifth (now Theo’s)

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Ford’s on Fifth (renamed Theo’s)
121 NW Fifth Avenue
Portland, OR
503-226-2828
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[rating:4]

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To be honest, I discovered the deliciousness that is Ford’s on Fifth very late one night when several friends and I were in great need of some greasy grub before calling it a night. But I was happily surprised to discover Ford’s is also a great place to grab lunch during the week.

Ford’s specializes in meat—burgers and steak sandwiches dominate the menu—but they do offer salads (yes, they offer a Caprese salad!), a veggie burger and a veggie melt if you are dining with someone who, ya know, doesn’t eat animals. Continue reading Review: Ford’s on Fifth (now Theo’s)

Review: Giant Drive-In

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Giant Drive-In
15840 Boones Ferry Road
Lake Oswego, OR
503-636-0255
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[rating:4]

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Burger lovers rejoice!

Giant Drive-In has been a Lake Oswego staple for decades, and it’s easy to see why this little burger joint has been able to last so long: They’ve got great burgers. Sure, you can go in for just a standard burger with the typical fixings, but the real find at Giant is their claim to fame, their specialty burgers.

Best known for The Filler (which the owner jokingly referred to as the “college student special”), it comes packed with the works, but other mouth-watering options include Blue Cheese, Teriyaki, Hawaiian, Jalapeno, Ranch burgers and many more. If you are a first-time Giant visitor don’t fret over all the options, just look for the specialty burger descriptions listed above the cash register. Each burger is served on a delicious toasted bun and with fresh toppings. Continue reading Review: Giant Drive-In