Review: Mac! Mac & Cheesery (NoPo)


Mac! Mac & Cheesery
3936 N. Mississippi Avenue
Portland, Oregon 97227
Map It!
Ph: 503-200-5787
Hours: Sunday-Thurs 11 a.m.-9 p.m.; Fri/Sat 11 a.m.-10 p.m.
Website | Menu | Facebook | Twitter
Lunch Money: $$
Rating: ★★★★☆

How many times have I attempted to try Tasty n Sons in NoPo? Three. How many times has the line been too long for my famished belly to wait for a table? Three.

Usually this is met with an annoying shrug and slog back to the car in the rain to seek out a less exciting lunchtime eatery…but this time was different.

This time I was prepared with an equally enticing eatery in mind as a backup plan. Mac! Mac & Cheesery has actually been on my “must eat there” list since they opened back in September of 2011, especially knowing one of my best friends (who was with me for lunch) is a self-confessed mac ‘n cheese addict.

Walking in, I immediately noticed the place was very clean and airy. The walls are lined with retro lunchboxes, which is a very cool, unique decorative touch.

Although I knew the place’s specialty was mac ‘n cheese, I have to admit I was still a bit overwhelmed by the number of options! There are 16 versions of mac ‘n cheese on the menu as well as a daily special or two. Wowza!

Because you order at the register before you sit down, you might want to grab a menu and take a look first (there’s also the menu on a chalkboard on the wall as you walk in). This was actually the hardest decision of my entire day! There were almost too many tasty things to pick from! The Caprese (mozzarella, basil and tomatoes), the Green Eggs and Ham (ham, spinach and a fried egg) and the Cordon Bleu (roasted chicken, Swiss and prosciutto) were on my short list, but then the hostess told us the specials….

POUTINE mac ‘n cheese?! Yes, please!! (Who can resist poutine? Not this Lunch Lady, that’s for sure.)

I’m pretty sure my lunch pal was equally overwhelmed by the number of mac ‘n cheese options, but he ultimately decided on the Cheeseburger version (ground beef, onions, bacon, Cheddar and topped with BBQ chips).

The two macs and two sodas rang up to be $21 before tip. Not bad at all.

We were given a number for our table and our drinks and headed upstairs to find a seat. We were happily surprised to see that the TV upstairs was tuned to the Timbers match and a few tables were occupied with legit Timers fans. I’m sure it helps that Mac! Mac & Cheesery offers a full bar!

The wait for our food was not long and our mac ‘n cheeses arrived on oversized, deep-dish plates. My eyes were as big as saucers when I saw the amount of mac ‘n cheese sitting before me. Seriously huge portions!

The first thing we both noticed was the massive amount of cheese. Mac! Mac & Cheesery must go through many, many pounds of the gooey stuff on a daily basis because calling it “cheesy” might even be an understatement.

Both macs were delicious. I loved the fried cheese curds atop my Poutine mac and the chips on the Cheeseburger mac added a tasty crunch to each bite.

Needless to say, and despite the enormous portions, both plates were practically licked clean!

Along with the mac ‘n cheese, the menu offers an array of sandwiches, salads and soups. There are plenty of veggie options and even a vegan mac and gluten-free pasta alternative.

Overall, Mac! Mac and Cheesery was fun and fantastic place to grab a hearty, quick and inexpensive lunch. Indeed, I keep thinking about the different types of mac ‘n cheese I want to try when I go back (I just wish they had a sampler option so I could try more than one at a time)!

PROS:
– Cheese
– Yummy comfort food in hearty portions
– Outside seating on warm days (great for people watching on Mississippi)
– TVs for sporting events
– Full bar and daily HH

CONS:
– Parking is always a hassle near Mississippi
– This is NOT diet food
– Wish there were a sampler option

Mac! Mac & Cheesery on Urbanspoon

Review: Boke Bowl (SE Industrial District)

Boke Bowl
1028 SE Water Avenue
Portland, OR 97214
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Website | Twitter | Facebook | Menu
Lunch money: $$-$$$
Rating: ★★★★½

Portland has a lot of noodle options. Like, A LOT of noodle options. So when the buzz-a-thon about Boke Bowl opening their first permanent location began to spread via Twitter, I knew I was going to have to check it out…stat.

If you’re unfamiliar, the Boke Bowl craze actually dates back to September 2010 when the owners launched their first pop-up dinner, and since that first special event Boke Bowl has won the attention and affection of many a foodie and non-foodie alike.

I really didn’t know what to expect for my first lunchtime visit to their new SE Water Avenue location (just across from clarklewis and next door to Bunk Bar), but I did expect it to be crowded. And it was. We arrived just before noon on a Tuesday and the line stretched the length of the front windows…but luckily there is a good amount of standing room inside (otherwise that’s a big dealbreaker on rainy PDX days).

You order and pay at the counter and then (hopefully) find a seat. There’s a massive menu displayed on the wall and the ordering process is straightforward. Pick a dashi (Japanese-style stock) flavor, choose anything you would like to add on and you’re done!

Boke Bowl also offers a couple side dishes (kimchi, assorted pickles, etc.), steamed buns and desserts just in case that oversized bowl of noodles, veggies and deliciousness wasn’t quite filling enough.

I went with the pork and chicken dashi, which includes smoked pulled pork ($9) and my lunch pal went for the seafood miso dashi with shrimp ($10). We also indulged our sweet tooths and opted to get the chocolate with coconut cream Boke twinkie.

We were lucky enough on that visit to find a place to sit right away. There are several single tables, but the most common seating option is the communal long tables. While the communal style might seem a little awkward at first, you never really feel that your dining neighbors are too close for comfort. Continue reading Review: Boke Bowl (SE Industrial District)

Brunch Review: Pink Rose (The Pearl)

Pink Rose
1300 NW Lovejoy Street
Portland, OR 97209
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Ph: 503-482-2165
Website | Twitter | Facebook |Menu
Lunch money: $$-$$$
Rating: ★★★★☆

What’s the best part of the weekend? Brunch, of course! But finding an affordable, upscale brunch in Portland (where the wait list time is less than an hour) can be difficult.

So when I recently stopped by Pink Rose in the Pearl for a quick happy hour with friends, a glimpse at their brunch menu and I knew I had to return…soon. Like that very weekend. And I did. [Note: Our server mentioned the bottomless mimosas for just $10—how could I possibly pass that up?!?!]

Seeing that their location is just steps from Stumptown Lunch headquarters, I’d been meaning to try the food at Pink Rose ever since they opened up this past August. Alas, it took the arrival of the cold, wind and rain (and the accompanying “I don’t want to go out in this weather” mood) to get me in the door.

Now I’m kicking myself for waiting so long.

From 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays Pink Rose has a special brunch menu that includes all things meaty, gooey, cheesy, bacon-y and toasty! Seriously, there is something to please just about everyone—although if you are veggie/vegan the options are somewhat limited (although they do seem to make some substitutions upon request).

I started off with a mimosa (obviously) and my brunch buddy started with a big cup of coffee. The coffee arrived with THREE different types of sugar and my oversized glass of chilled champagne and orange juice was pure delightfulness.

I ordered my usual, a breakfast sandwich ($6), and brunch buddy went with the turkey Benedict ($12), both were served with potatoes. The portions were perfect for my appetite—hearty, but not overwhelming. I particularly loved the very fresh avocado on my breakfast sandwich. In fact, everything tasted very fresh. My brunch buddy offered up a taste of his turkey Benedict and it was very flavorful…and completely delicious! We both devoured almost everything on the plate. There were no leftovers! Continue reading Brunch Review: Pink Rose (The Pearl)

Review: Hamburger Mary’s (Old Town)


Hamburger Mary’s
19 NW 5th Avenue
Portland, Oregon 97209
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Ph: 503-688-1200
Website | Twitter | Facebook | Menu
Lunch money: $$-$$$
Rating: ★★★★☆
 
My recent visit to Portland’s “new” Hamburger Mary’s was on a whim. I was meeting up with a friend and we hadn’t devised a lunch destination in advance. As we headed toward our planned meet up spot, he text suggested Mary’s.  I immediately agreed.

I had yet to visit the new version of this venerable eatery…and I hadn’t been to any other Hamburger Mary’s since the original Portland location closed in the ‘90s. Now the “new” Mary’s has been open for a full year…totally time for a visit!

The self-proclaimed “gayest” restaurant in town certainly has an expansive menu, but what else could you want from an establishment called Hamburger Mary’s other than a big, juicy hamburger? And the hamburger menu alone is fat with options. There are standard burgers and specialty burgers, but then you get to pick your meat (or meatless) patty options—they offer everything from vegan to black bean to buffalo to Kobe beef.

I went with the simple Mary Burger with cheddar cheese and tater tots on the side. My lunch buddy went with the Spicy Mary, which comes piled high with jalapenos, spicy Mojo sauce and blackening seasoning, and chose a side of fries.

I wasn’t truly prepared for the size of the burgers that soon landed on our table. Huge. Massive, in fact. I liked that each burger came with a extra large steak knife because a.) the heaping burgers are stuffed with toppings and b.) unless you are super-duper hungry, you’re probably going to have leftovers for later.

The burger verdict? The meat was juicy, the toppings were very fresh and the bun was, like, WOWZA! Seriously, the buns are amazing. Our server told us they are made locally daily and (*cringe*) made of 25 percent butter. So, so, so good. Continue reading Review: Hamburger Mary’s (Old Town)

Review: Hawaiian Time (Pearl District)

Hawaiian Time
505 NW 14th Ave.
Portland, OR 97209
Map It!
503-459-4040 ‎
Hours: Sun-Th 11 a.m. to 9 p.m./F-Sat 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Facebook Page | Menu (PDF) | Lunch Money: $$
Rating: ★★★★½

Aloha my lovely Stumptown Lunch brahs! Are you ready to grind into some epic “plate lunch” awesomeness?

Plate Lunch: A combo menu item that is a traditional part of Hawaiian cuisine. While some options will vary, the standard plate lunch consists of a main entrée, two scoops of rice and a scoop of macaroni salad.

We’d been hearing about the Hawaiian Time location in the Pearl District almost constantly since we arrived back in PDX last month. This is mainly because our best bud, Matt W., is a regular and he’s constantly bragging about having just eaten there on the way over to Stumptown Lunch HQs. (BTW, yeah, thanks for NOT bringing us some all those times, Matt!)

So, after a recent visit to Powell’s, we decided to hoof it a few blocks to try some of the Polynesian meat treats for ourselves.

The verdict is in: What the heck were we waiting for?!?!

To say it was good would be an understatement. To say it was delicious would still be an understatement. To say that we could eat at Hawaiian Time every single day would be absolutely accurate. Seriously. It’s that good!

Walking into the former-gas-station-turned-tiny-restaurant-joint, we were surprised by how simple and straightforward the menu was. Meat, more meat, side of meat, marinated meat, grilled meat, seasoned meat…oh, and steamed rice and that notorious mac salad. Yes, there are one or two vegetarian options, but serious veggie-only types won’t have much to pick from here.

If you are going for one of the plate lunches you’ll have three sizes to choose from. The regular size has one generous portion of your choice of meat, two scoops of rice and a scoop of mac salad. The smaller “dakine” portion contains a little less meat (but not by much) and one scoop each of rice and mac salad. If you are really hungry (and I mean REALLY hungry) there’s the “alii” portion, which includes a whopping 11.5 ounces of meat, three scoops of rice and two scoops of mac salad. Best be off-the-Richter hungry, son! Continue reading Review: Hawaiian Time (Pearl District)

Review: Skyline Restaurant

Skyline Restaurant
1313 NW Skyline Boulevard
Portland, OR 97229
503-292-6727
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Rating: ★★★★½

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: Five Guys Burgers and Fries

Five Guys Burger and Fries
2606 SW Cedar Hills Boulevard
Beaverton, OR 97005
503-430-8748
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Rating: ★★★★½

 

Having lived in Washington, DC, for several years, I was already familiar with Five Guys and their delicious burgers and yummy fries. But when a friend mentioned the opening of Five Guys in Beaverton, I thought I heard her wrong. A Five Guys in Beaverton? How could that be? When I moved back to Oregon several years ago, I thought I would never experience a delicious Five Guys lunch again.

Sure enough, it was my beloved Five Guys! (They have been franchising the stores for a number of years now and there are more than 1000 stores across the U.S.) So we hopped in the car and headed to the brand new suburban strip mall location.

The line was pretty long and the wait for our order was about 10 minutes, but once we had our scrumptious burgers and a regular-sized order of Cajun fries we were in hamburger heaven. Continue reading Review: Five Guys Burgers and Fries

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: ★★★★☆

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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: Bellagio’s Pizza


Bellagio’s Pizza (Goose Hollow location)
1742 SW Jefferson Street
Portland, OR
503-221-0110
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Rating: ★★★★½

Most of us have been there, that day when you really just struggle to get out of bed because maybe you stayed out a little too late the night before and, just maybe, had a few more cocktails than you had originally planned to imbibe.

Well, Bellagio’s is one of my favorite hangover-curing lunch spots. Not only is the pizza completely flavorful and stomach-filling, but they offer a unique variety of combination pizzas or you can create your own pie. So, even if you don’t have a hangover to cure, Bellagio’s is a great place for Portland-style pizza.  Continue reading Review: Bellagio’s Pizza

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: ★★★★☆

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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: Pizza Boys Plus

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Pizza Boys Plus
17788 Pilkington Road
Lake Oswego, OR
503-697-1610
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Rating: ★★★★½

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Oh. My. God! I have driven by this little pizza shop probably a hundred times, but I had never stopped in until today. Now I’m wondering why I’ve never tried it before. I called ahead and ordered a small pizza and an order of cheese sticks. My theory is that you can usually judge the quality of a place by their cheese sticks.

When I arrived about 20 minutes later, I was struck by the cute interior of the place—the walls are covered with album covers from the 60s and 70s. How retro is that? The dining area has limited seating, so take-out or delivery (it’s free within a five-mile radius) are good options. Continue reading Review: Pizza Boys Plus

Review: Sushi Ichiban (formerly Takahashi)

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Sushi Ichiban (formerly Sushi Takahashi)
24 NW Broadway
Portland, OR
503-224-3417
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Rating: ★★★★½

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If you ever decide to all gonzo and try to stalk the Lunch Lady, there is one surefire place you can find me: Saturday at lunchtime at Sushi Takahashi on Broadway. But you’ll have to look hard because I’ll probably be camouflaged by the throngs of other cheap sushi lovers who flock here on that golden day of the week.

Yes, there are three Sushi Takahashi locations across the metro area, but I’ve only dined at the Broadway location—and I’m perfectly happy with that. You see, the Old Town location is just steps away from my urban weekend hideaway, and when I know there is delicious sushi on special within a just-roll-out-of-bed-and-pull-on-a-hoodie distance, I am SO freakin’ there!
Continue reading Review: Sushi Ichiban (formerly Takahashi)