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:4]

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: The Rock Wood Fired Pizza (Wood Village)

The Rock Wood Fired Pizza & Spirits
22401 NE Glisan Street
Wood Village, OR 97060
Map It!
503-328-8498
Hours: 11:30 a.m. to midnight daily
Website | Twitter: @TheRock_WFP | Facebook Page | Menu
Lunch money: $$
[rating:4]

You could say there’s already an overabundance of pizza places in the Portland area. We’ve got the national chains (Domino’s, Pizza Hut, Round Table), we’ve the local chains (Bellagio’s, Hot Lips, Pizza Schmizza, Izzy’s), then there are the one-off specialty pizza shops (Dante’s pizza window, Apizza Scholls, Ken’s Artisan, Firehouse) and now even pizza food carts, so why on Earth would we need another pizza place?

How about a new pizza place with a reasonably priced lunchtime buffet, a fun rock ‘n’ roll theme and interesting urinals in the men’s room? Yeah, that’s right, interesting urinal artwork.

The Rock Wood Fired Pizza & Spirits is actually part of a small Washington-based chain and their very first Oregon location opened in Wood Village (that’s near Gresham) in June.

We know, we know. Wood Village? For lunch? Sure, it’s a bit of a trek for most Portlanders—especially if your lunch hour really is a hour—but if you live and/or work in the greater Gresham area, The Rock should be on your list of new places to check out.

The Rock is a classic rock theme restaurant, but the theme part is actually a lot better than you might expect—i.e., it’s not that cheesy. The interior is decked out in faux graffiti, band memorabilia, neon signs and there’s lots of exposed brick and pipes. It’s actually quite strange to walk into the rather nondescript strip mall building into the much more interestingly decorated interior of The Rock. Also, as mentioned, they have some very unique urinals (which an awesome male friend offered to photograph for us).

Initially we were planning to go big and dive into the buffet, but then (after much consideration regarding how food-filled our summer has been) decided to scale back a bit and just get a personal-sized pizza. The pizza menu is a large as you would expect, and they offer several different sauce options including classic tomato, creamy white sauce and garlicky butter.

Specialty pizzas abound at The Rock, each bearing a rock song related name (“Crazy Little Thing,” “Crazy Train,” “California Dreamin’,” and “Revolution” to name a few).

We chose the “Stairway to Heaven” 9-inch pie, which had the garlic butter base topped with mozzarella cheese and then baked. Once out of the massive wood-burning pizza oven, they added fresh arugula, diced tomatoes, prosciutto and Parmesan. Continue reading Review: The Rock Wood Fired Pizza (Wood Village)

Review: California Pizza Kitchen (Bridgeport)

California Pizza Kitchen (Bridgeport Village)
7315 SW Bridgeport Road
Tigard, OR 97224
(Next to Regal Cinemas)
Map It!
503-968-0504
Hours: M-Th 11 a.m.-10 p.m., F-Sat 11 a.m.-10:30 p.m., Sun 11 a.m.-9 p.m.
Website | Twitter: @calpizzakitchen | Lunch Money: $$$
[rating:4]

Pizza. It’s a fave food for people from one to 101 (well, if they have their teeth), and since 1985 California Pizza Kitchen—also branded CPK—has offered up a twist on the traditional Italian pie. You can still find your standard slices with pepperoni and Italian sausage topped with ooey-gooey mozzarella, but CPK is best known for their “creative” topping options.

Where was the first place we tried a Thai chicken pizza? The now closed CPK that was on Connecticut Avenue in Washington, DC. During college, where did we dig into our first Original BBQ chicken pizza? The Stanford Shopping Center in Palo Alto.

These days CPK’s menu is expansive, with pizzas like the vegetarian with Japanese eggplant, the pear and Gorgonzola, the California Club, the tostada and even the new habaneros carnitas pizza. But they’ve also moved beyond just the ‘za and added a variety of yummy appetizers and entrees that you won’t find at most pizza joints.

One of our favorite new things at CPK is the Small Cravings menu, which offers smaller-portioned appetizers at very reasonable prices (currently about $4-$6). It’s a perfect sized sampler—without going overboard—while you wait for your main meal. When we visited the Small Cravings menu offered everything from a Tuscan panzanella salad to a spicy chicken quesadilla.

Of course, if you aren’t in the mood for pizza, CPK also offers salad, pasta and sandwich entrees.

We started with the Korean BBQ steak tacos from the Small Cravings menu (two for $5.99) and they were delicious. Perfectly juicy and spicy, they were just right to tide our appetite until pizza time! Continue reading Review: California Pizza Kitchen (Bridgeport)

Review: Pastini Pastaria

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Pastini Pastaria
(Six locations in the Portland area)
Map It!
[rating: 3.5]

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Pastini Pastaria is pretty much my go-to spot for any sort of family or friend function that entails a large group going out to a restaurant. Sure, some people might consider it Portland’s local version of Olive Garden, but the food is consistently good (even if it is a little on the bland side) and there is something on the menu for everyone-even those picky eaters and vegetarians.

What I love about Pastini is that they offer an excellent variety of pasta, from capellini to ziti and everything in between! They even offer whole wheat pasta, which is typically what I order. They have just about every combination of delectable pasta dishes, from the simple spaghetti agli e olio (the classic with sautéed garlic, olive oil, basil and parmesan) to the more decedent baked manicotti (filled with beef, pork, ricotta and spinach, then baked with alfredo sauce and marinara). All pasta dishes are served with the equally delicious ciabatta bread from Pearl Bakery. Continue reading Review: Pastini Pastaria