Review: Mellow Mushroom (Pearl District)

Mellow Mushroom
1411 NW Flanders Street
Portland, Oregon 97209
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Ph: 503-224-9019
Hours: Su-Th: 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.; F, Sa: 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.
Website | Menu | Twitter | Facebook
Lunch Money: $$-$$$
Rating: ★★★★☆

I’ve been meaning to write this review FOREVER…or maybe it just seems that way since Portland’s Mellow Mushroom has been open since October 2011, and it’s become the one of my regular pizza destinations in the Pearl District.

I really like the mellow-groovy vibe of the place. It’s sort of a ‘60s-hippie-meets-Portland-hipster attitude. I’ve been to MM for lunch, happy hour and dinner, and I’ve never been disappointed. Great service, friendly bartenders and, of course, lots of yummy, cheesy options to pick from!

Fair warning: The portions are large. Even the smallest pizza size can probably feed two people at lunchtime, especially if you’re starting with a salad or an appetizer. Likewise for their sandwiches and calzones. Come REALLY hungry, share or expect to have leftovers to take home.

On my visits I’ve typically stuck with the pizza menu (well…and the appetizer, beer and wine menus, too).

During lunch hours (usually from open to 2 p.m.) you can order pizza by the slice. You start with a basic cheese slice and can choose the toppings of your choice. I like this because it means your slice is made-to-order, fresh and hasn’t been sitting under a heat lamp all day.

While you can go with a build-your-own pizza (with tons of topping options), the specialty pizzas are probably my main draw to MM. Sure, there are your standard combo pies (the Hawaiian, the Mighty Meaty, the Mega Veggie types), but they also have some very creative options. The Caesar is actually topped with a Caesar salad. The Red Skin Potato Pie is like a deluxe baked potato on crust.

Speaking of the crust, the pizza crust at MM is pretty close to what I would call perfection. I’m not into deep-dish or anything too doughy, so the crunchy, crispy, yet still soft and chewy, crust is delightful. (Proof: I almost never eat the outer edge of my pizza crust, but MM’s is so good I devour the entire slice!)

MM is also well known for their massive beer selection—they offer more than 100 options! Seriously, I think any beer aficionado would be more than satisfied here. Of course, if the enormous beer menu is a wee overwhelming, just ask your server…they know their stuff. Definitely don’t be shy to ask for recommendations.

Some of my personal favorite things about MM are the appetizers, which are commonly discounted during happy hour.

The cheese bread is almost too good to be true—and huge! It’s a loaf of French bread smothered in cheese and served with a pot of marinara to dip in. Ermahgerd!!! So good.

My friends and I have also tried the fresh baked pretzels, which our server warned us would take a little longer than the typical app, but—let me tell ya—they’re well worth the wait. There are sweet or savory flavors to choose from (I personally love the garlic butter and Parmesan).

Overall, MM is a funky-fun place to grab a pizza and a brewski (especially in the pricey oasis that is the Pearl District). It’s great for groups and families, and on nice days there are a few outside tables—perfect for summertime people-watching!

PROS:
– Good pizza with excellent crust
– HUGE beer selection
– Gluten-free, vegetarian and vegan options available
– Some outside seating in good weather
– Awesome cheesy bread!

CONS:
– They only offer pizza by the slice at lunchtime
– No delivery service…yet
– As always, the parking situation in the Pearl District sucks (but the streetcar is close-by)

Mellow Mushroom on Urbanspoon

Review: California Pizza Kitchen (Bridgeport)

California Pizza Kitchen (Bridgeport Village)
7315 SW Bridgeport Road
Tigard, OR 97224
(Next to Regal Cinemas)
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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: ★★★★☆

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 (L.A. Edition): Papaya King


Papaya King ~ Hollywood
1645 N. Wilcox Avenue
Hollywood, California 90028
323-871-8799
Hours: 11 a.m. to 3 a.m. daily
Website
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Twitter: @papayakingla

We waited and waited and waited for the infamous Papaya King to arrive in our former Hollywood neighborhood for sooooo long. So when we learned (via Twitter) that the only location outside of New York City was officially open, we were totally ready to dive into hot dog and tropical drink paradise.

Nervous about grand opening week crowds, we cruised by the prime location (just south of Hollywood Boulevard on Wilcox Avenue) on a sunny afternoon and were surprised that the line was actually reasonable. We found a parking space,* hopped out of the car and quickly took our place in the nine-people deep queue.

First off, the place is teeny, tiny at just 400 square feet, so expect to feel a little cramped at best and a lot claustrophobic at worst. Also, there is NO seating inside the shop, so be prepared to get everything to go. There are benches around the neighborhood to sit and eat, or do as New Yorkers do and just eat on the go.

As we approached the front of the line it was time to make some decisions. What kind of dog were we going to try? We were tempted to try one of the six classic combos (which include a tropical drink and curly fries), but then decided to go our own route with a specialty dog, the C&C (that’s chili and cheese frank for you n00bs), a classic frankfurter with “Kraut” and, of course, a cup of the infamous papaya tropical drink.

All of that was just $7.00—a great deal for a quick meal in the heart of Hollywood. Continue reading Review (L.A. Edition): Papaya King

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: Buffalo Wild Wings

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Buffalo Wild Wings Grill and Bar (Downtown location)
327 SW Morrison Street
Portland, OR
503-224-1309
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Rating: ★★★★☆

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I waited patiently for months for Buffalo Wild Wings to open up on SW Morrison. Sure, I could have visited their other location out in Hillsboro, but who really wants to drive that far when there are so many tasty lunch spots closer in? So the very first week they were open, I got my taste buds prepared for the heat and headed in. I mean, who doesn’t love a meal where finger licking is practically required?

At first sight I was a little overwhelmed, the space is huge, the televisions are everywhere and it’s a little bright and loud for my taste (it’s a sports bar, after all), but from the second I stepped through the door the service was impeccable. Continue reading Review: Buffalo Wild Wings

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: ★★★★☆

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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