Friday, June 21, 2013

Top 10 Portland Happy Hours

After four years of reviewing Portland's Happy Hours, the three writers of Talk.Eat.Drink.Portland have finally decided on a TOP TEN list...which is subject to change, of course, since we'll be out reviewing new places all summer long.

Number One: Bernie's Southern Bistro 

Exceeds in FOOD, DRINKS, SERVICE, AMBIANCE, and VALUE. We especially love the enclosed patio and that they will accommodate large groups. The spinach cakes pictured below aren't on the happy hour menu but are well-priced and available as an appetizer no matter what time of day you are there. We hope that our favorite cocktail, the Carolina Lemon Cooler, will soon be back on their drink menu. Until then, we've had pretty good luck making special requests. Hopefully you will too.

Bernie's Southern Bistro on Urbanspoon


Number Two: Tapalaya

Exceeds in FOOD, DRINKS, SERVICE, and VALUE. The three dollar hurricanes are an absolute must.  The rest of the menu is served small-plate style, making it easy to try many different flavors without spending too much money (or getting too full). Save room for dessert! You'll be glad you did.

Tapalaya on Urbanspoon

Number Three: Davis Street Tavern

Exceeds in FOOD and VALUE. Their macaroni and cheese is one of our all time favorites. It's so creamy and delicious that you have to set the fork down in between bites. This is also a great place for large parties. There's a lot more to the restaurant than what you see when you first walk in.

Davis Street Tavern on Urbanspoon


Number Four: Pambiche

Exceeds in FOOD, DRINKS, AMBIANCE, and VALUE. Be sure to get there when happy hour starts as it can become very crowded very quickly. You'll have a better chance of avoiding a wait if you are there when the patio is open. Even on a cooler day, it'll be worth it. The signature sugar cane sticks served with their cocktails (and pictured below) make it one of our favorites.

Pambiche on Urbanspoon

Number Five: Tin Shed Garden Cafe

Exceeds in FOOD and SERVICE. Their outdoor seating is available all year long but doubles in size when the sun's out. It's a great place to relax and catch up with friends. This place is also a must for brunch. The Tin Shed is one of those places that almost has too many good options listed on the menu...making it hard to decide what to order. We suggest you go back again and again to try it all.

Tin Shed Garden Cafe on Urbanspoon

Number Six: Mama Mia Trattoria

Exceeds in FOOD and VALUE. Happy Hour at Mama Mia is always enough to count as a full meal. Their portions are huge and the flavors are exceptional. The lasagna recipe changes daily and the zucchini sticks are made fresh.

Mama Mia Trattoria on Urbanspoon

Number Seven: Doug Fir

Exceeds in AMBIANCE and VALUE. We especially love the outdoor seating. Even when the temperature drops, the fire pit will keep you warm. Really, this place has it all. You can start with happy hour, stay for dinner, and then enjoy a live show. And if you're there too late, there's a hotel attached. It's perfect.

Doug Fir on Urbanspoon

Number Eight: Southland Whiskey Kitchen

Exceeds in AMBIANCE and VALUE. This place hasn't been around long but they know what they're doing. It's perfect for meat eaters, but can still please a vegetarian.

Southland Whiskey Kitchen on Urbanspoon

Number Nine: Red Star

Exceeds in SERVICE, AMBIANCE, and VALUE. Their location is perfect for catching a quick bite before heading to a movie at Pioneer Place. And the portions are huge, making it an easy dinner fix.

Red Star Tavern & Roast House on Urbanspoon

Number Ten: Tasting East

Exceeds in DRINKS and SERVICE. Their cauliflower is to die for and the specialty cocktail of the day makes us want to go back again and again.

Tasting East on Urbanspoon

We can't say for sure how long these ten will stay put at the top of our list. It's only the start of summer break and we've got a long list of Happy Hours to try. Feel free to make suggestions of where we should go next. It's hard keeping up around here.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

URBANHOUR - an Urbanspoon Event @ Accanto

2838 SE Belmont Street

The school year is officially over. I was back in my classroom on Monday and Tuesday and will be there again today, but it's summer vacation. And this year's summer vacation started off with the most exciting invitation. A fancy food event on a school night would have been difficult to manage, but with no obligations to be up in front of middle schoolers the following day we were able to partake. The three of us, along with my husband, dined with area food bloggers at Urbanhour, an Urbanspoon event.

The event was held at Accanto, the "little sister" of well-known Genoa, located just far enough from the too-hard-to-find-parking section of Belmont. We had a chance to hear from the social community manager from Urbanspoon, the co-founder of Feast--a Portland food event held in the fall that combines flavor with foodie education, and the man in charge of ensuring the wine pairings are perfect at both Genoa and Accanto. We enjoyed signature cocktails, large pours of wine, and a four-course meal. And we had an opportunity to share what we love about Portland and why we feel the need to share it with the world.

Each of us have a different focus when writing. The three of us are dedicated to reviewing Portland's happy hours, the couple across from us reach out to families at, other ladies surrounding the table write about all things Portland at Ubanblisslife, Saltwatercoffee, and Pechluck's Food Adventures. It was a mix of people which not only led to great conversation but also a lot of food photography.

Although it wasn't happy hour, I was sure to get a picture of everything I tasted. The exact four-course meal is still available through the end of the month as Accanto is participating in Portland's Dining Month.

We started with a small plate of marinated olives and marcona almonds. These are available on their regular dinner menu for $3 and could have easily been shared rather than served one to each guest. It's a generous amount and a great snacking start to any meal.

The second course came with a choice of soup or salad. Both my husband and I opted for the salad but I was able to enjoy one spoonful of the chilled potato leek soup (thanks to my co-blogger who isn't afraid to share a few germs). The salad was carefully prepared with arugula, thinly sliced radishes, and snap peas. I loved every bite despite the difficulty I always seem to face when enjoying an arugula salad (it really is embarrassing and I should probably stick to eating long-stemmed salads in the privacy of my own home).

Although the gnocchi was the favored choice for the next course, I sampled the Capellini. It was, of course, the vegetarian option and was prepared with samphire, garlic, chili, and fennel seed. Samphire is something that was new to the majority of us (at least by name) but something that I would love to experiment with in my own kitchen (and perhaps, garden).

Dessert arrived for the whole table and almost immediately every camera present was poised and ready. I'm sure it was a sight to see from afar. The dessert was a panna cotta topped with strawberries and surrounded by a sauce made with the berries and lambrusco (one of my favorite chilled and perfect-for-picnics red wines). My attempt at capturing the plate does not compare with the taste and texture of this summertime treat.

To accompany my four courses, I selected the Guadalajara--a mix of Casadores Reposado Tequila, St. Germain, lime, honey, rocks and salt--to start and a glass of Cabernet Franc to finish.

The service at Accanto was outstanding and something I'm certain will be maintained whether you are there for a celebratory dinner, a quick bite to eat, or--like us--a sponsored event.

Thank you, Accanto and Urbanspoon, for the invitation, the opportunity to meet other Portland-area Bloggers, and to enjoy a delicious feast. It really did make for a great start to summer.

Food: Exceeds
Drinks: Meets
Service: Exceeds
Ambiance: Meets
Value: Meets


Accanto on Urbanspoon