Portland This weekend, Nicky USA's annual Wild About Game hits the Resort at the Mountain, pitting some of Portland's best chefs against (clearly inferior) Seattle chefs in a cook-off featuring wild game. It's one of the best events of the year, and it got us seriously craving some game meat. Luckily, Portland's got its fair share of exotic fauna on menus. Here are the best dishes you can get in the city. More Stuff You Will Like
Smoked rabbit pie
Le Pigeon (address and info) Lower Burnside Le Pigeon’s always game to experiment with the unexpected, and the smoked rabbit pie takes that principle and amps it up to insane levels. A high-end take on the British meat pie (minus the Johnny Depp singing stuff), it’s topped with cheddar and mustard ice cream, creating an explosion of conflicting flavors, temps, and textures that stands among one of the most intriguing dishes at one of Portland’s best restaurants. Which is to say, get it before it disappears from the menu.
AlligatorLe Bistro Montage (address and info) Eastside Industrial The original hip spot in the SE industrial district hasn’t changed in years. It still stays open until pre-dawn. It still wraps your food in excessive amounts of foil shaped like animals (kind of like a metallic version of Edward Scissorhands), and it still serves up some of Portland’s best Cajun food, including gator, which can be popped as little seared bites, mixed into a creamy linguini, dumped into gumbo, or layered into one of the city’s best mac & cheese bowls. Extra credit? Get the frog legs too. Continue Reading
The Old Gold (address and info) North Killingsworth It’d be bullshit if this list was nothing but elk burgers. And it wouldn’t be a wild game list without at least one of them. With respect to great offerings from Dick’s Kitchen and Deschutes, if we could only eat one elk burger in Portland, it would be the one at Old Gold, where the folks at North Killingsworth’s best haunt hit it with a simple cherry relish and fontina, letting the gaminess shine. Every time it’s served is cause for celebration. Luckily, there’s a Champagne button in the back of the bar for just such an occasion.
Rabbit in a clay potKachka (address and info) Central Eastside This Russian vodkaporium manages to take the oft-misunderstood art of Russian cuisine to insane levels. Well, we think so, at least. Like we said, there’s a lot of vodka flowing. Anyway, we’re not telling you to skip the dumplings. Never do that. But also never skip the rabbit in a clay pot, a slow-cooked bunny’s hindquarters swimming in a creamy sauce with porcini, sour cherries, and garlic. One bite will have you really re-thinking Glenn Close’s infamous kitchen scene in Fatal Attraction.
Wild boar ragu
Mucca Osteria (address and info) Downtown One of the best -- and easily the most underrated -- Italian spots in Portland serves up meticulously prepared, gorgeously rustic takes on the Boot’s favorite fare. There’s always something gamey on the menu (pray to God the resto brings back the rabbit gnocchi), including a slow-roasted wild boar ragu layered over handmade pappardelle. You’ll swear somebody’s nonna made it, and that nonna is really good at hunting boars.
Rabbit lasagnaSerratto (address and info) Alphabet District Serratto’s take on the Italian comfort food, like much of the Mediterranean-drenched menu, brings a tremendous amount of flavor to a dish often plopped on a menu to appease hobbyists, kids, and fat orange cats who hate Mondays. Here, it’s layered with Idiazabal cheese, foraged mushrooms, leeks, and sage béchamel. Oh, and rabbit! Because this list is about game meat. And yeah, you can get it on Monday.
Victory Bar (address and info) Division Plopped amid the construction zone and ever-growing food explosion of SE Division, Victory’s an oasis for people who prefer their upscale ambiance with a little dive bar charm. It’s a place where craft cocktails and not-so-crafty ones share equal prestige, where low-lit comfort and lowbrow attitudes collide. And the venison burger -- a simple, brioche-stacked chunk of Bambi covered in cheddar -- is a strong argument that a fancy bar burger doesn’t need to resort to overkill to be wonderful.
Rocky Mountain oystersBit House Saloon (address and info) Central Eastside Yep. They’re buffalo balls. And at one of Portland’s best new bars, you can finally get them (they're popcorn crusted!). You’ll probably eat them on a dare. Then you’ll be back for more. Because despite the fact that they’re a big-ass animal’s nuts, they’re fantastic. Thank God somebody finally has the balls to serve them. Sign up here for our daily PDX email and be the first to get all the food/drink/fun Portland has to offer. Andy Kryza is a senior editor at Thrillist. He's eaten balls before, and he'll do it again. Probably today. Follow him to Montana livin': @apkryza.
1. Le Pigeon738 E Burnside St, Portland
2. Le Bistro Montage301 SE Morrison St, Portland
3. The Old Gold2105 North Killingsworth, Portland
4. Kachka720 SE Grand Ave, Portland
5. Mucca Osteria1022 SW Morrison, Portland
6. Serratto2112 NW Kearney St, Portland
7. Victory Bar3652 SE Division St, Portland
8. Bit House Saloon727 SE Grand Ave, Portland
Yes, it's named after a pigeon, but their amazing upscale fare draws no comparison a common bird. They specialize in French food and they always have market-fresh fish and seafood, as well.
Le Bistro Montage is located in what once was the home of the Royal Hotel. Be sure to try its famous macaroni, or if you're feeling more adventurous go for the frog legs or gator bites.
The Old Gold in North Portland is somewhere between a neighborhood bar and a hip cocktail joint. It prides itself on having one of the largest whiskey collections in Portland, and though the stock is always changing, it's full of bourbon, rye, and whiskey from Japan, Canada, Ireland, and Scotland. Custom whiskey flights and pairings are available, as are house-made picklebacks. The bar also serves standout pub fare like smoked gouda grilled cheese, elk burgers, and caramelized onion-topped mac & cheese.
This Russian eatery is brought to you by the team behind Oven & Shaker. Lots of knickknacks litter the area while lace curtains allow just enough natural light in to not feel dark. The menu has plenty of hearty fare, and of course, vodka.
From a boot-gent who "arrived in the US with $1800, a gym bag, and no English" (pretty much ensuring he'd never be a pro billiards player), Mucca's an airy, split-level, MAX-side, mid-swank riff on a comfort food-slinging osteria, with a wall of windows illuminating an open kitchen preparing loads of fresh pasta & seriously sauced meats for both lunch and dinner.
This spacious and elegant eatery serves Italian and Mediterranean wine and cuisine. The seasonally changing menu is structured around local produce, natural meats and fresh seafood.
The high quality and variety of burgers and beers have put this Richmond bar on the map, even in a beer and burger haven like Portland. Venison burgers, corned beef, and five different spatzles, give this popular spot a quirky menu that works well with the creative cocktails they serve.
Even though it opened in 2015, there's an age-old feel to the 150-seat Bit House Saloon, named for how much a beer cost before the US outlawed foreign coins in the 1800s. You'll walk up to a bar on floors made from old bourbon barrels to order a whiskey-focused list of specials. But don't expect service as rusty as the brass accents in the space, this saloon has beed lauded for its mixology since landing on the scene. Stay traditional with an Old Fashioned or Manhattan, or dip into the punch-packing proprietary drink list, featuring sips like the Astro City Cracker Jack (popcorn-washed Applejack, smoked maple syrup, Verjus, soda). The food menu is fit to soak up the drinks, with fried pork rillette or smoked chicken wings playing opener to fried bologna sandwiches or a smoked pork plate.