For some reason, the best "cheap eats" and road food places in and around Portland, OR are cash-only. I remember when I first moved here, that drove me nuts (even more than the constant rain). But it's become a fun activity finding new cash-only places to add to the list, separating yourself from plastic-toting tourists just by having a fiver in your wallet.
Here're three among the best:
Delta Cafe: Portlanders aren't exactly experts in what makes good Southern food, but take it from the Southern ex-patriot patrons that chow down at the Delta that this hole-in-the wall spot near Reed College is about as good as it gets in these parts...and that's good! Try tasty chicken-fried steak that would turn a marathon runner into a comfort-food zombie, addictive fried okra (you can't eat just one), rich rootbeer floats, and a meatloaf sandwich that'll put you on the sofa, napping with a smile the way soup-and-salad never could.
Dot's: A recent fire scorched the dozen or so sock-monkey toys stationed here. Dot's is still hipper than hip, though, with velvet paintings on the walls, cool tunes (Apples in Stereo, Crooked Fingers, Built to Spill) playing overhead, and trashy novels in spinner racks near pool tables. The usual denizens of Dot's have eased out of the grunge era like an old man coming out of the tub (niice and easy). If you're sporting tattooes and muttonchop sideburns, or want to get that WearGuard flannel or John Deer cap some use before you donate it to Goodwill, stop in and enjoy a Garden of Sin (a Gardenburger topped w/ cheese and bacon), a grilled cheese-tomato sandwich, yummy burgers, cheese fries, or the "widowmaker"...chili-cheese fries. Most sandwiches comes with herbed creamcheese on the bread/bun, a signature condiment at Dot's. Wash it down with a Lime Ricky, and say you knew Nirvana and Sound Garden when.
Escape from New York Pizza: East Coast pizza know-it-alls, rejoice! Portland has no shortage of pizza, but most of them taste like something on a menu at a McDonald's in France. Escape from New York treats the rain-soaked masses to their uncanny pies. Nothing fancy here; no piled on toppings that look more like a chopped salad than a pizza. These are artful, blue-collar endeavors. Chewy crust. Cheese. 'Roni. Black olives. Y'know...PIZZA.
- Phil A.