Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Cities to Savor

Whet your appetite for culinary exploration



Chef Andy Ricker’s famous Vietnamese Fish Sauce Wings at Pok Pok in Portland, Oregon

Photo by Jamie Francis

 

There are dozens of reasons to enjoy traveling – seeing amazing sights, reconnecting with old friends, just getting away from it all – but destination dining elevates a daily necessity to a starring role. Next time you’re hitting the road, plan a visit to these cities where outstanding dining isn’t just an element of the vacation; it’s one of the main attractions.

Portland, Oregon Boar collar meat rubbed with garlic, coriander root and black pepper, glazed with soy and sugar then grilled over charcoal and served with chilled mustard greens, and a spicy chili/lime/garlic sauce. Sounds delightfully confusing, right? Because it is. And the boar collar, known as Muu Paa Kham Waan, is one of a more than a dozen explosive Thai dishes you’ve likely never heard of, served at Portland’s famed and expanding Asian eatery known as Pok Pok. Chef Andy Ricker’s house specialty is half a dozen fresh whole natural chicken wings, marinated in fish sauce and sugar, deep fried, tossed in caramelized Vietnamese fish sauce and garlic and served with Cu Cai – which, to the uninitiated, are pickled vegetables. If you don’t order a drinking vinegar with your meal – be it tamarind, pomegranate, honey, pineapple, ginger Thai basil, turmeric, celery or apple – you haven’t really eaten at Pok Pok.

Its meteoric ascension is but one of dozens of highlights in the Portland culinary world. Anyone passionate about food knows that Portland was a food city before “food cities” were a thing. A trip to Portland requires several days, roomy clothes … and it doesn’t hurt to have some Tums and Tylenol on standby for all the right reasons.

Think Pok Pok sounds exotic? Try starting off your dinner with a flight of vodkas and cold zakuski – an assortment of cold appetizers that ranges from fish spreads and assorted caviar to house-dried beef Basturma, an air-dried beef tenderloin in paprika oil and marinated cherries. Most important, when you sit down to eat zakuski, is the toast (“Budem!”) that comes after completing each shared dish. This is just a starting point when you dine at Kachka, one of Portland’s most beloved restaurants where chef Bonnie Morales serves refined Russian dishes in a lively atmosphere.

The list of Portland’s “must eat” restaurants is extensive: breakfast at Taste and Alder or Mother’s, lunch at Lardo (there are several), ice cream at Salt and Straw, a trip to Voodoo Donuts … plus, a visit to one of the city’s dozens of food pods (think food truck cities) is mandatory. Here is a rundown of some of my other favorite food destinations worth tasting in Portland:

Bistro Agnes – Fresh off their 2017 James Beard Awards for Best Chef Northwest, chef-owners Greg Denton and Gabrielle Quiñonez Denton reimagined their second restaurant, Superbite, and reopened Bistro Agnes in its place. Named after Greg's grandmother, Bistro Agnes serves classic Parisian staples, including dishes like of Mussels Mariniére and steak frites in the heart of the West End district.

Canard – Recognized by The Oregonian as “Portland’s 2018 Restaurant of the Year” and Eater National as one of the “18 Best New Restaurants in America,” Canard is chef Gabriel Rucker’s playground. The new wine bar/restaurant set up shop adjacent to Rucker’s successful flagship restaurant and Portland staple, Le Pigeon. Canard is a more casual concept in comparison to Rucker’s other two Portland restaurants, and features dishes such as oeufs in mayonnaise and foie gras dumplings.

Enoteca Nostrana – Possibly the most visually stunning wine bar in Portland, this is the latest project by six-time James Beard Award nominee chef Cathy Whims and partner David West. An encore to Whims’ Italian restaurant Nostrana, Enoteca Nostrana opened directly next door and focuses on natural and experimental European wines alongside classic, regional Italian bites.  A two-story wine cellar shines from the middle of the restaurant – a centerpiece of glass and steel curated by wine director Austin Bridges that can hold between 2,000 and 3,000 bottles at optimal temperature.

 


 

Heirloom tomatoes shine in this fresh, crab-topped salad at Farm Haus Bistro in Fredericksburg, Texas.

 

Fredericksburg, Texas The best peach I’ve ever tasted was at the Eckhardt Orchard – an early-fruiting variety named Flavor Rich. Peach season starts in early May and lasts until around mid-August in Fredericksburg, but there are tasty reasons to visit all year-round. The rich German heritage provides opportunities for traditional dishes such as wienerschnitzel and sauerbraten.

For beer and brat lovers, Fredericksburg Brewing Company is a favorite stop. Texas’ oldest brew pub, it offers German favorites with lots of additional choices of American dishes. And the atmosphere is gemütlichkeit.

It’s hard to get more American than a “five and dime” – the vibe at Clear River Pecan Company. Pick up a kolache or turnover for breakfast; enjoy a sandwich or salad for lunch or early dinner; but don’t pass up the ice cream. Out of the 70 kinds of ice cream made here, up to 30 are available every day. Most popular: Mexican vanilla/amaretto and peach with pecan.

Farm Haus Bistro offers breakfast, lunch and dinner – good food in a most beautiful setting. Vaudeville, a downtown, basement bistro, serves “reinvented classics.” My Reuben sandwich was made with artisanal pastrami, Brussels sprout kraut and Gruyere.

For an amazing dinner, with the largest list of Texas wines, reserve a table at Cabernet Grill. Chef-owner Ross Burtwell’s fare competes at the highest level. Wine Enthusiast Magazine named it one of the nation’s top 100 wine restaurants. This is upscale dining with a Texas Hill Country casual atmosphere.

Fredericksburg is also long on extras. For sausages and cheeses, check out Opa’s. Fredericksburg Pie Company features from-scratch pies; the peach praline pie rocks. My #1 Do-Not-Miss extra spot is Chocolat. Owner Lecia Duke is the first U.S. chocolatier to master the art of European-style, liquid-centered chocolates. Find ones filled with anything from fruit juice and Texas wines to tequila and Tennessee whiskey.

There are lots of reasons to visit Fredericksburg – wine, history, shopping and scenery. But this great taste of Texas may be the best.

 


 

Seafood Palace in Lake Charles, Louisiana, specializes in local seafood such as crabs, crawfish and shrimp.

 

Lake Charles, Louisiana Let Napa have its wine trail; Southwest Louisiana has a boudin trail. This is the heart of Cajun country, and you’ll find plenty of opportunities to sample good regional fare in Lake Charles. Boudin recipes vary from one cook to the next. Basically, it’s like sausage – generally pork-based, but crawfish, shrimp, even alligator can be the base – with rice, onions, parsley and spices added to the ground meat. For a real heart-stopper, order boudin balls. The sausage is taken out of its casing, battered and fried.

Some of the best boudin can be purchased in bait shops or filling stations, but unless you’re guided by a local, you’ll probably want to stick to a more conventional shopping stop. A good choice is LeBleu’s Landing in nearby Sulphur, a combo restaurant and meat market.

In Lake Charles, you can order boudin balls at Seafood Palace, but here you’ll really want to try the gumbo, the crawfish, the crabs. Lots of choices at this local favorite.

Sloppy’s Downtown has a more eclectic menu, but it’s hard to get more Cajun than their Saturday zydeco brunch. Great music, dancing and food to get your feet going and your stomach singing! They even have boudin-stuffed beignets.

There’s much more than Cajun on menus at the restaurants in the L’Auberge Casino Resort, but I couldn’t resist the Cajun Benedict at Favorites Southern Kitchen there – rounds of Southern-style corn bread topped with fried green tomatoes, sliced avocado and poached eggs, drizzled with a crawfish Hollandaise sauce and surrounded with slices of spicy andouille sausage.

Other great stops include Calla for small plates and tapas; 1910, which features local ingredients prepared with French fare and Villa for Italian favorites. For a fun, funky lunch, head for Botsky’s – amazing hot dogs with myriad choices of toppings – and Pops & Rockets Pop Lab, where they hand-make gourmet popsicles and ice cream.

Other special treats: the L’Auberge Loup Garou, a cucumber/basil daiquiri created with local Louisiana Spirits Bayou Rum, made with Louisiana-grown cane sugar, cocktails with local Yellowfin Vodka and anything created by L’Auberge’s award-winning Executive Pastry Chef Bill Foltz.

Lake Charles cuisine ranges from the sublime to the ridiculous – sublimely excellent to ridiculously delicious. 

 


 

Chef Milton Joachim offers his own creation, Oysters Joachim, at Charred restaurant in Ocean Springs, Mississippi.

 

Ocean Springs, Mississippi Across Biloxi Bay from the eponymous city with its busy casinos, live oaks arch over downtown streets lined with interesting little galleries and boutiques in this idyllic little town. It is most notable for the artists of the Anderson family, founders of Shearwater Pottery, and Walter, a most eccentric painter, potter, muralist and writer. And then there’s the food – seafood, of course, and southern specialties. And some great twists on old favorites.

Charred, a steak and oyster bar, does cool things with oysters. There’s always raw, but I really liked Oysters Joachim, chef/owner Milton Joachim’s own take: fried, on a bed of spicy red onion marmalade and topped with a tarragon aioli and micro-greens. They’re served on a half-shell perched on a mound of sea salt – lovely presentation. And his steaks are all aged and seared at 800 degrees. I would love to have tried his eight-ounce ground ribeye burger with aged Cheddar and hickory-smoked country bacon jam, but when in Rome …

I got both Southern and seafood at Mosaic, with a grits cake smothered in a tomato cream sauce and shrimp. The menu is extensive, with something for every taste, including tapas and vegetarian and vegan options. Variety is the spice of their cocktails – seven different twists on a mojito and 10 on martinis.

Maison de Lu has a French flair and a beautiful patio for outdoor dining. Lunch staples are sandwiches and salads, with heavier dishes saved for dinner. The menu is not large, but daily specials add to the usual dishes.

If you’re just in the mood for something sweet, French Kiss Pastries is your spot. In addition to a wide choice of European-style pastries, several light lunch items are on the menu. Or stop at the nearby Candy Cottage for a New Orleans-style praline; they make them fresh each day.

 

 

Edit ModuleShow Tags

Archive »You Might Like

Speaker Box: May’s Show Saturation

Exceptional May concerts coming to the Jones Assembly and Tower Theatre; Ariana Grande lights up the Chesapeake Arena.

Magic Carpet Ride

If redecorating is on your mind this spring, find a dose of design magic in these carpets and rugs from local retailers.

Matters of the Mouth

The Oklahoma Dental Association’s Dr. Shannon Griffin talks about Mission of Mercy and the advancement of dental health.

Add your comment:
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Calendar

May 2019

"Sandy Magrath: Dogs of the Southwest" art exhibit will be open May 1 - June 30, 2019, at the Chisholm Trail Heritage Center in Duncan, OK. A meet the artist reception will be 3:30 -...

Cost: $6 adults

Where:
Chisholm Trail Heritage Center
1000 Chisholm Trail Parkway
Duncan, OK  73533
View map »


Sponsor: Chisholm Trail Heritage Center
Telephone: 580.252.6692
Contact Name: Stacy Moore
Website »

More information

Start your Sunday morning by perfecting your practice during our outdoor yoga class. Enjoy the beauty of yoga outdoors in the glow of the Ferris Wheel lights! This class welcomes all levels, from...

Cost: Free

Where:
Wheeler Ferris Wheel
1701 S. Western Ave.
Oklahoma City, OK  73109
View map »

More information

James Bailey from Missoula, Montana, is ARTSPACE at Untitled's visiting Artist in Residence; his exhibition, Map-ify, is on view May 9th through July 6th.  "My work examines...

Cost: Free

Where:
ARTSPACE at Untitled
1 NE 3rd st
Oklahoma City, OK  73104
View map »


Telephone: 405.815.9995
Website »

More information

MILLER IN MAY HOME TOUR HIGHLIGHTS CHARACTER AND CHARM The 20th anniversary of Miller's beloved home tour Miller Neighborhood's most popular event is back for 2019… and...

Cost: $10 - $30

Where:
Miller Neighborhood
NW 10th to NW 16th, N Villa to N May
Oklahoma City, OK  73107
View map »


Sponsor: Miller Neighborhood Association
Telephone: 405.642.5982
Contact Name: Elizabeth Beard

More information

Escape the ordinary, and learn about OKC from a different point of view. Relax in the climate controlled cabin on one of our 65’ cruisers, or enjoy the breeze on the...

Cost: Adult: $20 Seniors and Children: $15

Where:
Regatta Park Landing
701 S. Lincoln Blvd
Oklahoma City, OK  73119
View map »


Sponsor: Oklahoma River Cruises
Telephone: 405-702-7755
Contact Name: Che Loessberg
Website »

More information

OKC's premier chamber orchestra, the Oklahoma Virtuosi, presents their season finale concert.  Concert will include: St. Paul's Suite Op.29 No.2 by Gustav Holst,...

Cost: Free

Where:
21C Hotel
900 W. Main St.
Oklahoma City, OK  73106
View map »


Website »

More information

As the first anniversary of her sixth album Conversation With A Ghost approaches in June, Italian-born and Austin-based singer-songwriter Giulia Millanta possesses a...

Cost: $15-$20

Where:
The Blue Door
2805 N. McKinley Ave.
Oklahoma City, OK  73106
View map »


Sponsor: The Blue Door
Telephone: (405) 524-0738
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

James Bailey from Missoula, Montana, is ARTSPACE at Untitled's visiting Artist in Residence; his exhibition, Map-ify, is on view May 9th through July 6th.  "My work examines...

Cost: Free

Where:
ARTSPACE at Untitled
1 NE 3rd st
Oklahoma City, OK  73104
View map »


Telephone: 405.815.9995
Website »

More information

"Sandy Magrath: Dogs of the Southwest" art exhibit will be open May 1 - June 30, 2019, at the Chisholm Trail Heritage Center in Duncan, OK. A meet the artist reception will be 3:30 -...

Cost: $6 adults

Where:
Chisholm Trail Heritage Center
1000 Chisholm Trail Parkway
Duncan, OK  73533
View map »


Sponsor: Chisholm Trail Heritage Center
Telephone: 580.252.6692
Contact Name: Stacy Moore
Website »

More information

Piedmont Airlines will be hosting a Information Session for ramp agent jobs at Embassy Suites in OKC. Please plan to spend up to 3 hours with us, as we will have you fill out applications, listen...

Cost: Free

Where:
Embassy Suites
1815 South Meridian Ave.
Oklahoma City, OK  73108
View map »


Sponsor: Piedmont Airlines
Telephone: 704-359-2477
Contact Name: Nick Calo
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

James Bailey from Missoula, Montana, is ARTSPACE at Untitled's visiting Artist in Residence; his exhibition, Map-ify, is on view May 9th through July 6th.  "My work examines...

Cost: Free

Where:
ARTSPACE at Untitled
1 NE 3rd st
Oklahoma City, OK  73104
View map »


Telephone: 405.815.9995
Website »

More information

"Sandy Magrath: Dogs of the Southwest" art exhibit will be open May 1 - June 30, 2019, at the Chisholm Trail Heritage Center in Duncan, OK. A meet the artist reception will be 3:30 -...

Cost: $6 adults

Where:
Chisholm Trail Heritage Center
1000 Chisholm Trail Parkway
Duncan, OK  73533
View map »


Sponsor: Chisholm Trail Heritage Center
Telephone: 580.252.6692
Contact Name: Stacy Moore
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

"Sandy Magrath: Dogs of the Southwest" art exhibit will be open May 1 - June 30, 2019, at the Chisholm Trail Heritage Center in Duncan, OK. A meet the artist reception will be 3:30 -...

Cost: $6 adults

Where:
Chisholm Trail Heritage Center
1000 Chisholm Trail Parkway
Duncan, OK  73533
View map »


Sponsor: Chisholm Trail Heritage Center
Telephone: 580.252.6692
Contact Name: Stacy Moore
Website »

More information

James Bailey from Missoula, Montana, is ARTSPACE at Untitled's visiting Artist in Residence; his exhibition, Map-ify, is on view May 9th through July 6th.  "My work examines...

Cost: Free

Where:
ARTSPACE at Untitled
1 NE 3rd st
Oklahoma City, OK  73104
View map »


Telephone: 405.815.9995
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

James Bailey from Missoula, Montana, is ARTSPACE at Untitled's visiting Artist in Residence; his exhibition, Map-ify, is on view May 9th through July 6th.  "My work examines...

Cost: Free

Where:
ARTSPACE at Untitled
1 NE 3rd st
Oklahoma City, OK  73104
View map »


Telephone: 405.815.9995
Website »

More information

"Sandy Magrath: Dogs of the Southwest" art exhibit will be open May 1 - June 30, 2019, at the Chisholm Trail Heritage Center in Duncan, OK. A meet the artist reception will be 3:30 -...

Cost: $6 adults

Where:
Chisholm Trail Heritage Center
1000 Chisholm Trail Parkway
Duncan, OK  73533
View map »


Sponsor: Chisholm Trail Heritage Center
Telephone: 580.252.6692
Contact Name: Stacy Moore
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

James Bailey from Missoula, Montana, is ARTSPACE at Untitled's visiting Artist in Residence; his exhibition, Map-ify, is on view May 9th through July 6th.  "My work examines...

Cost: Free

Where:
ARTSPACE at Untitled
1 NE 3rd st
Oklahoma City, OK  73104
View map »


Telephone: 405.815.9995
Website »

More information

A nationally touring exhibit “Bison: Ancient. Massive. Wild.” will open May 24 at the Chisholm Trail Heritage Center in Duncan, OK. This exhibit explores the significance of...

Cost: $4 - $6

Where:
Chisholm Trail Heritage Center
1000 Chisholm Trail Parkway
Duncan, OK  73533
View map »


Sponsor: Chisholm Trail Heritage Center
Telephone: 580.252.6692
Contact Name: Toni Hopper
Website »

More information

"Sandy Magrath: Dogs of the Southwest" art exhibit will be open May 1 - June 30, 2019, at the Chisholm Trail Heritage Center in Duncan, OK. A meet the artist reception will be 3:30 -...

Cost: $6 adults

Where:
Chisholm Trail Heritage Center
1000 Chisholm Trail Parkway
Duncan, OK  73533
View map »


Sponsor: Chisholm Trail Heritage Center
Telephone: 580.252.6692
Contact Name: Stacy Moore
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

More than 90 visual artists will line the streets of the Historic Paseo Arts District, selling original artwork in a wide variety of media, from painting and photography to wood and jewelry, and...

Cost: Free

Where:
Paseo Arts District
3022 Paseo
Oklahoma City, OK  73103
View map »


Sponsor: Paseo Arts Association
Telephone: 405-525-2688
Contact Name: Paige Powell
Website »

More information

Enjoy all your favorite activities at the Orr Family Farm for a special price! Admission is only $8 per person on this day only.

Where:
Orr Family Farm
14400 S. Western Ave.
Oklahoma City, OK  73170
View map »


Telephone: 405.509.9312
Contact Name: Lauren Daughety

More information

"Sandy Magrath: Dogs of the Southwest" art exhibit will be open May 1 - June 30, 2019, at the Chisholm Trail Heritage Center in Duncan, OK. A meet the artist reception will be 3:30 -...

Cost: $6 adults

Where:
Chisholm Trail Heritage Center
1000 Chisholm Trail Parkway
Duncan, OK  73533
View map »


Sponsor: Chisholm Trail Heritage Center
Telephone: 580.252.6692
Contact Name: Stacy Moore
Website »

More information

Save $5 on a Dual Park Pass this Memorial Day Weekend! Get a full day of fun at Andy Alligator’s Fun Park and Water Park for only $29.99. A Dual Park Pass includes Unlimited Rides &...

Cost: Save $5 on a Dual Park Pass!

Where:
Andy Alligator's Fun Park & Water Park
3300 Market Place
Norman, OK  73072
View map »

More information

James Bailey from Missoula, Montana, is ARTSPACE at Untitled's visiting Artist in Residence; his exhibition, Map-ify, is on view May 9th through July 6th.  "My work examines...

Cost: Free

Where:
ARTSPACE at Untitled
1 NE 3rd st
Oklahoma City, OK  73104
View map »


Telephone: 405.815.9995
Website »

More information

A nationally touring exhibit “Bison: Ancient. Massive. Wild.” will open May 24 at the Chisholm Trail Heritage Center in Duncan, OK. This exhibit explores the significance of...

Cost: $4 - $6

Where:
Chisholm Trail Heritage Center
1000 Chisholm Trail Parkway
Duncan, OK  73533
View map »


Sponsor: Chisholm Trail Heritage Center
Telephone: 580.252.6692
Contact Name: Toni Hopper
Website »

More information

Escape the ordinary, and learn about OKC from a different point of view. Relax in the climate controlled cabin on one of our 65’ cruisers, or enjoy the breeze on the...

Cost: Adult: $20 Seniors and Children: $15

Where:
Regatta Park Landing
701 S. Lincoln Blvd
Oklahoma City, OK  73119
View map »


Sponsor: Oklahoma River Cruises
Telephone: 405-702-7755
Contact Name: Che Loessberg
Website »

More information

America’s largest interactive comedy murder mystery dinner show is now playing at the Skirvin Hilton Hotel. At The Dinner Detective, you’ll tackle a challenging crime while you...

Cost: $59.95

Where:
The Skirvin Hilton
1 Park Ave
Oklahoma City, OK  73102
View map »


Sponsor: The Dinner Detective
Telephone: 866.496.0535
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module Edit ModuleShow Tags