Monday, January 10, 2011 | 11:06 AM
Editor’s Note: While we’re in Portland over the next few weeks, we wanted to bring some local flavor to the blog by asking writers who live in the area to contribute Hotpot-style city guides: recommendations on where to eat, where to shop, where to hang. Below, locally based writer Geoff Kleinman sits down with David Walker to discuss David’s Portland Best Evers. Be sure to join the conversation in the comments below.
In addition to rating and reviewing businesses on Hotpot, you can give your 10 favorite businesses a Best Ever award. With thousands of businesses to rate and review, and only 10 Best Evers, it can often be tough narrowing down which 10 represent the absolute best of the best. We thought it would be fun to talk to a few prominent Portlanders to see what businesses they're giving their Best Ever awards to and why.
Up next in this ongoing series is David Walker, an award-winning journalist, filmmaker and writer. He is the writer, co-producer and host of the web series Missing Reel, the creator of the pop culture publication BadAzz MoFo, and a regular guest on the Cort and Fatboy Show. In 2011 he will publish his first novel, a Young Adult action adventure book.
Big-A** Sandwiches: Whenever I think about leaving Portland, I then think about the things I would miss the most. It is a short list to be sure, but on that list are the food carts. I’ve been a fan of the carts going back to the 1980s, when Judy’s Hot Dogs was pretty much the only game in town. Whenever I can, I try to grab lunch at a cart, and for the better part of a year, Big-A** Sandwiches has reigned supreme as my favorite. Those two-fisted meals of meat and French fries mashed together between some bread and covered with cheese is enough to keep me living in Portland for a little while longer.
Cosmic Monkey Comics: The city of Portland is fortunate to have more than its share of great comic book shops, and it almost seems like a crime to pick one over the others, but the fact that Cosmic Monkey is within walking distance of my home, they always maintain a well-stocked selection of mainstream and indie comics, and that the shop is generally free of geeky collectors with bad hygiene goes a long way with me.
Roseway Movie Theater: I’m old enough to remember when movie theaters were buildings with one auditorium that showed one movie at a time (unless it was showing a double feature, which I’m also old enough to remember). Most of the great theaters were either divided up and turned into multiple screen venues, or simply closed down. For years, the Roseway remained a single screen venue, while also becoming something of a rundown flea trap. But then it closed down, went through a drastic renovation, and was reborn as an all-digital projection theater with the best picture, clearest sound, and most comfortable seats you could ever hope for. If it isn’t playing at the Roseway, I won’t bother going to see it.
Cameo Cafe East: Amidst all the fancy eateries around town that serve breakfast, it is hard to get a good old-fashioned meal. Instead, you get these overly complicated affairs that have a lot of ingredients, but somehow never enough food to fill you up. When it comes to breakfast, I want it basic, plentiful and tasty. Give me a giant stack of pancakes, bacon and some eggs, and I’m happy. Just make sure it’s all done right. And that’s why I love the Cameo.
Powell’s Books: It is a terrible cliche for anyone from Portland to list the legendary Powell’s Books as one of their favorite places, this I know. But the truth of the matter is this has been one of my favorite places since the early 1980s, when I was still in junior high school. So many of the great businesses that made Portland unique have faded away over the years, but Powell’s has endured. It is one of the few places I can go and spend hours browsing the aisles and not feel like I’ve wasted my time.
Reading Frenzy: You could probably fit all of Reading Frenzy into the restroom at Powell’s Books, but that doesn’t mean the store is lacking in heart. This emporium of independent publishing specializes in 'zines and small press books, and it embodies the by-any-means-necessary ideology of the DIY culture. In a city that claims to foster the independent spirit, there is no greater place to examine what the spirit entails than Reading Frenzy.
Escape from New York Pizza: Once upon a time, in a city called Portland, there was only one place to get good pizza: Escape from New York Pizza. Now there are several spots located all over town, but Escape from New York is still my personal favorite. The original restaurant that was located in downtown is long-gone, but the one in Northwest Portland is still turning out the best pizza-by-the-slice you could ever hope for, without all the gourmet nonsense that distracts from what a good slice of pie is supposed to be.
Foti’s Greek Deli: I’m a creature of habit and I like consistency. I suppose that’s why I’ve been eating lunch at Foti’s Greek Deli longer than any other place in Portland. It may also have something to do with the fact that it is best place in town for get a gyro sandwich, and that the service is always friendly.
Horn of Africa: This is the one restaurant where I’m not afraid to try new things, because everything I’ve ever had has been great. A mix of various African cuisines awaits those with a sense of adventure who don’t mind their food with a bit of a spicy kick. During lunch they have a buffet, which means you can try all sorts of dishes you might not otherwise. And the owners, who are just about the nicest people you could ever hope to meet, actually take time to make sure you’re enjoying your meal.
Multnomah County Library: Some people might find it strange that the library is one of my favorite places, but Portland has a great library system, with branches all over the metro area, and helpful staff. There is an incredible selection of books, DVDs and CDs to choose from, and you can have anything you want transferred to the location nearest you. I’m usually picking up something from the library at least once a week, sometimes more. And it is all free. Seriously.
Which businesses will you give your 10 Best Evers to?
Posted by Geoff Kleinman. Geoff is the editor of DrinkSpirits.com, a national blog helping people figure out what to drink, and OnPDX.com, helping people figure out what to do in Portland.