The complete Portland meal

If you’re ever in Portland, you have to try these two places. They’re within a block of each other. I know nearly everyone has heard of Voodoo Donut’s. They’re known for their crazy donuts with cereal, oreo, candy, caramel, bacon… whatever you can think of! In my opinion, it’s all about the novelty of how unique they are but if you’re looking for something delicious, you have to try Bluestar Donuts. If you’re still hungry, walk down a block to a sandwich shop called Lardo. This post will highlight these two places.

I’ll start with Bluestar. So we went here around 3p and they only had 2 types of donuts left by the time we made it to the front of the line. They sell out FAST of their good stuff. I’m thinking okay these donuts have probably been here for most of the day and I assume they make it fresh daily so here’s what’s left..
Atmosphere: Small donut shop. Expect a line that would probably go out the door! This one is located in SW Portland.
Pricing: $3-$4
Service
: Quick service at the counter
Food: They also have coffee!
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Left donut: Meyer lemon custard filled donut. Their filling is concentrated in the direct middle so you don’t really get it after one bite, but once you get a taste of the filling with the donut it’s oh so good!
Right: Green tea donut. I was surprised at how GOOD this donut was. Sure these were leftover but I’m still in awe that they’re both so good. They weren’t stale or anything and still tasted quite fresh. Great light green tea flavor that wasn’t overwhelming of matcha. This was 10x better than Voodoo and I really wished we came earlier.

IMG_0013Overall: You will NOT be disappointed if you try this place. I bet everything is good and I can’t wait to come back to try new things. I’m eyeing that apple fritter I see online…

Lardo: They have very unique sandwiches and let me warn you, are on the heavier side. Come hungry and prepare to leave very satisfied and full (as implied by their name)
Atmosphere: You order at the counter and they’ll bring your food over. Not that much space for seating so I wouldn’t go with an enormous group. FYI, I went to the SW Portland location.
Pricing: $8-$12. Pretty average for a nicer sandwich shop
Service
: The wait wasn’t terrible for your food. Not much service as you are just ordering in the front. I’m sure they’ll be glad to help you decide on what to eat.
Food:
IMG_0003On the bottom left is the Korean pork shoulder sandwich with house kimchi, chili mayo, cilantro, and lime. Like I said a very heavy sandwich. Lots of dark flavors but the kimchi brightened it up a little. My critique on the bread: a little hard for my liking.
Right sandwich is the pork belly gyro with cucumbers, lettuce, tomato, tzatziki, and aardvark sauce. Everything was good until this one bite…. it had what appeared to be actual bits of lemon peels. Not sure if this is normally in there but it was such a bad taste that I didn’t like the gyro at all despite the yummy crispy pork belly.
In the background is their dirty fries of pork scraps, marinated peppers, fried herbs and parmesan. Super heavy and we could barely finish it. I thought overall these were okay!
Overall:
I was not as impressed as I thought I would be at Lardo. The pork shoulder sandwich was good but not mind blowing. I hear their meatball banh mi is probably the most popular. I would try this place again just to give it another shot. It seems to have potential!

Best french toast EVER.

This is my third time at Geraldine’s Counter and I am still very happy every time I visit. They have the BEST french toast I’ve ever had. It’s so unique to other ones I’ve had and it really is top notch. This cute diner is located in Columbia city, about 10 minutes south of the International District.

Atmosphere: Their restaurant is on a corner and so the room is kind of split between two sections. There’s a counter for seating as well. Lots of tables! They display a lot of local art on their walls and I really enjoyed it because it brings back childhood memories of watching Totoro and other Studio Ghibli films. Lots of natural light from all of the windows. They use a lot of colorful plates and cups so it adds a lot of character and brightness to the restaurant.

Pricing: Pretty average brunch pricing. Dishes range from $8-$11. They also serve lunch and dinner, but you really come here for the brunch/breakfast.

Service: Everyone I’ve had is super friendly and helpful

Food:
This post will consist of my two of my brunch visits!
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This was the Slammin’. Choice of sausage patty, chicken sausage, or bacon with 2 eggs of choice and pancakes (or sub for french toast for $1. Of course I did that!) I wanted a nice balance between my sweet and savory. They rotate their french toast toppings and this day’s were caramelized peaches.

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My BF ordered the corned beef hash *squash, beef, potatoes, green peppers, celery, and onions) with english muffin. I haven’t had much corned beef hash in my day but this was really good! There was a lot of meat and the squash and peppers really made the dish much more balanced with these lighter flavors. I know the potatoes and meat can make it heavy but it was really well balanced. I would highly recommend this if you don’t get the french toast.

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My first visit to Geraldine’s. This is the complete order of their french toast. I’m not even completely sure what kind of bread they use, but it’s crispy and not overly crispy where it hurts to eat but a nice “crunch”! It’s all about the experience on this dish because I can’t even describe how unique and good it is. Caramelized apples for this topping!

IMG_5566Biscuits and gravy! There was a TON of sausage in the gravy :) Good overall dish and they do it well. Nothing wowed me but it was still good.

Overall:
I hope by the end of this entry you will be dying to try the french toast. I hear the chicken fried steak is another popular breakfast dish. I would expect a wait during weekends just FYI. This place is big but not that big. I might try their lunch or dinner items sometime, but I am always tempted to just get the french toast since breakfast is served all day. Happy brunching!

Geraldine's Counter on Urbanspoon

To satisfy all of your BBQ cravings

I got the pleasure of being invited to this food blogger event hosted by Jack’s BBQ in SoDo. This new central Texas style BBQ joint has only been open for about 5-6 months and I was pretty excited to give it a try!

Atmosphere: Even before stepping in the place, there is plenty of PARKING. Yes! No need to circle the block a few times and try to parallel. They have their own parking lot. Upon walking in, I noticed that there was a bar and lots of seating on the left and then many long tables right in front of us. It’s a pretty large restaurant! They have your traditional outdoor lights being strung around the restaurant and you really get the sense of that outdoorsy, rustic vibe. It’s pretty much what I’d imagine a BBQ place to look like.

Pricing: Lucky for us… everything was free :) even our drinks. Looking at their menu, their appetizers range from $5-$8. Their plates range anywhere from $15-$47 and that include a combo of meats and sides. They also have sandwiches for $11, desserts ~$4-$7, and extra sides for $4.

Service: AWESOME. For the 14 or so of us, the waitresses and waiters did a great job of keeping us hydrated and fed.

Food: Warning – there’s a lot of pictures… and nearly every item on the menu.

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Logger shots with their top shelf tequila

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Appetizer – Frito pie (as you can see it’s in a Frito’s chip bag, yes there are actually Frito’s inside) with chili, cheese, jalepenos, and onions.

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This is Jack and his wife. He’s giving us the low down on how he got into BBQ. He grew up in Texas but has lived in Seattle the past 20 years and worked at Microsoft. He attended BBQ camp (yes there’s such a thing!) in Texas a few years ago, bought a smoker, quit his job, and decided to open a restaurant.

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Buttermilk hushpuppies. I had to restrain myself from eating more of these save room for the meats…

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A look into their kitchen… and this delicious brisket. The guy working on the meat is known for being the “brisket whisperer.”

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We got to sample every side! Starting from the top left corner: potato salad, Texas caviar (black eyed pea salad), mac and cheese, ranch beans, collard greens, chili, and remoulade cole slaw. My favorite was probably the Texas caviar. It’s really refreshing and I’ve never tasted anything like this.

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Brisket, pork ribs, beef ribs, sausages (hot links and cheddar/jalepeno), pulled pork, and chicken. My ultimate favorite would be the beef ribs. You don’t even need a knife to cut thru that. It’s so tender and will come straight off the bone. They only have beef rib on Tuesdays (luckily I went on a Tuesday) and I am so glad to have tried it. Seriously. It’s so fatty, juicy, tender, and will melt in your mouth and make you the happiest person alive. The chicken was also surprisingly good too.

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A close up on the beef rib.

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1996 Texas state fair champion pecan pie.

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Banana pudding. I can’t choose between this or the pecan pie. Both were really really really good.

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Pecan pralines. Too sweet for my liking, but still good!

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One of two thirty foot smokers filled with brisket and other delectable meats.

Overall:
I had a great time at this event! I really felt like I got the full experience at Jack’s BBQ. You can’t go wrong in anything you choose (but I highly recommend the beef rib!). I will definitely be back for more of that beef rib. What I really like is that this is a perfect venue for very large groups. Most BBQ places around Seattle are teeny tiny.
It was nice to actually be able to talk to Jack about his experiences about BBQ. I really enjoyed talking to some of the other Seattle food bloggers there as well because personally, I didn’t know many people there. Thanks to Danielle who helped coordinate the whole event!

Jack's BBQ on Urbanspoon

Hidden deliciousness

The first time I went to Tsukushinbo, it was a little hard to find. They have an entrance through a plain door with no sign or anything. There’s a window with curtains. We maybe walked around the block looking lost for a few minutes but eventually found it.

Atmosphere: A pretty small restaurant with a sushi bar and maybe 10 tables. Minimal decor, but you definitely get the vibe that it’s a traditional Japanese restaurant. Go with a party of 4 or less!

Pricing: It really depends on what you order. They serve Japanese dishes as well as sushi with a variety of appetizers and entrees. Appetizers are around $5. Rolls range from $6-$10. Main entrees such as katsu, salmon, chicken teriyaki, noodles ~$10 as an entree.

Service: Quick service for being how busy they were. I thought they did a good job.

Food:

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Tuna avocado salad with fresh tomatoes, sprouts, tofu, and oranges. It was very fresh and I loved all of the colors. Tasty salad and surprisingly filling. I’ve also had their mushroom, green tea soba salad and it is also very good. You can’t really go wrong at this place.

IMG_0029Chicken karrage! This crispy chicken was a delicious side to our meal. I’ve never had it before and I would definitely say it’s worth getting. 
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All of our food! The bottom dish is buckwheat soba, tempura, and green tea soba. It also comes with a dipping sauce for the tempura. I love this combo and it’s a good bang for the buck around ~$12.

Overall: I think this is a local local in the International District that you should try. I would also suggest trying Maneki, another Japanese restaurant that is a block away. Be sure to make reservations or else you may not even get seated. This is a small place! I haven’t tried much of their sushi besides the salmon and it was pretty good. We tried ordering the uni (sea urchin), but it was sold out. Bummer city. I also hear their Friday ramen lunch special is superrrrr good and sells out quickly. If I can get a day off from school, that’s my next item to get from their menu.

Tsukushinbo on Urbanspoon

Cafe, bar, and dessert all in one

I’ve driven by this place so many times and it always looked crowded. I put it on my list to try especially since I’m always in the area. They have happy hour from 5-8p and who could pass that up? It’s located on Taylor in lower Queen Anne and is called Citizen (bar and cafe).

Atmosphere: We peeked inside and saw that they also had an upstairs in addition to their ground level seating. It was a little bit dark in there from what I remember. They also have outdoor seating, which we opted for on a nice evening.

Pricing: $6-$9 for most of the entree items that include sandwiches, tacos, salads, and their infamous crepes.

Service: It was busy, but the food came out pretty quick and service was efficient.

Food:

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Pulled pork sandwich – juicy pork with caramelized onions, house aoili, pickled jalepenos,  and cilantro. Nice crunchy bagette with the pork. Quite saucy and messy but delicious!

IMG_4237Korexican tacos with bulgogi, pickled cucumbers, cheese accompanied with spicy mayo, black beans, and salsa verde. Killer combo with all of these in the taco. Beef was nice and tender and as a whole, a really great dish.

Overall:
This place is quite promising and just from these dishes, I can tell it’s more than just a cafe. They have more variety in their dishes than your typical sandwiches and pastries. It was pretty hard deciding what to eat and I love their play in food in mixing different cuisines. I have yet to try their coffee or crepes, but those are next on my list. I looked at their menu again and they also serve breakfast! The real question is.. What do they NOT serve??