El Inka — Of all the food I miss from Arlington, there’s nothing I crave more than Peruvian-style rotisserie chicken. Restaurants serving pollo a la brasa abounded in my old neighborhood. The first place I’ve found it around Portland is way out in Gresham. Yet when the craving strikes the drive is worth it. El Inka isn’t quite comparable to the best in Virginia, but the crisp, flavorful skin is right on. The fried yuca, plantains, and grilled beef heart are also good. The fried hot dogs are less interesting than they sound. Why isn’t there a place like this closer in? I think it would do well.
Beaker and Flask — Kevin Ludwig’s long-awaited bar is finally open, significantly upping the east side’s cocktail cred. The cocktails are as excellent as expected. More importantly, beer isn’t just an afterthought here and the kitchen puts out some tasty fare. Good cocktails are easy to find in Portland, but places that are strong on mixed drinks, beer, and food are rare. Beaker pulls it off to become my new favorite after work spot.
Koi Fusion PDX — Actually a cart not a restaurant, but my search for cheap, delicious post-shift meals is a lot easier thanks to these guys. Think bulgogi, short ribs, or spicy pork served in a taco with cabbage, bean sprouts, daikon, and other veggies. Follow them on Twitter to find out where and when they’re serving.