Portland: Pine Street Market

Pine Street Market is Portland’s perfect microcosm.  It’s cool, it’s varied, it’s a little weird, you may have to wait at times, but you will go, and you’ll keep going, because it’s so good.  I’ve had two of my favorite Portland burgers here and the ice cream is so good that I exhausted my boss’s fifty dollar holiday gift card during Portland’s Snowmageddon this year, in about two weeks flat.

Pine Street Market opened in spring 2016 and is home to some of the city’s most pedigreed chefs, purveyors, and restauranteurs — Trifecta Annex, Kure, Pollo Bravo, OP Wurst, Kim Jong Smokehouse, Wiz Bang Bar, Bless Your Heart Burger, Brass Bar, and Marukin Ramen.   Housed in Old Chinatown’s Carriage and Baggage Building, the Pine Street Market has historical significance and makes for an interesting ambiance.  It was built in 1886 and used originally as a livery and horse-drawn carriage storage facility. 

With stalls in the second floor and four water tanks on the roof (providing water to wash the stalls), the building was sort of a horse garage.  Pine Street Market is now listed on the National Register of Historic places, and home to the best food “court” I’ve ever laid taste buds on. It’s got everything from world class artisan sourdough bread, to blue algae cashew milk, to chili fries, in a casual, open layout.  As you can see, we’ve got a lot of ground to cover, so let’s get moving!

MARUKIN RAMEN 

The longest line is always here, and for good reason.  Fear not, though, they run like a well oiled machine and your soup will arrive soon after you order.  Marukin Ramen is a Tokyo born shop with a near royalty-level lineage.  Marukin makes handmade noodles that are fresh every single day.  The noodles are noticeably different from even the really good ramen you eat now and again.  They’re toothsome, they have flavor and they are NOT soggy. 

The broth comes in the following varieties:  Tonkotsu (rich pork broth), Paitan (rich chicken broth), and vegan tonyu (Ota Soymilk).  These come in “red” versions too (spicy but praise the heavens, not too oily).  Also available is Miso (chicken and pork broth with miso) and Tokyo Shoyu (light chicken and pork broth).  They are all DELICIOUS.

Pan fried pork and pork/shrimp gyoza are also available and also delicious, and new to the block as of February 2017 are other snacks such as chicken and shrimp karaage (deep fried, my friends), little pickles, edamame, marinated salmon, and daikon salad.  Just this past month Marukin also added mapo tofu, curry pork and miso pork rice bowls.  Solid stuff here, and if you order Ramen, you’ll either skip your next meal, or bring half home for your next meal. 

Marukin Ramen (126 SW 2nd Ave., Portland, OR, 97204; 503-224-0798)

BLESS YOUR HEART BURGER

Pine Street Market has the burger of my youth, poshed up a bit, and it can be found at Bless Your Heart Burger.  It’s not a gastro-pub burger, it’s a homey and divey burger, and it is incredibly good.  It sits on a potato bun that mushes perfectly to the burger.  It comes single or double, with Duke’s mayonnaise, brown mustard, ketchup, shredded lettuce, sweet onions, homemade pickles,  and American cheese.  Add bacon if you wish, order the “BYH Burger,” (a “Carolina burger” with chili, onions, cole slaw, yellow mustard, homemade pickles and American cheese) or try a veggie burger.

The fries are pretty spectacular as well.  They’re available plain, with BBQ seasoned salt and ranch dip, or smothered in chili, cheese, mustard, onions and so forth (worth it).  The food arrives screaming hot which earns big points with me.

Bless Your Heart Burger (126 SW 2nd Ave., Portland, OR, 97204)503-719-4221)

OP WURST  

OP Wurst comes to us from the expert meat purveyors at Olympia Provisions, and offers traditional/old school hot dogs and sausages, as well as inventive iterations thereof .  I do mean inventive, too.  At OP Wurst Pine Street Market, I’ve had dogs with pork belly, hazlenuts and kale; and peanut butter, banana and bacon.  Some are weirder than others, but all have been delicious.  Take a look:

OP Wurst  (126 SW 2nd Ave., Portland, OR, 97204; 971-386-2199)

WIZ BANG BAR 

Where do I start?  With Pine Street Market came Salt & Straw’s opportunity to branch into soft serve.  Wiz Bang Bar is Salt & Straw’s very smart brainchild.  ‘Nuff said, right?  But it’s different, and in the best way.  They soft serve in four to five flavors such as Malted Sweet Cream, Sea Salt & Caramel, Chocolate Fudge, Vanilla Custard, and Roasted Strawberry Coconut. 

You can get your swirl dipped in a “Magic Shell” of single origin chocolate, Oregon Black Raspberry, or MY FAVORITE, the Coconu’s “Gray Chocolate Sesame” that comes sprinked with green matcha sesame seeds.  There are also weekly special and make-your-own sundaes, and killer concretes.  If you think you’re not a soft serve person, go to Pine Street Market WB Bar and give yourself a chance.  I wasn’t, but I am now. 

Wiz Bang Bar (126 SW 2nd Ave., Portland, OR, 97204; 503-384-2150)

KIM JONG SMOKEHOUSE

Think . . . Korean BBQ meets smokehouse.  Kim Jong serves some of the most flavorful meat I’ve had in Portland.  They have locations in throughout Portland, and thank goodness they landed a fast concept in Pine Street Market.  Nothing beats what a good smoke imparts to meat.  Kim Jong at Pine Street Market makes 2 things:  Bibim Bap bowl (with your choice of galbi short rib, pulled pork, cured salmon, chicken, or mushroom) and a pulled pork bun. I have to tell you, I am not a big meat eater but this place is my exception.  I eat burgers, meatballs, sausages, raw fish and if I’m a guest at someone’s house, I’ll eat anything. 

But on my own, it’s gotta be ground or none.  However, I have polished a few bones sparkling clean out of my galbi bowl here.  All bowls come with pickled vegetables, kimchee, rice, and seasonings, which makes for really balanced and satisfying meal. The sleeper superstar though, here is the dessert:  do yourself a favor and take a red bean matcha marshmellow brownie or a smoked tea chocolate chip cookie to go.  One of THE BEST COOKIES in Portland is at this meat smokehouse.

Kim Jong Smokehouse (126 SW 2nd Ave., Portland, OR, 97204;503-555-5555)

TRIFECTA ANNEX

Ken’s Artisan Bakery and Ken’s Artisan Pizza, Trifecta Annex’s big brothers, are legendary.  If you make pizza at home, you know Ken.  What I love about this place at Pine Street Market is that they always have four to five rotating fresh pizzas that you can order slices from.  As testament to how expertly good the crust is and the quality of the tomato sauce, you may surprise yourself and find that the margarita is your favorite slice.  It’s just tomato sauce and a smidgen of herb, olive oil and a wafting of shaved pecorino romano, and its simplicity in composition belies it’s complexity of flavor. The pizza is super slim and super sublime.   Ken also sets out croissants, morning buns, canele, cookies, and loaves (and half loaves) every day.

Trifecta Annex (126 SW 2nd Ave., Portland, OR, 97204; 503-299-2000)

BRASS BAR

Brass Bar is a minimalist outpost of Portland’s Barista Coffee.  They make a wonderfully smooth hot chocolate and offer granola with milk and petite chocolate chip cookies. I love going there when Pine Street Market opens at 8 a.m., spreading out on the long communal tables that are thronged with people from 11 a.m. onward, and reading the newspaper, knocking off some personal business items from my to-do list, or even shopping for rainboots on my laptop before I head off to the office.

BrassBar (126 SW 2nd Ave., Portland, OR, 97204)

KURE

Kure is another place with multiple locations.  Their Pine Street Market location offers beautiful and healthy Acai bowls, smoothie bowls, hot bowls, detox shots, green and blue and yellow juices, and other healthful provisions here.  This place converted me because not only is the food beautiful to look at, but I always feel energized and upbeat after I eat (or drink) here, and the servers are really friendly and welcoming. 

 Kure (126 SW 2nd Ave., Portland, OR, 97204)

POLLO BRAVO

Pollo Excellento, to be exact, and they’ve got a burger excellento too. This amazing spot, from the boys who brought us Tasty & Alder and Tasty & Sons, is both a tapas bar and a fast casual concept offering Spanish-style rotisserie chicken to-go. Expect lots of bright, sharp flavors; small vegetable, nutty and charcuterie bites; and the most wonderful papas (potatoes) brava you’ve had this side of Spain.

Pollo Bravo (126 SW 2nd Ave., Portland, OR, 97204; 503-477-8999)

Pine Street Market is an essential Portland destination whether you are a native, a newly moved (like me) or a visitor.  Besides the food in all of the venues being outstanding, PSM is an excellent choice if you’re with a group who wants to eat together, but doesn’t want to eat the same food, and the atmosphere is very lively and convivial.  It’s conveniently located in the Old Town/Chinatown section of downtown, and just two blocks away from the riverfront where you can walk off your meal and make room for your next trip.

Pine Street Market (126 SW 2nd Ave., Portland, OR, 97204)

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