Oregon is home to a lot of restaurants, bars, wineries, and breweries, but there are tons of hidden gems that some Portlanders aren't unearthing. To help guide us to these potential discoveries, we've enlisted some of our city's many food players to share their recommendations for a weekly feature dubbed Dining Confidential.
Image of Aalto Lounge courtesy Facebook
SE Portland's Nostrana, beloved for the wood-fired, rustic Italian food of master chef Cathy Whims, also has a stellar bar program, curated by cocktail enthusiast and bar manager Douglas Derrick. Over the years Derrick has put Nostrana on the map for their signature cocktails, mastery of the negroni, and strong Italian craft beer selection. But after Derrick is done shaking your drinks for the night, he's usually on the hunt for some late night grub (and maybe some beer to-go):
"When I'm getting off work from Nostrana, I often head over to Belmont for some late-night chow. It's tough to find delicious food and good cocktails in Portland after-hours, but over the years I've found a few spots that do it right. My go to right now is the Aalto Lounge on SE 34th and Belmont. I'm a big fan of the toasted ham and gruyere croissant, and it's the comfort food I crave after a long night behind the bar. The Aalto recently went through Pernod Ricard's 'Bar Smarts' training, so their basic cocktails are really strong. And, rare for bars, they have an off-premise license, meaning they can do wine and beer to go."