Oregon is home to a lot of restaurants, bars, wineries, and breweries, but there are tons of hidden gems that the majority of Portlanders just aren't unearthing. To help guide us to these potential discoveries, we've enlisted some of our city's many food luminaries to share their under-the-radar recommendations for a weekly feature dubbed Dining Confidential.
Din Johnson started Ristretto Roasters in 2005, building out the shoebox-size cafe on NE 42nd Avenue himself, sourcing the beans, and roasting them in full-view of the customers. Today, there are two more Ristrettos — a café on N. Williams and one on NW Nicolai in the Schoolhouse Electric Building. Born and raised in Portland, Johnson — who bartended for 10 years in San Francisco before moving back in 2004 — says Portland was once "the king of the dive bars — there were a lot of them, it was a blue-collar town." His favorite post-work hangout: one of NW's last remaining dives, Joe's Cellar.
Joe's Cellar is maybe the last of the holdout dive bars in Northwest Portland. It used to be you could find these bars all over; I didn't even go to Joe's Cellar much when I was growing up because there were so many others. Today, it's still a real working man's bar. You go in; you get your beer — or your drink, which they pour with an exceptionally heavy hand. No fancy fou-fou cocktails here. There are pool tables, and free popcorn, and you can order French fries, though they may never arrive. Doesn't matter. It's a good place to hide out for a few hours.
· All Previous Dining Confidentials [Eater PDX]
Image of Joe's Cellar courtesy PortlandHamburgers via blogspot/EPDX