Oregon is home to a lot of restaurants, bars, wineries, and breweries, but there are tons of hidden gems that the majority of 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.
Nick Schuurman has been in restaurant management for years. From Whiskey Soda Lounge to Oven & Shaker to both Lardo locations, he's worked in many of Portland's most buzzed-about and busy restaurants. Schuurman's now spending most of his time in downtown's West End, where he's dashing back and forth between the sandwich-friendly Lardo West and its brand-new next door neighbor, the handmade pasta house Grassa. Instrumental in helping getting Grassa open — giving input on everything from design to menu details (hint: ask him how they came up with Grassa's logo) — his mission is to make sure operations run smoothly between the two very different spaces. But when Schuurman's not on the clock (which is nearly never) you might find the gentle giant at one of his favorite haunts: SE's Conquistador Lounge.
I'm at The Conquistador a lot. It's the perfect place to grab a really strong, really tart margarita — Conquistador has kickass bartenders. When the weather is nice, the patio is one of my favorites in town. And after a few margaritas, the nachos are great for sopping up the booze. No matter what you order, the portions are large and every entree comes with rice, beans, and a salad. Don't skip the sauces that come out of the kitchen — I like the guacamole and the cilantro crema. I also like a bar that is dark enough at 6p.m. that it feels like it is 1a.m., and the Conquistador bar is always dark. They have a pool table and pinball machines — it's the perfect spot for mindless indulgence. And a big plus for me, there is always good music playing.
Image of the Conquistador Lounge courtesy Facebook