For comedy fans, Bill Oakley is a legend. A longtime Simpsons writer, showrunner, and executive producer, Oakley and his writing partner, Josh Weinstein, are responsible for classic episodes like “Lisa vs. Malibu Stacy” and two-parter “Who Shot Mr. Burns;” perhaps most famously, Oakley wrote the classic steamed hams bit in “22 Short Films about Springfield.” But in the food world, Oakley’s known as a fast-food savant, reviewing the latest chicken sandwiches, hot dogs, and pizzas for his thousands of followers. His annual fast food awards, hosted via his Instagram account, pulls in cameos from celebrities like Ike Barinholtz and Jay Baruchel. Vulture labeled him “the preeminent fast-food critic of 2018,” and the Wrap called him “the Gordon Ramsay of fast food.”
Oakley is also a Portlander, one who can often be spotted grabbing a burger at Fuller’s, a chicken parm at Summit Shack, or a po’boy from Matt & Memere’s. We asked him for his favorite carts, restaurants, and snacks across Portland; find his favorite Portland haunts below.
Best burger: “I’m going to say Hit The Spot. It depends on whether I want a burger with a bunch of stuff on it. If I don’t, it’s Hit the Spot, but when I want a burger with a bunch of stuff on it, it’s Fuller’s Burger Shack. But there are a lot I love: Rough Draft, Farmer and the Beast. I do not demand to have a smash burger; I don’t necessarily care.”
Best fry: “I don’t know if I’m qualified to answer that. I don’t really like fries that much; I did a podcast last week where I tried all the fast food fries, and I’d rather have a second burger. I think I’d prefer to have Jojo’s jojos for a potato side dish.”
Best Portland-based fast food chain: “Is it a chain if it has two locations? If so, Jojo would be it, since it’s opening a new location. Super Deluxe, Killer Burger, Big’s Chicken has two locations.”
Best fried chicken sandwich: “It’s Jojo’s, but it’s tied with Basilisk’s. After that, Big’s Chicken. The chicken sandwich at Yonder, I did love it when I had it last year. But I don’t order chicken sandwiches, generally. I would always rather have a burger than a chicken sandwich.”
Favorite fried food in Portland that isn’t chicken or a fry: “There are so many fried foods I love. I love the fried shrimp po’boy at Avenue St. Charles in the Rose Biggi food cart pod in Beaverton. I love the fried green tomato po’boy at Matt & Memere’s. The fried cod at Batterfish, absolutely. The other thing that sticks in my mind are the fried pickles at Summit Shack. First of all, the pickles — some pickles that are fried are too sour, too dill, but this guy makes his pickles himself. They have this absolute perfect amount of coating.”
Favorite pizza: “I’ve gotta divide it into different categories. My favorite New York is Pizza Jerk. My favorite (thick crust) is Pop Pizza. My favorite Chicago (tavern) style... I love Jerry’s, but Bridge City has been around for years and is just as good. It’s hard to get one, but I believe that they are as good as (Jerry’s), and his are good.”
Favorite barbecue: “It’s interesting, the only kind of barbecue I really like is North Carolina pulled pork sandwiches. There aren’t that many places that do Carolina-style the way I like it. One of the places that does it is Bark City, and they have my favorite pulled pork sandwich. The guy who runs Apizza Scholls has been making pulled pork sandwiches, he gave me one last week, and it was one of the best I’ve had in years. I don’t know if he’ll start selling them.”
Favorite tacos: “I’ve been going to Taqueria Los Puñales, I think the chicken tinga there is my favorite. Those are my favorite tacos, at least right now.”
Favorite sandwich: “There are a lot of sandwiches I love — Jojo, the po’boys I mentioned. The chicken sandwich club sandwich at Fuller’s, it’s certainly my favorite thing there. It’s an old-school diner sandwich, but there’s this other layer with chicken salad, it’s absolutely divine.”
Best ice cream: “I know it’s the cliche answer, but Salt & Straw. The pear and blue cheese sounded like a freak show to me, but I absolutely love it.”
Favorite mid-week lunch: “My favorite place to go right now is (the food cart pod) Core PDX, that’s my favorite new place. The carts I like most are Summit Shack and Papi Sal’s, but the selection of carts there is so good, I can never make up my mind. I’m also going to go to that Moore Food & Company thing more often, it’s so good: 40 feet from the Atlas Pizza on Division, there’s this food cart there that just moved in with excellent cheesesteaks, and the space they set up in this place is absolutely gorgeous. I haven’t gone there multiple times, but it’s going to become my lunchtime hangout. Even with no press, it’s pretty packed. And the setting is gorgeous.”
Favorite celebration restaurant: “I haven’t been to any indoor, sit-down restaurants in so long, but when I did go, I’d go to Laurelhurst Market. I don’t go to a lot of fancy sit down restaurants, but when I’d go, that was it. It’s a beautiful space, it’s probably my favorite restaurant of the fancier caliber.”
Favorite food cart: “Skidbladnir gets zero attention, and it’s fantastic. I had the best meal I’ve had in a long time there. I had two things: I had a marinated lamb sandwich, it was absolutely amazing, and the Norwegian meatballs there, I reminisce about those. Their food is certainly restaurant quality, and an excellent restaurant at that.”
Find more of Bill Oakley’s recommendations by following him on Instagram at @thatbilloakley.