I’ve spent a jovial summer here in Portland downing copious cups of coffee (newest place I’ve tried is Spella Caffe!), lounging at brunch, and crying over physics. It’s a wonderful life. And in a week, I will be back at RICE!! Despite wilting in the humid heat.
Hooray for many more Saturday night dinners! I love Saturday nights during the school year–those times are refreshing opportunities to get off campus for a bit and hang out with friends over a delicious meal. So take notes incoming freshmen! There’s a horde of good food waiting just beyond the Rice hedges. Here is my personal list of the places I’ve been to that I adore the most (in no particular order).
1. Local Foods: It’s like a Whole Foods explosion here. Local produce, fresh ingredients, homemade drinks–no doubt you’ll know exactly from where your tomatoes came from and that the chicken you’re eating was probably raised in the owners’ backyard (and was once called Herbert). No joke, their crumble chicken sandwich is to die for. But you vegetarians would definitely find a safe haven here because the salads are on point. Oops–now that I think about it, I probably shouldn’t have mentioned Herbert.
(Crunchy chicken sandwich–bye, Herbert.)
2. Torchy’s Tacos: Fire up your taste buds with a slew of tacos with various personalities. Want to go classic? Hipster? Done. Their fried chocolate chip cookie dough is wonderfully indulgent and there’s nothing like a little political drama with the Republican and Democrat tacos.
(Republican on the left, chicken fajita on the right–these were gobbled down way too quickly.)
3. Sweet Paris: Long live crepes. I follow these folks on Instagram and they’re always coming up with brilliant new flavors of the month. I’ve only tried the creme brulee apple, but it is deliciously sublime. Treat yourself to a brief respite from living in Fondren Library with delectables from this charming Parisian cafe.
(Creme brulee apple crepe–look at that powdered sugar glory.)
4. Thai Village: I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve been here. It’s affordable, the pad thai is so big and hearty that I eat leftovers for lunch on Sundays, and they have Thai iced tea (which I LOVE). Many friends sing the praises of this restaurant and you’ll always run into scads of Rice people. So many good memories made here as well–including that one day when I ordered takeout and the person wrote my name down as Valerie. Starbucks once thought my name was Melonie. Who did it better?
(Thai iced tea and pad thai having a serious powwow.)
5. Kubo’s: This Japanese restaurant is bit on the sophisticated side. Need a swanky place to impress your Esperanza date? You got it.The Japanese curry and udon are excellent, and I’m a sucker for the soft shell crab spider rolls. Yum.
6. La Madeleine’s: Welcome to the French version of Panera Bread! People here are always friendly and the place is constantly packed. And I always gawk at the display case of sweet, exquisite baked treats.
7. Benjy’s: Best place for a weekend brunch–the French toast is divine. It’s encrusted with nuts, topped with fresh berries, and drizzled with a sweet fruit coulis. I’ve never had better French toast in my life. Lunch and dinner here are great as well, serving fine American cuisine in a casual posh atmosphere that has attracted many a customer.
(French toast–reigning royalty at Benjy’s brunch hours)
8. The Chocolate Bar: If you hate chocolate, this is pretty much your worst nightmare. But for you cacao bean lovers, it’s like Willy Wonka generously donated his chocolate river to this place. Even the color theme at The Chocolate Bar is purple. The cakes are served in colossal portions that could easily satisfy the sweet teeth of five people and the chocolate strawberries are heavenly (and cheaper after 9 pm, I think!).
9. Ruggles: First things first, dessert happy hour is 2-5 pm Monday through Friday! You have to try the white chocolate bread pudding before you die. I actually really dislike white chocolate, but I’ll make an exception for good old Ruggles. It’s a warm confection of gooey sweetness drowning in a luscious vanilla sauce and topped with a scoop of ice cream. And it’s not exuberantly sugary either! My other favorite is the chocolate creme brulee–it’s rich and dark, and that hint of burnt sugar just gets me every time. But don’t forget about the savory! Sandwiches and pasta here are hearty and rich, and they don’t skimp on the fries, too–the sweet potato ones are my favorite.
(This is the chocolate creme brulee–God bless dessert happy hour.)
10. Cloud 10 Creamery: This is a bit of an avant garde ice cream place that serves gourmet, unique flavors and a variety of stunning sundaes. I think I had a Nutella s’mores flavor when I went and it was smooth and creamy with cute little chunks of marshmallow.
(Excuse my poor attempt at an artsy ice cream bowl.)
Now it’s time for more recommendations and more places to add to my wimpy list! But I hope some of the places here will tickle your fancy–happy eating!