Delta Café and Bar: Southern USA Cooking and Now a Fixture
My first visit to The Delta Café happened a bit by accident. I needed a bit of something to eat, and saw the hand-painted sign and thought it would be an interesting place to try. At that time (about 1995 or so) there were a few restaurants that were doing a few odd themes of various types, including one that had spent the last 3 months as a flying saucer.
When I saw the sign for "Delta Café" my first thought was that it would be a similar such eccentric restaurant.
This was not the case at all. Instead, "The Delta" in question was not the Delta Force, or Delta of the Star Trek emblem, or any other such eccentric thing. Instead, it was a reference to the Mississippi River Delta and the food was generally southeastern USA in style with a particular specialty in New Orleans.
Which would explain the hand painted artistry on the wall featuring a partially naked woman wearing a carnival mask and the Mardi Gras beads hanging in various places.
These days, as much as the restaurant turnover is in the Portland region, anything that lasts as long as The Delta has (as of this writing 18 years) is more of an institution than it is Café. However, the food is still good.
Alas, the eccentric hand-painted sign went away a few years ago, and was replaced by a very institutional looking sign that appears to be more along the lines of what would be found on a bank or investment firm. However, inside, The Delta still maintains its Slice of New Orleans attitude.
There are some concessions to doing business in Portland, and the culture of southeast Portland in particular. For example, you can order a vegetarian Po' Boy barbecue sandwich. It comes with all the unhealthy barbecue sauces and trappings but it contains no meat - it is most likely the most unhealthy vegetarian food in the city but it there on the menu and in fact I have had it.
Favorite Dish: The Barbecue Tofu Po' Boy Sandwich comes with one side that you can choose from one of the other pages in the menu, for $11.00. I chose the Potato and Cheese Casserole. There is a choice between "Original" and "Dressed". "Original" means includes lettuce, tomato and cajum mayo (which despite the way it sounds really isn't extremely hot) and that is what I decided to order. "Dressed" includes slaw and remoulade sauce.
On the more expensive side of things, the Southern Catfish (not the Catfish Po' Boy, but the dinner plate from the opposite side of the menu) is also quite good, though I opt for the Southern Fried rather than the Spicy Blackened. It comes with a side dish and that brings it to a decent sized plate of food for $15.95 - one of the most expensive meals on the menu.
The Blood Sweat and Tears is a mixture of vodka and Strawberry for $6.50, and I found it to be a wonderful concoction.
- Food and Dining
Mezza Middle Eastern: Middle Eastern in Mid-Eastern Southeast
For many years what Middle Eastern restaurants there were in Portland tended to be in the upper east side, such as around Hawthorne or Belmont and 11th through 20th.
The family that owns Mezza managed to escape Lebanon when the country was under the 1980s civil war, and in recent years opened this restaurant on the lower level of one of the new housing developments to happen along Woodstock. It may not be the core of the Woodstock business district but it certainly isn't too far away. The place tends to be reasonably busy, and the Baklava is sometimes sold out by 6 pm.
The Middle Eastern music is just loud enough to fall outside the range of quiet background music, and seems to be intended to be something that is noticed. It isn't so loud as to drown out conversation but it isn't quiet here either.
There is a huge mural covering the western wall of the dining room.
There are tables set up for outside use, but not during wet weather.
The restaurant does have a reasonable bar and many of the mixed drinks are in the $7 range.
In order to hit the peak eating traffic, the restaurant is closed from 3 to 5 in the evenings.
Favorite Dish: Pumpkin Kibbeh for $12 is good, but I would not consider it my favorite just yet as I haven't eaten here very often.
- Food and Dining
Bai Mint Thai Kitchen: New Thai Restaurant on South Side of Woodstock
Bai Mint knows its competition all too well, as they are across the street from Tom Yum Thai Cuisine, which is one of the most popular restaurants in Woodstock. They have priced their proportions reasonably close to what is offered over at Tom Yum, but unlike Tom Yum they generally have tables available.
Their cooking is good, and the decorations are a bit different as well. Bai Mint is more of a modern atmosphere with the decorations on the wall being photographs of Thailand rather than the antique inspired wall hangings over at Tom Yum. Bai Mint offers not just a specials menu, but also has a digital picture frame by the cash register that also flashes specials from the menu.
Considering the crowding at Tom Yum, and the difficulty with which Woodstock Blvd may be crossed during heavy traffic periods, it seems to me that there is certainly room in the tiny but trendy Woodstock neighborhood for two Thai restaurants.
I found the service to be extremely fast. However, this may change if Bai Miint ever gets as busy at Tom Yum.
Favorite Dish: N5 - the 5th Noodle Dish. "Pad Curry Powder Noodle" "Stir fried wide size rice noodle with egg, pineapple, raisin, cashew nut, diced mixed vegetables, then seasoned with curry powder." I had this with Tofu and Vegetable for $9. The mixture was really good and not made in a way that not one ingredient dominated, but instead was very equal and appropriate mixed.
The $5 for a cup of Mango and Ice Cream may seem a bit steep for what you get, until you bite into that fresh mango!
At $14 the Pla Song Kruang (from their regional dish selection special menu) is one of the most expensive items on their menu, and quite good. "Boneless Sea Basa Fillet steamed with ginger strips, onion, white fungus, ***ake, celery, asparagus, shredded red bell pepper in house sauce" is how it is described on the menu.
- Food and Dining
Putters Bar and Grill: Neighborhood Bar in a Crowded Market
Named for a golf course that is one mile west of here and really not in the Woodstock area, Putters Bar and Grill is really aimed at being a neighborhood bar, but the market here is a bit crowded with such establishments. The Delta Café down almost across the street has a pretty well equipped bar as well, Country Bill's Restaurant directly across the street was a similar establishment until it closed for rebuilding, and various other establishments exist in this area. Yet, Putters has its own set of devotees.
There are screens that are tuned to sporting events, there are tables in various locations (including two outdoors on Woodstock itself) and towards the rear of the establishment there is a single pool table and several video poker machines. There is a pinball machine towards the front of the restaurant but I've never seen anyone playing it.
Food is typical USA bar fare.
Favorite Dish: The Fish Tacos for $8.25 were pretty good, and included a side of tater tots.
When I happened to be there there was a special on a Cranberry Vodka for $2.75, which was also reasonably good.
- Food and Dining
Mickey Finn's Brew Pub: Brews, Drinks, Food and Several Screens
There are two very different sections to this facility: there is the huge front room, with the full bar and two televisions tuned to sports games, and a fair amount of activity. There is then the back room, were the video poker machines are located, and is off-limits to those under 21 years of age. There are several other televisions in there tuned to other sports games.
There are toys in the entryway on the west side for those who bring their children here: yes, there is such a thing as a "kid friendly" bar. They even have a sign on one of the windows saying "Kids Menu".
There is a lot here that is fairly typical of your standard bar, including a selection of the typical near-fast food grease food - but there are other options beyond those things that will give you a much better food experience. However, even with the typical bar food the quality of what is here sems to be one notch above the typical area dive bar.
There are a number of happy hour options here that should be worth looking at for most people.
There seems to be quite a number of people who come here for the company, as the regulars seem to know eachother very well, even giving eachother hugs and know the bar tender by first name and the bar tender and staff know them by name too.
Outdoor seating is along 44th Avenue, and the further south you get the more pleasant the seating, as it is further from busy Woodstock Blvd. However, the last two tables are the smoking tables, so you may want to avoid those. These outdoor tables are fairly pleasant on a comfortable evening, and are in the shade in the hot afternoons. The fact they are off of Woodstock gives them an advantage over the outdoor seating at some of the nearby establishments.
If you would rather sit inside, the large seating area gives a selection from dark deep interior to near the windows, which during a sunny day give pretty bright light.
Favorite Dish: "Garlic Lover's Pasta" for $10.99 is a chicken and sauce pasta dish that is reasonably filling for not being too much of the standard grease fare typically found at bars.
The mixed drinks seem a bit expensive for the quantity: $7.00 or so on my first visit, though the lemon drop for $5.50 was a much smaller glass and not quite as good as on a previous visit. The assorted beer options (and there are a number of microbrews here) are of course less expensive.
Happy hour is typically 3 to 7 pm, and you can get all sorts of interesting specials during happy hour. My current favorite is their Pita Pizza for $4, which is available in a variety of types but my favorite is the "Hawaiian" style.
- Beer Tasting
- Food and Dining
Super Torta (Woodstock Location): Reasonably Popular Mexican on East End of Area
While it is possible to order food from Super Torta that contains no meat, it must be done as a special request. By that measure, Super Torta has become unusual in the Woodstock area, as many of the places in this area have at least a few vegetarian dishes available.
Super Torta is also heavily self-service, and in the manner of service is not much more than a food cart that happens to be in a building - right down to the disposable plates and plastic utensils. Even the very simple San Felipe manages to have washable dishes and metal tableware for dine-in customers.
Drinking water is self-service, as it is in many of these establishments, but it is served from a plastic cooler with a leaking valve at the bottom of the container.
If Super Torta were significantly less expensive than anyone else I might be willing to consider all these things as part of having less expensive food, but in fact in terms of what you get for what you pay, you can do better elsewhere.
The food is of reasonably acceptable quality and taste, however, and it is reasonably popular. I'm sure that there are some that will enjoy their food here. I prefer the food prepared in other establishments nearby. The take out service is fairly popular in the evenings, most likely as it is located beside a fairly busy commuter route.
Favorite Dish: I am not going to say that I have a favorite here. The food is of reasonable quality, but for my money I would prefer to eat in any of the nearby establishments closer to the core of Woodstock.
- Food and Dining
Wong's Garden: Popular Chinese Takeout on Woodstock
This is actually a second choice for Asian food in the Woodstock area. By far the highest choice on the list should be Tom Yum, but that place is so popular on some nights it is difficult to find a place to sit, and sometimes the wait for a table can be quite long.
Wong's Garden is right next door. The people are nice enough, and the food is good so don't get me wrong about that. However, the food is nowhere near as good for the price as what you will find at Tom Yum.
Be that as it may, the food at Wong's Garden is also good, and there are almost always enough seats at Wong's. The vast majority of customers at Wong's seem to be takeout orders, and thus it is usually still a busy place even when there isn't anyone inside.
The seats are comfortable, and the place is reasonably attractive in its decorations, though it is fairly sparse compared to some places that scatter all manner of homeland decorations on the walls.
Immediately upon sitting down, you are almost always treated to a pot of tea on your table, though if they are busy sometimes it takes a while to arrive.
Though I have put down "less than $10" the fact is that most meals here straddle the $10 range. Figure $8 to $12.
Favorite Dish: The sweet and sour shrimp at $9.75 is good, though it is a bit too sweet for my liking.
- Food and Dining
Best Teriyaki and Sushi: Woodstock's Newest Asian Restaurant
Businesses in Woodstock don't tend to close often, but they do seem to move around a bit. When Pace Setter Athletic decided to move closer to the Safeway Store and across the street, a new Japanese terkiaki and sushi restaurant opened in its place.
I decided to try it tonight, though the place is so new that decorations are still in boxes and the menu is still only half a sheet of paper (the other side may soon have additions to it, but not yet).
The interior is simple but attractive, and the menu is also kept fairly simple, which in many ways is a good thing. Many restaurants simple try to specialize in too broad a range. Especially for a place that is just starting out, it is best I think to have a nice simple menu.
Favorite Dish: Salmon Teryaki for $7.90 comes with a small salad (basically a pile of lettuce, like most restaurants seem to think salads are supposed to be) and two great globs of rice, with the fish. Fountain drinks are available and are $1.35.
Many of the dinner items are much cheaper than the salmon - in fact I ordered one of the most expensive items on the menu. Expect to pay a lot less than I did.
With those types of prices, this is certainly one of the least expensive restaurants in Woodstock since the Arby's closed. On the other hand, there is a reason why many economy priced restaurants don't survive on Woodstock: the market tends to be more mid-range food and prices. I think this place could hit the spot with many of those commuting by here, or looking for quick and cheap, but it must be aimed right - the only other economy priced restaurant here that has survived is a Subway store, and it is right next door to a Safeway grocery store.
- Food and Dining
Woodstock Wine and Deli: Deli and Considerable Wine Collection
While the building is rather boxy and not too much to look at on the outside, on the inside this is a reasonably popular gathering place, with a number of soup and sandwich options, plus an entire wall filled with various wine selections. The left side, as you come in the door, is the coffee bar and cashier, while the very back of the store has the deli where they make your sandwich and serve the soup.
There are also a number of snack type items available on the aisles sort of like a self-service section, only arranged more like a very small grocery store. Here you will find things like bags of potato chips and other snack items.
There are several options you can choose on each sandwich, such as the bread choice and type or types of cheese.
There are several tables outdoors, but unfortunately Woodstock is a busy street, and this makes sitting outdoors here an unattractive option most days.
They are open until 8 at night during the Friday night wine tastings.
Favorite Dish: Friday night is Chowder Night
Otherwise, a veggie sandwich with sourdough bread and cheese (you are allowed to select two on the veggie) selections of Havarti and Pepperjack. A full sandwich is $6.25 and a half sandwich is $3.75
The potato soup (when it is served as soup of the day) is pretty good too.
- Food and Dining
- Wine Tasting
- Budget Travel
Laughing Planet: Popular and OK Food from Laughing Planet
The first time I ate in a Laughing Planet restaurant was sometime around 1997, in their location on SE Belmont. I thoroughly expected a thoroughly eccentric style of eatery, but was unfortunately disappointed as it seemed the food was fairly expensive for what you got, wasn't of exceptional quality, and the atmosphere didn't at all reflect the SE Belmont neighborhood of that era (today, SE Belmont has thoroughly changed to be more upscale in housing and food, and quite a bit of the eccentric mood of the neighborhood is lost).
Now that Laughing Planet has a restaurant very close to where I work, I thought I would try their new (well, not quite new, but newer than many places) spot in Woodstock.
I'm afraid my impressions are about the same as t was in the mid-1990s: the food is OK, but you can find better offerings at a cheaper price elsewhere right near by. It's kind of a neat place and sort of fits the Woodstock neighborhood better than Belmont. I would expect there to be more public neighborhood announcements and a fairly good sized public bulletin board, since this place is really close to Reed College, but alas it just doesn't seem to have too much local character.
They do have some social justice type activities going on, such as the current "Save a Chimp" effort at increasing the plight of these animals.
You are required to serve your own table, except that the food, when cooked, is brought to your table.
The large covered porch, with heated ceiling panels in the winter, is a nice touch, particularly since it doesn't face the busy noisy Woodstock traffic. Not that the parking lot is such a great place to view, but it is more than what other places in Woodstock offer in terms of outdoor seating.
The interior windows are fairly large, and give you the option of either looking onto Woodstock (lots of car traffic) or a minor piece of 41st Avenue (over the hair stylist office) which doesn't have much traffic at all. Thankfully, the windows are pretty good at sound proofing the noise from Woodstock.
There are a few scattered plastic dinosaurs on the tables for your kids to play with - or some of the adults too, if they are so minded.
The place does get some bonus points for making an effort towards recycling their aluminum foil. They do try to be both economical and environmentally friendly, which is one of the best reasons to eat here - though you might just as well eat down the road at one of the places that gives more food for the price and eat on an actual plate rather than disposable paper, and still wind up being a bit better.
PLEASE NOTE: The web site is filled with Flash Animation, and therefore is slow to load on a slow connection.
Favorite Dish: $3 for a Hot Lips Blackberry (which isn't even an alcoholic beverage)? Alright, so it isn't a cheap mass produced beverage, but still....
If you want to be adventurous, order the "special of the week" on the board above the counter. They come up with a new burrito concoction every week. Sometimes these turn out really good, while others are not so great. The Southeast Indian I had today was $5.50, which was OK, but not exceptional for the price. Most people would probably want to add on something more, thus increasing the price.
Pizza Roma: Pizza by the Slice or Whole, Watch the Game!
First: be warned: the web site for this place is very heavy into flash media!
The basics of Pizza Roma are fairly simple: select the pizza slice from the display case, they heat it up to a hotter temperature while you pay at the cash register, then you go sit down somewhere, and bring out the finished product to you.
They also serve a selection of pastas, salads, and a few other foods.
You will find beer here too: micro-brews and the standard fare mass produced stuff. In fact. if you take a careful look at the special offerings posted above the cash register, you will find that the prices include a beer, or a microbrew - and while the prices for the microbrew package are slightly more, they are not horrifically more.
The main dining room also features two TV screens, which are generally tuned to a sports program of some sort or another - if the Portland Trail Blazers are playing, that is where the TV will be turned to.
Favorite Dish: By far my most favorite pizza is the Billy Goat prepared by this place. It was absolutely wonderful! However, it is only available on certain days.
The "Maui Wowie", the "Shroom", "Italian Garden" and the "Mad Hatter" are also good. There was once a "Houdini" available that was really good too, but as it had a hand-made sign by it my guess is that it was a one-time experiment. Their "Super Veggie" is a long time favorite among certain vegetarian pizza lovers.
Bread sticks are available at 3 for $2.
By the slice, most of these are in the $3.75 per slice range, though certain simple slices are available for somewhat less.
Pizza Roma also offers salads, sandwiches, and a number of other offerings, but I've never ordered any of those, and as often as I have eaten here I've only seen the occasional salad ordered as a side, and never seen anyone order any of the rest of the offerings from here.
Tom-Yum Thai Cuisine: Great Thai in Woodstock Neighborhood
In my opinion, Tom Yum Thai is a wonderful and economical place to eat. Sure, there are a number of other places to eat on this section of SE Woodstock, but some of the other places are a bit more money, and some of the other places have food that isn't as good.
People's tastes differ. Therefore, if you like your food hot, you probably should ask for it that way, since some other people who have eaten here and written reviews about the place think the food isn't as spicey as it should be. To me, the food is just fine just by asking for "mild" - but that is probably not terribly "authentic" either. I'm sure if you ask for "authentically hot" they will serve it to you that way.
I am extremely amazed at the intricate artwork that decorates the interior of this restaurant. Outside, the place is a fairly standard issue modern building with few features to make it interesting, but inside it has become a piece of Thailand.
This restaurant can be very crowded on Friday nights, and in some cases you will find that sometimes there is no chance of getting a place to sit within any sort of reasonable time.
Both bus routes # 75 and #19 serve a bus stop right in front of the restaurant, if you are visiting the area without a car.
Favorite Dish: I check the specials board for whatever is on special that day, and order one of those.
I've been told that their Duck Curry is good, but I have never had it myself.
- Road Trip