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Two Award Winners on Their Favorite Portland Eats

Maggie Borden

August 22, 2017

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We're just weeks away from the start of our 2017 Taste America national tour, a ten-city run of spectacular dining events and exciting culinary programming celebrating the best of American cuisine from coast to coast. With such a wide breadth of fantastic food available across the country, we asked this year's James Beard Award winners from each region of the Best Chefs in America to give some guidance on their favorite local haunts. Below, Best Chef: Northwest winners Greg Denton and Gabrielle Quiñónez Denton of Portland's Ox share their picks for best date night, breakfast, and more.

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Date Night: Ataula
Chef José Chesa's Spanish food is creative and exciting, and his warmth and enthusiasm is palpable in the dining room. As soon as we sit down, we know we are in for a culinary adventure.

Cheap Eats: Hat Yai
While the Southern Thai–style fried chicken is a best seller here, we always supplement our order with the crazy spicy ground pork with turmeric and lemongrass and the soy-cured, coconut-braised beef short rib.

Breakfast: HaVL
We so rarely go out to breakfast: Gabi doesn't go for sweet things in the morning, and if we want eggs then we'll cook them ourselves. So if we're going out to eat in the morning, chances are we're heading to HaVL for a bowl of Vietnamese noodle soup. Every day, they offer two rotating soups and several versions of banh mi. That's it! And that's all you need.

Drinks: Pepe Le Moko
As soon as you walk down the stairs into this basement bar, you feel like you've been transported into a retro-chic bomb shelter out of another place and time. Here, they reimagine classically sweet drinks (such as the mai tai and the grasshopper) into delicious and balanced, yet still indulgent, cocktails.

Bakery: Bake Shop
Baker Kim Boyce is known for incorporating whole grains into her pastries, yet nothing here tastes like health food. She serves some of the city's best tarts, scones, and croissants.

Learn more about Taste America and the James Beard Awards.

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Maggie Borden is associate editor at the James Beard Foundation. Find her on Instagram and Twitter.