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Food finds

Portland’s top restaurateurs head downtown

Saturday brunch is a hot time at Tasty n Alder.

Saturday brunch is a hot time at Tasty n Alder.

PORTLAND, Ore. — Until recently, Portland’s best-known chefs, such as Vitaly Paley, the James Beard-award-winning owner of Paley’s Place, always set up shop on the east side of the Willamette River. Then the recession hit, opening up space in the West End, conveniently located within walking distance of many downtown hotels. Here are three debuts garnering rave reviews:

IMPERIAL

The long-awaited second venture from Paley opened on the ground floor of Hotel Lucia in fall 2012. Walk past the long bar and grab a table near the open kitchen to watch Paley and executive chef Ben Bettinger work their magic. Start with something simple like a plate of Kumamoto and Tillamook Bay oysters, dipped in horseradish for spice, and you’ll soon realize that Paley uses the top food suppliers in the Northwest. Stan’s Charcuterie Plate, a sampling of pate, liver, and sausages, would make a Francophile weep for joy. For entrees, there’s the tender black cod, grilled and served on a bed of watercress. The healthy cut of lamb comes from Oregon’s Imperial Ranch. End on a regional high with sweet Hood River strawberries crème fraîche, paired with an Erath pinot noir dessert wine. Entrees $13-$38. 410 Southwest Broadway, 503-228-7222, www.imperialpdx.com

TASTY N ALDER

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Follow the line of locals who make a beeline from the nearby Portland Farmers Market to this Saturday brunch spot. John Gorham, chef and owner of the popular Toro Bravo and Tasty n Sons, brought his hip East Side vibe and international spices downtown last year. A good way to begin is with a warm biscuit, topped with a fried egg and Gorham’s own cured bacon. The crispy Korean fried chicken is quickly becoming the signature brunch item. Order a side of “duck duck fries,” fried in duck fat and topped with a duck egg, washed down with a Moscow Mule (vodka, lime, ginger beer) and you won’t be giving up your coveted seat anytime soon. Brunch from $6. 580 Southwest 12th Ave., 503-621-9856, tastyntasty.com/alder

This salad is one of the  artful portions at Ración.

Jim Jermanok for the boston globe

This salad is one of the artful portions at Ración.

RACIÓN

In English, the term for portion of food is here a large tapas, typically shared between diners at a Spanish restaurant. At this Anthony Cafiero Spanish restaurant, the design is modern minimalist, the flavors much more complex. Sit at the bar overlooking the kitchen and order raciónes a la carte or as part of a five-course tasting menu. Cafiero’s menu changes daily, depending on what’s fresh. If Pacific sturgeon is one of the options, order the tasty fish seasoned with an arugula basil pesto and paired with a quinoa that’s red from beet sauce. The Catalonian butiffara sausage is juicy and garlicky, nicely complemented with a Portland Breakwater IPA. $11 per ración. 1205 Southwest Washington St., 971-276-8008, racionpdx.com

Stephen Jermanok can be reached at www.ActiveTravels.com.
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