Food at the Top of the Bill

Vortex Music Magazine

Try these top eats at Portland music venues.

Editor's Note: Last summer, we printed our Music & Food Issue but unfortunately never published much of the issue's content online. Better late than never, we believe there's still value in day-old bread so let's explore the intrinsic connections between the purveyors of fine food and drink in Portland and those who make the sweet sounds that fill our ears. Here's to all that our musicians and chefs are cooking up together—cheers!


Portland’s home to many terrific bars that also serve terrific food, but it’s also home to many great venues where the food is far from an afterthought. Here are four that will never let you down.

Clyde’s Prime Rib

At 60-plus years old, Clyde’s Prime Rib is one of Portland’s oldest music venues. On any given night, you can hear a local blues legend like Norman Sylvester, soulman Andy Stokes or stumble onto a band shredding its way through a cover of “Purple Rain.” With its white tablecloths and plush red booths, the atmosphere in the dining room is all Old Portland, which is why it draws local celebuchefs on their night off. And the best thing on the menu is right there in the name: Clyde’s prime rib is velvety and always comes with mashed potatoes and a seasonal vegetable side. 5474 NE Sandy Blvd., 503.281.9200

The 1905

While The 1905 is still a fairly new venue, it’s quickly become one of Portland’s hottest jazz clubs. (Drummers Ron Steen and Christopher Brown both regularly perform.) But the kitchen’s properly blistered, New York-style pies aren’t some kind of happy accident you stumble onto while taking in a set: They come in nine signature flavors (margherita, coppa, roasted potato and ricotta) and two different sizes (18 and 12 inches, the latter of which has a gluten-free crust option). And if you can’t commit to a whole pie, you can always order a slice of cheese, pepperoni or Oregon truffle for $3 or $4 a piece. 830 N Shaver St., 503.460.3333

Bar Bar

Thanks in large part to its roomy outdoor patio, Bar Bar, Mississippi Studios' adjoining burger joint, is a great place to hang out with a beer whether or not you’re interested in the live music next door. And because the kitchen does primarily one thing and one thing only, the burgers aren’t only preordained but destination-worthy. Plus, the kitchen builds each one between split Alessio potato buns and offers to top them with American cheese, Tillamook cheddar or bacon. It’s surprising that more places in town don’t use potato buns or American cheese, both of which make better burgers best burgers, so the kitchen deserves praise for making these two very correct decisions. 3939 N Mississippi Ave., 503.889.0090

Tapalaya

A play on the words tapas and jambalaya, Tapalaya hosts live music on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, but the best time to dig in is on Sunday mornings where jazz is paired with your brunch—because nothing is better than New Orleans sounds with New Orleans cuisine, especially on a sunny weekend morning. And you can’t really misorder anything on the menu because chef Anh Luu’s dishes intermingle Cajun and Creole classics with her Vietnamese roots, making every one a ringer—from her Benedicts (pork confit, fried oyster, blackened catfish, seasonal veggie) and po’ boys (andouille sausage, BLT) to her eggs sardou and fried chicken with beignets. (Ed. Note: Better act fast! Tapalaya will reportedly close on December 22 after the brunch and dinner service.) 28 NE 28th Ave., 503.232.6652

Explore more stories of how to pair Portland's fine music, eats and drink in our Music & Food Issue.

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