$ Cheap (entrees less than $10)
$$ Average (entrees $10-$18)
$$$ Expensive (entrees $19-$25)
$$$$ Half a paycheck (entrees $26 and up)
Ratings are based on a four-star scale
**** Excellent food, creative items and top notch service.
*** Good food, good value and nothing below reasonable expectations.
** Two stars are given to restaurants that are adequate but need improvement. You wouldn’t go out of your way to eat there again unless changes in quality and menu were made.
* One star is reserved for places that you would not recommend under almost any circumstances.
1198 Commercial St., Astoria
Clemente’s restaurant, in the heart of downtown Astoria, offers Northwest seafood with traditional Italian cooking. Chef Gordon Clement combines his Italian roots with a passion for local and organic food. The restaurant is committed to using products that are produced as close to the restaurant as possible. There’s produce from local farmers, and fresh wild fish from the nearby Pacific Ocean and adjacent Columbia River. A sea-to-table theme makes Clemente’s one of the best spots for seafood lovers. Start with fresh Willapa oysters ($12) and one of three sauces— rum cocktail sauce, lemongrass Champagne mignonette or habañero mignonette. On your second visit, test the talent of chef Clement and order the Chef ’s Choice ($19). Here the chef surprises patrons with an unforgettable dish. The Chef ’s Whim is a prix fixe three-course dinner based on local fish and produce. Conversely, try the Italian coast with Columbia River Coho ($21), flaking into a bed of handmade gnocchi with dill béchamel sauce. Every entrée on the menu has a suggested wine or sake pairing from Clemente’s extensive wine list. The dining experience is upscale, but don’t expect to see many, if any, suits and ties in Astoria’s fine seafood dining scene.
EaT: An Oyster Bar
3808 N. Williams Ave., Portland
EaT Oyster Bar is like the oyster itself: coarse exterior, pearl within. The less refined cousin to The Parish in NW Portland, EaT Oyster Bar is a Creole-inspired party—Portland’s nod to the Big Easy. Graffitied walls, unmatched chairs and an unsophisticated (albeit authentic) Southern setting play host to delectable fresh oysters on the half shell ($15 for a half dozen, $25 for a dozen), and delicious, alcohol-filled, oyster shooters ($3 each). Try all five kinds if you have a designated driver! The Standard: a fresh oyster floating inside vodka, spicy red sauce and lemon. The Kentucky: chili-infused bourbon and lemon, add the oyster. The Cowboy: an oyster in beer, tabasco and lemon, enough said. But if you must choose just one, El Hombre is the man—chili-infused tequila with lemon and lime swirling around a savory oyster. For heartier eaters, the oyster po’ boy ($10) is perfected at EaT. Oysters are fried crisp in cornmeal and served alongside a pile of mouth-watering french fries. Rumor has it that Ethan Powell and Tobias Hogan, co-owners of The Parish and EaT Oyster Bar, switch restaurants daily to keep things fresh. So, if you love the oysters found at The Parish and want to pay a little less, hop across the river and check out EaT Oyster Bar for a true “down South” experience.
Dan & Louis Oyster Bar
208 SW Ankeny St., Portland
Tucked inside a row of late-night bar haunts, in the heart of Portland’s Old Town, sits an oyster gold mine that has dished up oyster stew since 1907. Dan & Louis Oyster Bar is a historic family-owned restaurant that has served generations of families. It’s refreshing to note it doesn’t pretend to be anything more than what it is—a rustic seafood joint. If you don’t enjoy seafood, go elsewhere. If you do enjoy fresh oysters or a rich and creamy Dungeness crab and bay shrimp stew, then Dan & Louis is tops. Order the fresh oysters on the half shell ($11.50 for a half dozen or $21.50 for full), and you can see your plate of succulent oysters being shucked personally for you at the bar window. Lines have formed around the block since the early 1900s for the oyster stew, and it’s still that good. (The stew is $7.50 for a single oyster portion and $9.50 for a double oyster portion—get the double.) For seafood connoisseurs, the Commissioner stew is the ticket ($16.50), as it is chock full of oysters, Dungeness crab, and bay shrimp. Lunch options include Cajun oyster sandwiches ($12.50) and pan-fried petite oysters ($11.50-$20.50). Dinner options are broiled and fried seafood platters ($17.50-$23.50). And while there, don’t miss an eerie piece of Old Portland history—a window looking into the infamous Shanghai tunnels, found in the floor of the bar.