I found Pok Pok through the James Beard award winners. The mastermind behind Pok Pok, Andy Ricker, won for best chef Northwest in 2011, the year before we ventured north to try it ourselves. You can’t do research about where to eat in Portland without Ricker’s ‘straight shot to Thailand, no passport required’ appearing on the list. Shortly after our visit, Bon Appetit named Pok Pok one of the most important restaurants in America. After experiencing the hype ourselves and now with a sister restaurant in Brooklyn, I firmly agree!
Crowds clamor to get in, waiting to sink their teeth into charcoal-roasted meats and smoked veggies, curried pots of stewed delicicies, house-made noodle soups, and chili-kissed salads. While you’re waiting for a most-desired table, mosey across the street to Ricker’s Whisky Soda Lounge. This warm and inviting bar features whimisical art, a funky Thai-inspired soundtrack (think ‘Hit the Road Jack’ by The Cat), Thai pub appetizers (deep-fried farm eggs), and creative cocktails made with one of Ricker’s very own drinking vinegars (concentrated fruit, vegetable, and aromatic tonics). The Whisky Soda Lounge set-up makes the wait almost as fun as Pok Pok’s most-memorable meal. Details: www.pokpokpdx.com