1001 SE Water Ave., 235-2294, clarklewispdx.com.
[BACK-ALLEY BLISS] Unless you’re homeless or unloading a delivery truck full of industrial plumbing parts, there isn’t much reason to visit the extreme inner-eastside block of Water Avenue adjacent to the railroad tracks. Yet Clarklewis—practically an elder statesman of the restaurant scene in its eighth year—continues to persuade white people from the suburbs to park their BMWs in dimly lit alleys and convince guys with shaved heads and neck tats that it’s OK to enjoy an unironic glass of riesling. Progress be damned, Clarklewis appears to be soldiering on as many people’s high-water mark for fine dining in Portland. And why shouldn’t it? A late July menu featured everything from fried Viridian squash blossoms with basil-lime aioli to an arugula salad with burrata and marionberries and grilled lamb with farro and cherry sauce—nothing stodgy or gimmicky or precious or preachy. Just good food with impeccable service in a sleekly converted warehouse. (Keep an eye out for clever honoring-the-neighborhood touches, like the railroad-tie coat racks.) Can’t decide between cavatelli or calamari? Try the four-course family-style tasting menu ($55 per person) to experience the full range of what chef Dolan Lane has to offer. KAT MERCK.
Ideal meal: The house-specialty tagliatelle with braised lamb ragu is always in season.
Best deal: Chef’s tasting menu, $55.
11:30 am-2 pm Monday-Friday, 4-9 pm Monday-Thursday, 4-10 pm Friday-Saturday. $$$