lafitte's at the waiting room

2327 nw kearney st.

portland, or 97210


back in april, i was invited to celebrate the opening of Lafitte's, the newest cocktail lounge -and additional drinking parlor- to recently open up on the second story of the ever popular The Waiting Room -known for their fried chicken, oysters, and champagne.

The Waiting Room and subsequently Lafitte's is located in an old victorian-style house adjacent to the very popular shopping and dining destination in portland's NW alphabet district and right off 23rd avenue. the home is outlined with a bright eccentric blue railing that frames the large front first-floor patio and second-floor balcony.

what sets Lafitte's apart from The Waiting Room is their wonderful collection of absinthe forward cocktails, their variety of bubbles, and their savory selection of drinking snacks like deviled eggs, baked oysters casino, and lamb ribletes. if you've ever been curious or have wanted to experience absinthe in cocktails, or just plain love being absinthe-minded, Lafitte's is quickly becoming my favorite spot and it just happens to be what your curious cocktail-loving-self wants.


on top of the bar program at Lafitte's is Chazz Madrigal, bar-star and portland bar veteran, previously at Gil's Speakeasy, and part of the opening teams of Star Bar, and Renata. alongside Chazz is bartender Becca June, together their expertise in creating handcrafted cocktails means nothing is pre-measured or mixed; unless it happens to be punch. 

left cocktail: corpse reviver #2: gin, house orange cordial, lillet, absinthe / right cocktail: the hanging garden: gin, house grapefruit cordial, tarragon, cocchi americano, and house bitters.

my favorite two drinks of the night were the corpse reviver and the not pictured 'bourdeux state of mind'.

so what is so great about absinthe and why was it ever banned from the states?

absinthe certainly carries an unflattering past, back in 1915 absinthe was banned from entering the hands of curious americans -and  many other countries- as it was believed to be a hallucinogenic and considered an addictive psychoactive drug.

the ban was lifted in the 1990's and absinthe -also dubbed "the green fairy"- has been welcomed back into the states and has since eased back into the craft cocktail scene. 

if you're curious about the taste, absinthe delivers a herbally flavor, very reminiscent of black licorice. the staring herbs of the -usually- green spirit are anise and fennel which have similar notes found in the leathery black chewy candy.

-the first page of Lafitte's cocktail list -during the april media preview-


since your going to be enjoying some delicious cocktails, be responsible, order some food!

the food at Lafitte's is absolutely freakin' delicious! everything that touched my lips echoed in my head, imagine how delicious we'd be while buzzed. because let's be honest, food is even more mouthwatering while buzzed. when was the last time you had a double cheese burger sober, and still thought it was a great ideal? okay horrible comparison, but  take that and imagine really good food, and imagine really good food with really good cocktails! the fare a Lafitte's is a reflection of TWR's and Lafitte's chef and owner Thomas Dunklin's louisiana roots.  alongside Dunklin is also chef and owner Kyle Rourke's. together Thomas and Kyle have built the menu of TWR to feature fresh ingredients and items from the PNW with a southern touch. 

here's a sample of some of the tasty offerings i sampled while there:

the most creamy deviled eggs topped with crumbled bacon, mirco greens, and buttermlik dressing

baked oysters casino, the right amount of baked briny notes that made for a savory snack to accompany drinking.

albacore tuna ceviche, lite, refreshing and won't sit heavy in your belly.

while you're here don't forget to check out the menu to The Waiting Room. TWR serves a killer brunch, along with dinner, a lengthy list for happy hour, and a whole batch of cocktails that don't have absinthe. just to sprinkle in some background infor, the name Lafitte's comes by way of pirate Jean Lafitte who spent time in new orleans, a nod to Dunklin’s roots in louisiana. 

disclosure: i was invited to attend a media preview of Lafitte's, while there i received complimentary cocktails of my choosing and shared bites from Lafitte's menu. my media invite was not in exchange for a positive review, all opinions shared are my own.



happy work week portland friends, i wanted to share something really quick with you:

The Ringside Steakhouse on w. burnside is currently offering an amazing special, a three-course prime rib dinner, every monday for $35 -while supplies last. three courses, $35 bucks, how can this go wrong?

last monday i went with my little family and was not disappointed. we started with a filling fresh green salad before my show-stopping second course arrived, a prime cut of prime rib cooked to my liking (medium). along with the second course with a potato side of my choice and i chose the most excellent way to eat a potato, baked and loaded. our third and final course was the most wonderful and decadent ramekin of creme brulee.  now, i consider myself to be very efficient at cracking the crust of a traditional creme brulee but this ramekin of burnt sugar on top of my thick sweet cream was, by far, the thickest layer of ice on my pudding pond that i have ever encountered. after applying enough force and breaking through the sugar crust i was rewarded with the thickest, and richest and vanilla bean dotted creme of my life. the creme brulee's made at the ringside restaurants cannot be beat, it is one of the best i have ever tasted!


disclosure: i was invited to dine at Ringside Steakhouse to help promote their new $35 three-course prime rib dinner. my hosted meal was not in exchange for a positive review, all opinions shared are my own.




hey portland friends! if you have been following me along on instagram @maxenestrail -the platform that i am the most active on- you've probably noticed that i have been unabashedly stuffing my face with all sorts of yummy eats and of course, lots of adult beverages -or as i say, "revenge for the nine months of baby-making sobriety". aside from those indulgences i have been wanting to fill you in on a really cool way you, too, can get to eating and drinking just like i do.  one of the coolest little events that i've been going to lately is Bull Run Distillery's Oregon Whiskey Hour.

Oregon Whiskey Hour is a collaborative effort on behalf of our local whiskey-focused distillery, Bull Run Distillery with local restaurants and bars around town to create and feature drink specials using Bull Run's newly released Single Malt Whiskey. this once-a-month pop-up happy hour is a great way to taste how whiskey can make the transformation from shot glass to hand crafted cocktail.

aside from drinking handcrafted cocktails is the opportunity to expand your horizons on the world of whiskey as owner and distiller, Lee Medoff will be on hand to answer any questions as you taste test through Bull Run's whiskey offerings.  

bull run highball: oregon single malt whiskey, ginger, lemon, mint, and bitters.

play crack the sky #2: oregon single malt whiskey, bourbon, ancho reyers, and bitters

while enjoying these handcrafted whiskey focused beverages i also enjoyed Rue's satisfying happy hour offerngs!

chickpea paniss and oysters on the half shell


facebook: Bull Run Distillery -hit like and stay up to date with their events tab.

the next Oregon Whiskey Hour will be Thursday, July 27th at Kell's Brewery from 4-6p

hosting restaurant for april's Oregon Whiskey Hour: Rue




8070 e.mill plain blvd

vancouver, wa

open daily: 11a - 9p happy hour: 2 - 5p


once again, i have found myself on the washington side of the columbia river to enjoy some vancouver eats. never had i ever thought i would be promoting eats from vancouver, but here i am, and dang, vancouver has gained an outstanding pizza spot; one that has definitely encouraged my travels to this side of the river.

Rally Pizza, is located in the the mill, vacouver, washington's latest dining destination. with neighbors like smokehouse provisions -which has roots in portland-, and ben's bottle shop; how is this location not already on your radar?

the space is bold and beautiful, and not in a soap opera type way with glare downs and bitch slapping, but in that the interior is done in a fashion i have never seen in our sister city. the restaurant is very spacious, soaked in natural lighting and features beautiful hanging light fixtures in the bar area. the back wall is a friendly blue shade contrasted by the vibrant orange wall highlighting the hallway leading to the restrooms. the seating along the walls and within the bar area is built- up with wood in its naked state. the bar area follows the same smooth and modern flow with white countertops and orange neon lighting. this place is styled unlike any restaurant that i have seen in vancouver.

not only is Rally Pizza styled to my taste but they happen to be a super family-friendly atmosphere. both bathrooms offer a changing station, and there's a crap ton of parking -which means if the kid is having a melt down 'operation evacuate' can be performed with haste. 

although Rally Pizza is really about pizza, their sides are absolutely note worthy and should not be skipped. Rally's recently updated their spring menu offerings with a changing assortment of in-season hearty sides -side items that can stand alone as a full meal.  

new additions to their menu include:

  • arancini - fried risotto balls filled with meat sauce, and served with a spicy garlic-tomato dipping sauce.
  • prosciutto & mozzarella plate - prosciutto san daniele, hand pulled mozzarella, and warm flatbread
  • bolognese pizza - tomato sauce, smokey bechamel, slow-cooked beef and pork meat sauce, hand pulled mozzarella, and parmigiano-reggiano
  • rally combo pizza - tomato sauce, mozzarella, roasted mushrooms, olives, smoked jalapenos, sweet and sour onions, and red peppers.
  • a build-your-own-pizza option: start with a base pie of tomato sauce and mozzarella and add from over a options like: anchovies, roasted mushrooms, fried duck egg, and sweet and sour onions.

keep scrolling to read and see everything we tried.

left photo: prosciutto san danielle plate: hand pulled mozzarella, and warm flatbread, and market greens salad / right photo: roasted veg plate: asparagus, rapini, snap peas, radishes, carrots, scallions on top of sheep cheese and topped with calabrian chile salsa, and pesto.

left photo: market greens salad: peas radishes, spring onion, assorted pickled root vegetables, and tossed with a creamy, herbed buttermilk dressing. / right photo: mango hammock cocktail: spiced rum, mango puree, mezcal, lime and ginger beer. smokey, sweet, cold and satisfying!

tocco di verde: house-made ricotta, hand pulled mozzarella, parmigiano-reggiano, fennel/chile/garlic oil, and salsa verde

what a savory meat-less delight. a true pie to show off the bare bones of what makes a great pie, just dough baked neapolitan style to perfection and topped with simple freshly prepared ingredients. if you're the type that judges pizza on the crust -like myself- then get yourself over here and test it out. pizza making extraordinaire and executive chef, Alan Maniscalco, is known for constructing the entire pizza game that is known as Ken's Pizza. hello, who needs to hear more?

and, just to touch base on my favorite part of any dinner do yourself a favor and save room for dessert. Rally's offers an assortment of freshly prepared concretes (the midwest version of a blizzard or flurry) blended with housemade cakes that owner shan wickman prepares daily.

top of photo: tiramisu concrete, traditional coffee-soaked sponge cake, mascarpone, and rum zabaglione.

bottom of photo: devils food cake, classic chocolate cake with chocolate frsoting. both desserts were packed with mix-ins and very decadent, my personal favorite was the tiramisu -with chunks of espresso soaked cake and creamy custard. and if pizza coma has taken effect don't fear, these desserts can be privately consumed -in the comforts of your pajamas at home- as all desserts and pizza's can be made for take-away.

disclosure: i was invited to a hosted preview of Rally Pizza's recently launched spring offerings. my invite was not in exchange for a positive review, all opinions shared are my own.