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Fearless Critic restaurant review
Portland
Food
Feel
Price
7.5
8.0
$35
Southern
Casual restaurant

Hours
Mon–Fri 4:00pm–1:00am
Sat–Sun 9:00am–2:00pm
Sat–Sun 5:00pm–1:00am

Features Outdoor dining, veg-friendly
Bar Beer, wine, liquor
Credit cards None
Reservations Not accepted

www.deltacafeandbar.com

Southeast Portland
4607 SE Woodstock Blvd.
Portland, OR
(503) 771-3101
Delta Café
White trash gets a little glam—but just a little

Portland’s got no shortage of cool, laid-back restaurants with great bars and a penchant for Southern food. But Delta Café belongs particularly to Reed College students, although it is worth a trip for anyone in the city who loves Pabst Blue Ribbon. (And that’s a lot of people.) Here it’s given its kitschy due, served by the 40-ounce bottle in a coffee can full of ice.

The chairs are of the same floral, vinyl sort that your grandparents had…before they remodeled. Some walls are Crayola green, while others are covered with eclectic art, with baroque archways between rooms. It’s just a fun, visual playground: strings of colored lights; odd hanging lamps; and metallic red booths.

Mac and cheese is certainly cheesy, but there aren’t any crusty or even burnt parts for texture. Add a dollop of mashed potatoes with gravy and a few slices of “White Trash Meatloaf,” and you’re talking a serious case of palate fatigue. Not that there’s anything wrong with salt and fat being the predominant flavors in a dish. And there’s certainly nothing wrong with the gumbo, whose murky roux is full of smoky and spicy sausage, chicken, and shrimp—or a jambalaya that actually tastes indistinguishable from the gumbo. Something is lost in a vegetarian translation with tofu, but Southern authenticity isn’t really the aim at a place that offers a Champagne service for PBR.

The easiest stuff to get right is accomplished best here, like black-eyed peas (eat ‘em at New Year’s for good luck) and collards. Both are tinny and earthy with a bit of pork fat for flavor (again, a veggie version is offered, but this is perhaps the worst cuisine to attempt herbivorously). Brunch is always a solid bet here, with $1 “Red Beers” (“bloody beers,” to others), brioche French toast, smoked brisket hash, and variations on eggs Benedict—all of which are reasonably good and within normal brunch prices.

Some specialty cocktails are made with several alluring homemade infusions of tequila (cilantro!) and Monopolowa vodka (Earl Grey!), great small-batch spirits, and less of a candy-sweet focus. A few beers on tap and more in bottle boast some of the best prices we’ve seen around. But you can’t pay with a credit card, which is awfully strange and inconvenient for a restaurant near a college. They do accept checks, however—do they still make those?

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