Ox started hot, and it has stayed hot.
Greg Denton and Gabrielle Quiñónez Denton’s Argentine steak house was the talk of Portland dining when it opened along a somewhat incongruous stretch of MLK in 2012, and the wait for a table hasn’t dropped to under an hour since. It’s not just meat attracting the crowds, either.
The smoky bone marrow clam chowder ($17) has drawn equal raves over the years, for good reason. But the octopus and tripe stew with mint aioli ($14) is truly a revelation—rich, spicy, chewy and tender, with a bit of crunch from the fingerling chips that sit atop it.
Compared to the appetizers, the beef-based entrees aren't nearly as creative, but they more than make up for that in flavor. Everything passes through the wood-fire grill that sits as the centerpiece of the main brick-and-wood dining room, and all of it, from the rib-eye to the short rib, comes out with a uniformly perfect char. If it all sounds too good to choose from, spring for the $82 Asado Argentino for two, effectively a sample platter containing grilled short rib, skirt steak and sausages.
Just don't be surprised, though, if the thing you leave raving about isn't the stuff on the proverbial marquee—the sharp, oily chimichurri that accompanies each dish could be lapped up on its own.
Pro tip: You’re dropping enough dough on dinner, so while you wait, skip the adjacent Whey Bar and run across the street to Billy Ray’s Neighborhood Dive, the tavern that looks like a countryside barn, and convene with the locals over some tallboys. Be forewarned, though: It’s cash only.
GO: Ox, 2225 NE Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., 503-284-3366, oxpdx.com, 5-10 pm Sunday-Thursday, 5-11 pm Friday-Saturday