A well-mannered environment (with the conspicuous exception of the cheerfully raucous bar), Jake’s is a legendary Pacific Northwest fish house. The high-back wooden booths, the thick white tablecloths and white-jacketed wait-staff, the daily printed menu with its headlines of which fish are fresh that day (and what part of the region they’re from), the loaf of chewy crusted sourdough bread set upon the table: here is a taste of Portland that dates back well over a century.
It has been called Jake’s Famous Crawfish since 1920, when Jake Freiman took over a seafood restaurant at the corner of S.W. 12th and Stark and put the customarily Cajun (but in fact local) crustacean on the menu. Although Jake’s etouffee is fine, crawfish is not what draws most customers to this place. People come to eat oysters on the half shell, baked scallops, pan fried petrale sole, or – most especially – salmon. The menu’s Fresh Seafood List contains some items familiar to any seafood lover, from Maine lobster to Idaho rainbow trout. Others are rare: Alaskan halibut cheeks, Netarts Bay oysters, Oregon Troll king salmon. A majority of The List comes from the Pacific Northwest, including such celebrated items as Dungeness crab, petrale sole, and chinook salmon. There are local wines to accompany the meal; and for dessert, a serving of true-to-Oregon three berry cobbler or sourdough bread pudding soaked in Irish whiskey custard.
Note: there is a significant price difference between lunch and dinner. Midday, you can have a fine meal of seafood tacos, Northwest gumbo, or fish and chips for under $20, or even sandwich for about $10. Dinners tend to be in the $30 and up range.