Let me just start by saying that Lardo is delicious. Lardo has been the starting point of a couple of Saturdays filled with adventure with my friend A. I can't think of a better fuel for a day of crazy Portland shenanigans than a stomach full of pork belly.
Lardo is one of those places that is quintessentially Portland. Tattooed hipster employees, crazy good food, interesting cocktails (I've been in Portland for 4 years now and am still amazed that so many restaurants serve liquor - where I'm from in California a liquor license is almost impossible to get and is ridiculously expensive, so only old bars and chains sell liquor - you would never see cocktails at a sandwich shoppe).
Who wouldn't love a restaurant that claims to "worship at the altar of bovine & swine?"
Lardo, like it's sister Grassa, is a counter service restaurant where you walk in, stand in line, and look up at a chalkboard menu and try to narrow down what you'd like to get on this visit. There are so many great options that I find it best to dine with friends so you can try a little bit of a bunch of different things.
A is a big fan of the house Bloody Mary ($7.00), Lardo makes their own special Bloody Mary Mix and once they're out for the day, they're out, so on a weekend try to show up before 1:00pm, or they'll likely be sold out of Bloody Marys. A likes to order his with their bacon infused vodka for a little extra flavor.
I don't care if you love fries, hate fries, eat kosher, are paleo, vegan, or potato intolerant - YOU MUST TRY THE DIRTY FRIES ($7.00). The first time we ordered them we didn't know what to expect, we thought the name was clever so we gave them a whirl. What arrives at the table is amazing. It's enough french fries for four people, served on a tray (similar in size to a medium pizza pan). The perfectly cooked (and not soggy at all) fries are covered with Parmesan, pepperoncinis, fried rosemary and other herbs, and scraps of pork belly. Perfection on a pizza pan. Seriously.
A gets the Smoked Coppa Cubano ($9.00) every time we go to Lardo. It's full of salty ham, creamy provolone, a bit of mustard and comes garnished with a huge deli pickle. Very good.
I ordered the Korean Pork Shoulder ($9.00). It is SO GOOD! But as a warning, it is very messy - the chili mayo and the kimchi juices continue to pour out of the sandwich the entire time it's being consumed. But it's worth the extra napkins. The slight spice of the kimchi melds well with the pork shoulder, the cilantro adds a bit of interest and the bakery bun is a great vessel in which to get the whole concoction into your mouth.
Like Grassa, Lardo has quite a bit of communal dining seating. This is something I've only encountered in Portland, and it's pretty great, the large communal tables encourage patrons to interact with each other. Grassa has a couple of outdoor tables that are neatly tucked away under the eaves and out of the rain, and there is a large outdoor seating area that they put a tent over during inclement weather (which is pretty much all of fall/winter and spring here in Portland).
If you'd like to check out Lardo for yourself, their website is www.lardopdx.com and they're located at 1212 SE Hawthorne Blvd in Portland. Lardo is open Sunday - Thursday from 11:00am - 11:00pm and Friday and Saturday from 11:00am to midnight.