24th & Meatballs

    It was date night and I wanted to do something different. I didn’t want to do the same old tried and true restaurants in Hillsboro and Beaverton that we always went too. Sure, these are tried and true and delicious, but I wanted a new experience.

    My initial idea of Mexican was shot down—my wife had had a big burrito for lunch—so, after being down for about a minute, I pulled out the trusty lap top, did a Yelp search for inexpensive restaurants with 4 star ratings and scanned until a name caught my eye: 24th and Meatballs.

    Could it be? A meatball joint? Right here in Portland, Oregon?

    I clicked on the website. Indeed. It was! The Best Balls in Portland, it claimed.

    “Please oh please have vegetarian options.” I prayed to the food gods. “I want to go here, but if my wife can’t eat, I may have some dirty looks shot my way. “ I needn’t have worried. This is Portland, after all, where carnivores, omnivores, and herbivores peacefully comingle like the Ark of Noah.

    The missus agreed and we hopped in the car and made the surprisingly quick drive out to North East Glisan. The building crept up on us, unassuming as it was, and, after parking, we made our way inside. It was about an hour from closing and, aside from the Blazer game on the television and the typical kitchen sounds, it was relatively empty inside. A black board above the cash register displayed the small menu, including the days’ special. Four kinds of meatballs, including vegetarian, to be coupled with one of four sauces, and optional sides of focaccia bread, salad, beer and soda.

    After an internal debate between a hoagie and pasta, I opted for the Italian meatballs with the spicy pork sauce served on Penne. My wife opted for the veggie meatballs over penne with Pesto. We also decided to share a Caesar salad.

    The venue was tiny and we sat at a bench seat next to windows sealed for the winter but with cranks indicating a summer opening. We took in the sights. Stickers covered the wall: Local bands, political slogans, clever quips—these had obviously been placed here by patrons and allowed to remain due to the laid back staff. The salad came in a bowl and, while it appeared small, it did the job of whetting our appetites.

    People began to pile in. This must be a popular spot. I would soon find out why.

    And then, the main course: Three delectable meatballs covered with just the right amount of sauce over noodles cooked to perfection. With each bite I was reminded of the accuracy of the slogan: Best Balls in Portland. Truer words have never been spoken.

    For a different and delightful culinary experience that won’t break the bank, consider 24th and Meatballs located at 2329 NE Glisan St, Portland, OR 97232 in Portland, Oregon.

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