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Portland, Oregon: Roux
1700 N. Killingsworth St.; 503-285-1200

Suddenly, Portland's restaurant scene is challenging its neighbor Seattle—and even giving San Francisco a run for its organic tomatoes. Inspired by the incredible regional seafood and vegetables and prime Willamette Valley wines, chefs are dishing up sophisticated-rustic cuisine in stylishly quirky surroundings. Even better, the meal prices would seem like pocket change in New York.

Set in a former curtain factory, Roux has a big-city feel and a menu full of Creole dishes that avoid the gloppy gumbo clichés. The grilled oysters are flavored with Herbsaint-infused butter; pan-roasted rabbit roulade is stuffed with cornbread and andouille sausage; the Sazeracs are guaranteed to brighten the mood. Dinner for two, $75.