Perhaps one of the greatest joys of living in a new city — be it for a few months or the rest of your life — is discovering the places and businesses that the city cherishes, nearly unanimously. By the time I made my way to my first Portland summer BBQ back in 2017, I knew Gartner’s was one of these places of local holy ground.
Walking into Gartner’s Meat Market always makes me feel like a little kid again. It always seems to be packed to the brim with watchful customers, carefully taking their ticket and their place in line, waiting to be called so they can select from the vast array of meats tucked into the display case. I usually let my boyfriend, Chris take the lead on ordering — after all, he’s been going there for nearly all his life — and anyway, I’m usually too mystified to make any decisions. I grew up with the BBQ selections of either hotdogs or hamburgers. How could I ever begin to decide on anything when everything looks so fucking delicious?
So instead, I sit back and watch, letting the smell of marinated pork short ribs wash over me while butchers hand sticks of pepperoni to grinning children with their faces pressed against the glass. I let myself get a little impatient thinking about the drive from deep NE back to our friends’ backyard. I browse the shelves full of meat rubs and seasonings, and I try to remember if we remembered to pack buns.
Feels Like the Midwest in a Good Way: 10/10
Chance That I’ll Go to Another Butcher for My BBQ Meat Needs: 0%
How Much I Feel Like a Local When I’m There: 100%