At a time when all the national and local news feels so disturbing, there’s something comfortingly escapist about the Portland-filmed episode of “Somebody Feed Phil,” the ingenious food-and-travel series that returns for Season 5 on Netflix.
Phil Rosenthal, previously best known as a TV writer, producer and creator of the hit sitcom, “Everybody Loves Raymond,” began his transition to food show host with the 2015 PBS series, “I’ll Have What Phil’s Having.” In 2018, Netflix launched “Somebody Feed Phil,” a series in which the exuberant, self-deprecating Rosenthal travels the world, sampling delicious foods, and learning about the culture of the places he visits.
Season 5, which begins streaming Wednesday, May 25, on Netflix, finds Rosenthal happily devouring dishes as he visits Portland, Oregon – as well as Portland, Maine – Oaxaca, Helsinki, and Madrid.
The Portland, Oregon episode is cheerful, and feels more like a throwback to the days when the Rose City drew national attention not for its problems, but for our food scene, and “Portlandia” -fueled reputation for quirkiness.
Rosenthal declares how surprised he was to read that Portland is considered by some to be one of the best cities in the world for street food.
“How have I never been here before?” Rosenthal says. He starts his trip, which was filmed in the summer of 2021, by going to the Prost Marketplace food cart pod. Accompanied by The Oregonian’s own restaurant reporter and critic, Michael Russell, Rosenthal chows down on dishes from such spots as Fried Egg I’m In Love, Matt’s BBQ, and DesiPDX.
Then, Rosenthal goes on to check out other Portland culinary destinations, including Kachka; Han Oak; Ruthie’s food cart; Tov Coffee; Doe Donuts (where Rosenthal becomes a convert to vegan donuts); a Feast Portland event at The Redd; and a trip, along with “Top Chef” Portland contestant Shota Nakajima, to the Jacobsen Salt Co. location at Netarts Bay, on the Oregon coast.
In addition to his food forays, Rosenthal also rides a bike, and goes kayaking in Clackamas County. He’s “not much of an outdoorsman,” Rosenthal says, noting that his shoulder hurts from the paddling, and that he keeps splashing water into the kayak. Eventually, though, he looks around at the water, and says, “Well, this is peaceful. Very pretty. ”
Near the end of the episode, which is about 45 minutes long, Rosenthal sounds smitten. “I recommend Portland, Oregon,” he says, adding that Portland is probably one of the best food cities per capita that he’s been to.
“I love these brilliant, creative young people taking tiny spaces and producing immense flavors out of there,” Rosenthal says. “Why did not I come here sooner?”
“Somebody Feed Phil” is streaming Season 5 on Netflix.
– Kristi Turnquist
firstname.lastname@example.org 503-221-8227 @Kristiturnquist