Portland’s Sausage Emporium

Photograph by Katie Beck

Portlanders in the know bring their best – or most exotic – meats to Otto’s Sausage Kitchen, a local institution that supplies its extremely loyal clientele with some of the country’s best brats. Founded by Otto Eichentopf, a merchant mariner turned door-to-door meat salesman, the Kitchen has been churning out the city’s favorite sausages and deli meats since the twenties. The new generation of Eichentopfs taking the helm shows no sign of slowing down.

Otto’s is best known for its organic sausages and delicious house-cured bacon, but it’s what happens out of sight that makes this Portland hot spot an all-around meat lover’s dream. Through the doors, beyond the eccentrically stocked bar, are the Kitchen’s little advertised processing and smokehouse facilities. Local hunters, fishers, and adventurous eaters bring everything from fresh-caught salmon and sturgeon, to big horned sheep, wild boar, and even bear here to be smoked, ground, and cured. At a few dollars a pound for expert smoking or custom-cut steaks, the prices are as old-timey as the service itself.

Current owners Jerry and Gretchen Eichentopf and their three daughters are carrying on the family tradition with their own flare. Middle daughter Christie Eichentopf is now in charge of sausage and charcuterie production and, although most of the family recipes have not been altered, her healthier chicken bratwurst has become a firm favorite for regulars. Not that sausage traditionalists have anything to worry about: Most of the 50 sausages on offer are way better tasting than they are healthful.

First-timers are generally drawn in by the barbecue out front, where the grill smokes fresh dogs every day, year round, rain or shine. Though Cajun sausages, bratwursts, and old-fashioned wieners (consistently the top seller) are the most popular items on the menu, it is always worth asking what else is on offer. The smoked garlic links, vegetarian Swedish potato sausage, and spicy Portuguese linguica are all worth trying. At the epicenter of Portland’s carnivorous scene, things get interesting.

More information: Otto’s Sausage Kitchen and Meat Market is located at the corner of SE 42 and SE Woodstock. Open Monday through Saturday 9:30 a.m.–6:00 p.m. and Sunday 11:00 a.m.–5:00 p.m.

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