Pizzarias, pasta houses and hamburger shacks are reliable go tos for families looking to eat out. Why not try something new? From a savory fondue filled with gooey cheese to pots of creamy melted chocolate, fondueing (yes, it’s a verb!) turns mealtime into an interactive event the whole crew will love. Read on to learn more about Portland’s family fondue restaurants and how you can set your evening up for success.

cheese-fondue-photo-by-norio-nakayama-via-flickr-creative-commons

photo: Norio Nakayama via Flickr Creative Commons

The Dish on Fondue
Originating in the mountains of Switzerland centuries ago, fondue is traditionally made with Emmentaler, Gruyére and white wine, then served in a communal pot that’s kept warm over a heat source. Over the years, though, it’s come to encompass any food that’s melted and/or cooked in a single shared pot. All fondues are served with a variety of foods to dip, such as bread, meats, veggies and/or fruit.

Pro tip: Have picky eater? Not to worry, most dipping foods are served plain in separate bowls or on plates.

What’s Your Fondue Style?
Along with cheese, there are now three other fondue types: broth, oil and dessert. Cheese fondues are usually made with one or more strong-tasting cheeses and a liquid such as wine, beer, cider and/or lemon juice. (This adds flavor and keeps the cheese from curdling). Common types of cheese you can expect to find on restaurant menus include Cheddar, Brie, Gruyere, swiss, and Mozzarella. To ensure your first fondue experience is a positive one, consider ordering a cheese your youngest foodies are familiar with and explore from there.

If cheese isn’t your family’s thing, try a broth or oil fondue. Both provide pots filled with either broth or oil that you and your kids then use to cook cubes or strips of raw meats, poultry, seafood and/or vegetables right at the table. The liquid is hot, so remind little hands to be careful!

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Pro tip: Oil fondues, also known as fondue bourguignonne, are usually enjoyed with a variety of tasty dipping sauces.

For a decadent sweet treat, order up dessert fondues. Chocolate is the most popular and common of all dessert fondues and most restaurants offer milk, dark and white chocolate options. Chocolate fondue typically comes with fresh fruit, cookies, cack and brownies for dipping.

fondue-at-the-melting-pot-photo-by-jim-g-via-flick-creative-commons

photo: Jim G via Flickr Creative Commons

Family Fondue Restaurants
Now, let the dipping begin at one of these Portland area restaurants. All offer fondue appetizers and/or dinners, so you and the kids can have pots of fun.

The Melting Pot
This locally owned and operated restaurant, part of a national fondue franchise, offers the most decadent fondue experience in town. Their extensive menu is filled with cheese, broth, oil and chocolate fondues as well as a variety of entrées and multi-course dining options, so there’s something to please every palate.

1001 SW Fifth Avenue Suite
503-517-8960
Online: meltingpot.com/portland-or

Swiss Hibiscus
Along with authentic, made-from-scratch cuisine from Switzerland and Germany, this Alberta Arts District eatery serves up a scrumptious cheese fondue made with traditional Swiss cheeses, white wine and kirschwasser (a dry cherry schnapps). French bread is included for dipping.

4950 NE 14TH Ave.
503-477-9224
Online: swisshibiscus.com

bavarian-pretzel-fondue-at-gustavs-photo-by-carrie-uffindell-640x480

photo: Carrie Uffindell

Gustav’s Pub & Grill
At their four festive locations in the Portland metro area, Gustav’s offers a handful of appetizers based on their popular Rheinlander cheese fondue, including the not-to-miss crab and roasted red pepper fondue with grilled bread. Other tasty dipping options include Bavarian pretzels and smoked bier sausage.

5035 NE Sandy Blvd
Portland
503-288-5503

10350 SW Greenburg Rd
Tigard
503-639-4544

12605 SE 97th Ave
Clackamas
503-653-1391

1705 SE 164th Ave
Vancouver
360-883-0222

Online: gustavs.net

Does your family have a favorite fondue spot? Let us know in the comments below!

— Carrie Uffindell