I've been a big fan of Zenner's since I moved to Portland in 2002. I first had one of their sausages at a short-lived little sausage/dog cafe on Southeast Belmont called Java Dogs. I was just starting to make my own sauerkraut at the time and after listening to Java Dogs owner Steve Yazzolino wax poetic about Zenner's sausage, and then trying a couple myself, I returned with a jar of red kraut with juniper berries for him. I was hoping he'd like it so much that he'd incorporate it into his dog topping line-up. The sad reality: several weeks later he closed shop due to a difficult family situation.
The next memorable Zenner's sausages I ate, when I knew they were in fact Zenner's, were at Helser's on Northeast Alberta. Their sausage breakfast is one of my favorite PDX breakfasts. I usually order one Louisiana red hot and one chicken apple sausage (they also have bratwurst) with their potato cakes, a ramekin of creme fraiche, two eggs any style and a small side of fruit.
Last Friday I stopped by Zenner's and talked with the good folks there all about their 80-plus years of crafting small batch (130-240 pounds at a time) sausage, and smoked/cured meats in Portland. It was an amazing slice of local restaurants past since the company has been a small, family-run friend of local restaurants and markets since the 1920s. George Zenner Sr. started the business and George Zenner Jr. runs it today. Restaurants that we spoke of that regularly serve Zenner's sausages and meats included Besaw's, Serratto, the Rheinlander, Sanborn's, Helser's, The Original Pancake House, Highland Still House and many more.
The Zenner's door is always open for walk-ins even though they don't operate a store-front. They'll sell you any of their wholesale products by the case and sometimes if you're nice they'll even break a case for you.
Zenner's Sausage Company 2131 NW Kearney St. 503.241.4113 www.zennerssausage.com