Two Nights In Portland
- Derek Suring
I"m flying up from SFO for two nights in Portland and thus can conceivably get in four meals (two lunch, two dinner). I'd love to get a taste of something I can't find in the lands further south. Any recommendations?
If you have a car...I'd recommend a few places.
First, in Sellwood (just across the river from Downtown Portland -- take the Sellwood Bridge off Macadam), on 13th street (from the bridge take a left)and north about 3 blocks is a place called Assagio's. A great Italian place with usually a line. Order the Assagio and go family style. This is the only place that I have found that compares to my ACTUAL family's cooking in Northern Italy.
Also, if you like Chinese/Vietnamese, try Thien Hong's (you might double check the spelling for me. It is on Sandy Blvd. and about 60th. It has a red and yellow sign. You'll notice all the local Vietnamese eating there. Order the salt-and-pepper squid...it is a must, and eat it right away when it is hot. You'll notice that there isn't a table without it (except for the first-timers who aren't saavy). I like General Tso's chicken as well and the won ton soup (I add soy sauce and hot pepper oil to mine). The owner is a happy, boisterous gal in a black vest. She walks around all night. She'll tell you what you should order beyond that. I also recommend the Avacado shake. Sounds weird but tastes wonderful.
Good Thai food can be found in Downtown. Try Typhoon on Broadway (seventh) between Washington and Alder. There is also Thai Orchid on Burnside (north of Washington). Go away from the river...you'll see it right near the Goodwill on the right.
For breakfast there is only two real good choices -- Besaw's on 23rd in NW Portland (near Yeon). A yellow building with the line going down the sidewalk. You are guaranteed a wait, but it is worth it. For a decent price you get wonderful food with hearty portions. I order the pancakes with pork apple sausage and my friend orders an egg dish. Then we split and share. Mmmmmm! There is also M&M's off Sandy (NE) and I think around 24th. It is kind of at a weird corner of the street. They serve breakfast all day. A good family-owned business.
If you want something more formal, I'd recommend Ring Side. There are two locations...one in Downtown and one in Gresham. I like the Gresham one best. They have really good steaks. So does Chris' Steak House, but they are REALLY spendy (at least for me)...I hear, however, that they are truly the best.
If you are an Italian at heart and want to spend a few hours eating, try Genoa on Belmont in SE. They are kind of spendy -- about $45 per person, but you will get the full 7 or 8 courses and spend quite some time eating. I haven't gone there yet, but it is on my wish list. My mom goes there every year for her birthday and swears by it.
For a "fast food" item, try La Conga on McLoughlin Blvd. in SE just south of Milwaukie. It is on the corner of Concord and McLoughlin....run by a family and filled with locals all hours of the day. I'm usually the only white one there. Very authentic. Very cheap. VERY tasty. I like the Oregon burrito.
I hope that gets you started......
Try Fishtales - I believe it's in SE but I'm not sure of the address (I was driven there). Yes, it's fish but WHAT fish. This is Mediterranean cooking of the Gods! My friends took my Mom and me there just before New Year and it was outstanding.
At the high end, I'd recommend Bluehour, Higgins, Wildwood, Paley's, or the Heathman Hotel...all very Northwest in the sense that they use local ingredients whenever possible.
Good mid-range spots with a little unique local flavor include Jo Bar, Caffe Mingo, Pambiche, Southpark, Wild Abandon, and Winterborne.
(I've got reviews of some of these places on my site if you want more detail)
Genoa is amazing. Bugialli called it the the best Italian restaurant in America in Food & Wine mag a few months back because it doesn't compromise for American palates. It can be hard to get in sometimes, and the fixed price 7-course meal is now about $70. Full disclosure: I've sold olive oil to Genoa.
I can't agree with Gloria's recommendation of the Ringside. It's a traditional steakhouse but nothing special, and if you've only got a couple of nights, don't waste one there.
re: Jim Dixon
My husband and I just spent a wonderful weekend in Portland. It was our first visit and before we left I did some research on Chowhound. Our first dinner was at Courvon, a small French restaurant. They were serving a special Valentines Week menu - 7 courses each paired with a glass of wine. The dinner was practically French Laundry quality. The service was excellent and the wines were perfectly matched to the food. Our second dinner was at the Heathman and it was delightful, as was Sunday night at Paley's Place. We went back to the Heathman for lunch the day we left. They had a fresh dungeness crab club sandwich on brioche. If you're lucky enough to live in Portland be sure to go there, just for that. (Although the sturgeon with apples was a knockout also). What a town!
re: Jim Dixon
Thanks for your replies. We decided to do Castagna the first night. I thought the food quite good for a local haunt, (if I lived in Ladd's Add. I'd probably be there often). The decor was quite nice, service only so-so. Went to Wildwood the second day. Everything was well prepared but I've got no deep desire to head back quickly. I am excited about Courvon however, I'll have to check that out on my next trip up.
Not being a Portlander - my recommendation must be taken with a grain of salt.
Try Caprial's. I've eaten there twice in two years (which is a lot considering I live hundreds of miles away) and I've had lovely meals. The service is excellent (as long as you like friendly servers). The space is open and warm with a high ceiling and well spaced tables. The food is creative, well-executed (in an open kitched), and takes advantage of the fresh and seasonal. It's not necessarily exotic - and you can certainly find similar NW cuisine elsewhere...but Caprial's put's it all together very well.
Try Bread and Ink, it's out on Hawthorne (3600 block or thereabouts). Italian, fish and local fowl. Good brunch too.