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overwhelmed in Oregon (and washington)

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Hi,
We are two NYC hounds coming for the first time to the Northwest and we are extremely excited to get out of this awful heat and drink some good beer and eat good food...We are driving up the Oregon coast from California and eventually cutting over to Portland for a day or two and then seattle. I have been searching the boards for a while and writing down stuff but was hoping to run some stuff by this board.

Oregon Coast-
impression I'm getting is that you have to be careful here since some parts have been described as a culinary wasteland...here are the places that have looked good to me.

1) Pelican Brewery for good beer in a beautiful setting
2) Panini Bakery for great baked goods
3) Rogue Brewery in Newport (also siletz brewery nearby)
4) Blackfish Cafe
5) the Castaway in Port Orford (we're staying at the Seacrest)
6) ship inn in astoria for fish and chips

Portland-
1. Fat Albert's and Bijou Cafe for breakfast
2. Jake's Famous Crawfish
3. Dan and Louis Oyster Bar
4. one of the Mcnenamins bars (kennedy school?)
5. Bridgeport brewery
6. horse brass pub

Seattle-
1. Matt's at the Market at Pike Place for Salmon sandwiches
2. Vivace for espresso
3. salumi for cured meats

Basically, we are two young chowhounds looking to sample the food and drink that are unique to the northwest. I hope to drink a ton of beer, eat a lot of salmon, dungeness crab, drink some pinot noir, etc. Any tips or comments on the places above would be greatly appreciated!! thanks in advance for any help...

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  1. Actually, Matt's at the Market has catfish sandwiches. You'll find grilled salmon and grilled halibut sandwiches at the Market Grill, inside Pike Place Market, just a lunch stand with stools. I prefer the salmon blackened with Cajun spices. Very fresh and yummy!

    Salumi is open Tues-Fri only, 11:00am to 4:00pm. Best to arrive early (11:00) or late (1:30).

    1. We did a short road trip to the Portland/Astoria area in July, and we had the same intention, to eat lots of crab and salmon, and local produce as well. In Astoria we had a dinner at Silver Salmon Grille. We stuck with basics, crabcakes, grilled salmon, fish and chips, and it was great. They have an interesting wine list as well. Also we stopped at the Community Co-op in Astoria and bought local cheeses, and a cup of coffee that was the BEST drip coffee I have ever had.
      We also ventured over the Astoria bridge a bit into Washington, had great fish and chips at Little Ocean Annies. In Long Beach we checked out the local grocery store, Jacks and found great deals on fresh dungeoness crabmeat, smoked salmon, raw oysters and clams. This might be off your route, but in general along the coast, always check out local markets for deals on seafood. One regret is that we did not make time to go to the Josephsons Smoke House in Astoria, it was on my list of to do's but we spaced out. Now looking at their website, their smoked seafoods look tasty....
      We like to travel with a big ice chest, and fill it up when we find the goods, then you have that to fall back on for those long stretches of culinary wasteland!
      On the way to Portland from Astoria on the 30, we stopped at a diner called the Berry Patch, and bought some jams and pie, marionberry and wild huckleberry...REALLY good...

      1. there are two Rogue places in Newport, the brewery on the south side, of the bay, and the Public House, on the north side on the historic bayfront. the Pub has great food, including Kobe burgers and chili. They also feature a beer list that puts most wine lists to shame.

        1. For sure go to Market Grill for salmon, though your other Seattle choices look great. Avoid peak lunch hour if you can, or just get it to go (there's not very much seating). They're only open until 6 or 7.
          If you want fantastic dungeness crab, go to Seven Stars Pepper and order the Szechuan crab, or the ginger crab if you can't do spicy.

          1. you have a lot of good OR coast choices, but if you get hungry around Charleston (a bit off the beaten path between Bandon/Coos Bay) I'd recommend The High Tide Cafe: http://www.hightidecafellc.com/

            Along with the really good chowder and regular seafood menu items they often have a fish special dictated by what folks are selling off their boats nearby. Unfortunately salmon fishing has been closed south of Florence, OR this year but there may be local tuna or rockfish to be had.

            1. also, I'd recommend not going to Mo's for the "famous" clam chowder. The wait for a table is forever, and it's really not that good.

              1. This is great stuff! thanks for your help! keep the recs coming.

                1. The thing about Portland is that you can go a lot of places not classified as a pub or brewery and get great microbrews, so don't limit yourself or you'll get sick of the (same old)food.

                  1. Fat Albert's and Bijou Cafe for breakfast: I live four blocks from Fat Albert's and only go there when I'm too extremely lazy to go elsewhere. I can't imagine making a trip for it....

                  2. Jake's Famous Crawfish: Not to my taste but classic PDX. If you want a "new" classic for a nice meal, try Nostrana at 14th and SE Morrison.

                  3. Dan and Louis Oyster Bar: Great for oysters (happy hour for discounted raw dozens from...4:30 to 6 or so), but stay far away from everything else! If there are only two of you, the bar has a better ambiance than the restaurant. We slurp down a dozen and a drink, then move on for dinner.

                  4. one of the Mcnenamins bars (kennedy school?): Food is mediocre but we take all our out-of-town guests to Kennedy School because it's a kick. So yeah! At night the Detention Bar and Honors Bar will be open as well.

                  5. Bridgeport brewery: No opinion other than our beer-mad friends say it's been ruined by its mega-makeover. But that's probably just an old-timers opinion, so go and enjoy! (They'd tell you to go to New-Old Lompoc on NW 23rd; unimposing to the extreme, but very real. Or Oaks Bottom Public house on Bybee at Milwaukie; same owners in a new location.)

                  6. horse brass pub: Great, classic, smoke so thick you can chew it.

                  Enjoy, and hope that our 100 degree weather breaks before you get here.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: deniseds

                    By all means, go to one of the McMenamins outposts, but just go for drinks because the food is definitely mediocre. In particular, at Kennedy School there always seems to be a godawful wait for a table in the restaurant. I would advise hopping over to Autentica at NE 30th and Killingsworth if you want something good to eat nearby.

                    You might check out Alberta Street Oyster Bar instead of Dan and Louis Oyster Bar if you'd like some better options.

                    1. re: deniseds

                      We really enjoyed our visit to the Kennedy School. Great space, and the marionberry cobbler was pretty good, too.

                    2. Jake's is a tourist trap. Same for Dan & Louis.

                      Blackfish: is that in Newport Nye Beach. If that's the one, a definate yes. Chowder.

                      Mo's on the coast is icky & gross, overrated.

                      Horse Brass great fish-chips, but so smoky.

                      Bijou good choice, forget Fat Albert, but also consider Helser's.

                      Brewpub at Root's Organic Beer.

                      Ken's Artisan pizza (very new) or Apizza Scholls.

                      Make sure to check out Portland Farmer's Market. Do not confuse this with Portland Saturday Mkt.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: Leonardo

                        I don't really think of Dan and Louis as a tourist trap. It's cheesy, kitschy and very old fashioned, but I've had great oysters there, and I personally love that the dining room looks like the inside of an old ship. Agree with Jake's being for tourists though.

                      2. i second Apizza Scholls. a Portland must-visit. yes, even for NYers.

                        If you find yourself in the Mississippi Ave area, do visit Blue Gardenia. Super good coffee, and a buttermilk chocolate cake that comes in several delivery methods (cupcake-like, twinkie-like, cake slice) that will seriously blow your mind. They're also at the PSU farmers market if you get there.

                        Genies at 11th and Division: get the eggs benedict with locally cured Tasso ham, and roasted potatoes (not o'brien). Be early or be waitin'.

                        Enjoy your visit.

                        1. forgot-- also, if you get to Roots Brewery, try the Heather beer.

                          1. When we were in Portland in late June we discovered;
                            Doug Fir (NE Burnside)-the onion rings are as big as your head! the venison that was on special was great.
                            The Cadillac Cafe - great breakfast-apparently they are known for their hazelnut custard french toast.
                            The Laurelwood Brewpub - amazing pulled pork sandwiches-portions are huge!

                            1. I haven't lived in Portland for a couple years, but I recommend that you DO NOT got to McMenammins. Their beer is just OK and there are so many other choices for bars. Any dive you walk into is likely to have 2-3 good beers that you can't get in NYC.

                              In Florence, try The Depot (dinner only).

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: chickenlover

                                Totally disagree. McMenamins is different than anything you'll find in NY and their beer is fabulous! It's inconsistent, which makes it fun. If you want corporate polish, order a Widmer, Deschutes, or Red Hook. But visiting McMenamins is a blast for newcomers. Problem is, locals get jaded and forget to look through places like Edgfield and Kennedy from a local's perspective! Have fun!

                              2. Go to McMenamin's to enjoy the local flavor of reclaiming unique but decrepit vacant neglected properties listed above, plus Crystal Ballroom, Ringler's Annex, and Oregon Hotel. That's the value of their empire, NOT in the food, service, or beer.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: Leonardo

                                  I agree that the value of the McMenammins franchise is in their properties like White Eagle, Kennedy School, etc. which I enjoy visiting. Problem is their beer is just not that good. Take a walk around the Kennedy School, but if you're really into beer do yourself a favor and plant yourself at the Horse Brass, or someplace similar, for a couple hours and enjoy.

                                2. Will never step into Horse Brass again, unless they ban smoking. It's so disgusting. Even 30 mins there and my skin, hair, and clothes stink. Too bad. I'd be a faithful customer.

                                  A redeeming quality of McMen's is that most of their properties are nonsmoking.

                                  1. Smokiness is my number one complaint about PDX bars in general. I never realized how much it bothered me until I moved to Eugene, which is 100% smoke free. I like the HB on a weeknight or weekend afternoon. I always tried to avoid it on friday/saturday night for the reason you mentioned and also b/c the table service can be really bad when it's packed. I was there about a year ago and they'd installed a new smoke filter system. Not sure if it helps...

                                    1. Somehow with their bad beer, bad service and etc. McMen. has over 50 pubs, hotels, and venues and packed houses most nights of the week. People on this list who are supposedly "in the know" are advising out of towners to miss out on a uniquely northwestern experience that judging by the "godawful" wait for a table a lot of people enjoy!