Portland, lunch in or near airport
We're arriving in Portland around noon on a weekday after an early-morning flight from the east coast. We're going directly from the airport via a rental car towards the coast (heading to Cannon Beach/ Manzanita). We predict near-starvation conditions will prevail, and would like to be able to eat within 1 hour of deplaning (assume a half-hour of which is taken up by baggage claim and rental car pickup).
Any suggestions for a place to eat within a half-hour's drive of the airport that won't take us out of our way?
You could go to Good Dog/Bad Dog for sausages at the airport, but if you want to go outside of it, there are quite a few places on NE Sandy: Cha Ba Thai, Yen Ha (Vietnamese), Gustav's (German), Pal's Shanty (seafood/fish in a tavern atmosphere), Be Van (banh mi--probably the fastest food of the bunch). You can get there without getting on the freeway, and continue on to the I-84 freeway entrance on NE 39th.
Nettie's suggestions are really helpful -- the real issues are (1) we don't know Portland; and (2) we're likely to be tired and famished. So we'd like a relatively easy find that doesn't take us far out of our way and won't get us lost or confused. We come back through Portland for a few days at the end of trip so we have later opportunities to hit better food. What we'll want is something that's good and reasonably fast and convenient.
If you want something really close, then, your best bets are going to be Asian. There are primarily two areas for these: 82nd Ave which runs north-south parallel west of I-205 and NE Sandy which runs diagonally through Portland from I-205 in the NE just one exit south of the airport to the Willamette River near where I-84 spills into I-5.
FOOD ON SANDY BLVD
To get to NE Sandy, the simplest option is to drive east on Airport Way from the airport until you reach the on-ramp to I-205 South. Take the next exit, but not to Columbia, but rather continue past the first option that goes to the right and instead take the second option which is just past the overpass and loop around and go through the light and over the overpass. Your next right puts you onto Sandy. It's a bit funky, but easier than it sounds.
You do have an easy option, though, if you want. Instead of getting onto Sandy going SW (ie, taking that right I just mentioned), you can continue straight about 1/8th mile to Pho Dalat for Vietnamese. They're not among the very best, but are among the better Vietnamese. They make a good bowl of pho and bun bo hue. Their rare beef salad, the dalat salad, is quite addictive. See here:
However, if you continue as I said before and take Sandy SW towards Portland, you get a string of places between about 70th and 57th: Be Van for decent banh mi, Yen Ha for good Vietnamese stews and salads (they have a huge menu and some things are better than others), Pho Oregon for the best pho in town and really good bo kho, Cha Ba for good Thai. Drive any farther than this and you're really starting to get to a point where you just would have been as quick to hop on the interstate and go anywhere else in Portland you might have wanted more. Here's Cha Ba's map, since it's the farthest SW:
When you get done eating at any of these you can continue down Sandy SW until you reach the Hollywood District (in the 30s and low 40s) and get on I-84 heading west. You probably have directions from there.
FOOD ON 82nd AVE
To get here, continue as you did before east on Airport Way out of the airport and take the 205 on-ramp south. Take the Division exit. Be careful, because this is also the exit for Powell, which is a bit south of Division. If you continue in the left lane of this exit you'll come to an immediate light and can turn right. However, if you're in the right lane of the exit, this will put you on Powell and you'll go on another 1/2 mile or more.
On Division there is Wong's King, which is probably the best Chinese in town. They do dim sum 7 days a week, too, which you'll be in time for, I believe. It's at about 87th and Division on the right. See here:
Okay, if you don't want Chinese, you can continue to 82nd and have choices both left and right. If you go right, you can go to Pho Van, non-divey Vietnamese. It's less than a half a mile north of Division on the left. See here:
If you go left, you have Fubonn Shopping Center at the next light -- take a left -- with Malay Satay Hut and Banh Cuon Tan Dinh. MSH has an extensive menu and most things are tasty, though you shouldn't pass up their roti canai, satay, and belacan. Banh Cuon specializes in things you roll. Many items will come with a huge herb platter and rice sheets and you put stuff together and dip them in the nuoc mam. The bo lot, a continual special, is my favorite.
So when you're done here, the best thing to do would probably be to get back on 205 north and then take 84 west and use whatever directions you have from there.