Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Pacific Northwest >
Oct 13, 2006 03:19 AM

Portland -- near Convention Center

I'm heading up there next week for a meeting...and all of a sudden hubby (who is flush with Southwest vouchers since he was bumped from about three flights in a row one lovely day last summer) has decided to come along for the ride. So any suggestions for inexpensive but fun places to eat? (We're saving for a big trip later in the year). Indian or other ethnic is good, especially South Indian or Chaat, or anything hard to find in Reno. We won't have a car, and we're staying at the Doubletree near the Convention near there or accessible by public transportation would be good. Thanks!

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. How much time will you have for lunch? If you're talking about walking distance from the convention center, Nicholas' might fill the bill - fits your parameters - Lebanese food. Haven't been there recently but it used to be okay. If you can catch a taxi or have enough time to take public transportation, Zell's at Southeast Morrison at about 15th is pretty good too - not ethnic tho.

    1 Reply
    1. re: whimsy2

      La Villa is not much farther than Nicholas (at about 7th and Morrison, maybe?) and at least has better mezza, if that's what's most important to you in Lebanese. (And it's generally less busy, which can be a bonus.) Nicholas has freshly made pita, though, and good sausages. La Villa also has Brazilian lunch specials, which can be good. (One member of the partnership is Brazilian, one is Middle-Eastern, I believe; I think they both keep Halal, though, so don't look for any pork in that Brazilian food.) Across the street from Zell's, is Nostrana, which while not cheap is reasonable and makes very good wood oven pizzas.

    2. You can take the light rail (at your doorstep) downtown for free, so you've wide choices. Some good carts. Just scroll down and you'll see many ideas in the core area.

      1. I won't have time for lunch, but hubby I'm sure would appreciate any suggestions (especially if they involve South Indian:-) I will try looking through past suggestions. I figured out that the light rail is very easy to get around on (we plan to take it from the airport) so any central Portland suggestions are welcome!

        A friend told me that she remembers eating at a great Sushi place down a side street from the Lloyd Center, but she couldn't remember anything else, including the name. Since we'll be right there, that would be worth knowing about. Anyone have any ideas which restaurant she might be thinking of?

        1 Reply
        1. re: janetofreno

          There is good southern Indian at Chennai Masala, but it would take a half-hour or more Max ride to Hillsboro. You could get some decent Sikh-made Indian at India Chaat House in downtown at 12th and Yamhill. It's all veggie and they have some very good lunch specials. There aren't a lot of places specializing in southern Indian in PDX, though. One of the few is Chennai Masala and they make dosa and vada as good as any I've had, so if that's really what you're looking for, make the trip:

          A couple of Max suggestions:

          Karam has better Lebanese than either of the closer places I mentioned above. They're downtown and an easy walk off the Max.

          Check out this lunch cart map by a local blogger, it's a great resource:

          A San Diego blogger also had some PDX reports that included the downtown carts:

        2. Hillsboro would be about 45 minutes by train, so I can't imagine that enything could be worth the trip, with so much quality so close.

          Don't miss Burgerville across from the hotel. Many posts here.

          Enthusiastic second on India Chaat House, the shack downtown 12/SW Yamhill, nicely close to train stop. Portland is kinda crappy for Indian, so don't look beyond these folks.

          Sushi on a side st near Lloyd Ctr? Not knowing what "near" or "side st" really means, best place by far in the area would be Meiji-En on NE Broadway between 22-24th. Next door is Costello's Travel Caffe, where they show travel videos while you have coffee, dessert, or a sandwich. Across street is Blue Nile Ethiopian, good & cheap, as you requested. One mile walk, or take the 77 or 10 bus to 22nd, walk one block north. Or take those buses to 28th/B-way for Pour, a wine bar. Friendly owner Robert will help you pick some wine, don't miss "Poor Hour" 4:30-6:30, $3 wine glasses! This is my hood, so feel free to ask for more info.

          2 Replies
          1. re: Leonardo

            Well, actually, my husband thinks that 45 minutes on the MAX is totally doable if there really is good South Indian food to be had. After all, this is a man who has been known to drive from Reno to Berkeley to get his fix. So, are the dosa worth it? Anyone else care to give their opinion? BTW, I wonder if Pour is the wine bar that my friend mentioned tonight...she couldn't remember the name but said it was right downtown....

            Oh, and does the India Chaat House actually HAVE Chaat? This has been a chowhound discussion before...some of us get our hopes up when we hear "chaat" only to find out its just another north Indian place.

            Keep the ideas coming, folks!

            1. re: janetofreno

              Yes on both. I just toured southern Indian in the South Bay/Silicon Valley and did my research before hand. I think Chennai Masala is right there with anything I had. Actually, I've never had better vada and I think their masala dosa are fantastic. And even their northern stuff when they have buffet or whatever is pretty good. It's not a very extensive menu, but what they do, they do well.

              See here for some pics:


              India Chaat House does indeed have chaat. On the chaat menu are items like samosa chaat, bahle poori, sev poori, batata vada, paprdi chaat, etc. Really, they're their best items.

          2. I would second Karam and Blue Nile. Between Double Tree and the convention center is a little coffee place called J Cafe where I grab a bagel or coffee cake every other morning. I haven't tried their panini yet because I'm always on the run but they're close by as an option to grab lunch. Nice folks.