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Oct 18, 2006 05:18 AM

Fun restaurants in Portland?

I'm surprising a friend for her birthday this weekend in Portland. A small group of us want a fun, good, not too expensive restaurant to go to. We're all in our 30's so trendy isn't that important but a good crowd, bar scene, ambience is. Any suggestions?

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  1. Our favorite restaurant to take out-of-towners or for a fun birthday or other festive gathering is and has been Gino's in Sellwood for many years now. I believe that they will take reservations for a party of six or more. If you have a very large party, they prefer to serve family style, but for six or under, I don't think it's an issue. The food is excellent, the wine list is stellar, the servers are friendly, the bartenders mix great cocktails, the ambience is casual, busy, usually not too loud. It is located at 8051 SE 13th Avenue, 503-233-4613.

    Some of our favorite menu items: Any ravioli, the super garlicky Caesar salad, mussel pasta, vongole, or mixed shells, the prawn appetizer. They have a good mix of meat, seafood and vegetarian menu items, so everyone is happy.....every meal we have had there has been very enjoyable. The prices are moderate -- they even have a separate portion of the wine list (more like wine bible) that lists very decent wines under $20. The servers are very good at helping you choose a tasty wine in your price range and to match your food choices.

    There are some tables in the bar that can be pushed together to accommodate 6-10 people, if you want to request seating in the bar. When we are a small party (2-4) we usually try to get there early (4:30-5:00) and get a booth in the bar, but we've eaten in the restaurant and it was just as fun.

    Bon appetit and happy birthday!

    1. Navarre (on E 28th just north of Burnside) has a zoomy energy on weekend nights, and great fun food. YOu might just order a raft of their large-size plates (all the dishes come in two sizes) and go family style. Wine by the bottle or the carafe, and lots of good choices. Prices very reasonable. It gets crowded so you might have to wait. I don't know if they do reservations.

      1 Reply
      1. re: patrick

        A few others that are in the same neighborhood as Navarre that might also work are Noble Rot--maybe more wine and fewer food choices than Navarre--and Pambiche. Both are also pretty popular and I don't think take reservations.

      2. Personally, I'm not a fan of Noble Rot, but I am of Navarre. Also, the popular Nostrana is another fun and very good place, a short drive from Navarre. Taqueria Nueve (right next to Navarre) is really great too.

        1. Tried Le Pigeon. New restaurant darling. Good food. Interesting combinations. Reservations available for 5 or more, I think.

          1. We did Albert Street Oyster Bar and Grill for my wife's 30th with a group of 8 or so. The atmosphere was casual, service was good and food was excellent. I think that Park Kitchen would also be a fun option.