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Portland virgins

My husband and I will be visiting Portland for the first time later this week. We'll be staying downtown and will also have a rental car. We need places to eat. Both of us are flexible eaters, open to just about anything (except really expensive, i.e. $20 entrees). Neither of us knows anything about the city, though we will have a travel book. Ideally, I'd like to avoid driving far, or if there are easy public transportation options, that would be great.

I realize that this is a massive request, but any suggestions about some special Portland food would be welcome. We're from Los Angeles (I know! Sorry!), so Mexican and Japanese are relatively easy for us to come by at home. As I said, all cuisines are welcome.

Thank you kindly in advance. I will do my best to report back with my findings when we return.

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  1. If I had friends coming to town and I wanted to share what I think is unique to Portland, I'd first of all take them to Le Pigeon, even though it's excruciatingly small and near your limit for the price of the entrees. Another lower-priced place that you could try would be Pambiche, if you don't get enough Cuban food at home--it's pretty small, too, but it's got a fun and funky atmosphere, and you can get great food for a good price. I also like to take people to Pix for dessert, again because of the atmosphere.
    Downtown: Karam
    Pambiche
    Le Pigeon

    1. You don't need a car in Portland, you can easily walk most neighhorhoods and there is a Streetcar that runs a big loop through the city , you can get on and off and wander the areas that interest you.
      Also, look at www.pova.com for info..
      Since you are staying in the SW part of town, I will mention some SW/NW places that I like and tend to bring friends to..
      Wildwood is great, off of Northrup on NW 21st..http://wildwoodrestaurant.com/private...

      Andina-Peruvian on NW Glisan & 13th http://www.andinarestaurant.com/

      Silk-Vietnamese on NW 10th & Glisan

      Bluehour for Happy Hour NW Everett & 13th
      Vault for Happy Hour NW 12th between Davis & Everett
      Everett Street Bistro- NW Everett, breakfast.lunch.dinner.http://www.everettstreetbistro.com/
      Southpark SW Park St - seafood..http://southpark.citysearch.com/

      1. Don't snub the eastside! Ken's Artisan Pizza for sure. SE 28th & Pine. Easy bus ride on the 19 or 20, catch it on 4th.
        Best hot chocolate ever: Sahagun, 10 NW 16th, a few steps off W. Burnside, six minute walk west of Powell Books. Also have the handmade artisan truffles and salted chocolate filbert caramel that are to die for.
        If you go to Southpark have the chocolate crostatta.

        I suggest you scroll back on this board. There are other newbie's requests.
        What sort of favorite cravings do you tend to have?

        1. Everyone's been talking about Whiskey Soda Lounge on Division - Thai food.

          1. Dunno about all those yuppie places - haven't been to Portland in about 30 years but...

            you need to go to Jake's. Get the barbecued crab legs. They still haunt me after 30 years. They serve them with a small loaf of sourdough bread and I said to the waiter- there's no way I can eat that much bread, and he said... just dip it in the broth.

            I ate the whole thing.

            I'm assuming they are still in business- they had been around for something like 100 years when I was there, so I'm assuming they are there still.

            1. I second the Wildwood suggestion. And while it is right across the street, Paley's Place is also excellent.

              1. Keeping it too cheap will be tough to get the flavors of Portland. But it's possible to stay under your budget at Park Kitchen, Clarklewis, Cafe Castagna, Le Pigeon, and Alberta Street Oyster Bar and get local ingredients prepared nicely.

                There are some links, eg, to the tipsheet, at the link in my sig.

                ---
                http://www.extramsg.com
                http://www.portlandfood.org

                1. Jake's is an expensive tourist trap. Don't bother.
                  Definately go to Pok Pok.

                  1. I agree with Pok Pok / Whiskey Soda lounge (thai food).. they serve great inexpensive food
                    http://pokpokpdx.com/

                    I enjoy eating at Nicholas' (lebanese/middle eastern food) on SE Grand they are also affordable
                    http://www.nicholasrestaurant.com/

                    1. You must try Nicolas Restaurant. Its my favorite place to go when I visit Portland (I'm from eastern Oregon). Its very inexpensive Lebanese cuisine that is just wonderful. I've never had a bad meal there. Its great for lunch (gyros, shwarma... all under $10 for freshly baked pitas, hummus, salad and sandwich wrap). They also have many items that are more "dinnerish" like their mezza platter, etc. As an added bonus, there is a ton of free parking in the area. Check out their menu and website, you wont be disappointed:

                      http://www.nicholasrestaurant.com/

                      Also, if you are planning to hit the Hawthorne district (which I recommend) this would be a good place to go on that day. Its not very far away and you'll definitely want to drive to the Hawthorne district.

                      One more thing… if you have a great sense of direction, Le Bistro Montage is a fun, inexpensive Cajun style restaurant. Its very eclectic and the food is pretty good. The atmosphere is what really makes it for me (if you are like me and enjoy sharing tables with strangers). Its kind of hard to find even though its just over the rive from the city center. If you are brave enough to look for it, the address is: 301 SE Morrison St (Cross Street: SE Third Avenue
                      )Portland, OR 97214.

                      Enjoy!

                      1. Karam, downtown, is great for Middle eastern: http://www.karamrestaurant.com/

                        Wildwood and Paley's are both over your budget for dinner, IMO, but go to Wildwood for lunch and it will be a great lunch and within your budget. http://wildwoodrestaurant.com/

                        Cafe Castagna http://www.castagnarestaurant.com/
                        and
                        Tabla http://www.tabla-restaurant.com/
                        are good budget-friendly choices on the east side.

                        Pok Pok/Whiskey Soda Lounge would be a good choice too: http://www.pokpokpdx.com/

                        1. Don't bother with Bistro Montage. They use frozen vegies no matter what the season. Ugh.
                          Server attitude, noise, bad food, but if want a "scene" I guess it's ok.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: Leonardo

                            Frozen veggies, really? I've only been there twice, once for mac and cheese and the other time for drinks and dessert. It was good, but I guess you'd have to try pretty hard to screw those things up... Thanks for the heads up.

                          2. A great place to check out for desserts especially is Papa Hydn on NW 23rd. Some of the best desserts in Portland. They also serve a high-end menu, which is great. That whole strip of NW 23rd is a great place to start if you want to check out a more trendy portion of Portland.

                            1. For cheap on NW23rd, Miso Happy for Vietnamese lunch..I think Papa Haydns desserts tend to be dry as dust but that might just be me.
                              Next door to Papa Haydn is Joe Bar and they make great lunch sandwiches and salads as well as a great roast chicken, woodburning stove and all.
                              Any of these places that are pricey for dinner , you can most likely have a very nice lunch.
                              West Cafe on NW 13th & Jefferson!! good food, great service.

                              1. Lots of good suggestions so far... I must say I agree with pdxgirl on Papa Haydn's, they're big and fancy looking but the flavor is not too special in my opinion. I prefer Pix for a special dessert, there are three locations, all on bus lines, on SE Division, SE Hawthorne, and N Williams, easy to get to no matter where you are. They also have amazing hazelnut lattes with fresh ground hazelnuts...

                                http://www.pixpatisserie.com

                                1. Yep, definitely Pix over Papa Haydn's...not even close.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: JillO

                                    I would note that the NW Papa Haydn's's [now, THAT looks wrong] dinner food is sometimes excellent. The desserts are uneven, but some are quite good. It's like they are channeling the old Rose's (ancient reference likely lost on many).