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Apr 16, 2007 09:41 AM

Dining recommendations for a weekend in Portland?

A friend and I will be traveling up to Portland (from LA) for a weekend jaunt in a couple of weeks, and would love recommendations for current favorite restaurants in Portland.

We really eat anything - really! No real limits on price, although I would prefer entrees under $30. Have tentative reservations at Clarklewis, but after reading the board, am not sure whether we should keep them (although I haven't seen many terribly recent reviews)? Other places we're thinking of are Le Pigeon (is the wait on weekends horrendous?), the restauranta at the Heathman (a friend was recently there on business and raved about it), Wildwood, Fenouil... any opinions on those, or others, would be great, preferably in areas where we can grab a couple of drinks afterwards as well.

If it helps, we're staying downtown, but I gather that getting around the city is relatively easy. Also, we get in on the later side Friday night, so any good food options for a meal after 9pm would be really appreciated.


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  1. Dinners in Portland:

    Carlyle would be my first choice over and over:
    Wildwood is another good choice:
    Le Pigeon another:

    Less high-end/expensive is:

    Apizza Scholls:
    Pok Pok/Whiskey Soda Lounge:

    Breakfast /Brunch:

    Le Pigeon (Sat. and Sun. - link above
    )Simpatica (Sunday only):
    Mother's (It is downtown, and none of the others are, they take reservations, and the french press coffee is worth the extra $$)
    Kenny and Zuke's (Sat. only, until 4/28): located at Ken's Place, 1852 SE Hawthorne. Phone (503) 236-9520. Hours 9:30 AM to 2:30 PM

    Be sure to visit the Farmers' Market on the S. Park blocks near PSU on Sat.!!!

    If you are wine people, lots of taste pours of local wines may be had at Oregon Wines on Broadway, if you cannot get out to wine country:

    If you are beer people:

    And if you don't want to wait, check and see if you can get reservations, or go early (dinner before 6/6:30pm, breakfast by 9am).

    3 Replies
    1. re: JillO

      I can't add much, except that I'd guess that the wait on weekends at Le Pigeon is horrendous--I heard that a friend tried to go there on a Wednesday at 7 PM recently and the wait was over an hour.

      Here are a couple of the places I like to eat late:
      Pok Pok (but their website sez that they're closed for renovations until 4/29)--10:30 PM
      Pambiche (Cuban)--midnight
      Nostrana (upscale pizza/Italian)--11 PM
      Mama Mia Trattoria (east coast Italian)--11 PM

      1. re: Nettie

        Le Pigeon now takes reservations for parties of four or more, I believe. I'm sure even an out of towner could get another pair or more to join them on You can wait next door at The Doug Fir and they'll call you, too, I think.

        1. re: extramsg

          Le Pigeon does take reservations for parites for four or more. I was there a couple weeks ago with my husband and another couple. We had reservations and even though the place was empty at the time we were seated (we had to take a 5:30 reservation because that's all they had), we were seated at an 8-top with another foursome. It felt really weird to be sitting with a group of strangers (extremely packed in) when the rest of the place was empty.

          I also thought the starters were very dissappointing. We tried the sweetbreads (very firm and dry and pretty blah overall), oysters (good but tiny) and the pigeon. So, I've never eaten pigeon before but the server told us it was "cooked through" when we asked about the preparation. When we got it, it was literally bloody inside. It tasted like a raw meat wrapper smells when you open it up - so gross. Anyway, maybe I just don't have an affinity for pigeon!

          The meal didn't totally disappoint - The entrees were wonderful. We tried the beef cheaks, veal and someone had fish but I can't remember what the dish was.

          I don't want to totally bash Le Pigeon because other friends and family have given it rave reviews but our experience was a let-down...

    2. Late-night weekend, I would choose Pambiche for Cuban. They're open until midnight and have a happy hour from 10p to midnight. It's a great little funky place.

      I'd skip The Heathman. It's fine, but like many hotels the menu is too safe and execution is inconsistent.

      Wildwood is definitely a good option since they have very local/seasonal food prepared well. One of my favorites. Park Kitchen is another good choice for similar that's a little less expensive. Clarklewis has been in transition. I should get back, but from what I gather you'd be fine there. Le Pigeon is another excellent choice, but doesn't take reservations, so if you're here for just a weekend, I'd skip it. It's a little less expensive than these others, especially than Wildwood which is a bit more expensive than PK and CL.

      A little less "local" are Carlyle, Olea, and Paley's. Carlyle just lost its chef to Olea. Word is that Carlyle is still putting out great food, but I've only been there for dessert since the change. I liked Olea before the switch, but I trust the new chef's abilities, too. Paley's is a workhorse.

      Fenouil is good and a nice place, but it's the least local. I'd skip it.

      Few places in Portland have many dishes over $30, usually only one or two per menu.


      1. My two cents based on "Portland Uniqueness":

        1. Belive it or not, you may not be able to get pizza as good as Apizza Scholls.
        2. Nostrana is also a special place - unique ambiance, and I think unlike anything you'd find in LA.
        3. Pidgeon - unique, if you can wait that long.
        4. Wildwood and Carlyle are both great restaurants, but despite their focus on local ingredients, I just don't think they have that unique feel. Carlyle, particularly, seems to me like it could be in LA or NY.
        5. You've got great Asian and deli in LA, so you might skip the japanese and deli recs. However, Pok Pok is special -- if open.

        2 Replies
        1. re: MichaelG

          >> Pidgeon - unique, if you can wait that long.

          Apizza Scholls and Nostrana have some hefty waits, too.

          1. re: MichaelG

            I'd rate the reuben at Kenny and Zuke's right up there with (if not better than) Langer's in MacPark.

          2. Agree with everything/one here but I'm wondering why no one has mentioned Higgins: as exemplary of Portland and northwest food? I've always had great meals here, unfussy but top local ingredients, and a great beer list too. Its also downtown.

            4 Replies
            1. re: primitivecinema

              YES ! I'll second the Higgins rec. 8)
              (Also Le Pigeon & Apizza Scholls!!)

              1. re: primitivecinema

                Higgins has always underperformed for me, especially for the price. I appreciate what they're trying to do, but I just don't know that they pull it off that well -- at least not as well as most of the other places in their price range, nor some of the places in the next price range down.

                1. re: extramsg

                  Higgins for lunch is not a bad idea (great beer list for a high end restaurant), but the mark-up on the same plates for dinner is ridiculous and just not worth it, IMO. I think the food is better at Wildwood (also a great idea for a cheaper meal at lunch than at dinner, but here the higher dinner prices are probably worth it...). I have had lunch at both, dinner at Higgins.

                  1. re: JillO

                    If you're interested in the beer list, the bar is a good option, particularly as the OP wanted a place to go for drinks afterward:

              2. All of the below sounds ggood, but I just eat at the Veritable Quantry and it was really nice. Located in an old brick building with inside and outside sitting. Downtown near the Marriott. Serves food til midnight with great PNW charm.