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May 27, 2007 09:11 AM

Visiting PDX shortly - looking for some advice

I'm looking for casual relaxed places where I might experience good North West food - for example I was thinking of the bar options at Wildwood and Higgins. I'd prefer places where I don't need to make reservations and as I'll be dining solo most of the time, don't mind eating early. I don't like trendy scenes (although I am interested in visiting the Doug Fir to eat just once (breakfast? lunch maybe?) and maybe to check out a band there too.

Apart from cheese, I'll eat pretty much anything so any suggestions for moderatly priced relaxed dining options are welcomed (moderately priced being maybe up to $50 dollars for two courses + 1 drink (is that reasonable? can go higher if necessary)

I've been to Portland before (I love the place and the surrounding areas) but haven't really had the opportunitty to explore too many food options until now. Suggestions for the best coffee and breakfast spots, good burgers, seafood would all be of interest. Last time I visited I had a reasonable bar meal at a friendly spot called Mississippi Station when I went to see my favourite Portland band Dolorean playing at the Studios next door

I'll be staying near PGE Park but intend to get a Trimet pass for the week so I can get around town.


Pete, UK

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  1. Welcome. You might want to check out the tipsheet at the extramsg link below for a start.

    As far as price goes, you can get away from most Portland restaurants at less than $50 for entree, app, and cocktail, glass of wine, or a couple beers. The more expensive restaurants in town will average around $25 or a little higher for entrees, maybe $10 for apps.

    A lot of Portland's restaurants are good for solo diners. They have bars and they have counters overlooking open kitchens. It can actually make it quite easy for a solo diner to get into a place that otherwise has a wait.

    I'm not a big fan of Higgins's food. I just don't like the palate there, I think. At least, I wouldn't put it in my top 10 or 20 places.

    Wildwood I still really enjoy. They have both a bar and a counter overlooking the kitchen. I think they do the best job of using a lot of local/seasonal ingredients plus making interesting, well-executed dishes.

    Some other places you should check into that have bars or counters and do at least a decent job of using local ingredients: Le Pigeon, Park Kitchen, Clyde Common, Carlyle, Olea, Alberta Street Oyster Bar, Paley's Place, 23 Hoyt, Bluehour.


    1 Reply
    1. re: extramsg

      I just ate at Le Pigeon and it was amazing. It would be perfect for a solo diner since there is a big bar to sit at and watch the open kitchen go.

    2. Grolla (NE Portland) has great food and service-but it is small, so make reservations just in case. Try downtown Lake Oswego for great food on the water-Manzana,
      5 Spice, Zeppos-all great. (Hapy hour deals are great, too at manzana and 5 spice 3-6)

      1 Reply
      1. re: suzz

        I haven't tried 5 Spice or Zeppos, yet, but Manzana is part of a local chain and larger restaurant group (same as Stanford's and Newport Bay). I wouldn't say the food is even close to great and it would be a real waste of a meal for a visitor.

      2. Hi Pete,
        You're in a great location with Nob Hill and Pearl within an easy walk. Very close by is Lucy's Table on 21st. They have the best quality happy hour in town. I have happily paid their regular price for their great small plates. Small bar area so get there just before opening.
        Ken's Artisan Bakery also on 21st is a must. They make the absolute world's best quiche. They are proud of their croissant dough and make many items using it. Monday nights are (or were) pizza nights.
        Andina in the Pearl is a treasure - great Peruvian small plates.

        1. Genie's is my favorite breakfast spot, I've enjoyed the confit hashes they do, the basic eggs, bacon and potatoes and the eggs Benedict (it's what my spouse orders every single time because it is nearly always perfect). I've been less impressed with the scrambles. They make a good spicy bloody maria too. They use local ingredients and quality meats, and I think it shows. Simpatica's brunch is a local favorite, and I liked it when I was there, but they're only one day a week and every time I've been there has been a line.

          I'm always very happy at the bar in Higgins (haven't been as happy in the restaurant) because I love their beer list and their so-called Reuben (which isn't a classic style but I like eating it) and the steamed clams that show up with various seasonings (from Thai to Provencial). The charcuterie plate or smoked seafood plate are frequently enjoyed by visitors I bring, I think the seafood plate is probably a better value, the charcuterie can sometimes be skimpy, but then, I'm a cheapskate. Wildwood is good too.

          I think the best burger is at Cafe Castagna, but the reason I think it's the best is because of the fries that come with it, which are, arguably, the best in town. The burger is good, but I've eaten them at other places that were just as good.

          You should check out Stumptown for the quintessential artisan Pdx coffee and then go to Ristretto Roasters for really good coffee.

          Powell Seafood Garden is a funny mix of good Cantonese food and really bad American-style Cantonese food. It's very cheap, and if you can order in Cantonese it's a great place to get a very cheap and tasty meal fast. I bring it up because it's a good place to eat Dungeness crab pulled from its tank and cooked to order Chinese style. But avoid white people favorites like fried rice or anything named after a general.

          Enjoy your visit.


          1 Reply
          1. re: trillium

            I really enjoy Genie's benedict, too, probably second only to Simpatica's. If you get it, go with the tasso ham. Adds a lot of flavor.

          2. I you're near PGE Park, you might enjoy a mocha nearby at Sahagun. It's famous for their chocolates and they use Stumptown for their coffee. Might be the best anywhere, but it is expensive.

            1 Reply
            1. re: MichaelG

              Yes, Sahagun is at NW 16th just off Burnside. Best hot chocolate ever, & the coffee drinks are also outstanding. Handmade truffles, caramels...yum.