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Jul 23, 2007 04:54 PM

Best $10-15 places to eat in Portland or higher?

I'm looking for quite a few suggestions here. I've lived on in off in Portland the last few years but have had little to no success in finding those really great places to eat that every city should have. So, I'm moving the family back to Portland and it may be permanent. We were raised in Eugene though so we don't really know anything about the history of Portland food.

I must admit I've lived the last 8 years in Los Angeles. So I've been spoiled by some of the best healthy Chinese (all white meat), best pizza/italin (LA Monicas and C&O), best Mexican (Tito's and El Cholo), Best Burgers (The Counter, omg) best Deli (Bay City) and more (California Chicken Cafe, Beard Papas, Yummy Cupcakes)

Does anyone have suggestions in Portland? I'm sure most of you haven't eaten much in LA but maybe some of you have and you can help point me in a good direction. As you can see I've given you many examples. I've done McMineans quite a few times and the food is just okay, good in a pinch.

The problem is it seems most of Portland is just great pub food or REALLY expensive restaurants, such as stuff around the pearl district.

Any help would be fantastic!

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  1. I really enjoy Bugerville when I am in need of a quick, good, healthy meal that is cheap! If you haven't been it is a must try!!!

    2 Replies
    1. re: healthyheather

      Burgervillie I've had many, many times and it's quite good.. but it's fast food and not exactly what I'm looking for. Thanks though =)

      1. re: healthyheather

        Sorry, but did you just use the words "Burgerville" and "healthy" in the same sentence? lol, it's maybe better quality than other fast food joints, but healthy it's not! ;-)

      2. I have no doubt that you will find great Asian food -- it's all over town. What part of Portland are you moving to? I love Pizzicato Pizza, and they are all over. You may want to consider taking "field trips" to different areas -- Alberta, downtown, Hawthorne, southwest -- to sample some of the good restaurant neigborhoods. I happen to be in the southwest area of town, and we like Zeppo in Lake Oswego, George's Hamburgers in Tigard, Russell St. BBQ (which isn't in SW, but we like it anyway). Check portland.citysearch to get more ideas. Welcome back!

        1. You're right. You don't really know anything about Portland food. ;-)

          Portland has a lot of good value options. There are a lot of restaurants making food as good as anything in the Pearl for under $20/entree. Generally, though, that level requires $15-$20/entree.

          However, there are plenty of places under $15 that have great food. This question actually comes up a lot and with a little searching you'll find plenty of more options, but I'll rattle off some favorites. From what you've listed in LA, I don't know if our palates match up well, but here you go (in some cases there are more divey places or places farther out I like more):

          Pizza: Apizza Scholls
          BBQ: Podnah's
          Japanese: Biwa
          Vietnamese: Pho Van
          Korean: Bewon
          Cantonese/Dim Sum: Wong's King
          Malaysian: Malay Satay Hut
          Mexican: Autentica
          Cuban: Pambiche
          Diner: Genie's
          Lebanese: Karam
          Thai: Pok Pok
          Hot Dog: Zach's Shack
          Indian: Tandoor Indian Kitchen
          Fish & Chips: Halibut's

          Burgers: you'll find that most nice restaurants have one for around $10 that comes with fries and is at least 1/3rd pound of local beef with a quality bun and other ingredients. Start with Cafe Castagna.

          2 Replies
          1. re: extramsg

            There is more asian style foods listed there then I've eaten in a YEAR! hehe

            Some interesting suggestions o the Pizza and BBQ. I'll have to check them out. If anyone else has any suggestions I'd love to hear it. I only wish CHOWHOUND had a full section devoted for Portlanders.

            1. re: extramsg

              For Vietnamese, I prefer Pho Hung (locations in SE and Beaverton). More grubby and less clean, but definitely tastier food.

              For Indian, Shalimar had a pretty nice buffet at lunch (in Hillsboro)

            2. What are you specifically looking for? Sushi? Mex? Thai? Veggie? Crepes? All of the above? You might start with some Vietnamese (Pho Van) and Thai (take your pick), but some more on your preferences would help...

              5 Replies
              1. re: MichaelG

                I'd say I'm more of a Mexican, Italin and basic chinese sort of fan. Again I like the more healthy approach to chinese (don't care about healthy mexican though, bring on the cheese!).

                I'm always on the look out for great pizza and great burgers. I also love places that serve special sweet stuff like Cream puffs, donuts and yes crepes are good to!

                1. re: starqrtrs

                  The problem you're going to have is that Portland doesn't excel in Mexican-American food. Most places don't surpass Chevy's, in my experience. Which leaves you with two choices: Mexican street food at taquerias and taco trucks or regional Mexican at more midscale places.

                  There are some exceptions. You have some places that play with both, eg, La Bonita which is a good taqueria, but also has some more Mexican-American choices like burritos. Or Los Gorditos, a really good taco truck that also serves very good nachos.

                  Also, there are some places that I can recommend with some reservations, eg, Esparza's. The menu is inconsistent, but items with their BBQ pork are generally good, especially the BBQ pork nachos.

                  If you get out to the edges of town where more Mexicans and other Latinos live, such as Gresham, Beaverton, and Hillsboro, you can have better luck with Mexican-American places. Still the best Mexican-American I've had in the metro area is Mexico Lindo in Vancouver. It's not great, but they do a consistently good job and has two locations and a third related location.


                  1. re: starqrtrs

                    Oh, and besides Wong's King you should look at Sungari Pearl. It's more expensive than most Chinese, but it definitely cooks to a Western palate.


                    1. re: starqrtrs

                      You might want to check out House of Louie and Fong Chong, both in Chinatown, for dim sum.

                      For Mexican, I enjoy Si Senor in Raleigh Hills, across from Fred Meyer. Great Mexican food at affordable prices. If you like goat, run, don't walk...

                      1. re: MichaelG

                        House of Louie and Fong Chong have stayed in business for so long because there's no other alternative (other than the new Wong's King - or is it King of Wongs? which is not too bad at all). I'm actually related to the previous owners of these restaurants, so I don't want to hate on them too much - but there's a reason why you see throngs of Chinese people from Portland driving 3 hours to Seattle and 8 hours to Canada just for dim sum.

                  2. Willamette Week, the local alterna-weekly has an annual "Cheap Eats" guide that pretty much nails what you're looking for. It's worth keeping a hardcopy in the car, but I'm afraid you've missed this year's issue already. Fortunately, you can find it online here:

                    They also do an annual restaurant guide, which is less focused on cost and has a wider range of recommendations, many of which will nevertheless fall into your price range.

                    Sadly, cheap, good, old school red-sauce Italian is one thing Portland is lacking. There's plenty of places that attempt it, but they all fall short in one way or another. You're better off making this cuisine at home IMO.

                    Gino's, over in Sellwood, is good and reasonably priced. They're not primarily red-sauce Italian, but there are one or two dishes on the menu that fit the bill. Most of the good Italian restaurants in town aspire to a more sophisticated (and usually more expensive) style of cuisine.

                    True regional Mexican cuisine is rare in Portland; you're much more likely to find Tex-Mex, the best of which by far is at Esparza's. That's at the top end of your price range, but worth it, especially if you ignore the menu and order from the Specials board.

                    One of the few regional Mexican restaurants that do exist and also fall in your price range, is La Calaca Comelona:

                    Low-budget Asian places abound, and there are many good ones to choose from, though they tend more toward thai/vietnamese than Chinese, strictly speaking. Everybody has a favorite, so ask your friends where they go, and check out a few places to see which appeal to you.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: PDXpat

                      La Calaca seems right up my wife and I's alley.

                      It's not that were looking for dirt cheap food, but we aren't looking for a place that costs $30-40 per person. We are looking for those 2-3 nights a week that we can go out and get some amazing food. We are looking for Mexican food that may have some american taste influences but not American-Mexican food. (if that makes any sense at all. lol)

                      That mexican place really looks great so we'll check it out. We can't live without some good carna asada taco's once in awhile. Now if we could find some good all white meat chicken chimimchangas.. (sp?)

                      I agree the lack of decent Italian places in Portland. I have yet to find a place that has a great red sauce, or for that matter something as simple as a white sauce.

                      I also know the Chinese part will be really tough. We just love sitting down with a nice plate of spicy orange chicken and some good fried rice and maybe a few egg rolls or won tons. In fact the best orange chicken we seem to find up north is PF Changs. However it's not as cheap as some small mom and pop place.

                      Again that's for all these suggestions. I should be in Portland at the end of the month so I will be hitting up a lot of these places.

                      1. re: starqrtrs

                        I don't think La Calaca has carne asada. Well, actually now that I think about it, they do, but their tacos are easily the worst thing on their menu. Well, maybe the ceviche. La Calaca specializes in interior Mexican/Oaxacan dishes. Try the moles, especially the green, the pambazo, the alambres, etc.

                        For carne asada, you're much better off with a taqueria like La Bonita or Don Pancho, both on Alberta. I prefer the former. (Or, for some of the best carne asada in town, the taco truck at 50th and Division, Los Gorditos.)

                        There are actually several places doing regional Mexican to one degree or another and A LOT of places doing really good taqueria level Mexican, whether in trucks or sit down places. As a start, you should check out this report: