On the way to and from the Portland airport
Hello everyone and I apologize for not (yet) having done my chow research. We're coming to Oregon for the weekend (from Boston), on our way to Mt. Hood for a wedding. We'll be arriving around noon and will presumably be hungry. Any suggestions for a nice lunch spot either near the airport, on the way to Mt. Hood from there, or at least a reasonable detour. Expensive (say up to $30/each for lunch) would be fine if the food is worth it, but cheap (taqueria?) would also be acceptable. We'll be in no rush.
Conversely, on our return, we'll have one evening in Portland, ending up at an airport hotel. Recommendations for fine dining and/or something unique to Portland would be most welcome.
Finally, while we'll mostly be eating wedding food near Mt. Hood, any recommendations for that area would also be appreciated.
Thank to everyone in advance.
p.s. There is one semi-vegetarian in the group so BBQ or steak house is probably not the best option, unless they do great fish.
Thanks so much all for the suggestions, especially extramsg. As it turned out, we had two lunches and one dinner in Portland proper (and ate pretty good wedding food at Mt. Hood)
Our first lunch was at Country Cat and it was FANTASTIC. The relaxing, attractive dining room had a trickle of business around two on a Friday afternoon. We sat at a booth by the window and watched the world go by while the attentive service (as you'd expect with only a couple or three occupied tables) delivered a burger, cooked perfectly medium rare, and a fish sandwich on brioche. The burger came with some of the best onion rings I've ever had, crispy and a little greasy with a good breading to onion ratio. The fish sandwich had a beautiful, very juicy filet with a very light breading on a brioche roll lightly spread with a delicious mayonnaise-based sauce. The home-made potato chips weren't bad, but not as good as the onion rings. For dessert, a brownie was fine, but not as good as the rest of the meal. Total for two was less than $30.
Our lunch there was so good, and the location is so convenient (~10 minutes from the airport), we went back for dinner on our way out of Portland. Equally delicious. Green salad with a thin home-made ranch dressing, grilled peaches (fantastic! complex flavors well married!), mussels in onion and corn broth, and a cheese and onion pie were all very well received. The only flaw was the side salad that came with the pie which was overwhelmed by fennel (which I like), drowning out the other flavors. Dinner for two was less than $50. What a bargain. If we lived in the neighborhood, the combination of warm atmosphere, good service, and fantastic food would certainly make us regulars. Check it out.
Our other lunch was at Cha, a new bar/taqueria at 21st and Everett NW. The setting and service were great, as were the drinks, but the food was just average. We had a good time sitting on the patio and drinking the afternoon away, but it wasn't a 'hound experience by any stretch.
Again, thanks all, and if you come to Boston, there are lots of us in the Boston board who would love to recommend our favorite places.
NEAR AIRPORT OR ON THE WAY TO MT HOOD
Country Cat is open for dinner AND lunch now (plus brunch) and is one of the best midscale restaurants in town. It's right next to a good Lebanese place, Ya Hala.
If you're heading out 26, you can go down anywhere along 82nd and you have lots of good choices: Wong's King (Chinese), Pho Van (Vietnamese), Pho Oregon (Vietnamese), Malay Satay Hut (Malay), Banh Cuon Tan Dinh (Vietnamese), Bun Bo Hue (Vietnamese), Campbell's (BBQ), Best Baguette (Banh Mi), Binh Minh (Banh Mi). These are my favs out there.
NICE MEAL OUT
I'd choose Wildwood. Still a standout among the many restaurants in town and they do a very good job of showcasing local ingredients.
Not too far from the route to the airport (very close to exit 21A, Stark St.) is Country Cat (http://www.thecountrycat.net/). It's really worth a stop. They don't have a menu up (it changes very frequently) so here's a sample menu from 8/1/07
GRAINS & SALADS
Summer Squash and Roasted Garlic Soup with basil pesto $6
Mixed Salad of Wild Lettuce & Herbs
Tossed in "Italian, French, Thousand Island, ranch or blue cheese" vinaigrette $6
Wedge of Butter Lettuce with "green goddess" dressing & soft boiled egg $7
Moscato Marinated Peaches w/wild arugula, toasted almonds, & carrot vinaigrette $10
Baked Ricotta Cheese Toast with squash pickles & marinated tomatoes $11
Grilled Mushroom Skewer
Basted in sumer herb pesto with a marinated lima bean & pearl onion salad $10
FISH & SHELLFISH TABLE
Fish & Shellfish Chowder "Pot Pie" with fennel, celery, leeks & potatoes $7
Scalloped Hood Canal Oysters w/chopped spring onion, horseradish, & garlic bread crumbs $12
Beer Battered-Fried Whole Rock Fish with malt vinegar mayonnaise $11
Manila Clams, Smoked Country Ham & Sugar Peas steamed w/mint, sour cream, lemon & thyme $15
Salt-Baked Salmon on grilled brioche with bread & butter pickles $10
Bacon Wrapped Trout w/pan braise of farmers market spring vegetables $16
MEAT, GAME & POULTRY
Molasses & Hickory-Smoked Duck Leg
Glazed in blackberry honey with buttery English peas & fennel pollen $18
Baked Goat Cheese & Walla Walla Onion Hand Pie with shaved chickory-snap pea salad $13
Grilled Leg of Lamb on a stew of summer squash, roasted garlic, and green olives $22
Cast Iron Skillet Fried Chicken w/braised bibb leaf lettuce & grilled asparagus tossed in creamy Tabasco vinaigrette $18
Farmer’s Market Vegetable Platter
Oregon Pride tomatoes, Bodacious corn, Blue Lake beans, Florence fennel, & Crookneck squash $16
Carlton Farms Whole Hog - Rolled belly, brined chop and smoked shoulder on white corn grits with Bing cherries $19
Beer Battered Fried Rock Fish with Tartar sauce $12
Washington Mussels & Grilled Corn
Steamed in a Walla Walla onion broth with tarragon, leeks, & fennel $15
Grilled Strawberry Mountain Barbeque Beef w/pan fried polenta & creamy cucumber salad $19
Bacon Wrapped Trout w/braise of farmer’s market summer vegetables $18
Heritage Burger on onion bun w/cheddar cheese, garlic mayonnaise & onion rings $10
Creamy Cucumber Salad
Tomato Braised Romano Beans
Large Oatmeal Cookie - Served warm with a glass of milk $3
Bittersweet Chocolate Brownie $3
Thomas Kemper Root Beer Float $4
Mixed Berry Snow Cone $4
Here are a couple casual, Mexican joints for lunch to or fro Mt. Hood:
Tortilleria y Tienda de Leon
Only about 15 - 20 mins from the airport on the way to Mt. Hood at NE 162nd and Glisan. Awesome tamales, carnitas, and very spicy salsas. There are tables here, but you'll be ordering at the counter.
El Burro Loco
If you are looking for more of a restaurant atmosphere, El Burro Loco is closer to Mt. Hood in Welches, right off Highway 26. We've enjoyed the pork carnitas here and delicious chile-infused margaritas.
Personally, I haven't had great experiences at Newport Bay or Stanford's...I think you can do better elsewhere.
Lunch between the airport and Mt Hood: I'd go for Pho Van on SE 82nd--it's not directly on your way, but it's pretty close. It's a Vietnamese restaurant that has expanded beyond its roots as a simple pho place, but you can still eat pretty inexpensively there.
On your return, there are some decent places in northeast Portland that aren't too far from the airport. I really like Fife on NE Fremont, which I would call a fine dining establishment but which specializes in American food: http://www.fiferestaurant.com. Other ideas in northeast would be Ciao Vito (Italian) on NE Alberta and Autentica (mid-scale Mexican) on NE Killingsworth.
There's a decent regional seafood chain in Oregon called Newport Bay Company. We just stopped there for lunch last month on the way from PDX to Eugene (off the 205). I'd do it again.
Also, there is a regional steakhouse (I know, I know) called Stanford's that has a location IN the airport. I think they do fish there, I'm not sure, but I believe Stanford's and Newport Bay are owned by the same parent company.