pok pok & other PDX recs
1. I checked out the menu at Pok Pok but couldn't really get a sense of how much a whole meal would cost for two people, including a drink of each of us?
2. We'll be in Portland next weekend staying at Hotel Avalon (4650 SW Macadam Ave), off the beaten path. I know that there is a restaurant on-site, Aquariva, but it seems to be more about hype than food. Any ideas for good places to dine near the hotel? We're looking for cheap lunch ideas and dinners that are less than $20 a person. Yes, this is a budget vacation...
Thanks for all the great suggestions. I just wanted to give a review of the places that were recommended to us. We ended up choosing to go to Pho Van over Hot Pot City for lunch, but it'll be on our list for next time.
I’m including prices in case anyone else visiting Portland is on a budget like we were. All prices include tip, if applicable.
Lunch at the Saturday market: We split a pork bun at one of the vendors which was good and along with a lemonade and a chai tea, was under $10.
Pok Pok: Portlanders probably already know this but Pok Pok has an arrangement with a bar across the street called Matchbox where you can put your name in at Pok Pok and wait at Matchbox. Then when your table is ready, they call over to the Matchbox and let you know. Much preferable to standing outside. I can’t comment on the food at the Matchbox but but they had several local beers on tap and a few local wines by the glass. And the staff were very friendly.
Anyways, about Pok Pok, we had the mussles with crepe, boar collar with mustard greens, and the catfish marinated in tamarind sauce. We argued all night about whether which was the best dish, the boar collar or the mussles but all the dishes were excellent.
The boar collar was incredibly spicy and absolutely needed to be eaten with rice. We had an order of sticky rice and an order of jasmine rice. IMO the sticky rice was far better but the portion was smaller. Including two beers and a mixed drink, our total tab was only $65. Amazing. The service was decent but not spectacular. Our server recommended ordering 3 to 4 dishes for the two of us and we overheard him telling the couple next to us that some couples order up to 5, plus rice. We were so full after our 3 dishes that we simply could not find room to order dessert, as delicious as they looked. So it was a little annoying that he was pushing so much food but other than that, attentive and friendly.
Lunch at Pho Van:
I had Bun with barbequed pork and my husband had Pho. Both excellent – probably the best vermicelli noodle bowl I’ve ever had, but then we don’t go out for Vietnamese too often, The pork was perfectly seasoned and delicious. Huge portions for lunchtime. $20.65 including a Vietnamese coffee
Dinner at Everett Street Bistro. We had trouble finding places open in the Pearl on Sunday evening. This place was overpriced but definitely better than we expected it to be. We had an antipasto salad and a burger to split. Both good, basic food, nothing special. $54 including drinks
I'll second hot pot city, with the caveat that they fill up at lunchtime. Get there either right at 11:30, or wait until 1:30 or so. I've never eaten dinner there.
Where are you visiting from? There's great pho here, if that's something you can't get at home it's worth eating, and with the money you saved you could up your next meal to $30 each. I like pho hung myself, SE Powell around 48th.
You might also consider having your dinner at happy hour, a good way to stretch your budget I always find. Bo downtown on SW Broadway near Stark is nice, as is Silk on NW 10th near Glisan, and Silk I know has happy hour 7 days a week, I think from 4-7, though you should call to confirm that before you count on it.
A good cheap place near your hotel would be Hot Pot City. More choices at dinner than lunch (esp. seafood) but a great deal - about $7-8 for lunch and about $13-14 for dinner. You choose a broth and go up to the food bar as many times as you'd like, make your own dipping sauces, etc. They do serve other food, but it's really about the hot pot.
Hot Pot City
1975 SW 1st Ave
Portland, OR 97201
You can do Karam downtown for less than $20pp, and it is some of the best Lebanese food in the city.
ten-01 has a great happy hour on Sat. 3-6 with a $5 drink special, $1 oysters and other inexpensive choices. They also have a bar menu (http://www.ten-01.com/Bar.pdf) with lower priced items (lower than their regular menu). It's in the Pearl, so not that close to your hotel, but it is nice way to dine at an upscale place in a fancy neighborhood at a bargain price. It's right behind Powell's (which you have to visit if you even remotely like books).
Kenny and Zuke's Delicatessen and their pastrami, corned beef, bread/bagels/rolls, knishes, and lots of other stuff is made in-house. http://www.kennyandzukes.com/
Viande in City Market (735 NW 21st Ave., 503-221-3012) does great sandwiches but you have to get them to go, as it is a butcher counter (also great homemade pates sold by the slice). If you are up in the 21st/23rd Ave area walking around, it is one of the best lunches you are gonna find for the price. They also sell the pates at the Saturday Farmers' Market at PSU (NOT the same as the Saturday market), depending when you are going to be in town. BTW, if the Farmers' Market is open, you really shouldn't miss it, even late in the season. You can walk there from your hotel.
If you go across the river, Pok Pok is a great choice, but will definitely run you over $20pp, esp. with drinks. The mussel dish, fish sauce wings and coconut rice are kinda worth it, though. ;o)
Also across the river, there is:
-Apizza Scholls (great thin crust pizza, made by hand) http://www.apizzascholls.com/
-Pambiche (Cuban, great desserts too) http://www.pambiche.com/
-Podnah's (great BBQ, esp. the prime rib, brisket and pulled pork) http://www.podnahspit.com/
-Pho Van (the one on SE Hawthorne is closest (I haven't been to that one, but the others I have been to serve good food). I usually end up at the one in Beaverton, the closest to me, and they have good cha gio, pho, do-it-yourself sausage rolls, and often a clay pot pork special that's very tasty. http://www.phovanrestaurant.com/
All of the east side recs are within 39th and the River, though Podnah's is kinda far north and further off the beaten path. Lots of these places get crowded, but at many of them you will have little to no wait if you go before 6pm.
I'd say Pok Pok would be about $45 with drinks for the two of you.
The area near your hotel isn't very good for up or downscale dining. So don't get hung up on eating near there. You are so close to downtown and the eastside.
Aquariva has gotten some great reviews but I haven't been there, so can't comment.
Have a great visit!