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Nov 23, 2007 07:57 AM

Pls Comment on My PDX Food Choices

I'm spending a long weekend Portland with two other Chowhounds. We want casual restaurants (nice pub-like atmosphere, or just plain casual) that have exceptional food at or under $15 per plate. We're staying at the Kennedy School which I've read is good for beer, but he food is just so-so (except for their hand-cut french fries, which I have a weakness for). After cruising the PNW message board, here is the restaurant list I've compiled. Please comment on what your favorite dishes are at these places, and which ones are close to Pearl District and Nob Hill.


Byways Cafe


Ken's Artisan Bakery


Apizza Scholls (based on A. Bourdain's tv show)

Pizza Italia

Rogue Ales Public House

Roots Brewing Co

Amnesia Brewing

Pour Wine Bistro


Noble Rot


Pok Pok

Thanks for your help!

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  1. If you're staying at Kennedy School - there are lots of good breakfast places close by on Alberta. I would try Helsers (@ 16th) and TinShed Cafe (@ 14th) for breakfast. Ken's Bakery is great, can't comment on Besaws, and Byways has charm but IMHO not anything great.

    Of the lunch/dinner places listed, I would choose NAVARRE, APIZZA, POKPOK. Instead of NAVARRE (which is good), I personally would prefer TORO BRAVO (recently had a nice dinner here for $15/head - no alcohol) on RUSSELL off of MLK.

    POUR does have food - but it's pretty "light" food if I recall. NobleRot is good and the food would be more filling.

    In addition, for a place to eat near Nobhill, JUSTAPASTA at NW 19th and PETTYGROVE is simple and great.

    6 Replies
    1. re: MyNextMeal

      I agree with nearly everything MyNextMeal has said. However, you will probably spend more at Toro Bravo than Navarre by about 25% or more, but it is in all ways better, imo (service, decor, food). There are really a lot of places near you at The Kennedy School that you could eat at if you wish: Siam Society, Ciao Vito, Lagniappe, Alberta St Oyster Bar (recently re-opened), Halibut's, etc, plus Aladdin's Cafe even nearer you.

      1. re: extramsg

        Thanks to both of you! We've just arrived at the Kennedy school - I'll report back on my meals after the weekend. I'd appreciate more feedback from others, as I'll be checking in daily this weekend!

        1. re: frygirl

          Also don't forget Ken's Artisan Pizza, same Ken as the Bakery.

          Breakfast: J & M Cafe.

          Don't be so fixated on the Pearl & Nob Hill, especially if you want bang for your $.

          Pour Wine has light meals, a risotto & pasta of the day.
          Every day 4:30-6:30 is a great deal for happy hour. Closed Sun.

          Don't neglect nearby Alberta St as others have mentioned!

          If you want just a slice check out Hot Lips Pizza, kitty-corner from Kennedy. Local seasonal toppings and their own sodas.

          And thanks for doing your homework before posting and for promising to do a followup report. If more visitors did that, help would be far more forthcoming!

          1. re: frygirl

            Within walking distance of Kennedy School is upscale Mexican food at Autentica, great espresso at Extracto (both at NE 30th and Killingsworth) and a great beer selection at Concordia Alehouse (NE 33rd and Killingsworth). Beast is also near NE 30th and Killingsworth, but I think it's one seating per night so it might not fit into your plans.

        2. re: MyNextMeal

          MyNextMeal: I can't find a restaurant called "Pettygrove." It seems to be a street in Portland, so maybe that's messing up my search results. Could you please provide a link to the restaurant's web site? I don't see a review of it on either. Thanks!

          1. re: frygirl

            Oh, never mind. I see now that you were providing an intersection for the Justapasta restaurant.

        3. You must must must go to Pok Pok.

          I also really like Fruition (Nob Hill) because it looks like a gift/coffee shop but you can get good small plates and beer and wine there.

          The blue corn pancakes at Byways (in the Pearl I think) are pretty great.

          1. PDX WEEKEND RECAP

            Thanks to all for your recommendations! Here's how our casual dining weekend in Portland turned out:

            Because we stayed at The Kennedy School (an awesome place to stay) we ate breakfast on Alberta Street, which I thought was very charming. We enjoyed visiting the artsy boutiques after our meals.

            HELSER'S: This breakfast joint is very casual, but definitely not a dive. We loved the smoked salmon eggs benedict and the Louisiana sausage wrap which is extremely spicy - be warned! The smashed potatoes sprinkled with onions are wonderful.

            TIN SHED CAFE: This funky (kind of hippy) breakfast spot charmed us with the "everything nice" breakfast highlighted by unique sweet potato French toast (the bread is tinged orange with the sweet potatoes in it). We also loved the "good dog" breakfast plate of shredded potato cakes topped with a Mexican egg scramble, fresh jalapeƱos, house-made salsa, sausage and onions. Yummy!

            LUNCH & DINNER:

            MCMENAMIN'S KENNEDY SCHOOL: We made the mistake of eating here our first night in town for convenience - the food is average at best. Greasy fish & chips, an overcooked hamburger and a flavorful beef stew with not enough beef.

            APIZZA SCHOLLS: Wow, was this fantastic pizza! We arrived at 5:45 and waited 2 hours for a table, that's how popular this place is. But it was worth it. They have a nice selection of beers to sip while waiting. We ordered a half & half pizza. One half with house-made sausage, peppers and onion (divine!) and the other half was margarita with capicollo (which had a generous basil topping, but we liked the sausage side better). This was our favorite meal of the weekend due to the excellent pizza crust. It's something special. If I had to do it all over again, I'd arrive around 4:40 to stand in line and get seated at the first seating. Just plan on having an early dinner here to avoid the wait.

            JUSTA PASTA: At this casual pasta joint close to Nob Hill you place your order at the counter and take a number to your table to be served. Despite the deli-style beginning to the meal, the rest follows just as you would find at a normal restaurant. They gave us ample time to finish our starter salad before bringing amazing pasta entrees made with fresh (not dried) pasta. We loved the butternut squash ravioli with masala wine sauce and crushed hazelnuts. The pumpkin cheesecake was a great way to end the meal. I left this restaurant with two containers of ravioli (caramelized onion, and sauteed greens with pecorino) and one bag of fresh tagliatelle pasta to cook at home. I can't wait to try them!

            POK POK - Fantastic Thai food! Our hands-down favorite dish was one that served the green papaya salad with sweetened pork topped with crunchy shallots over rice. It was SO AMAZING. We also enjoyed the (spicy!) steak salad and the yellow curry chicken noodle soup. The pork satay was our least favorite, not because it was bad, but because it was something you could order at any ol' Thai restaurant, and we got spoiled by enjoying the other unique dishes of the meal.

            4 Replies
            1. re: frygirl

              Thanks for posting! I feel badly that you weren't adequately warned against eating at Kennedy School--the food at all of the McMenamin's outposts is pretty uninteresting.

              1. re: Nettie

                Read her OP. She sounded informed and prepared re McMen's, so I didn't want to hit her over the head with my dire warnings.

                1. re: Leonardo

                  I was adequately warned about the food at the Kennedy School. But we were tired from traveling our first day in town, so we decided to take the risk when eating there. I wanted to post both the good and the bad about the places I ate during my Portland weekend.

                  1. re: frygirl

                    Sad thing is, the fish and chips and the burger are probably the best choices on their menu.

                    Glad you had a good time in PDX, thanks for posting back!