SF and LA to Portland.
the bf and I ( we live in SF and LA ) are Portland bound for a weekend in mid Feb.
due to the recent hype of the Portland food scene, we are bombed with suggestions of what to do and where to eat via Gourmet, Saveur, National Geographic Traveler and etc.
we wanted to cut the bs from the magazines and wanted to hear directly from locals.
if you are familiar with Nopa in SF - that's our favourite restaurant and i hope that helps narrow down suggestions.
we are non red meat eaters and would like something very Portland-ish and casual.
we are also very into bakeries and sweets.
Even if you avoid red meat, Le Pigeon is a must. They offer just as many poultry and fish options. The wait will be long (although they do take reservations for parties of 2 now). If you want to sit at the bar (my favorite place to sit), either go AT 5:00 or go around 7, when the second turn starts, put your name on the list and go grab a drink at Ron Tom's down the st. They'll call your cell when your table's ready.
Pok Pok, also a must.
Ken's Artisan Pizza (yes, it's pizza. But it's very special pizza)
Simpatica (Sunday brunch)
Toro Bravo (Spanish inspired tapas....again, a wait, but worth it)
Lovely Hula Hands (good opportunity to take a stroll down Mississippi st. afterwards)
Pix Patisserie (for after hours dessert. Lovely, quirky little space)
Biwa (Japanese Yakitori & noodle joint)
Why don't you check posts from the past couple of months? You'll find all the answers to your questions.
Pok Pok has many non-meat items.
Bakeries: Grand Central, Ken's Artisan Bakery (same as in Ken's Art. Pizza), Pearl Bakery, and the pie at Random Coffeehouse.
Sweets: Sahagun Chocolate, Alma Chocolate
I'm currently splitting time between Los Angeles and Portland.
Really, everything is pretty casual, even at its most formal.
The three restaurants I feel comfortable recommending are Sel Gris, Le Pigeon and Pok Pok. Sel Gris and Le Pigeon take fine dining but present it in such an approachable way while still maintaining high standards. I've really not found anything in LA that's able to successfully marry the two. Both Sel Gris and Le Pigeon manage to invite as well as excite.
Pok Pok is an example of how warmly Portlanders embrace ethnic cuisine, even at its most authentic and esoteric (and that's really the best way to describe the menu). It's a Thai restaurant, but don't go there expecting pad thai or panang curry as you will be sorely disappointed.
And check out this YouTube clip of Pok Pok winning Restaurant of the Year.
Other restaurants that get a lot of local praise include Toro Bravo and Biwa, but I've not been to either.