Three days in Portland
In April I'll be tagging along on my husband's business trip to Portland, which I've never been to before. We're from the San Francisco area, so I don't imagine food there would be as exotic to me as it was in, say, Door County, Wisconsin. But I am hoping to get as uniquely Portlandish an experience as possible in only three days.
We'll be staying downtown and won't have a car, and expect to do a lot of walking. I'm looking for places to go for lunch that I'll be comfortable doing on my own during the day (or maybe picnic supplies?), as well as places to go with my husband, and maybe his co-workers, at night.
I'm not looking to approach a French-Laundry level of expense and hysteria, but both splurges and holes-in-the-wall are interesting to me as long as they're Chowish.
Help will be very much appreciated.
One of my favorite "prepared foods for an effortless picnic" stops is Elephants Deli/Flying Elephants Deli. The 'flying' version is the one that's downtown, 812 SW Park (right on the Max light rail line), but if you happen to find yourself in the hoity-toity boutique shopping district near downtown (23rd/Nob Hill) there's another one at 115 NW 22nd, just a block or so north of Burnside. And as a bonus, if you stop in within an hour or two of closing (after about 5:30 or 6, getting supplies for a hotel-picnic dinner...) a bunch of their prepared foods, both cold and hot, are half off. The cheeses, deli meats (oh, the salami selection!), and desserts are also lovely.
Some solo lunch ideas for you include Kenny & Zukes Deli, which has drawn favorable comparisons to Katz in NY and Langers in LA; and also Ten-01, which has a lunch prix-fixe menu. I just had lunch today at Wildwood, which isn't in downtown, but is easily accessible via streetcar. (And actually, taking the streetcar to NW 21st/23rd allows you to check out the aforementioned Nob Hill area, which has a totally different vibe than the office buildings of downtown or the warehouses of the Pearl.)
And while I wouldn't call these unique to Portland, other restaurants in the Pearl you might like are Andina (Peruvian), D.F. (Mexican), and Park Kitchen.
One thing you might enjoy downtown are the food stands, centered around SW 10th and Alder. Many downtown office workers and culinary institute students can be seen there around noon, enjoying various offerings from Thai to Czech to hot dogs and all spots in between.
Of course, I have to recommend Clyde Common; their menu changes frequently so I can't tell you what'll be on there in April, but the level of food has always been great. Right next door to them is Stumptown Coffee and I would make time for that.
For the really uniquely Portland stuff, you've gotta be willing to cross the river into the Eastside. There, you open up the possibility for places like Pok Pok, Castagna, Toro Bravo, Apizza Scholls, Le Pigeon, Sel Gris...
Thanks-- Sauce Supreme, one of my problems is narrowing things down since I've got just three nights, so any help with prioritizing the best ideas is a big help.
Also, I want to clarify that absolutely no snarkishness was intended about Door County. When I was there I went completely crazy for fresh whitefish and real fresh cherry pie: both things I'd never had a chance to eat before. Fish Boil was a new concept too. At any rate, if Portland has something really different from San Francisco like that, i wouldn't want to miss it.