Downtown Portland, 2 nights solo
I have traveled to Portland many times and feel like I'm in a rut. I always get Thaifoon (which is awesome) and I usually go to Gustavs at some point but I want something new. I will be staying downtown and I am a diabetic so no need for Pizza recs. I love all kinds of food and anything spicy is a plus. I have heard Kells is good, any thoughts?
Give more examples of what you like, and your transportation?
On the eastside Pok Pok, very different kind of Thai (northern street food) can be spicy and gets my highest rec. Other top choice on that side is Biwa, also street food from Japan. Vindalho for Indian is wonderful but if you're a hardcore purist, not so much. A great downtown pick for Jewish deli would be Kenny & Zuke's.
Make sure to check out the wealth of carts on SW Alder between 9th & 10th.
Kell's? I have nothing remarkable at all to report.
I'd second Pok Pok as I love spicy food and a lot of the offerings there can be spicy (I think there's a spicy option on the chicken wings, which are fabulous). Biwa has several kimchi options, too, so you can also do spicy there. Speaking of wings, I just went to Fire on the Mountain for chicken wings for the first time, and they serve several really spicy sauces.
Are you looking for low-end, high-end, or something in between? There are Mexican and Latin places in each of those categories that would give you some decent spicy food--I was thinking that Andina, which is Peruvian, has some dishes with aji amarillo chiles that I really like, but it's more expensive than the other places that you mention (Gustav's and Typhoon).
I like anything ecclectic and since I am by myself fancy is out of the question. I am definitly going to Pok Pok, it sounds right up my alley. I would really like some seafood, I haven't had any great seafood on my travels to Portland yet. Do you have any websites for the restaurants you recommended, I might try all of them?
I am confused as to why fancy is out of the question since you are solo. Many of the finer places - Sel Gris, Le Pigeon etc - have bar counters where you can sit.
For seafood try Southpark or Wildwood
Also Higgins & Park Kitchen!
Hoping you will report back so as to encourage us to help other visitors...please don't just disappear into the web...
Sure--Biwa's website is http://www.biwarestaurant.com/. There's a recent review over on portlandfoodanddrink: http://www.portlandfoodanddrink.com/?... with a lot of detail--it reminded me that there's a counter where you can eat that's perfect for single diners (and if you can sit there you can order off the happy hour menu for much of the night).
I wouldn't dismiss Andina for single dining--they do have a bar where you could eat, too: http://www.andinarestaurant.com/. I agree--don't bother with Mexican in Portland if you're coming from SoCal!
Here are your 4 best bets for downtown IMHO:
1. Southpark - excellent seafood, great bar. Just sit at the bar in the back, and you'll have your great food, non-fancy experience.
2. Clyde Common.
3. Kenny and Zukes (right next to Clyde Common). Jewish deli. Pastrami sandwiches great for diabetics but not heart patients!
4. Higgins bar. Good for solo dining and great food from Higgins.
Karam would be a great choice. Lebanese cuisine offers lots of protein and veggie options, and while I don't know the Irvine area well enough to offer a comparison, Karam compares favorably with Carousel in East Hollywood as well as the various Persian spots in Westwood.
Paley's Place is a must. It is housed in an old residence with minimal tables. They prepare innovative dishes utilizing local and organic produce.
Gentleman I am back from trip and I made it to 2 of your recommendations. On Tuesday for lunch I made it to Pok Pok for lunch, it took a while to find it because I am not familiar with the eastside but I made it nonetheless. I had a half order of Kai Yaang (roasted whole game hen) which was very good. No where near the best chicken I've had but very nice. Next I had light curry rice noodle soup with fish balls and prawns. It was very bland with the stock they used not having much flavor. The seafood was fresh but nonetheless I was uninspired and still searching for those explosive Thai flavors I am used too.
That night I went to Sauce Supremes recommendation of Karam. I got the Veggie Mezz plate which had falafel balls, baba ganush, hummus, and grape leaves. All of it was very good, especially the falafel. I ordered the lamb kabob which was very, very good. It was cooked a nice medium rare like I asked for with some grilled veggies and rice pilaf. I was very happy with Karam and I would recommend it to anyone. Thanks for all your recommendations, you all are what makes Chowhound so great.