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2 Days in Portland (And a little Florence)?

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We are a small family relocation from the SF Bay Area to Michigan a few years ago. Next week we are going to Florence for a family reunion, and then to Portland for a couple of days. We have 2 young boys (4 & 6), and we have a few questions.

- Hot Pot is something we miss, and Hot Pot City was on our short list, but the web-site is no longer up, are they still in business, and are they worth one of our few dinner spots.

- Recommendations of yummy, affordable food is appreciated. We like ethnic food, and fun unique restaurants. From searching the board, our short list is: Wong's King Seafood, Brazil Grill, Cha, Cha, Cha, Halibut's, Paley's Place, Pok Pok, Cha Ba Thai, and Banh Cuon Tan Dinh. That is a lot of places for 3 or 4 meals. Any help narrowing it down, or pointing out a gem that we missed is appreciated.

- We are still deciding the 101 vs 5 route from Florence to Portland. From a culinary perspective, which would you suggest?

- Speaking of Florence, any good seafood places that you can recommend?

Lots of questions, I know, but any help would be appreciated.

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  1. Of all the places you have on your short list, I say you should definitely do Pok Pok. Keep in mind that the menu changes between lunch and dinner. For instance, you can have "boat noodles" at lunch, while the dinner menu offers laksa. I believe the fish sauce wings are available at both times.

    1. I like Cha Cha Cha, but I wouldn't recommend it to an out-of-town visitor as a place for their short list--it's fast, cheap, decent, child-friendly, and has convenient locations. If those criteria are what you want then go there. Otherwise there's more interesting ethnic food in town. I found Brazil Grill to be fun, but expensive ($31 for adults) unless you want to eat a LOT of meat of pretty variable quality. Paley's Place is fine, but not what I would call an affordable, kid-friendly restaurant. I'm drawing a blank on other places to go--maybe Biwa (http://www.biwarestaurant.com/).

      At the risk of making this seem like the Pok Pok recommendation board, that's where I'd say to go. Go EARLY and you might be able to get in w/out a very long wait. We went with friends with pretty young kids (1 and 3?) a few weeks ago and had a great time. The staff was really good with the kids, too.

      I'd suggest the 101 route. I don't think there's that many great places along I-5. There's a few decent places and some fabulous scenery along 101.

      1. The scenery on 101 is worth it alone. It takes longer, but it is so incredibly beautiful...I-5, not so much. It's worth stopping in Newport to go Local Ocean or to Canyon Way; worth going to Pacific Oyster in Bay City. It would be a great thing to stop and spend a night at the coast to break up the drive a bit, too.

        Hot Pot City is still open. I really like it, and it is a great value, but I don't know with all the other stuff around, if it is really worth it. Banh Cuon Tan Dinh is seriously good and is worth seeking out, and since you have a car, it would be good to get around town a bit.

        Only place I have eaten in Florence is the Waterfront Depot. It was OK, but nothing fabulous, and I didn't see any kids there.

        1. In North Rockaway go to Karla's Smokehouse for smoked fish/oysters. In biz over 40 years. Takeout only.

          Take 101! Scroll down on this board & you'll see other coast recs.

          1. It's not seafood, but there is a fantastic little bakery in Florence. It is called The Shed (cause it's pretty much literally in a shed). Some really yummy stuff. For the life of me I can't give you a street. If I was driving I'd probably go right to it like a homeing pigeon. I THINK it's in the quote "old town" of Florence. Sorry not much help, but it's well worth a visit.