Fun and moderate in Portland
We're a couple of LA hounds doing our summer vacation in Portland next week, staying four nights at McMenamins' Kennedy School (sans automobile) and hoping to have a great time without breaking the bank.
What are some of the eating and drinking spots with a lot of bang for the buck? (Vegetarian-friendly is a plus.)
Bonus question: Where's the best espresso joint?
Thanks in advance. It'll be our first time in Portland and we're really excited.
Former LA hound here (still reppin' my 323 area code cell phone, though).
First off, don't fret about the lack of automobile. Cabbing it is easy and opens Portland wide open.
Biwa, WineDown and Pambiche are all not too far away. Biwa is especially interesting, and there's nothing quite like it in LA, sort of a mix between Orris and Musha. Heck, it wouldn't be too much of a stretch to head a little bit west down Burnside to get to the Farm (totally vegetarian) as well as Doug Fir. Silver Lake's hippest bar is actually in Oregon in the form of Ron Tom's, and of course Le Pigeon is led by one of the country's rising star chefs in Gabe Rucker.
Frankly I think every Angeleno should visit Pok Pok. Whereas Jitlada is southern Thai, Pok Pok is decidedly northern with an emphasis on Chiang Mai and a splash of Issan. Having a whiskey soda flight as part of the experience isn't bad (they're open for lunch). Nearby is Lauro, and I think a new spot called Belly is down the block. (There's also Pix Patisserie and a decent taco truck a stone's throw from Pok Pok.)
Downtown, I like to do the Teardrop-Ten01-Clyde Common troika. Clyde is the most affordable of three, and is kinda like Hungry Cat but less seafoody-Mediterraneany and more St. Johns-by-way-of-Portland-locavore. All three are part of my cocktail rotation, if you're a fan of a properly made sidecar or sazerac. Nearby is Kenny & Zukes deli which is on par with Langers, without the nuisance of having to take the red line to Macarthur Park.
In my neck of the woods, I do a mix of Tanuki-Bastas-Mingo for my liquoration. All have solidly vegetarian options.
The best espresso can be had at the cafe next to Stumptown Annex. If you arrive during the week, you can participate in a "cupping" at the Annex, which will put to shame all the LA Mill and Intelligentsia hype. We don't need no steenking Clovers here in PDX! Right next to that is one of my favorite "industry" bars in Aalto. Also on Hawthorne are Pastaworks and the home and garden subset of Powells which includes some reeeeally old copies of Joy of Cooking. (I guess I'm the kind of guy that geeks out on that sort of thing.)
My favorite place for espresso is actually Extracto, so it's great that you're staying a few blocks away. If you're interested, Chris will tell you a lot about the roasting process and the various nuances of different beans.
Others in town that I like are Stumptown (several locations), Albina Press (two locations), and Spella in the food carts at SE 9th and Alder (weekdays only, I think).
I think you can eat pretty well for a reasonable price at Clyde Common, and they've got great happy hour prices. Also, Tabla on NE 28th has a 3-course for $24 special deal.
Since youre staying at the Kennedy School there are lots of options within walking distance. For espresso, Extracto is a few blocks away. For a good vegetarian breakfast you can walk to the Tin Shed. Good Veggie burritos at La Bonita. Great beer at the Concordia Ale House. Good middle eastern food at Aladdins. Really good Thai at Siam Society. You'll be in a good neighborhood for vegetarian friendly food and drinks. If you dont mind walking a couple miles there are lots of choices and the ground is flat. Have fun.
Not to seem glib... but what "kind" of vegetarian?
Most "vegetarians" I meet these days eat chicken, fish, shellfish, sometimes even pork... some will eat broth made of any animal but won't eat "chunks"... makes it very hard indeed.
Once this info is provided I would say "bang for buck"=Portland's great happy hour scene.
a great local site to check out for the latest happenings in good/cheap food and drink is www.portlandfood.org
(sorry for the outside link chowmods but since Oregon state liquor law doesn't allow restaurants to post happy hour drink specials online or advertise them local food blogs are all we have)
Clyde Common has a really popular and cheap happy hour scene and Biwa is an izakaya w/good happy hour prices and can make a lot of stuff veg on request.
No HH goodness at PokPok but it is reasonably priced and veg friendly.
What we need now is Sauce Supreme, happy hour expert of Portland to come along and give you the comprehensive list.