Sell yourself, Portland!
So I am visting a friend in Portland for a few days in a couple of weeks. I've never been there, but I will be taking notes to see if Portland might be a good place to move to (kind of ready for a change of scenery). I'd like to see how the food scene is there, and I could use some recommendations.
-I'd like to try food that exemplifies Portland/Pacific Northwest cuisine.
-I don't usually spend big bucks on meals as it is, so I probably wouldn't
in the future. On special occasions I make exceptions, but I'm looking
for places that you would go to casually with friends.
-I know nothing about Portland geography so any tips would also be great.
-If there are any good farmers markets around, they would be fantastic to visit!
So, what can you recommend?
Portland sells itself in the summertime. Just get out, walk around the neighborhoods (pick up a map at Travel Portland), meet the locals, they'll all have their suggestions.
Then visit again in January and see if you feel the same way. I adore my fair city but the rain (6-8 months a year) is not for everyone!
If you have to point out that you're not being churlish....
(I probably just invited another round of "I am not!")
Hey tjennis, how about you sell yourself a little to this board (as explained in the previous posts) so the locals don't feel like their efforts are wasted. Tell us a little about yourself. Where are you from (somewhere noplace near the PNW)? That might help in defining what you consider "Pacific Northwest cuisine".
I actually visited Portland for the first time last year because of that New York times article. Ended up loving the town so much (after about three more subsequent visits) that I decided to just move here. Here's the NYT article in question:
Chowhound was my initial study guide, since the LA board (where I came from) was our most active board. Here in Portland, I mostly use PortlandFood.org instead, but there are others. In fact, I always pass along ExtraMSG's tipsheet.
The one thing about Portland is that it's small. The large "core" of Portland where a lot of people live I would say goes from NW 23rd out to 82nd ave, and then between Powell and Killingsworth, a rectangle that's only 10 square miles. Within that 10 square miles, you've got some vastly different areas.
NW 21st/23rd - Old Victorian homes, with a shopping district nestled within featuring a Gap and Pottery Barn and Restoration Hardware. Because tjennis hasn't indicated where he/she's from or their budget, I'm just going to go ahead and call this Westlake Village Trendy. Lots of classic Portland and PNW cuisine to be had here in the form of Wildwood and Paley's Place, but also lots of interesting newer spots, highlighted by Tanuki. This is my neighborhood, BTW.
Pearl - Old railyard turned condo-happy, the very essence of Portland gentrification. Through the stink of the parvenu, you've got some great places buried among horrible horrible options that, like the condos above them, are really just designed to maximize price and attract the appropriate clientele. But like I said, there's some great places here. Hiroshi, Cool Moon Ice Cream, Teardrop Lounge, Ten-01 and Andina.
Killingsworth / Alberta - What was once a thriving and vibrant drug corridor is now replaced with a thriving and vibrant arts district with a drug problem. Lots of standouts here, like Alberta St Oyster Bar and Grill, Siam Society, Podnah's, and I'd even put (arguably) Portland's best restaurant, Toro Bravo, in this vicinity. Further east, closer to the airport, in the parking lot of a strip club called the Sugar Shack, is a great Yucatecan taco truck called La Estacion.
82nd Ave - While really only "halfway" to the true edge of Portland (you have to cross 161st before you enter Troutdale), 82nd represents the large pocket of chow. Here is where the great mass of Chinese and Vietnamese offerings are, including Fubonn, Oregon's largest Asian market. The Vietnamese offerings are on proud display, but remember that Viet use Roman characters for their language, so it's actually easier to find great stuff. ExtraMSG is currently on a quest to disprove the notion that Portland Chinese sucks, and has unearthed some great stuff like the Szechuan menu at Lucky Strike. Personally, I find myself back in LA with alarming frequency so I don't try that hard. But the Viet offerings really are staggering. Banh Cuon Tan Dinh, Best Baguette, Ha & VL, My Brothers' Crawfish (you'll notice that on the West Coast, most crawfish joints are actually ethnic Vietnamese who moved from Texas/Louisiana, particularly Houston), Pho Oregon and Ngoc Han Bun Bo Hue. Technically no longer Portland, but if you go down on 82nd out to Johnson Creek, there's a torta truck that makes truly awesome sandwiches.
Foster / Powell - Probably the new neighborhood to try and take the helm away from Killingsworth / Alberta in terms of city reclamation. Not too familiar with a lot of the offerings here, but my favorite banh mi shop is here in the form of An Xuyen. Gotta love a sandwich shop open at 6am. That's they're a bakery first and foremost. Also a really decent Filipino restaurant there, Tambayan.
Hawthorne / Division - Especially around the SE 30s, you'll find a great density of dining options because this is where a lot of people happen to live. Pok Pok is here. Sel Gris and Castagna. The list could go on and on.
East Burnside - I'm referring primarily to the area close to the river. Le Pigeon and Biwa are standouts.
SW Portland / Downtown - Rather than do a thorough circuit and head down to Sellwood and Lake Oswego, I'm getting bored with this exercise so I'm going to close the loop by crossing the river again and meeting up at Downtown. Tons of bad corporate options here, but there are a ton of foodcarts here, though truly they're all over.
Standouts in Downtown include Kenny & Zukes Deli, Murata, Carafe, Tandoor Indian Kitchen and Clyde Common. Even though K&Z and CC are technically SW, I tend to lump them into the Pearl discussion also because of their severe proximity.
The reason I was particularly churlish in my previous post: I'd said all this before. I'm glad to help you, but there are oh so many people that don't bother to report back or give any helpful details (where you're coming from and what you consider "big bucks" is a sin of omission on your part), that disenchantment sets in and I'm actually okay with that. What it's done is create what I call my "Chowhound Reply" Portland where I respond with PDX's greatest hits (every PDX thread invariably will include Pok Pok and Kenny & Zukes), and then there's the "Locals Only" Portland. Places like La Estacion, Tanuki, and Tandoor Indian Kitchen are of that kind, but in both cases, you're only scratching the surface.
Those are other threads ARE our thoughts.
Anyway, hope you have a good time wherever you end up, and I plan on copy and pasting this link the next time someone asks.
Agreed with Leonardo's suggestions re: Farmer's Market - and also, I personally don't try to convince people to move here - sensitive topics for native Oregonians!!
Portland food carts downtown (do a google search for the blog or here for great suggestions). If you love coffee, beer, wine, etc. there are plenty of beverage options to explore also.
thanks for helping me get geared in the right direction. i'll definately make use of the search feature.
in the meantime, i am still looking for YOUR thoughts. searching through threads is a great way to start to get knowledge, but if we all just searched through other threads, nothing new would be added. so here's your chance. time to tell everyone about that tiny hole in the wall with the great soups that no one has talked about. or the diner with that incredible omelet which has been flying under everyone's radar. tell all!
Those other threads truly are OUR thoughts. Now you are asking us to repeat them yet again. Please show a little respect for the time and effort we took to write them. And then, after reviewing them, if you still have questions please ask. I share SS's exasperation with visitors who post vague general questions that have been asked and answered many times in the past three months, don't do any research at all before posting, don't report back after visiting, and then wonder re the lack of responses.
Just sose' the PDX chowhounders don't come off as completely churlish:
This is the "destination" farmers market: http://www.portlandfarmersmarket.org/
Also search the NYTIMES for articles on Portland - they seem to be writing a lot of them over the past few years from a tourist perspective and more.
For reviews and discussion (ad nauseum) about Portland restaurants and food just google: Portland food. The top two links will give you tons of info and opinions (the ad nauseum part) about all things restaurant/food related in Portland.
I hardly agree that we exhibited bad manners.
If anything, we helped the OP by providing instructions on how to easily and quickly obtain the info requested, rather than reinventing the wheel and duplicating answers that had been given recently.
"Give a man to fish, he'll eat today.
Teach him to fish, and he'll eat for life."
TJ: For what it's worth, SS, countless others, and I have in fact posted our personal thoughts to nearly the identical question on numerous occasions. Just scroll down a little on PNW. Your questions aren't as unique as you seem to believe. After you've done a little research, ask some specific followup questions. I assure you that you'll get a good number of replies of their personal experience. I promise to be among them. = )
My favorite eats at the Portland Farmers' Mkt on Saturday AM at Portland State: Pine State Biscuits, Hot Lips Pizza if you can get around their serious 'tude, Monica's Tarts, Pearl Bakery, Ken's Artisan Bakery, and Tastebud Farm (anything from the mobile wood-burning oven!). PFM is rated by Eating Well Mag as among the top 5 farmers' markets nationwide. It will give you a good one-stop picture of PDX food.
I recommend Search This Board.
We Portland locals don't talk amongst ourselves on Chowhound PNW; we're mostly talking to prospective visitors. As a result, your request is pretty much identical to every Portland thread that came before it. Searching gives you an idea of what other Portland visitors did.
There's even been threads about people deciding between Seattle and Portland as far as places to move.