Solo eating/drinking Portland
Hi all - I am very excited to making my first visit to Portland in mid-october. I have a work conference and am traveling alone, so wondered if there were any great restaurants/bars that are especially friendly to solo diners/drinkers. Great places to eat at the bar etc but also want a sampling of best portland has to offer. Any thoughts would be appreciated! Also, any favorite wine stores to check out and send some great stuff home.
Great solo bars would be:
K&Z deli(both in the Ace hotel) counter
as far as wine shops go, if you want one shop that has tons of choices, you cant go wrong with Vinopolis. huge selection and the staff are all ridiculously knowledgable!!
enjoy your trip to Portland!
I almost always dine solo and never have a problem anywhere, even the higher end places like Sel Gris, Le Pigeon or Toro Bravo. In the first two cases, the chef's counter is the best place to dine solo because you're sitting either with a direct view into the kitchen (Sel Gris) or you're directly in front of the chef himself (Le Pigeon) or both (Toro Bravo).
Other barstool dining options include Clyde Common (gastropub), Pok Pok (Thai), Ten-01 (high end). Pok Pok is probably the first place I'd recommend a Portland visitor to go to, if only because traveling from downtown to Division gives you a nice slice of Portland life, but also because the Thai food there is unlike any other, even compared to LA or NYC.
Clyde and Ten-01 both are nice bar scenes, with Clyde being more raucous of the two, while Ten-01 has a nicer wine list. Cocktails are great at either, as well as the cocktail-centric bar Teardrop Lounge.
Because the east side is where the large core of Portland exists (while Downtown is west of the river), I recommend at least trying to go to one place there. Le Pigeon (classic French), Sel Gris (contemporary high end), Toro Bravo (tapas) and Pok Pok are all there, as are other outstanding PDX spots like Biwa (Japanese pub) and Apizza Scholls (pizza).
The Downtown area is no slouch, with solo dining places like Clyde Common, Andina (Peruvian), Kenny & Zukes (deli) and Park Kitchen (small plates / wine bar).
All of the places mentioned I have happily eaten and drank (or both) solo at the bar, as well as with friends, and felt comfortable, and I'm sure you will as well.
I would avoid places like Veritable Quandary, Pazzo, and the Heathman, which are nice enough I suppose, but probably not worth visiting on your first trip out ever. Put in a little extra leg work and avoid the thought, "Oh well it's right here near my hotel."
If it were up to me, one night would be a trip to Clyde Common or Ten-01 followed by Teardrop Lounge. Another night would head east and do either Pok Pok or Biwa (if I was feeling more casual) or Le Pigeon or Sel Gris (if I wanted something a bit more upscale).
And then another night would be to Apizza Scholls so that I could tell all my friends in NYC about NY-style pizza in Portland. I'd make sure to get there early enough before they run out of dough. If you watched the Anthony Bourdain: Pacific NW episode, this was one of his stops in the city he cited as having, "the best chef culture in the country."
(skip to the 3 minute mark if you wanna skip to Apizza Scholls
Have fun. See you in a few weeks.
I sat at the kitchen bar at Fenouil in the Pearl when I was on my own in Portland earlier this year for the Jazz Festival and had a great experience. The chefs working behind the bar went out of their way to make sure I had a good time. I eat out solo a lot for work, so it's always nice when a place goes out of its way for solo diners--that's not always the case, particularly at nicer restaurants.
I like Carlyle, sitting at their bar is nice.
Ten-01 also has a great bar and is in a vibrant area of town.
Check out Viniopolis, great wine store with great people.
I was just in Portland (awesome town, you'll love it) and ate at the Deschutes Brew Pub in the Pearl District. Really creative food, especially for pub food, and great selection of microbrews that you can order a sample flight of. Good atmosphere and bar.