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 recently made my 5th visit to Portland (I'm hooked on the area) and had great solo dining experiences at Le Pigeon, Wildwood and Cafe Mingo - in all cases sitting at the bar / chefs counter and getting a cookery lesson into the bargain. I found the chefs and other diners to be friendly (but not intrusive) and the food was great at all three
Also went to Cafe Castanga, and Biwa (with friends) and also had good dining experiences at those places too.
I visited the Saturday farmers market too which just made me wish I lived nearer and had access to such great produce.
Have a great time
re: Pete S
you just hit 5 of my favorites. next time youre in town, if you want to hit 5 places that would compare to the ones you went to this time go to (in order from you post, comparitively) while nothing compares to LeP for food AND atmosphere, the food at SelGris is close. then carlyle, Serrato, ToroBravo and finally Tanuki. personally if you told me i had to eat every meal for a month at one of these 10 restaurants, I would not offer any complaint!
glad you enjoyed yourself
Thanks - one of them (Castanga) was a recommendation from a local friend, Cafe Mingo I just found by accident last year and went back, the others were recommendations from here (although I had been to Wildwood before). Last year I also went to Paley's Place, which I still think is one of the best experiences I've had at any restaurant. I'm hoping to be back (maybe with some friends in tow next time) next year and I still want to get to Pok Pok and many others.and I'll save your recommendations for then You are just so lucky to live in a city which has so many great non-chain restaurants and I just love that people are so food-aware there - it's not unusual to hear grown men discussing recipes and food in the street!!!!!
re: Pete S
well apparently we did run into eachother!:-)
as to POK2: the chef/owner is opening an izakaya-style place in chinatown soon. not only traditional Japanese, but drawing from the other cuisines and cultures of sub-asia. To speak to the reverence that he has in this town, the plans have only recently been revealed and the buzz is already pretty loud. should be open by the time you get back.
did you go to Cafe Mingo(in Beaverton), MIngo(on Nw 21st) or Bar Mingo(attached to Mingo on 21st). all of them are good, but Bar Mingo, with its chalkboard menu of antipasto and a few other select dishes avail. til midnight or later most nights, is my favorite.
I do feel lucky living here. The scene here really went ballistic about 5 years ago....It had percolated for a number of years as a place here and there would open, then there was like a deliniation point where, about half a dozen places opened in a year and everyone else joined the party....now instead of wondering where to go that you havent been to, you wonder which place to go because you can only eat so much!! a sad problem, I know!!!
I love Southpark (http://www.southparkseafood.com/). The bar is great for solo eating. The bartenders are really friendly and I always end up in some sort of interesting conversation with other patrons. Food is good, wine nice and they have good cheese plates.
901 S.W. Salmon Street Portland, OR 97205 (503) 326-1300