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Jan 11, 2009 07:34 PM

Valentines Day visiting Portland

My valentine and I are planning on taking the 3 day weekend and heading down to Portland. We are staying in the Hotel Fifty, hopefully its as nice as it looks online. We will have a car with us. We are looking for a nice place for Valentines dinner. We like pretty much every type of cuisine.
We are looking for a nice atmosphere, and good food for valentines night. I would also like less romantic suggestions for the whole weekend, a good place to get lunch, somewhere with good chocolates and good coffee. Whats best in Portland. Thanks!

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  1. With all due respect and no intention of appearing difficult: there are many threads with similar questions answered over the past few months. Simply scroll down a bit and you'll see a wealth of generously informative replies to visitor queries. What is your budget? What to you constitutes "nice atmosphere and good food"? Spicy? Dead animals? Trendy? Locovore? Tapas?

    Since you asked for coffee & chocolate: my favorite is Sahagun, which makes hand-crafted single origin chocolates, plus mocha & hot chocolate that is to die for! You won't want to leave. 1/4 mile up Burnside from Powell's Books in an odd pocket 'hood, but well worth the search.

    A little V. Day advice: call around and find a place that is not offering a "special" dinner. Any place that does offer such will be charging a premium and it won't be their best work.

    5 Replies
    1. re: Leonardo


      Just for argument sake, who do you think WON'T be offering a "special" menu on Valentine's Day? Given the simple (but sad) truth that VD may be one of the few financial bright spots for most restaurants, I find it difficult to believe there will be many that won't take full advantage of the occasion in one form or another.

      My advice for VD would be to select from the best the city has to offer and avoid the 14th altogether. It falls on a Saturday this year, which means that anything decent is going to be busy (re: crowded) anyway.

      1. re: Kim D

        VD(an appropriate acronynm if there ever was one!), NYE, St. pat's, are all "ameteur hour" . best to be avoided. Having any of those days fall on a weekend is bad news......crowded restaurants with overly demanding prima donna customers and harried cranky staff, does not=good times.

        1. re: Kim D

          Maybe you didn't really read the post. Valentines day is on a Saturday this year, on a 3 day weekend no less. My sweet heart and I are going to Portland, and staying in a hotel. We will be needing to eat, and we want to go out. I need recommendations WHERE to go in Portland, not IF I should go out at all. I realize it will be busy, but I would like help booking a restaurant. We are from Seattle and don't know Portland that well From these 2 posts is seems there is a considerable amount of grumpy unromantic people. In addition to that are there any good restaurants????? please?

          1. re: Katgotyourtounge

            My top places for a great dinner at the high end include Sel Gris, ten-o1, Carlyle, Wildwood. Sel Gris is small and intimate, but can be a bit noisy when crowded. The others are larger but still have nice atmospheres. You will need reservations almost anywhere you decide to go.

            In addition to Sahagun, nearby (as in walking distance) is cacao, which features chocolates from around the world including some great local ones from folks like DePaula Confections. On the otherside of the river from downtown on NE 28th, is Alma chocolates, another great local chocolatier. These two also have drinking chocolate, but the stuff at Sahagun is the best, IMO. Personally, I like the truffles and caramels better at cacao and at Alma. All three are worth a stop, though, if you are looking for great chocolate.

            Great lunch/brunch/breakfast can be had at Kenny and Zuke's, the best pastrami for miles around, also good bialys and bagels. It's only a couple of blocks away from cacao.

            Good texas bbq and great breakfasts can be had at Podnah's on NE Precott near 15th.

            Another great brunch on Sat or Sun is at Simpatica, in SE Portland. They also do great communal seating dinners by reservation. Info can be found he

            In the same building as Simpatica is biwa, a little upscale Japanese grill with a great sake list and very tasty food.

            Great tapas (some traditional, some not, all great, though ;o) can be had at Toro Bravo. It is always crowded (we go at 4:45 and wait for the doors to open at 5pm) but worth a wait if you prefer to eat later.

            If you want to taste a lot of local wines but do not want to trek out to wine country, try Oregon Wines on Broadway:

            If you like hip and happening bars with trendy drinks, try Teardrop:

            If you like tasting great brandy/grappa/liqueurs, go to Clear Creek:

            Lots of folks love the coffee at Coffeehouse NW (near to Sahagun):

            If you have any questions, feel free to post them here...

            1. re: Katgotyourtounge

              Kat...Ha! the oh-so erudite grumpy people really are a downer for PDX discussion on chowhound. But I digress...

              There was an earlier thread on "romantic dining":

              I think Caffe Mingo or Bar Mingo (on NW 21st) would be a good destination (for Italian) if you are in the NW 23rd/21st area.

              Since you have a car - I might head to east Portland. Jill-O has a great list. I'd add Broder for breakfast in the SE 25th/Clinton neighborhood.

        2. My biggest problem with the Hotel 50 is its location -- a really dead part of downtown, next to a bridge entrance, on the busy street fronting the river. If you got a room overlooking the Willamette River it could be okay, but you are nowhere near the city's charm. Also okay if you're a fanatic runner and want to run the riverfront. Check out the Inn at Northrup Station and the Hotel DeLuxe (but don't eat there, for heaven's sake!!!!!) for more interesting neighborhoods. Inn at Northrup Station is more modest but fun, near several of the city's best restaurants (right behind Paley's Place, which should be a nice spot for Valentine's Day), and walking distance to the lively NW 23rd strip. Just a thought. The New York Times did a good story on Portland dining by Eric Asimov in early 2008, I believe. Check their archives.

          1. A fun place to get a dinner and a show is Tony Starlight's Supperclub. I know he has a special Valentine's thing. It's a very unique place that I always take out-of-town visitors mainly because of the ambiance and the excellent entertainment.

            If you want good chocolates AND coffee, go to Moonstruck chocolate cafe. They even give free chocolate WITH your coffee. Well, they used to. I haven't been there in a while.

            Le Pigeon is always an excellent choice for dinner. Jimmy Mak's is a great location for jazz music. Oh, and for just everyday stuff to do, you have to visit Powell's bookstore.

            2 Replies
            1. re: mattbb

              Alma blows the doors off of Moonstruck for both chocolate and coffee (they serve Spella coffee). Sahagun serves a mean cup of coffee, too (Stumptown).

              1. re: Nettie

                Agree. Moonstruck is mass-produced, overpriced for the quality, overrated, and over-exposed. The Godiva of Portland.

                For the best in ultra high-end handmade chocolate that is both yummy and beautiful to look at, either the lovely little shops of Alma or Sahagun.