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diners and comfort food in Portland

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After perusing the board, my mouth is watering at all the delicious picks for Portland. However, we will be spending some time with my in-laws, and I'm looking for recommendations for places that we can go with them. The catch - my father-in-law will only eat very boring, bland food. Pepper in his hamburger? No way! Beer = Coor's. Mustard = Heinz. You get the picture.

So, I'm hoping you can recommend places that will fulfill his need for very bland food, while hopefully allowing me to enjoy my dinner as well. We have managed to eat at good restaurants that will specially prepare his food without spices, but generally you have to go fairly high end to get that sort of attention, and we will mostly be on a low budget (say $20 or less for an entree).
We will be more or less downtown. They are staying near the university, and we are near the Lloyd Center. Somewhere that is easily accessible via public transit would be a bonus.

Thanks! I will probably put up a post about my own food questions, but I think this is the trickiest question I have!

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  1. Stanford's near Lloyd Center fits the bill. And downtown,you might try Mother's Bistro or it's Italian sister mama Mia's.

    1 Reply
    1. re: MichaelG

      yeah, Im thinking local chains are going to be your best bet. Stanfords, McCormick's, Old Spaghetti Factory. Very ordinary and no surprises. The problem with Portland and its indy restaurant scene is that bold flavors, inventivness, and different are a mantra. It might not always be good, but its usually going to be different. Which is what YOU sound like you like, not so much for the FIL. good luck, If you pick wisely you will find many great places that will make you forget the meals you endured with the family!

    2. Mothers is a great suggestion as well as Stanford's(best happyhour in PDX)
      You would regret your visit to Portland if you did not go to the Screen Door for Dinner and Pinestate biscuits for breakfast(the Reggie) and Pix for dessert cannot be avoided. I'm a born and raised Portland foodie so please trust my sugg. HAPPY EATING!

      1. Byways Cafe in the Pearl might work - the food is no great shakes but it's got that diner atmosphere thing going for it.

        Maybe Life of Reilly (NW 10th and Everett) might be a good fit too. The staff seems laidback and accommodating and the kitchen does a good job with the pub/sportsbar food. And they have a great selection of beer (from Bud to Belgian).

        1. For a non-chain option, you could check out Perry's on Freemont.

          1. I would say Country Cat on SE Stark--there's stuff to keep you interested, but they do more "home cooking" type food (current menu here http://pfmenus.com/?p=167). I've been there with my in-laws, and the servers were great with them. The chef generally wears overalls. The #15 bus goes very close to there (you can plan your trip using public transport at http://www.trimet.org). Fife is also a place that specializes in American cuisine--stuff that your parents will recognize, but that the foodie will also enjoy. That might run a little over $20 for entrees, though. I wonder if Podnah's Pit BBQ would work for you (http://pfmenus.com/?p=164)--does your FIL like barbeque? Close to Lloyd Center is Milo's cafe--I don't think it's that interesting for dinner, but I love their breakfasts.

            1. Thanks all. I'm feeling a little more cheerful about my options!

              1. Fuller's restaurant is in the pearl, but decidedly un-pearl. good old-fashioned diner fare. the best breakfast sandwich ever! chocken fried steak, fish and chips, excellent burgers...
                it's at davis and 9th.

                1. It's kind of a drive from the Lloyd Center, but Skyline Diner would meet all of your criteria. And to help persuade your in-laws to go there, you could mention that there is A. a car hop and B. a really great view of the valley. I have a very picky father for an eater and now each time he comes to Portland he demands that I take him there. Also, there are some outstanding milk shakes. The only down-side is that it is cash only (ATM inside the place)

                  http://portland.citysearch.com/profil...

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: pdxfoodie 1

                    Oh, he *really* likes milkshakes....

                  2. I'd second country cat, and also highly recommend besaw's on nw 23rd and savier: inexpensive old-timey comfort food like burgers, meatloaf and roasted chicken; but some zingy specials that contain pepper and fennel fronds and such for the food-bold.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: cupsncakes

                      Country Cat: sent my parents there, they loved the food and service, yet found the noise level too high and the seating uncomfortable.

                    2. I love Screen Door! I call it "fancified Southern" food. I have only had brunch - but it's the best I've had anywhere in the country. They have a fried oyster & bacon Benedict that blows me away. Chicken & waffles. Great (sausage or vegetarian) biscuits & gravy.