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Mar 6, 2009 02:43 PM

visiting downtown portland

hi all! and LA boy here!
im going to portland in May. staying in downtown for the weekend.
i would like some suggestions on places to eat. i have no actual preferences as i enjoy all types.
the 2 suggestions I am looking for are:
1. a place thats well known to locals and is more of a local joint (not a fancy place). it can be a burger joint, or a hole in the wall. just want to try a place all the locals love.
2. a more classy place. steak or seafood (thinking seafood better since its a coastal town). or another ethnic place..(not sure if any particular ethnic group has a high presence in portland)

i will do some venturing on my own, but definitely want to try 2 places based on the rec's i recieve from this post. i will have no car, so hoping something close to downtown. but if the best rec' is for a place further away, i will make the effort to get there!

thanks all!

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  1. First of all, Portland is not a coastal city. It's about an hour and a half drive to the coast, over the Coast Range mountains...Portland is a city in the Willamette Valley. If it's clear and not rainy when you're here in May (it could happen ;o) you will see the snow-capped peaks around you. Still, we get good seafood here and consider things like dungeness crab and razor clams and oysters to be 'local.'

    You can find a lot of good info in these threads:

    If you really want to stay downtown, I'd offer up Kenny & Zuke's (deli with awesome pastrami, bagels, bialys), Dan and Louis (a crusty old Portland institution for oysters) and ten-01 (chic classy place). There's a hip scene at Clyde Common and great food carts on Alder at 9th and 10th.

    Outside of downtown there are izakayas like Tanuki and biwa; pizza places like Apizza Scholls and Ken's; fine dining at Sel Gris and Wildwood; favorites (or some) like Le Pigeon.

    6 Replies
    1. re: JillO

      all those rec's are great, but for all intent and puropses, Tanuki, Biwa, Apizza Scholls, Kens Aritsan Pizza, Sel Gris, Wildwood, LePigeon and any other are all still downtown.......maybe not SW, but close in NW/SE/NE are still downtown........

      1. re: nkeane

        Actually no. Downtown is downtown. Close-in is close-in. Nkeane, if you've ever flown to another city on a junket, meeting or conference, it makes a big difference whether you can walk or need to take public transportation or drive. "Downtown" Portland is where the tall buildings are - end of story. Cross the bridge and you're not downtown. That's like saying Brooklyn is "actually" Manhattan. What????

        1. re: AlbertaHound

          you can walk from Biwa(9th and SE ash?.....two blocks off burnside)to Tanuki(NW 21st and Glisan) in under 30min!!!!!! thats NW to SW to SE in under half an hour. Portland is not NY, thank god! and sorry, Portland is a whole hell of a lot bigger than "where the tall buildings are:". get a map.

          1. re: nkeane

            Just because I can walk from my house to Beaverton, doesn't mean I can call where I live (in Portland) Beaverton. Portland is indeed a lot bigger than "where the tall buildings are" but the point AlbertaHound is making (and that I agree with) is that DOWNTOWN is not all of Portland...even if you can walk from point A to point B in 30 minutes.

            And the OP is from LA, not known as a great walking city. I would not be so quick to assume that they would want to walk from biwa to Tanuki...or that it would take them under 30 minutes if they did. In fact, many would not consider biwa walking distance from Tanuki. Personally, I would never suggest to a visitor that it is a walkable distance even though I could and/or might do so. I would agree that both restaurants are in neighborhoods that are part of the city center, but neither are actually in what is referred to as downtown.

            Hopefully samtron608 will look at a map and see what everyone else calls downtown and then decide what they want to do.

            1. re: JillO

              Alberta said "portland" where as the OP said "downtown". my disagreement isnt with the OP, its with Alberta. and if 30 minutes isnt walkable(excepting handicaps) then maybe which restaurant to go to isnt the problem?

      2. For the largest city in a coastal state, Portland isn't really known for its seafood places. For steaks, you'd probably enjoy Ringside, a Portland institution. Not downtown per se, but close to PGE Park the big baseball-football-soccer stadium. Le Pigeon, across the river on the Burnside bridge is an "only-in-Portland" kind of place - and really good. Clyde Common is also very "Portland." You might have a beer, glass of wine or drink at Higgins - it's a Portland stand by, but the restaurant may be fancier than you're looking for.

        I also agree that Dan and Louis, while not gourmet, is a cool Portland institution - and worth a trip if you stick to oysters.

        For tendy, head to Ping, in Chinatown. It's run by the owner of Pok Pok. I went there tonight, and it's tasty pan-Asian.

        9 Replies
        1. re: MichaelG

          thank you all.
          here is what i have scheduled so far. please tell me if i shouldnt waste my time at any of these places.
          Friday lunch: 9th and Adler food carts
          Friday Dinner: Ten 01
          SAt lunch: Pambiche or Chef Naoko
          Sat dinner: will be at the rose garden that night...any late night places to snack around there?
          Sunday: Andina, Toro Bravo or Le me choose!

          thanks all!

          1. re: samtron608

            Good choices. For Sat lunch, Pambiche is my vote. Dinner on Saturday, you could stroll down to 23rd and 21st streets and scout out whatever sounds best. Cafe Mingo on 21st is a good choice, actually there ar eplenty of options in the neighborhood.

            Sunday Toro Bravo or Andina, go with Andina. Have the sacsayhuman drink, you will love it! The food is also outstanding, but that drink...

            1. re: samtron608

              Sounds like a great plan.
              The food cart site is spot on. "Alder" not "Adler".

              Good places late night around "Rose Garden"? Not really. That area is a suburban wasteland in the heart of a city...what a poorly conceived depressing place.

              I'd go with TB on Sunday.

              1. re: Leonardo

                It's so funny I was thinking the Washington Park Rose Garden, not the sports arena.

                1. re: JillO

                  I would normally agree, but Andina is also great food wise and for an out of towner the neighborhood is far more interesting which makes for the slight edge to Andina. Well considering the walkability and vibrancy, a major edge.At least from my perspective.

                  1. re: Mallory

                    As a chowhound, I say follow the food first and would pick Toro Bravo! their food is unparalleled. If you want a funky neighborhood stroll, the Mississippi is not far from TB....

                    With that said, no car is really a deal breaker for my plan..... Yes, once you are at Andina, you will be able in the center of things and that might be the way to go....

                    If you can find a way to get to TB, i would try....

                    1. re: Epicurean

                      Toro Bravo is two blocks from a bus stop - you can take the #4 or several other buses from downtown. Back in February, we had no problem getting to TB (and returning) on a Sunday night.

                      This is not to say that Toro Bravo is the best choice for you (I haven't been to Andina or Le Pigeon), but don't eliminate it as an option just 'cause you don't have a car!



                2. re: samtron608

                  The Rose Garden area is not that great for restaurants. If you're willing to walk a little bit, Biwa and Le Pigeon is about 1.5 miles away (Doug Fir is in that area as well and if the other two are infinitely preferable for food, Doug Fir is probably open later). There are also some places on the other side of the river across the Steel Bridge--Ping is within 1 mile of the Rose Garden.

              2. The original comment has been removed
                1. When are you coming to PDX? The Portland Indie Wine Festival takes place on Saturday, May 2nd. It's definitely my favorite wine-o/foodie event of the year. Some of the top restaurants will be there - Ten 01, Biwa,'s awesome. Check it out at

                  If you're not here that weekend, I'd definitely hit up Ten 01 in the pearl district. They just got a new chef who's on fire. He's really down to earth and will most likely stop by the table. Also try the carts on 9th and Alder. You'll get $5 - $7 feasts. I am a big fan of Davis Street Tavern also in Old Town, which will be a nice, but close, walk. Go for the clam bisque...mmmm!

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: katipdx

                    haha..thank you all! yes the rose garden arena. i will be there the weekend of May 15th. looks like im all set! i will report back after my trip. i appreciate all the help and please joins us in the Los angeles board when you guys ever visit the city of angels!

                  2. We LOVE the authentic Mexican food at La Calaca Comelona (the hungry skeleton) in Portland for a yummy casual meal. Order the "Green Snake" a gin drink made with avocado--like a smoothie with a kick! yum. The decor is fantastic too, Skeletons (la calaca), Freida Kahlo, etc. Friendly, quick service. Anytime we're in Portland we go visit, except on SUNDAYS, they are closed. Nice patio out back if weather permits.