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Help me with my Portland choices

We will be in Portland in two weeks(Thu-Sun) and will be staying at Hotel Nines. I have reserarched for a while and need your help with my choices. I need two lunches, two nice dinners, one casual dinner and two brunches. What do you think of this:

Ten-01 - Lunch or nice dinner, although I read that the chef is leaving at the end of the month(what a luck)
Bluehour - Lunch or brunch
Fenouil - Brunch
Sel Gris - Nice dinner, how far a cab ride is it from Nines?
Nicholas restaurant for casual lunch or dinner
Beast - Brunch
I also need one breakfast. I was thinking of Ken's bakery for Fri.
For coffee I was thinking of Coffeehouse Northwest and Stumptown.
Chocolate - Sahagun and maybe Cocoa
French pastry - Pix, although, I have read some mix reviews. Any others?
Gelato - Is Mio any good? if not looking for good gelato or ice cream with unique flavors

I also read about Beast for dinner(don't like communal at that price point), Le Pigeon( the menu seemed very basic),Paley's(menu items were not creative), Toro bravo, Pok Pok, park kitchen, Carlyle and Olea. Please help me, so many choices and not enough time. We are coming from Orange County, CA and I did notice Saucesupreme from the LA board has moved to Portland.

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  1. For pastry I'd go Ken's Artisan Bakery first choice, second La Petite Provence.
    I'm not crazy about Mio Gelato. I prefer Staccato or Via Delizia.
    Sahagun Chocolate for hot chocolate and handmade truffles: don't miss it, it will change your life! Closed Sunday. Cacao[sic] does not make their own truffles.
    By coffee do you mean coffeehouses or roasters? For roasters look for Spella or Ristretto. Coffeehouses, well, there are too many, let's see...Random Order (great pie too!), Albina Press, Fresh Pot...
    My favorite breakfast/brunch places are Bijou & Zell's. More worth it than Fenouil.
    Ten01 is a great lunch idea.
    Definitely Sel Gris. It's a ten-minute drive, also an easy ride on the #14 bus.
    I love Pok Pok. If you are at all adventurous and like trying dishes you've not seen before, everything is great you can't go wrong, you must go...this is a top priority!
    Big "yes" to Toro Bravo, Carlyle, and Olea. Sounds as if your trip will be short and busy!

    Yes, SS moved here for the food.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Leonardo

      Thank you Leonardo. I can't believe no one else is helping out. Where is the love Portland board.

    2. I'd consider DAVIS STREET TAVERN (NW 5/Davis) as a casual lunch/dinner option. They've got a good happy hour.

      All your choices are pretty solid - I'd go to Karam over Nicholas (but its a completely different vibe - sitdown vs hole-in-the-wall).

      1 Reply
      1. re: MyNextMeal

        Thank you for the Karam suggestion. It looks like , it is very close to our hotel. I can't believe how big their menu is. What are your favorites there?

      2. Yeah, I visited on food-vacation and never really left.

        The Ten01 kitchen has known about Chef Yoss sabbatical for a while now, and in fact the new chef and his sous were already spotted there. I would be surprised if they even skip a beat -- they're definitely one of the better options around town. I like them either for lunch or dinner, with their Power Lunch offering really nice value.

        My favorite lunch, though, has to be Bunk Sandwiches. Here's my blog post and some pics:

        My favorite gelato is Via Delizia in the Pearl, but I also prefer straight ice cream to gelato, which puts me at Cool Moon Ice Cream more often. Much more unique flavors there, including my favorite kulfi (cardamom and rice).

        For pastries, I go to Ken's Artisan and I don't really look back. They do breakfast, but not much in terms of savory options other than a quiche. My favorite breakfast & brunch: Border (Scandinavian). Underrated for both: Pambiche (Cuban).

        For coffee, I'd actually pay a vist to the Stumptown Annex on Belmont. Great foodie activity almost akin to a wine tasting. If you're not that serious into coffee, then nearby there are lots of great coffeehouses around. You mentioned Coffeehouse NW, but there's also Spella (in the Food Cart area of 10th and Alder which you *must not miss*) as well as the brand new Barista.

        Pok Pok is unlike anything I've seen in Thai Town or Orange County. Definitely worthwhile. I would actually pass on Park Kitchen and Carlyle; if you're going to go upscale New American cuisine, just go to Ten01, Sel Gris or Beast.

        3 Replies
        1. re: SauceSupreme

          Bunk is a great idea...how could I forget? I love the caramelized onion/fontina/mushroom sandwich. Just over the river, take the #14 or 15 bus. Hang onto transfer for the trip back.

          Spella cart is right on the corner of SW 9/Alder, very close to hotel.

          1. re: SauceSupreme

            I wanted to clarify, the food cart area is the *not miss*. Spella, I could live with or without. I'm much more of a Stumptown Annex man, though lately I've been finding myself either at Coffeehouse NW or Ristretto on N Williams (right next to EaT).

            1. re: SauceSupreme

              Thank you SS. You are lucky to move to such a great food city. I think I will pick Sel Gris for one dinner and now I have to decide on the second one. There is too many choices. I am getting dizzy reading so much!!! I also heard about Saint Honore bakery. The pictures look great, but how good is the place?

            2. Your Hotel should have a copy of the March issue of Portland Monthly which was all about breakfast! It also has asearch engine on their site to find places by location, cuisine and features. If you're at the Nines check out Mother's 409 SW Second Ave for a great breakfast you can walk there from the hotel. Touche' in the Pearl has a great Happy Hour and dinner specials and you can get there from the hotel by walking too. Higgins is at 1239 SW Broadway also not far from your hotel.

              1. Breakfast: Screen Door or Simpatica (Brunch on Sunday?)
                Lunch: (Power lunch) at Ten01
                Casual Dinner: Toro Bravo
                Nicer Dinner: Carlyle
                Brunch: Simpatica or Screen Door
                Drinks: Check out Departure (where you're staying) Very cool space and view
                Coffee: Coffeehouse NW
                Chocolate: Sahagun
                Pastry: Have yet to find anything I really like, sadly.

                RE: Bunk - The sandwiches are very good, but as a destination it leaves much to be desired. Get a couple to go.

                RE: Sel Gris - The food can be good, if a bit rich, but for a nicer dinner I find it too loud and cramped.

                On a side note, you should really check out the food carts. (perhaps for one of your lunches) There is nothing comparable in OC.

                Enjoy your visit!

                1. definitely skip Fenouil. my experiences there have been less than stellar and Portland is such a breakfast town. Second Bijou or Simpatica, The Daily Cafe's Sunday brunch, or Pine State Biscuits.

                  MMM, Ken's.... Must try the morning bun if you're in before they sell out. it's just a pastry & coffee/tea breakfast as SS points out, though, only one quiche generally, some granola or toast. but you can't miss it if you're here.

                  I'll back the recommendations for via Delizia or Cool Moon over Mio any day. (if you don't feel like hoofing it it's a quick streetcar ride)

                  I prefer Cacao's drinking chocolate to Sahagun but it's true that they're not a confectioner.

                  Albina Press for espresso! harder to get to, I admit. Haven't checked out Barista yet, he's barely open, but am expecting great things.

                  what else? Pok Pok definitely -- I hesitate to say go there over Nicholas as I haven't been there in my 11 years in this town, but if the weather is nice and you want a less $$ option get the khao soi kai and the khao man som tam at the shack instead of sitting inside at the Lounge, and go sit in the park. (or eat at the picnic tables out front which are covered with heaters)

                  I've really never been thrilled with Pix. Petite Provence if Ken's doesn't fill the hole, or St Honore if you want to stay on the west side.

                  enjoy! hopefully we'll have reliable sun by then!

                  9 Replies
                  1. re: melogranato

                    Thank you veru much. Is St Honore any good or should I stick to Ken's the whole time we are there? The weather forecast looks scary, even snow shower. I am hoping for one partly cloudy day. I can't wait for all the great eating.

                    1. re: mrsjoujou

                      It won't snow. Ridiculous. Where did you hear that? Maybe up in the mountains at 5000 feet. Here the ten-day report says it will be between 40-55 with scattered rain showers. While a little cooler than average, it's pretty typical. The cherry blossoms are coming out today. It will be mostly cloudy pretty much every day. Hope that's ok.

                      Stick to Ken's. St. Honore is not worth the trouble. And while it is on the west side, it is hardly central relative to downtown.

                      A great way to sample the best PDX has to offer is go to the farmers' market.
                      PFM has Blue Gardenia Bakery, Ken's, Tastebud Farms (mobile wood-burning oven!), Pine State Biscuits (get with the shiitake gravy), and Pearl Bakery. http://www.portlandfarmersmarket.org/
                      (NOT to be confused with Portland Saturday Mkt, a craft fair where the food is dreadful.)

                      1. re: Leonardo

                        I got the forecast from MSN. I will be very happy with partly cloudy and light rain. As far as Farmer's mkt, the only one that is opreating in the early April, is the PSU. Is that the one you were talking about?

                        1. re: mrsjoujou

                          The PSU Farmer's Market opened last week (I think). It's a stop on the Trolley, easy to get to from just about anywhere. One quick warning: if you are driving up, don't plan on taking fruits back with you. The California Fruit Police will stop you at the border.

                          Nearby good restaurants: Higgins on Broadway, South Park on the Park blocks a couple of blocks north of the market, past the Art Museum.

                          1. re: mrsjoujou

                            The farmers' mkt at PSU is the "only" one I'm talking about, and it's all you need. Rated by Eating Well magazine as among the top five in the country. It's still in winter mode so no berries, peaches, or melons, sorry. It opened 3/21. Catch the #8 or 9 bus for free on 3rd. Get off at Montgomery.

                            Here's the 'cast I use http://www.weather.com/weather/tenday...
                            I don't believe that it has ever snowed here in April.

                            1. re: Leonardo

                              Thank you. I can't wait to visit the FM. I love Farmer's mkt's. We are flying in and I looked in the map and Pok Pok looked a little far.The public transit link mentioned something about construction in that area. So, I don't know if we make it there.

                              1. re: mrsjoujou

                                Most welcome.
                                Forgot one more must-have at the PFM: 2 Tarts Bakery. Exquisite cookies.

                                The "service alert" that mentions construction is not on your route; it is ten miles past Pok Pok. It's an easy 20-minute ride on the #4; catch it on 3rd. If you are at all adventurous eaters, you'll find it worth the trouble.

                                Have fun. Please report back!

                                1. re: mrsjoujou

                                  also, dont be daunted by what looks like a long distance on a map. Portland blocks are tiny. I mean tiiiiiinnnyyy!!! like 18 blocks to a mile or something. Pok2 is maybe 3 miles from where the PSU farmers market is, just to give you a point of reference.

                          2. re: mrsjoujou

                            I'd stick to Ken's -- St H is further afield and not as great, IMHO, but it's better than Pix to satisfy the French pastry craving. Ken's doesn't do opera bars, for example, or at least not that I've paid attention to. Then again, I admit to focusing in on my croissants to the exclusion of all else...

                            the Farmer's Market did indeed open last week and you should definitely check out Mark and the crew at Tastebud. They're amazing. And, alas, no berries yet it's true -- but the morels are in, and oregon black truffles. Then there's the bees wax people with their rangpur limes, and this week -- tamarillos! they'd all smuggle well, tucked safely in luggage.

                            And don't worry about the snow. In April? ha! on Mt Hood, maybe... Leonard's right -- April is cherry blossoms and softly unfurling leaves. Portland generally does spring well.

                        2. I haven't been to most of these places, so I can't compare them all. But during my whirlwind visit to Portland last month, I ate at Ten-01, Sahagun, Cacao, Pok Pok, Toro Bravo, and Ken's Artisan Bakery.

                          I would go back to any of these places in a heartbeat - especially Ten-01, Ken's, and Sahagun. Not to diss the other places, which are great, but the first three places are in a class by themselves.

                          Sahagun makes their own truffles, and their hot chocolate was my favorite. But Cacao carries lovely truffles by local and national chocolatiers, and my husband liked their hot chocolate the best. So there you are. (That is, you can't lose no matter which you try.)

                          And definitely make time for a food cart lunch or snack, especially if the weather is nice. I liked the selection at Alder and 9th / 10th - we had Ziba's pitas, which were delicious, but there are so many great choices!

                          We loved Toro Bravo, too - for me, it was tied with Biwa and Pok Pok for delicious, high-flavor food (though the three have very different flavors).

                          My advice: Eat constantly, then fast when you get home. (That's pretty much what I did. :-) Portland has such amazing food.


                          Enjoy your trip, and eat lots!


                          3 Replies
                          1. re: AnneInMpls

                            Thank you very much Ann. We can't wait to try all this great places.

                            1. re: mrsjoujou

                              We gave Anne tons of advice. I suggest you read both her inquiry and 2-part report. Great visitor's view, yet sadly was here in the dead of winter before PFM opened.

                              And yes we are a food cart mecca so don't hesitate to ask if something catches your attention.

                              Nkeane is correct. 20 blocks = 1 mile. Don't be swayed by what it looks like on a map. PDX is eminently walkable (exception being the Morrison Bridge)!

                              1. re: Leonardo

                                Higgins is my 1st choice in Portland for dinner - never has a miss there. Ken's yes. Blue Hour is a nice lunch. Andina in the Pearl is one of our favs - great choice of small plates to share.

                          2. I can't speak highly enough about Paley's. I am a Los Angeles chowhound who spent much time in Portland (and all over the state) the last two years. I've eaten at many of the above. And enjoyed them. But Paley's is consistenly the best. I also loved Toro Bravo.

                            Ten -01 is very good for lunch. I would choose better for dinner.

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: Tom P

                              Thanks Tom. I have already reserved Tne01 for lunch and Sel Gris for dinner.

                              1. re: mrsjoujou

                                You'll be happy with Sel Gris and Ten-01, Tom is of one school of thought regarding Paley's, but many others myself included think Paley's tired, overrated, and indeed in the top 20 but certainly not the top ten of Portland. Enjoy.

                            2. I have read the responses in this thread, and they are pretty much all "wrong." Which is not surprising, because they were mostly very responsive to mrsjoujou's initial inquiry. Anyone who asks for Portland restaurant suggestions and starts with Ten-01 as the exemplar could -- and in this case did -- get those suggestions. You might as well ask which Starbucks is the better than which others, or for Chinese food like that at P F Chang. What you will get back is a listing of restaurants designed to appeal to the financial wizards who backed the opening with their wallets, and thus a list of restaurants that are fine tuned to this week's fad. Most will close within three years, when this week's fad has become yesterday's news.

                              "Wrong"? Did I write that above? Of course, there is no right, no wrong, in the expression of restaurant choices. But you could plunk down Ten-01 in any middle-to-large American city, and it would be the same boring formulaic place that it is. Why bother to come to Portland to eat if you are going to go to a restaurant that is a virtual clone of restaurants that you have back home? Granted, Ten-01's execution of the formula is well done -- their ain't no flies on Ten-01's execution -- but it is formulaic, nevertheless.

                              On mrsjoujou's list, Stumptown, yes. EMPHATICALLY yes if the original location in the 3300 block of SE Division is the Stumptown referenced, lukewarm yes if the formulaic coffee shop on SW 3rd Avenue south of Burnside is the one. (The coffee at the latter is fine, though.) The SE Division Stumptown is what the Portland scene is all about.

                              As to other suggestions for real (non-formulaic) Portland restaurants, I have addressed those in another thread: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/6091... The difference between the establishments listed above and the one listed in the linked post is like the difference between the motion pictures backed by the usual financiers in Hollywood and that are aimed for the Number One ranking in the Weekend Box Office Receipts story that gets reported every Monday on the Today Show or Good Morning America, versus the occasional "independent" motion picture that comes along, like the Ivory Merchant productions or Slumdog Millionaire.

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: Politeness

                                Thank you for your kind words. I keep Castagna in mind.

                                1. re: Politeness

                                  I think the most noteworthy omission so far was one you mentioned in the other thread, Alba Osteria, which definitely belongs in this thread as well.

                                  But that being said, going from Ten01 to PF Changs is quite a slippery slope. Furthermore, you discount Ten01 as being boring and formulaic but hail Castagna as if they're operating in a whole different originality league. I would disagree, but then again it's ultimately not up to us to order, enjoy and pay the bill.

                                  Also, as someone who used to work in Orange County, I would say that its culinary strength were in its hole-in-the-wall ethnic eats, especially Vietnamese, Japanese and Mexican. In truth, both Ten01 AND Castagna would probably do well in Orange County. Would either be clones of something that already exists? Possibly, but that speaks more to the fact that neither one really has a sense of "Only In Portland" about them.

                                  I call your Slumdog Millionaire and raise you one The Auteur.