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Jun 4, 2009 04:40 PM

PacNW tour - PDX/Cannon Beach help

My family will be touring the Pacific Northwest at the end of this month, starting in Portland with a couple of days in Cannon Beach before venturing northward.

I've had a great time combing the board, the PDX people have been a plethora of information.

My focus will be on good food, regardless of the ethnicity although somewhat tempered by price, since it will be me and wife as well as my 10 year old son and 8 year old daughter. My kids enjoy good food (hence the price thing) and are adventurous (but don't like hot spice yet).

And if there are raw oysters to be found, please guide me to them!

We will have a car and I'm willing to drive anywhere, although for some reason my wife booked the Phoenix Inn in Lake Oswego, so I may be partial to staying on the east side. If there is anything in Lake Oswego I shouldn't miss, please speak up!

I'd like comments on the quasi-itinerary I've compiled so far, especially if there are any gotchas, like no minors allowed.

Unfortunately, looks like the food carts will have to wait, since they appear to be mostly closed on the weekends, as well as a good number of restaurants.

6/27 - Sat
Arriving very late afternoon into PDX.
Will attempt to get to PokPok, with backup choices being Por Que No or Cambiche.
If the kids are up to it, might hit Pix or Papa Haydn for apres dessert

6/28 - Sun
Brunch at Simpatica with Screen Door as a backup
How early do we have to get there for Brunch since it doesn't look like they take reservations? Early isn't an issue with us.

Will probably tour the Japanese garden and Powell's books, and waterfront (weather permitting).

For dinner, I'm leaning towards the new Laurelhurst Market, with Toro Bravo my second choice, and Biwa my third choice (Tanuki is closed Sundays).

6/29 - Mon
Checking out, but want to pick up a bunch of things from Ken's Artisan Bakery, and hopefully Sahagun before heading out to Cannon Beach.

However, if there is an early lunch place I shouldn't miss, then I'm pretty flexible.


The biggest quandry by far appears to be places to eat in Cannon Beach.

We'll be at the Inn on Cannon Beach for Monday and Tuesday.

No doubt we will have a lunch at Ecola Seafood, and possibly a dinner at Yummy Bistro in Seaside, but there seems to be little consensus for other places.

Unfortunately, Nehalem River Inn is not open to us, since they don't accept kids under 12.

Wayfarer Inn for lunch is another possibility, as we want to stay close to the beach as possible, but is there anything else worth trying?

Or, do we just save ourselves up for Wednesday, when we hit La Tarasca in Centralia and then Xinh's Seafood in Shelton?

Love the board and appreciate the help!

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  1. I appreciate your doing research before posting!
    Tanuki is a bar and under 21 are not allowed, not even on sidewalk tables.

    Lake Oswego is neither west nor eastside; it is directly south of the city.

    Ken's Bakery, Sahagun, Toro Bravo, PokPok are must-do's.
    I highly recommend Pambiche (not Cambiche).
    How about Ken's Artisan Pizza?

    If it rains, that is the BEST time to visit the Japanese Garden. Trust me. Go either the 1st hour or the last hour they are open to avoid crowds.

    Portland weekend brunch: earlier the better, i.e. 9 am.

    I don't get your comment about restaurants that are closed weekends. Please explain.

    3 Replies
    1. re: Leonardo

      Thanx for the response.

      Sorry about the weekend comment - fingers were faster than the brain - I meant to say "closed Sundays" - like PokPok, Ten01, Sel Gris and Tanuki (which is now a moot point - thanx for that).

      Will keep Ken's Artisan Pizza in mind as well.

      1. re: ybnormal

        Raw oysters: Eat & Alberta St Oyster Bar. They will be from OR, WA, & BC.

        There are worthwhile places in Lake Oswego, but certainly nothing in the realm of "shouldn't miss".

        Por Que No is expensive, good but not worth it.

        1. re: Leonardo

          Kurata for sushi in L.O. and Dang's Thai Kitchen are two "shouldnt miss" places.

          Por Que No is a poor(sorry, had to...) second fiddle to PokPok. If the wait is too much when you get to Pok Pok, and you really want Thai, I would retreat back to L.O. and hit Dang's.

          your dinner at Laurelhurst with Toro Bravo as a back up, should probably be reversed. Laurelhurst hasnt been open but a couple weeks, and Toro Bravo is just too damned good to miss.

    2. There are 5 very good restaurants in Cannon Beach that I would recommend to any foodie. 1. Newmans at 923
      2. JP's
      3. Bistro Restaurant (263 N. Hemlock)
      4. Wayfarer Restaurant (nice view)
      5. Gower Street Bistro

      Enjoy and let us know what you pick. BTW, I highly recommend Screen Door for breakfast. Be prepared to wait. They open at 9 am usually to 20+ deep in line.

      3 Replies
      1. re: boerewors

        In addition to the above, I think Season's Cafe is really great for lunch. Right downtown and excellent quality/price.

        1. re: Carey Ellen

          It seems I had more choices than I had previously thought!

          Anything in Seaside (other than Yummy Bistro) worth checkiing out?

          1. re: ybnormal

            In Seaside Norma's has great clam chowder.

            Comparing the chocolates between Cacao & Sahagun is apples and oranges. Former makes nothing themselves, and the latter sells only their own handmade creations.

      2. If you're going to Sahagun for chocolate, you should really also stop by Cacao as it's only a few blocks away. I prefer Sahagun's hot chocolate to Cacao's, but Cacao is a much bigger place and has a far bigger selection of chocolates, and it would be such a shame to miss it when you were so close!

        1. Thanks for the input so far!

          My wife said she might be interested in a crawfish boil, so I told her I'd investigate.

          People don't seem impressed with Jake's Crawfish, but My Brother's Crawfish seems more well-liked.

          Does anyone know how the Crawfish is prepared at My Brother's? My kids don't eat spicy, so just curious if they do it entirely in Cajun spices or not...

          1. Well I'm finally back home after a wonderful time eating my way through the Pacific Northwest!

            Thank you all for the recs - Portland was a revelation to our family and the eating outstanding. Unfortunately we were in Portland for such a short time, we'll just have to make another visit!

            Warning - this is a long post!

            We were actually there Sat. Jun 27th, but didn't check into our hotel until about 8:00 PM - delayed partly due to the Jonas Bros, as we switched hotels to the Crowne Plaza Convention Center.

            We drove to Pok Pok, but as feared the wait was 1.5 hours, and our kids were starving. So, we walked down the street to Lauro, the Mediterran bistro. By pure luck there was no line, and a table was exiting, but was packed otherwise.

            Turns out it was a pretty good second choice! The Manila clams in the garlic sherry sauce were terrific. The kids shared a Daube a la Provencal braised Beef with fried polenta. It was excellent, and the fried polenta was outstanding. My wife had the Ahi Tuna special with seafood orzo, while I had the Grilled Lamb Sirloin with a mixed vegetable medley and mint chutney. Both were good, but not remarkable. We didn't do dessert, unfortunately.

            Screen Door:
            We got up early Sunday and went to the Screen Door - just minutes away from the Crowne Plaza. We got there at 8:40 AM with a line forming already. Good thing its a pretty big place.

            The brunch was fabulous - we're glad we got steered here. We started wth the biscuits with honey butter. They were spectacular, especially hot out of the oven. We also shared a strawberry blintz, which was tasty. My son had a sspecial - peanut butter pancakes with chocolate chips and a side of maple praline bacon (think caramelized pecans over bacon). Wow!

            My daughter had a waffle with fresh raspberries while my wife had a blue crab scramble with potatoes and toast, which was really good as well. There was a ton of it! I had the fried chicken with a sweet potato waffle, which was a mountain of food and so good. We actually had to skip lunch! I wish we had this back home...

            We walked it off at the Japanese Gardens and Rose Garden - you guys are lucky to have this here as well! And

            Powell's is tres cool. Too bad the Mio Gelato across the street and beside the Sur la Table wasn't that good.

            Can't all be winners!

            Toro Bravo:
            Time for another late dinner. This time we went to Toro Bravo at around 7:15 PM - and it was packed on a Sunday. We had a about a 20 minute wait, but they had a nice little waiting area set up with tiny tables to look over the menu.

            Turns out we only had to wait about 5 minutes, since a table opened up for us.

            A beautiful restaurant, and very loud, as it was buzzing with diners. I wasn't sure how well the kids were going to receive it, since its not the usual type of food we get. Turns out I needn't have worried - they liked it just fine.

            They started us off with roasted chickpeas on the house - pretty unique, but my son really liked them. Ordering was tough, because since it is all small plates, there is so much to choose from.

            The first dish was the Jamon Serrano Fava Bean Salad with Manchego cheese. The ham is incredible, and goes well with the Manchego cheese and fava beans. Both kids didn't mind it either, which surprised me.

            The second dish was the Salt Cod Fritters - 6 of them on a bed of aioli. This dish was a revelation to us, since we never had anything fritter-wise with such a smooth texture. Again, both kids loved it.

            The third dish was the Potatoes Bravas - some sort of fried potatoes covered in a sauce reminding me of an upscale BBQ sauce, and a dollop of aioli. What was unique about the dish is that it retained its crispiness for a long period of time, even though there was a bunch of sauce on it. And we all really liked it!

            The fourth dish was meant strictly for me - French "Kiss" brandy soaked prunes stuffed with foie gras. Nothing speaks decadence like that, and I wasn't disappointed.

            The fifth dish was Sauteed spinach with pine nuts and golden raisins. We needed to have our vegetables!

            Onwards - the sixth dish was a Sous Vide Rabbit Hash with beets and potatoes. This was my first real experience with Sous Vide. Again, another revelation as the rabbit was incredibly tender and moist. I would have no hesitation next time in ordering something Sous Vide.

            The seventh dish was Lamb Braised with Apricots and Coriander with homemade egg noodles. A hit all around, with melt-in-your-lamb and an exquisite sauce to soak into the egg noodles. Even the girls really liked it, and they don't normally eat lamb.

            The last dish did us in, and was probably the least successful - the paella. I shouldn't say that - I think maybe we were just too full. In any event, the seafood was good - my daughter loved the clams and mussels, and the chicken was my son's favorite. But it was a pretty big plate - no way we could finish it.

            However, that didn't stop us from having dessert. My son had the Chocolate Almonds - roasted almonds, chocolate covered and then rolled in icing sugar. Tasty!

            The girls shared the Molten Chocolate Cake with Ice Cream - very rich, but exquisite.

            I had the only Spanish dessert experience I wanted - Churros & Chocolate. 3 cinnamon churros with a little cup of dipping chocolate. Absolutely something to live for! Even my kids were jealous!

            Without a doubt one of the best dining experiences ever!

            Monday morning we pretty well skipped breakfast and did some shopping (tax free!)

            Pok Pok:

            Determined not to miss at least lunch at Pok Pok, we showed up at 11:25 AM. Slightly disappointed that they didn't have a full menu, I ordered a bit lighter.

            Muu Sateh - pork loin skewers (marinated in coconut milk and tumeric) with peanut sauce served with bread (yes - it really is traditional). Kids loved this since it was really tasty.

            Pok Pok Special - roasted game hen with a green papaya salad. The game hen was superb, and the green papaya salad was zippy.

            Phat Si Ew Muu - wide rice noodles with Chinese veggies, pork, egg and black soy sauce stir fried (more Chinese then Thai, but I was limiting myself to the non-spicy for my wife's sake)

            Ike's Vietnamese Fish Sauce wings - Wings marinated in fish sauce, garlic and sugar, and then deep fried and tossed in caramelized fish sauce. Voted one of the best dishes in 2007 in the United States - I can see why! Best wings
            ever! I should have ordered two, since the kids inhaled it as well...

            Satisfied, but not entirely, we walked two blocks to Pix Patisserie. Very similar to Manuel Latruwe in Calgary or Ganache in Vancouver, but, in my opinion, not quite as good. We tried the creme brulee and a small dessert called the Midnight Oasis, a fruity dessert. Good, but not great. However, the Fleur de sel Macaron, filled with a caramel buttercream, which I got to go, was very, very good.

            My wife was determined to buy a dress, so we hit up Nordstrom Rack & environs downtown.

            Whilst she did that I hit up a couple more places...

            Sahagun Chocolates:

            A tiny little shop that specializes in making their own unique chocolates, including real hot-chocolate, made only from melted chocolate and hormone-free milk. We had to stop in and have hot chocolate. I am now officially jealous - hot chocolate that actually tastes like chocolate! I wistfully wish we had it... And the owner was really nice as well, as I talked to her for a bit. The best chocolate was the "Luscious Caramel", fresh buttery caramel (corn-syrup free) in a bittersweet chocolate shell - best eaten in one bite!

            As a side note, its a good thing for the GPS, cause that was a dickens to find!

            Ken's Artisan Bakery:

            I bought a bunch of pastries, croissants and small breads like the brioche for Cannon Beach. It was quite good as well. For myself, I always enjoy bakeries such as this. Not quite as good as some other places I've been, but no slouch.

            Unfortunately I had to go pick up my wife, so Cacao wasn't meant to be this time around. And I didn't have time to hunt out the Hood strawberries...

            A bit of a whirlwind in Portland, since we had to head to Cannon Beach.

            Cannon Beach:

            Cannon Beach (the place) was nice. The cuisine - a bit of a letdown considering my experiences in Portland. Oh well - it was the beach spot of the vacation for the kids...

            We went to the beach in Town Center, and then went for supper. That was actually a problem, since there actually isn't a whole bunch of places open relatively late. The Ecola Seafood market closes at 8:00 PM, so we ended up next door at the Morris' Fireside Restaurant.

            Morris' Fireside Restaurant:
            A family-style restaurant that served mostly fried seafood and such - and bloody expensive. My SO and I shared a cup of clam chowder, a caesar salad and breaded razor clams. My son had fish and chips, while my daughter had a pizza. Turns out that the clam chowder was pretty good and both kids liked it - something new for them to like! The rest of the meal was mediocre at best - not good value considering the food we left behind at Portland.

            Such is life - we chased the sunset instead...

            The next day was spent exploring Seaside (and the outlet...again). The Promenade was actually quite nice. While driving in, I saw Yummy Bistro, but it was closed Mondays and Tuesdays, plus it didn't allow minors...

            While at the info center, I mentioned it in passing to someone there, and she directed me to a place called...

            Maggies on the Prom:

            A restaurant with a prime view of the ocean. Its the restaurant for The Seaside Oceanfront Inns. The primary entrance is off the Prom, and if the signs weren't there, you'd miss it. That would be a shame, since it turned out to be a hidden gem on our trip.

            Just when I had lost all faith in finding good food in Cannon Beach or Seaside, the restaurant surprised me. The place wasn't busy, but it was recently opened and looked like new. The waitress was super friendly, and I even talked to the cook for a bit, since I was one of the few people who ordered the Hawaiian poke tuna salad with hazelnuts. And it was quite good! We started with the Manila steamer clams with black bean sauce - that was marvellous - and the kids loved dipping the bread in as well. The kids also shared a simple alfredo pasta (nothing like comfort food sometimes!)

            My wife had the Ahi Tuna burger with mushrooms and wasabi mayo, with a cup of clam chowder, both which were excellent. And it was reasonably priced! A good feeling all around! I sorta wished we had come back for dinner!

            We went back to Cannon Beach, and I was able to stop off at the Farmer's Market to get some fresh Bing and Rainier Cherries.

            We were going to go the Gower Street Bistro, but it is now closed, and replaced with some sort of Carribean cafe.

            So - Plan B...

            JP's at Cannon Beach:

            An upscale seafood restaurant. It was not bad, but again overpriced. The kids had kids meals - my daughter with Grilled Cheese ($6!) and my son with a New York Steak (ok at $8). My wife went light with Breaded Artichoke hearts, while I had the special - monkfish with shrimp in a lemon sauce and mushrooms. Both were good, almost bordering on the pretty good, but not quite. Service was very good though. Too much the tourist trap for me.

            We took consolation in watching the sunset on the beach...

            Those were the only meals we had at Cannon Beach/Seaside - not bad, but I was spoiled in Portland. And we didn't make it to eat in Astoria...

            Again, thanks to all who had suggestions. Sad that I couldn't try everything, but I take solace in that there is so much more to try next time I'm out...

            Pics hopefully to follow...

            Check out my other thread for Olympia/Seattle, maybe in the next day or two...

            10 Replies
                1. re: ybnormal

                  Pics for Toro Bravo - Part 1

                  1. re: ybnormal

                    Pics for Toro Bravo - Part 2

                      1. re: ybnormal

                        Pics for Maggies on the Prom

                        1. re: ybnormal

                          Thank you so much for posting back! Glad you had a great time here.

                          1. re: ybnormal

                            Thanks for the report and pics! Highly impressed with your kids. Glad you stayed in Portland rather than the burbs.
                            Re Sahagun: the Luscious Caramel is my fave too. Now for summer they have the iced chocolate and chocolate sorbet, a killer combo.
                            Also non-hot at Pok Pok is the Khao Soi Kai, a tasty soup. Love it. Glad your tenacity paid off with a meal there.
                            Lauro was a great back-up, I agree!
                            We have several gelato places better than Mio, so am sorry that was the peak of your gelato experience.
                            No surprise that the beach, even upscale Cannon, would be a letdown. No one goes to the coast for the food.
                            Hurry back. Happy that we could help!

                            1. re: Leonardo

                              Thanks - we've been training our kids to at least try everything at least once. And I'm a firm believer that if kids don't eat fast food (regularly), they'll appreciate everything else and be healthier for it. They never clamour for McD's...

                              Thanks everyone again. Count yourselves lucky to have a terrifc food culture!

                          2. re: ybnormal

                            Thanks for the awesome pictures. Your kids sound great--it's wonderful that they were so adventurous in what they'd try.