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Portland this weekend - itinerary critique!

My husband and I will be visiting Portland this weekend. It's not our first time in Portland but I only have vague memories of eating here last time, mostly centered on the Portland Farmer's Market, which sadly far exceeds the farmer's markets we have access to here in Vancouver. You guys are so lucky!

So here's my proposed eating itinerary, please give me your input if you can.

Saturday:
Portland Farmer's Markets (Pine State biscuits and gravy!)
Possible Lunch: Chef Naoko Bento Café
Possible snack: Sahagun
Happy hour: Ten01
Late Dinner: Pok Pok

Sunday:
Ken's Artisan Bakery
Late lunch: Apizza Scholls - opens at 4 PM
Dinner: Clyde Common or Toro Bravo

Monday:
Bunk Sandwiches to go

We're leaving fairly early on Monday to make the long drive back to Vancouver. As you can see, we have a heavy day of eating on Saturday, because a lot of restaurants aren't open on Sunday! I'm sad to miss Tanuki, Ken's pizza, the Portland food carts and Biwa. I hope I can fit all of this in my stomach as it is!

What do you think of Clyde Common vs. Toro Bravo? And any recommendations for Sunday lunch? I considered Pambiche but I'm not sure about it, especially if we'll be visiting Toro Bravo later that evening. Thanks in advance!

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  1. Wow. I'm way too full even from reading it.
    This is certainly a stellar lineup.
    Can't find fault with any of it!

    Portland FM is a must, as you have mentioned. Get some Hood strawberries at the season's peak, the best you will ever taste.

    Seriously consider Evoe http://pastaworks.com/evoe/

    At Sahagun (5 minute walk to Ten01), look for the new iced chocolate or cocoa. Either will make you swoon. Also new is the single origin chocolate sherbet. All is made to order, of course.
    http://www.sahagunchocolates.com/blog/

    I'd do Toro Bravo. Go very early or late.

    Bunk is a great idea, but they have an annoying policy of not making lunch sandwiches until 11. On a weekend that's fine, but I often find myself wanting lunch earlier than that on Monday. I love the old school east coast vibe, and the ingredients and execution are top-notch.

    Another idea for Sunday lunch: Navarre. Oregonian just named it Restaurant of the Year, but I would have mentioned it in any case.

    Have a lovely trip. Please report!

    1. Looks like you'll be plenty busy! Sahagun's iced drinking chocolate is awesome but you ABSOLUTELY must have at least one Luscious Caramel and also as many Sunflower Drops as you can fit into you mouth. They'll blow your mind.

      If Bunk doesn't pan out, please keep in mind Little T's American Bakery on SE Division. Tasty stuff going on there.

      ...and I vote for Toro Bravo!

      1. If you go to Toro Bravo on Sunday night, don't let the hour long wait they quote scare you off. It rarely takes this long and you can have apps in their little waiting area.

        1. since Ten01 just got a new Chef and it seems to be in flux right now, I might skip the HH there and do Tanuki(opens at 4pm) instead.

          everything else looks great, although I would suggest bringing stretchy pants!:-)

          1. I've eaten at all of these places in the last 2-months. Tanuki would be the one must-visit place out of all of them... Nix the Bento Cafe and Ten-01 and visit Tanuki.

            1. Interesting advice, does anyone else concur with the advice to skip Ten01 and do Tanuki instead? Gotta save room for PokPok later that night! I'm very excited about the strawberries, they must be coming into season now like they are in Vancouver.

              Yikes now that I'm looking at it maybe it's a bit ambitious to do four or five eating destinations in one day, lol. But I'll try!

              Toro Bravo it is, decision made. I'll definitely report back!

              5 Replies
              1. re: dimples_323

                Yes, do Tanuki instead.

                And when it comes to strawberries, insist on the Hoods. I mean it. Ultra sweet, juicy, melt on your tongue, shelf life of about a day. Trust me on this. I went to a u-pick this AM and can't stop eating. But be choosy. There are about six vendors, so make sure to taste them all before buying. Tough job but someone's gotta do it.

                If you do skip Ten01, here's a bar that is a must if you love outstanding cocktails: Teardrop Lounge.

                1. re: Leonardo

                  Leonardo, where do you go to upick strawberries?

                  1. re: sophiamaria

                    Jaquith Farms, halfway between Newberg & Beaverton.
                    503 628 1640.
                    The berries are delicate and really small.
                    I'm guessing the season is almost over, as it is short. Maybe a week more.

              2. Not to hijack Dimples thread, but, I'm also headed to Portland this weekend. I have a reservation for Simpatica Fri night, Andina on Sat night, and planned on Pok Pok for Sunday night (after wine tours for the afternoon). I need some help with lunches.

                Question: I'm staying in the Pioneer Square area (SW). Would love to just meander on Friday afternoon, squeezing in some food stops (great shops/bakeries/lunch spots/gastropubs). Where should I head? Neighborhood or street suggestions much appreciated! I think I'm having a hard time getting the lay of the land. I've seen spots in the SE that I'd like to check out - is it a total trek from SW?

                Also going to the Portland Art Museum Saturday - what's good in that neighborhood?

                TIA!

                4 Replies
                1. re: Angel Food

                  I've got a separate thread going, but I think Pok Pok is closed on Sundays - I had to swap my plans around to make it fit...

                  1. re: Angel Food

                    Any tourism no-food posts will be deleted, trust me on that one.
                    PDX is very walkable. You can even (shudder) cross the river by foot, no problem. Anywhere in the greater downtown area is easily accessible by foot. Remember that PDX blocks are tiny.
                    Best food streets are NE/SE 28th, Alberta, Division.
                    Near the art museum is Higgins and the Portland Farmers' Market.

                    1. re: Angel Food

                      Near the art museum is South Park and they have a pretty good happy hour too.

                      There are some really good Izakaya restaurants in Vancouver, I'm thinking maybe Dimples should skip Tanuki and try something he/she can't get in Vancouver.

                      1. re: porky pine

                        I was thinking about that but then again I do want to try izakaya style food in Portland too, to see how it varies. The sample menu at Tanuki looks great. We'll see how things go, maybe I'll be more in the mood for one thing over another and head over to Ten01 instead.

                        I'm planning on walking everywhere even though we'll have a car. I think I'll need it!

                    2. Toro Bravo is hard to beat but they do not take reservations so you may have to chill [and drink] at an upstairs lounge next door]. The usual Tapas experience is a few really great dishes, a few good dishes and a couple of zeros. Not at TB--every dish is a winner. Cheap corkage as well-I think $10.

                      1. We're back and had a wonderful trip! The food... oh the food.

                        Saturday:

                        Portland Farmer's Market - Such bounty! Beautiful strawberries everywhere. Bought two pints from different vendors, made sure they were hoods. We ate them with fage yogurt the next two mornings. Unfortunately Pine State biscuits weren't there so we had a great yucatan chicken tamale instead. Fresh salsa with sour cream over big chunks of chicken, yum! I was really tempted to buy veggies but unfortunately we probably wouldn't be able to bring them across the border.

                        Were pretty full after that, so we walked around downtown for awhile, before stopping at Sahagun for the hot chocolate. WOW it was rich and creamy, but not too sweet, definitely a very unique drinking chocolate. We made the smart move of sharing one cup, and it was more than enough, we were saving room for our next eating destination. Got a couple of sun drops and caramels to go. My husband also got a chocolate covered prune (called a Miracle Pill) and I got the Oregon Kiss hazelnut truffle in a chocolate cup. The caramel was amazing, slightly salty and a burst of flavour in your mouth.

                        Next up (yes this was all in the same day) was Tanuki, right when it opened. We took a seat outside and watched the clouds loom as we ordered the dungeness crab salad with real wasabi (never had it before, it's got way more flavour but less bite than the fake paste kind) with little green roe. Also had a skewer of duck hearts and the scallop salad. The salad had bits of really hot chili that my husband ate as a challenge and quickly regretted... but it was tempered by the mix of cilantro, mint and shiso leaf. Last up was what was basically a seafood fried rice done really well, with crispy bits of rice. This was my favourite dish, haha. I'm a carb maniac. I washed it down with a sake sangria, while my husband had a $2 sapporo.

                        Finally that night we went to PokPok where the wait was about an hour. We took the opportunity to walk around while waiting and when we were seated inside we ordered the PokPok wings, game hen and papaya salad . I've never had such flavourful wings in my life! I loved how it came with pickled daikon and carrot and lettuce - I made little bundles by picking the chicken off the bone and wrapping it up. The pickled veggies perfectly offset the savoury chicken. Unfortunately I couldn't eat the papaya salad, it was too spicy for me, I'm pretty sensitive to heat. My husband gobbled it up though, and we took most of the game hen home to eat the next morning (yay for fridges in hotel rooms). You guys are right, the food was definitely unique. I wish I could've tried more dishes. I loved the pandan leaf in the water carafes!

                        Sunday:

                        Woke up, went to Ken's to pick up a morning bun and an oregon croissant as well as a coffee. Love the blackberries in the oregon croissant, and the morning bun was filled with something (couldn't figure out what it was) but we couldn't get enough.

                        Did some shopping and walking, then walked to Apizza Scholls when it opened. Ordered the caesar salad with anchovies! Husband raved about this the rest of the trip, he loved it so much. We also had half sausage, half "margo"rita pizza. It was really incredible... we don't have pizza like that up here, thin crust with a great char and a chewy crust. Had to keep it to a slice each in anticipation of the evening feast though!

                        Finally we went to Toro Bravo around 9, you guys were so right! The waiter let me keep a menu and this is what we ordered:
                        - A French "Kiss" each: brandy soaked prunes stuffed with foie gras - it was my first time eating foie gras and it was a decadent rich treat, wow
                        - Porcini and potato salad: with cherries, spring onions and parsley - the sweet cherries went well with the savoury porcinis and the potatoes provided texture
                        - Basque piperade with duck egg - this came with perfectly toasted bread and we piled the concoction on top. I had no idea what this was when I ordered it but I really enjoyed the mixture of peppers, onions and spices.
                        - Seared scallops with romesco: I really wanted to try romesco here because I made it at home for the first time a few months ago and fell in love with it. This version was smoky and complex - mine tasted strongly of nuts. I'll have to tweak it to get it more subtle. Scallops were perfectly seared and not overcooked. I hate rubbery scallops. It was served with a shaved fennel salad that added some crunch.
                        - Squid Ink Pasta: with hazelnuts, anchovy syrup and egg yolk - recommended by our waiter and I'm glad we listened to him. When it came he instructed us to mix in the egg yolk to create a sauce. This dish was great, my favourite of the night.

                        Monday:

                        We did the river walk around both east and west while waiting for the lunch sandwiches at Bunk. Got one to share - roast beef with horseradish and caramelized onions. Loved the kick from the horseradish and the sweetness from the caramelized onions.

                        Great trip, lots of food consumed, many pounds gained, but totally worth it. Thanks chowhounders for all the advice... hope I can go back soon and try the other places I missed!

                        8 Replies
                        1. re: dimples_323

                          Glad you had a good time and thanks for reporting back!!

                          1. re: dimples_323

                            Thanks for the report! Glad to know you walked so much. This is the town for it.
                            A little puzzled that you said Pine St. Biscuits was not at the market. They are always there this time of year. Look in the SE corner near all the other food vendors.
                            Here's hoping next time you can make it there and to Ken's Pizza!
                            Thanks for the TB dishes I've yet to have.
                            Come back soon!

                            1. re: Leonardo

                              I can confirm that Pine State was NOT at the Market on Saturday. I had scoped out the locale on the map; they weren't there. I asked another vendor who said they were in fact absent on Saturday.

                              1. re: Angel Food

                                Oh good, I would've been sad if I had missed them and they were in fact there. I walked around a couple of times and then got really hungry so I gave up and got the next best thing! Lots of people were eating the breakfast burritos, which also looked yummy.

                            2. re: dimples_323

                              Thanks for the report. I haven't been to Toro Bravo for a while and you're making me want to go back!

                              1. re: dimples_323

                                I recently visited Portland with my fiance and went to many of the restaurants you suggested. They were terrific! We went to:

                                Toro Bravo--we were lucky enough to sit at the chef's table and appreciated the no recorking fee (we're from MD and can't even take home an open bottle). The meal was an explosion of flavors and it's on our top 10 list. Our favorites:
                                -the squid ink pasta (delish!)
                                -sauteed spinach
                                -boar
                                -oxtail

                                Pok Pok
                                I ordered a milk curry dish and thoroughly enjoyed it. My fiance made the mistake of ordering one of the spiciest items on the menu--marinated boar collar. While it was delicious, it was indeed very spicy. The chilled mustard greens and sticky rice went well with it.

                                Tanuki--what a surprise it was when we looked up and saw soft asian porn on the TV. Very funny. We got the duck hearts and the goat and they were very tasty.

                                Thirst--a wine bar downtown, on the waterfront. We were able to sample four delcious wines while we tried some cheeses. I also had the ceviche which was pretty good.

                                Cha Cha Cha--I had the Sole (I think) with beef tongue--wonderful.

                                I visited the street vendors on fourth street for lunch one afternoon and tried a few things that were absolutely delicious and inexpensive.

                                Also, we heard about an event called "Last Thursdays" held on Alberta St in the Hawthorne District and are we ever glad that we went. About 10 blocks are shut down to allow anyone to sell any goods that they wished. It varied from cute, hand-made jewerly to funky paintings and sculptures to home-made vegan cupcakes to petting the alpalcas for a quarter. In the middle of the street, there was unique dancing to peruvian bands, makeshift floats and more fun. It was quite a sight and we LOVED it. There are plenty of bars/restaurants on the block and we visited quite a few for drinks and oysters.

                                1. re: jacquelina444

                                  Thanks for the report! For others who might be visiting, I had a couple of clarifications:
                                  - recorking bottles: this is the practice at any Oregon restaurant, not just TB. I've heard that the reasoning is that not allowing patrons to cork and take home bottles encourages them to finish the bottle and possibly drive home afterward.
                                  - The Alberta district (home to Last Thursdays) and the Hawthorne district are both on the east side, but are a few miles apart--Alberta is in the northeast and Hawthorne is in the southeast.
                                  Finally, I'm curious as to which Cha Cha Cha you ate at--I think the menu and to some extent the quality varies at the different locations.

                                  1. re: jacquelina444

                                    Thanks for reporting. TB is now one of my favorite places. It's on your top ten places of all time? Wow!

                                    Not at all surprised by the TV at Tanuki. It could be anything from wacky Japanese gameshows to sumo. Always great food that the vast majority of Americans have never had, much less even heard of.

                                    Ditto what Nettie said: Alberta St. is in the Alberta Arts District (the Vernon/King/Concordia neighborhoods) while four miles away is Hawthorne St in the Richmond/Sunnyside neighborhoods. Totally different parts of town.

                                    Oregon began allowing taking home the unused portion of the wine bottle about 20 years ago. A benefit to restaurants is that it encourages more people to order a bottle, as the diner need not worry about wasting any.