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Best Brewpub/Casual Dinner Food in Portland

UptownKevin Jul 25, 2009 06:02 AM

Hey all - my wife and I are headed to Portland in September (Thu-Tue) for a weekend trip focused on food, beer and wine. We're beginning to do some research and I am looking for suggestions on some of the better casual and brewpub type restaurants for dinner.

Already have a decent list of restaurants that are definite, but they seem to be coming in at the higher end of the spectrum, including Le Pigeon, Ten01, Sel Gris and Laurelhurst Market. That's a whole different post, so I will save that one for when we solidify our choices. But you can at least see the type of food that we like.

Now I am looking for maybe a casual choice or two. One of the best meals I ever had in San Francisco was a hangar steak sandwich at the Thirsty Bear Brewing Company. Hoping to find a great brewpub and/or casual dinner spot that focuses on Portland and NW style food (we travel quite a bit around the Southeast, so no need for Southern food on this trip). Shoot, if they are really good, then we can use the suggestions for lunch as well.

And I am sure there are other threads that are similar, but I couldn't find anything using a search.



Edit: corrected spelling. I just typed it out pretty quickly; already have those restaurants' pages bookmarked.

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    Leonardo RE: UptownKevin Jul 25, 2009 06:43 AM

    We have a wealth of high quality food carts, so I'd say that's a PDX kind of thing. So hitting carts would be the Portland experience. http://foodcartsportland.com/

    Also on the more casual side there's always Kenny & Zuke's. For brewpubs, Roots, Lucky Lab or Amnesia. http://beervana.blogspot.com/2007/07/...

    (It's spelled "Sel Gris" & "Laurelhurst" if that will help your searching.)

    1. m
      MichaelG RE: UptownKevin Jul 27, 2009 04:50 PM

      I'd seriously look into the Descutes Brewery and Public House. Descutes has long been considered one of the best breweries in Portland. In fact, a good option would be to walk from Brideport to Descutes and see which one you like best. Both have high quality beer with casual but decent food.

      1 Reply
      1. re: MichaelG
        sophiamaria RE: MichaelG Jul 27, 2009 05:02 PM

        And between Bridgeport and Deschutes you could stop by Rogue Brewery also.

      2. j
        josephnl RE: UptownKevin Jul 27, 2009 08:57 PM

        I love eating at the bar at Pazzo in the Vintage Plaza. They make great drinks, have good beer on draft, and their casual Italian food cannot be beat...outstanding pizzas, salume, prosciutto, pastas, salads, etc. It's the best bar to eat at in Portland!

        1. j
          josephnl RE: UptownKevin Jul 27, 2009 09:00 PM

          Look no further than the bar at Pazzo in the Vintage Plaza Hotel. They make great drinks, have good beer on tap, and their casual Italian food cannot be beat...great pizzas, salume, prosciutto, salads, pastas, etc. This place has the best bar food in Portland!

          1 Reply
          1. re: josephnl
            josephnl RE: josephnl Jul 28, 2009 07:58 AM

            CH Editor...please remove one of my duplicate postings above. It didn't show up right away, so I redid it. Sorry!

          2. m
            mister RE: UptownKevin Jul 28, 2009 12:15 AM

            I had a nice meal at Bridgeport Brewery last weekend. A bowl of chowder was top notch; hints of smoke from bacon, potatoes that hadn't been cooked to mush and good flavor from the seafood. I also had the grilled wild salmon which I enjoyed though the quinoa and sauce weren't hot enough. Excellent bread made in their inhouse bakery. As a matter of fact we'd stopped by earlier in the morning for a beer but they were only serving baked goods and coffee. The baquettes looked so good I bought one and walked down the street to browse at Powells, after which the nearby Deschutes brewery was open for lunch. We ordered a charcuterie plate to accompany the beer. The platter was quite good, but the french style bread that came with it was awful compared to the Bridgeport baquette in my knapsack, so we ended up eating that. I did prefer the beer at Deschutes.

            1. p
              PaqpIn RE: UptownKevin Jul 28, 2009 12:32 PM

              Widmers has good beer and pretty good food (very German though - just a note).

              We often stop there on our way through Portland as my husband does like their Hefeweizen.

              1. f
                fanghsing RE: UptownKevin Jul 28, 2009 09:43 PM

                Some would say it's passe, but I always think it's fun to take visitors to McMenamins. There's different locations (Kennedy School, a Masonic Lodge, etc) with different interests (movies, live music). I think the food and beer's good, and it's usually a lot of fun. And definitely a Portland vibe! www.mcmenamins.com

                3 Replies
                1. re: fanghsing
                  Nettie RE: fanghsing Jul 29, 2009 05:55 PM

                  I'm a fan of McMenamins in general (heck, I was at Kennedy School on Monday for History Pub--how cool is it that they let the Oregon Historical Society use the theater once a month for a presentation on local history?) but the food is NOT GOOD. I would take a visitor to Kennedy School for a movie, but eat beforehand at Autentica, DOC, Beast, or Aladdin, all of which are within a few blocks.

                  1. re: Nettie
                    Drunky RE: Nettie Jul 29, 2009 06:30 PM

                    You might want to try the Rogue Tavern in NW Portland. Rogue is a brewery on the Oregon coast, but they have a local establishment in Portland. Their food is decent enough, but their beer is the real reason to go. I yearn for the chipotle ale everytime I'm away.

                    Rock Bottom is also a popular choice. Decent beer with pretty decent food in a decent price range. But it does feel a bit chain oriented. (Does anyone know if Rock Bottom is in fact part of a chain of restaurants?)

                    1. re: Drunky
                      geefin RE: Drunky Jul 29, 2009 06:39 PM

                      Yeah Rock Bottom is a chain. Why bother with a chain when you have great breweries in PDX?

                2. u
                  UptownKevin RE: UptownKevin Jul 30, 2009 06:22 AM

                  Thanks for all of the suggestions! We have friends that visited Portland and stayed at the Kennedy school and probably ate too many meals there. I have heard that the food is mediocre, so dining there is not on our list. We actually had reservations there but cancelled them so we could stay downtown instead, in the middle of the action. We're staying at the Mark Spencer, primarily for location and low cost.

                  Based on all of the research done, I have noticed that Portland really has not embraced the "beer and food" scene (together). Great food and great beer, but not in the same place. The breweries seem to focus on brewing great beer while food is an afterthought, while restaurants seem to focus their energy on wine and cocktails (along with the food) while carrying a couple of obligatory local beers.

                  I could be totally incorrect about my theory and that is why I started this thread. I know there are brewpubs around the country who design food to go with the beer (Thirsty Bear in SF, Tampa Bay Brewing Co., Tampa, etc.), please let me know if I am missing something. I am pretty good on the beer research, courtesy of past threads on CH as well as BeerAdvocate.com.

                  Thanks again!


                  3 Replies
                  1. re: UptownKevin
                    JillO RE: UptownKevin Jul 30, 2009 10:19 AM

                    Though I personally am not a huge Higgins fan, that restaurant has good food and a very large beer selection, though not all of it local. It is also a bit on the expensive side, even at the bar (as opposed to the larger restaurant).

                    1. re: JillO
                      Nettie RE: JillO Jul 30, 2009 03:59 PM

                      I'd agree with both you can have places with great food, and places with great beer in Portland, but there aren't really places with both great food and great beer. Higgins is about as well as you can do for good food and beer at the same place.

                      Sadly, Kevin, I think your theory is correct. I've thought this is really a niche that someone in Portland should move into. I think this is what they were trying for with Bridgeport Brewery, but from what I've heard the food misses the mark. There are also brewpubs that claim to have great food that do not (I'm looking at you, Laurelwood).

                      1. re: JillO
                        josephnl RE: JillO Jul 31, 2009 02:40 PM

                        Years ago, I was a huge fan of Higgins. Recently, I have found it very disappointing and definitely not worth the cost.

                    2. porky pine RE: UptownKevin Jul 30, 2009 04:27 PM

                      Saraveza is a cool, comfortable bar in north Portland with one of the best beer selections in town. They make good pasties and soups. Definitely worth a stop for lunch and a couple pints.

                      Concordia Ale House is one pretty quick bus ride to NE Portland and they also have a great beer selection. Kennedy School is two blocks away but their beer and food is no good.

                      1. b
                        boerewors RE: UptownKevin Jul 30, 2009 06:37 PM

                        I think Deschutes Brewery as mentioned above has the best craft beer in town. The food is also quite good on my 3-4 visits. I also highly second the Widmer recommendation. Nothing better than a Hefeweizen on a hot summer night and they make great German Style Pub fare.

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