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Feb 22, 2010 12:33 AM

lunch near Convention Center / downtown

I'm looking for a quick (< 1 hr), cheap (~ $10) lunch place near the Oregon Convention Center. Ideally, it should be someplace that is within walking distance or a short (< 15 min) trip on public transportation.

I'll be visiting Portland for a few days for a scientific conference at the Oregon Convention Center and have some locations picked out already from roaming the various boards (for my other meals), but I'm meeting some colleagues for lunch on Tuesday, and doubt they'd be willing to sacrifice the time to make the trek to Pok Pok during the 90 min allotted for lunch between sessions.

Pretty much any cuisine is fair game, but it's probably better to emphasize a place with more accessible cuisine rather than one that goes nuts with flavors / strange ingredients.

Any suggestions?
(thanks for any replies)

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  1. My suggestion for a weekday lunch - walk across the street from OCC and hop on a Blue, Red or Green Line MAX westbound train, and get off downtown. A 10 minute train ride, at most.

    Hit up the food cart blocks (Research here - at SW 3rd & Stark, SW 5th & Stark or SW 9th & Alder, where you'll have the option of lunching at any one of 35 or more food carts, of pretty much any cuisine you can imagine. Meals at same range from between $5 - $8, and will fit quite well into your time constraints.

    Browse them all, pick your favorite (Ziba's Pitas!, but don't let me influence you on that, heh), and you'll be well on your way back on an eastbound train to OCC before can even begin to grasp the greatness of La Jarochita or Brunch Box or Savor Soup House or Taste of Poland or Addy's Sandwich Bar or The Whole Bowl or etc etc...


    Otherwise, in the area near the Convention Center? You're pretty much screwed. Burgerville on MLK one block north of OCC (a decent fast-food place by national standards, but still a fast-food place nonetheless) is probably the only other place in that area that fits your lunchtime needs. Skip it, is my advice. Same thing I told some folks who came out here last year to the Doubletree for the Community Food Security Coalition's National Farm-to-Cafeteria Conference last year about this time, at which I was an attendee and presenter.

    When in Portland, think outside the box. Especially since many of our food carts put brick-and-mortar establishments to shame in the first place...

    2 Replies
    1. re: JayinPortland

      I should also mention that the Oregon Convention Center is pretty much in Portland's Dead Man's Land. This is the one section of our city where Portland once went along with the rest of our country in deciding (in the 1960's / 1970's) that the future was in malls and suburban-style office towers, with lots and lots and lots and lots and lots and lots and lots of parking...

      Fortunately, the city woke up and stopped the bleeding early enough (and set an early example for the rest of our nation in doing so)... but the area around the Oregon Convention Center is still to this day pretty much a Dead Zone outside of lunch hours at the Convention Center.

      And as I've mentioned above, ironically enough conference attendees really have nowhere nearby to go at those times. Unless they want to eat at a chain along Broadway or Weidler or at a Lloyd Center "restaurant"...

      1. re: JayinPortland

        I did see some of the food carts while wandering around downtown today and some of them did look interesting. I can't say the same for the area near OCC.

        Thanks for the tips.

      2. My GF is out there for that as well, and I have some family in the area that recommended Ping (same owners as PokPok), Slow Bar, and Screen Door. All look pretty good. If you can get across the river and like beer (for dinner), I would recommend hitting up the Rogue Brewery. There's tons of good food all over Portland, just gotta find it.

        1. Olympic Provisions, Slow Bar (really good burger), Petisco (sandwiches), Doug Fir, J&M Cafe (breakdast/lunch), Nicholas (Lebanese)

          All are less than a mile from the Convention Center, an easy walk IMO.

          1 Reply