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Good food/drink destinations for foodies on a budget in Portland

Hey there!

My beau and I will be spending 3 or 4 days in the Portland area in June, most likely staying in or close to downtown. We love ALL kinds of food, and have no dietary restrictions. We both work in restaurants (Bartender and Waiter), and thus also love good wine, beer, and innovative cocktails!
We don't like sterile, fine-dining atmospheres. We would like some suggestions on where to go for good, solid food/drinks in a cool/casual and/or eclectic/funky atmosphere, where we won't drop a ton of money. We always sit at the bar 'cause we're laid back people. We like to try a variety of things, so shareable small plates/tapas are always very enjoyable for us.
There are so many restaurants and bars in the area that I've reviewed, and I'm getting dizzy! Live music and cool patio hangouts are also a plus!
We are in our early 30's and would love to hear some feedback from you fun-loving locals.
Thank you for your help!


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  1. You'd really be hard-pressed to drop a lot of money anywhere here. Even the high-end places in Portland aren't that "high-end" $$$-wise, relatively speaking.

    One place I'd highly recommend that sounds like youze would enjoy is the Mississippi Marketplace food cart pod (N. Mississippi & Skidmore), where you can pick up a great, inexpensive street food meal from one of the bunch of food carts there and take your food into the German pub next door for a drink -


    It's a bit of a distance from downtown, but there's very easy bus access via the frequent service #4 St. Johns-bound line from downtown.

    I'm a huge fan of Garden State, myself...


    1 Reply
    1. re: JayinPortland

      Thank you for your feedback! Will heed your recommendations as we venture into Portland. We are no strangers to public transit...so we'll see what we can do in relatively little time. Cheers!

    2. A couple of places that have smaller and less expensive portions are Clyde Common (particularly the pastas) and Olympic Provisions. Toro Bravo has tapas, of course--while it isn't inexpensive, if you watch what you get you can eat really good food for a reasonable price.

      Tabla has a very good deal on a three-course dinner for $24. Another place where I think you get a great deal is Firehouse.

      Of all of these, only Clyde Common is downtown. I think most of the rest of them are accessible by bus (www.trimet.org).

      Toro Bravo
      120 NE Russell St Ste A, Portland, OR 97212

      Clyde Common
      , Portland, OR 97201

      2 Replies
      1. re: Nettie

        Thanks for the Gilt Club recommendation! I haven't seen it mentioned anywhere else, so I am intrigued. Cheers!

        1. re: Nettie

          I would hit some happy hours for great food at a great price. Here are three good ones to try:

          Davis Street Tavern: http://www.davisstreettavern.com/
          ten-01: http://www.ten-01.com/
          Basta's: http://www.bastastrattoria.com/happyh...

          Davis Street Tavern
          500 NW Davis Street, Portland, OR 97209

        2. I would check out the Happy Hour at the Gilt Club on Broadway. Great food- and a giant drink menu.

          3 Replies
          1. re: sexysheep

            Good call on Gilt, sexysheep. For a "keeping it real" atmosphere but some of the best pub chow downtown, Cassidy's is killing it. During Happy Hour (which is I believe 4-6pm and 10pm-2am), the items on the bar menu are $5.75. The Chicken-Fried Pork Belly is insane!

            1. re: sexysheep

              Thanks for your feedback! We're all about keeping it real, and will follow suit with your recommendations. We want to get a good taste of Portland. We've been told by a former resident that it's like our little liberal town of Carrboro, NC...times a thousand. Cheers!

              1. re: sexysheep

                You really hit it on the head with the Gilt Club. I checked out their website, and know we're gonna love it. The description of all their employees is f'in hilarious. Cheers!

              2. foodcartsportland.com will get you updated on what is happening, and the cart pods are a scene onto themselves..Whiffies and Potato Champion @ SE 12th and Hawthorne ( which is open late) are great places to meet folks and have fun conversations.
                Alberta St is worth checking out for live music...Al Forno is opening a bar next to the pizza place and I am sure it will be a fun eclectic place to be.
                The happy hour is an institution here and one of my faves for good food is Davis Street Tavern..and you can check out Ping across the way. Tanuki is further out, but they also have great deals at happy hour.
                Happy eatin...let us know what you liked!

                413 NW 21st Ave, Portland, OR 97209

                Potato Champion
                SE 12th and Hawthorne, Portland, OR

                1 Reply
                1. Thank you for your feedback! Am definitely interested in the food cart scene in Portland since I've heard so much about it. Just tryin' to get the local vibe as much as possible and get a taste of Portland with all its offerings. Can't wait!

                  1. My best recommendation for you is just to check out all the happy hours. Tons of restaurants have food specials at happy hour (generally 3-6), many even on weekends, and also there's quite a few with late night happy hours (10p+). There's a "Happy Hour Guidebook" you could buy at Powell's, or try looking at their website.

                    Also, if you'll be here on a Sunday, it's all day happy hour at Henry's tavern with cheap pub grub and 100 mostly local beers on tap (sadly, no beer special, though), and also a pretty long list of tapas at Oba! on special all day Sunday. Oba! and Typhoon (Thai) also have 1/2 price bottles of wine on Mondays.

                    555 NW 12th Ave, Portland, OR 97209

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: kma_pdx

                      Strongly second the suggestion about happy hours. My wife and I were in Portland last October for about a week, visiting from Brooklyn. Most of the menus we saw mentioned the early bird specials, so we tried them at Henry's 12th Street Tavern, at the Heathman Hotel, and at the River Place Hotel. We were really thrilled with the very low prices (especially by NY standards), and the relatively large portion sizes. If you can adjust your eating schedule to take advantage of the early bird specials, you'll save a lot and you'll still eat well.

                      Henry's 12th Street Tavern
                      10nw 12th Avenue, Portland, OR 97209

                      The Heathman Restaurant
                      1001 SW Broadway, Portland, OR 97205

                    2. If you are transit inclined - Taste Unique - Italian SE Clinton St., Meat Cheese Bread SE Stark St., Cafe Castagna SE Hawthorne St., Accanto SE Belmont St., Toro Bravo NE Russell St., Tasty and Sons (breakfast/lunch) N Williams St., Podnah's BBQ NE Prescott, and I second Tabla.

                      Cafe Castagna
                      1758 SE Hawthorne Blvd, Portland, OR 97214

                      Toro Bravo
                      120 NE Russell St Ste A, Portland, OR 97212

                      Meat Cheese Bread
                      1406 SE Stark St, Portland, OR 97214

                      1. if you are into charcuterie i would definitely make a trip to Olympic Provisions for either lunch or dinner. creative food and a menu where tere is nothing more than 12-15 bucks.There is also a retail counter grab to be able to buy some salami to take back with you.

                        For breakfast/brunch i would highly reccomend the biscuits and gravy at podnas for $7 on prescott and 15th or for something different try tasty and sons on williams.

                        and while youre here you have to make at least one pilgrimage to the food carts on 12th and hawthorne....epic!!!

                        1. one of the better secrets here in PDX is the Goodwill cafe inside the main goodwill off grand avenue right across from the city,They serve a great salad and the best grilled cheese sandwich,your choice of bread and cheese,grilled with butter or not,and frier for the great sum of
                          $3.50,add a drink and you have a meal. Their salads are large and good as well as daily specials and the best macademia cookies at 25 cent each.Show and look around a great store and have a meal.They serve food till 2:30 pm.Enjoy

                          1. As a disclaimer, I'm 30 and newish to the portland area. with that said, here are a few places i love.
                            http://www.acenapdx.com/ My ABSOLUTE favorite place int he city to eat, without exception. Not in downtown, but a 10 minute drive, easily. Try the house-made limoncello. And the truffle risotto balls. I can eat nothing but those. If they arent on the menu, ask, you may get lucky. The menu changes regularly based on what's fresh and good. Small place, very cozy upscale but not out of reason. Friendly waitstaff, amazing food.
                            http://miloscitycafe.com for breakfast. Great breakfasts for under $10, plenty of food. we usually end up with something to take home to snack! I love the corned beef hash, BIG strips of real corned beef, not canned garbage and country style hashbrown potatoes. They make their jam too, if i'm not mistaken. It's not far from downtown, just across the river by Lloyd.

                            http://www.paddys.com/ is yummy too. HUGE wall of liquor. GREAT roast beef deluxe. GREAT! Even the second day! Waitresses wear cute little kilts, very attentive but not pests.

                            Enjoy your trip!

                            3 Replies
                            1. re: yourgirlfriday

                              Um...their trip occurred 6 months ago...


                                1. re: nkeane

                                  Ha! I was looking at the march date, not the year! Super dork.

                            2. Responding to your preferences for things inexpensive, bar-atmosphere and good beer, I would recommend you try the Racoon Lodge -- in particular their "Den" downstairs, which is a bar. It is the HQ of Cascade Brewing. They are known for their sour beers (lactic fermentation). They also have a phenomenal German wheat beer (Summer Ghose), the likes of which I have never had elsewhere.

                              They have an 11 (small) glass sampler of everything they have on tap. They have a usual happy hour that extends to all day Saturday and Sunday (some happy hour food menu items and their three main beers $3.25/pint). They also have a Tightwad Tuesday, which again is happy hour all day and a special menu of inexpensive items -- I'm talking tasty dollar fish tacos, and cup of soup and salad for $1.75. The food is good, but not outstanding; however, for some good and unique beers and inexpensive pub grub, it can't be beat.

                              Now this is out on the western side of Portland, bordering with Beaverton (the 'burbs), but it isn't all that far from downtown and there's a direct bus connection between the two.

                              Two other suggestions:

                              Upright Brewery. This place is in the Rose Quarter, however, it has limited hours (Fridays and Saturdays), so check their website for details. They have some outstanding open-fermentation beers. This is a very minimalist place, basically a basement brewery with a few tables and no food; however, the beers must be tried. Can take the Yellow line Max to get here.

                              Another really good brewpub is Lompoc Brewery's Fifth Quadrant. Their beers are all top of the line and the food I had was good, and that which others around me had looked good too. Again, reasonably priced; can also take the Max Yellow line to get to this place, getting off at the station near Failing St. and walking about five blocks east (including taking the Failing Bridge -- who doesn't want to say they've walked the Failing Bridge?). Right next door is a dessert place and another door down is Lompoc's Sidebar, which has tastings of additional unique beers on Friday nights. This place has a very nice atmosphere and interior and I think you'll appreciate the bar there too.

                              Whatever you do, don't go to any McMenniman's establishments. Friends don't let friends drink at McMennimans -- it's that bad.