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May 3, 2010 11:30 PM

1st time to Portland, need food/day trip suggestions please

My husband and I are celebrating our 10th anniversary by visiting Portland in mid-May, staying at the Nines. We will have all day Friday-Sunday, leaving mid-day on Monday. I definitely want to explore the food carts as well as as at least 2 nice meals. Additionally, we'd like to take a day trip to the Coast and perhaps another day at the Gorge. Given all that Portland has to offer (esp all the wonderful food I keep reading about), would you recommend 2 day trips, which would only leave 1 full day in Portland? Also, I'm debating between Cannon Beach and Lincoln City area for the day trip to the coast, as I don't want to spend all day driving to hit both spots. Which would you consider more of a "can't miss" for its beauty, charm, things to do, and of course, great food?

Any recommendation on a nice anniversary dinner in the city? We love food that is local, something we can't get in Southern CA. We love sushi, seafood, steaks.

Thanks in advance for any tips you can provide!

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  1. Search the general PNW board for ideas for the coast and gorge, they split our board up and now this is metro Portland only.

    Lots of great ideas with links and pics here for Portland while our tip sheet is updated:

    You can spend a few hours in the gorge going up the old highway after breakfast, seeing the waterfalls, maybe the fish hatchery (Herman the Sturgeon is kinda awesome), and make it back for happy hour AND dinner. The coast is an all day trip.

    Go to Cannon Beach or even better, IMO, Manzanita. Manzanita is smaller (and only 15 min south of CB on 101, you could do both) and though the choices are waaaay fewer, the food is better. Look for some of my posts on the PNW board.

    1 Reply
    1. re: JillO

      We had a very nice dinner at Ten 01 in the Pearl District a few weeks ago. Fenouil is another lovely choice for a nice dinner. I would go to Cannon Beach, it's beautiful there. We have a beach cottage in Seaside, just ten minutes away. We had lunch at The Wayfarer this Fri. with friends, the food is very good here. Other good places to dine in Cannon Beach include: Bistro, Inspired! Cafe @ the DragonFire Gallery, Newman's @ 988, Pizza a Feta and Stephanie Inn. I would also check out Yummy Wine Bar in Seaside. Enjoy your travels! :)

      Ten 01
      1001 NW Couch, Portland, OR 97209

      900 NW 11th Avenue, Portland, OR 97209

    2. If you want a great place for dinner- I highly recommend Andinas- nouveo Peruvian. Also Oba- nouveau Latin cuisine. They have an upscale vibe.

      There's also a place called Brazil Grill. Its a Churrascaria. You pay about 35? a person, and you have unlimited meat and sides. They have about 8 types of meat they come by with. The bacon wrapped filet mignon is amazing. There are 2 other meats that are yummy. The scallops too. And if you go- you must have the pineapple. Best healthiest dessert Ive ever had. However, I always ask for a side of vanilla ice cream. The warm pineapple against the cold vanilla bean cream....yummm

      But if you want the best sushi in town- hands down- go to Saburos.
      They have quality sushi- and in large sizes. Amazing sushi. However, expect a small restaurant with a cozy neighborhood vibe. Not fancy by any means. And there is always a wait. It can be anywhere from 20minutes to 1 hour. But it is hands down the best sushi I've had in Portland.

      Sorry I don't have recommendations for the coast- I actually don't like it in Oregon. Being a So Cal girl- these cold beaches do nothing for me. The beaches are nice, they are just always cold and windy.

      Best of luck!

      OH- in case you do breakfast go to
      Byways- its in the Pearl area. You cant go wrong with anything here. I found out about it from the Food Network.

      The other well known yummy spot is Cadillac Cafe. Excellent food too! I tried to get the website- but some music site comes up.

      Andina Restaurant
      1314 NW Glisan, Portland, OR 97209

      Brazil Grill
      1201 SW 12th Ave Ste 100, Portland, OR 97205

      555 NW 12th Ave, Portland, OR 97209

      13 Replies
      1. re: terrio

        Biggest sushi in town, but way far from the best. Have you been to Hiroshi, Murata, Kurata, Bamboo, Masu, Yoko's, Hana, Ichidai? Seriously, I am curious to know where else you have been to consider Saburo's the best...

        450 5th St, Lake Oswego, OR 97034

        Ichidai Restaurant
        5714 SE Powell Blvd, Portland, OR 97206

        1. re: JillO

          I went to Saburos once and was very disappointed. I waited an hour for a table for huge pieces of mediocre fish. I would steer clear.

          1. re: porky pine

            ...which is a nicer review than I would give it...but hey, I think it's worth it to drive to Lake O. for sushi, what do I know?

            1. re: JillO

              Saburo's is horrible, both in the product, the wait, and the service. Ugh.

        2. re: terrio

          This list of replies to terrio's post about Saburo's is a perfect example of why there are only a few of the usual suspects participating on this board. Once someone goes against the conventional wisdom (new is in, old is out, Pok Pok and Kenny and Zukes are wonderful, Alexis and Jake's are terrible, etc.) they get lambasted.

          Yes, Saburo's sushi is large, and the hords waiting outside are a disincentive for sure, but I totally respect terrio's opinion that it's the best. Jillo, Porky, Leo et. al - have you tried the hot appetizers, for example? They rock! Terrio, please hang around, we need more new blood around here!

          Pok Pok
          3226 SE Division St, Portland, OR

          1. re: MichaelG

            I did not lambaste anyone, I wanted to know what other places terrio has tried. I also gave examples of stuff I thought was better, hoping maybe terrio or others have opinions on those places too. Still would love to hear it, really.

            For Japanese, unless I am going to an izakaya like biwa (which does not specialize in or serve sushi), I go out to places that specialize in sushi to eat sushi. Saburo's sushi, IMO (I am one person, one opinion, not any more or less valid than anyone else's, for the record) is nowhere near as good (in quality, cut, selection) as the others I me, YMMV. And all I am saying is, if YM does, why can't we talk about why that is and what you like and why...otherwise this site will always be a tourist info list instead of mostly Portland folks talking about food.

            And, IMO, THAT is why so few folks are here and most of the discussion on Portland food happens at & portlandfoodanddrink. No one wants to take the time and talk about the food and the places and WHY they like them and where else is good to go, etc. Someone posts about a new place and there is no discussion about after a while no one is posting about that new meal they've had, they only answer tourist questions, it's true for me.

            Why do I even do so? Well, other than recent unemployment giving me too much time, I really care about food around here...and I have been on Chowhound, starting with the NYC boards (when they were the only ones that existed), since the mid-90's...I just keep hoping this board comes to life like the old Chowhound I knew and loved. I don't know why I care, honestly...not worth it most of the time.

            Look at the other boards here, people talk about food and restaurants where they live, not just where they are traveling to.

            Nice to hear that you think Saburo's hot appetizers are we are getting somewhere. So what is good and why do you think it is good? Come now, don't be shy, put it out there!

            And for the record, I am not a Pok Pok fan, not a sycophant of Paley's, not a blind follower of anything. My last meal at Alexis was underwhelming (but not awful), and my last two meals at Jake's so sad, I was embarrassed for them. I am friends with K&Z's owners and have had mostly good meals and service there (most of them when the owners were not there), but I was jonesing bad for Jewish deli and love to be able to get a good version of it (Rose's and Kornblatt's are awful, IMO, barely edible food - again, just my opinion)...and I believe THAT clouds my judgment more than the friendship. ;o)

            And yes, terrio, please do hang around. No problem agreeing to disagree here, no harm meant.

            Pok Pok
            3226 SE Division St, Portland, OR

            1. re: JillO

              This is an interesting board. I've been checking in a few times a week for several weeks prior to a trip to Portland and I can't see any real consensus on restaurants.

              I don't mind that except there is usually consensus on 3-5 good (and sometimes also pricey) restaurants.

              I certainly expect disagreement. Being a little familiar with the restaurant business I know you can serve the exact same meal with the exact same servers to two four tops on adjacent tables and probably get 4 completely different reviews on the food and the service.

              So we'll probably pick a few restaurants with reservations and try some walk-ins that look interesting. We'll be at the intown Hilton for 4 days so there should be some walkable places.

              Are there places where reservations are a must, like Ten01?

              1. re: collardman

                If you are eating dinner on the weekend after 5:30, you should make a reservation anywhere that takes them. On a weeknight before 6, most places won't have a wait, but if you know you want to go somewhere and they take reservations, you should make them. I would say 6:30 -8:30pm are the busiest hours here in Portland, and most places stop seating by 10, maybe even 9, depending on the day or place.

                I would make a reservation for ten-01, and probably for any upscale meal, especially if you want to be guaranteed a seat at a specific time. Some places here actually don't take reservations, so you have to check and see, don't assume you can make one. Prioritize anywhere you want to eat that does not take reservations...

                1. re: collardman

                  Here are a few of things I've recently tried, and wouold all highly recommend:

                  For food carts:
                  either of the beef tacos at Koi Fusion
                  the main chicken dish at Nong's Khao Man Gai
                  the waffles at Parkers Waffles

                  For restaurants:
                  Gruner (downtown)
                  Alba (SW Portland - drive or bus from downtown)

                  Nong's Khao Man Gai
                  SW 10th and Alder, Portland, OR

                  1. re: collardman

                    Portland doesn't really have restaurants that are clearly trying to stand out as four or five star temples of foodiedom, like in most cities. No one is trying to be Thomas Keller or Eric Ripert here. No place with an average entree price over $30 (except the big steakhouses). Not to say you won't get good food, there's just no place trying to provide luxurious ingredients in a luxurious restaurant with luxurious service that makes foodies feel like they have to put that place on the list of must-eats. (Though these places are rarely the must-eats for me in any city I visit.) Jill linked to my IACP food guide above. It's a good start with lots of variety and places close to downtown, which is usually easiest for visitors.

                    btw, Jill, I thought the reason why everyone stopped posting here was because of never knowing if your post would be deleted and the inability to know who the moderator was so you could actually hold them accountable for their biases.

                    1. re: extramsg

                      Good to know that Nick "knows" why "everyone" has stopped posting here, must have been quite a process doing all those interviews! I stopped for quite a while because it is too repetitive and not all that interesting.

                  2. re: JillO

                    You want to know why I like the hot appetizers at Saburo's? Because they're good! Try the something with seafood. '

                    But if Kenny and Zuke's pastrami is cold and dry, as it was the first time I tried it, or smokey, which threw me off at first but now it's starting to grow on me, I get specific.

                    Overall, I do agree with a lot of your points. I think there was a nice discussion about Tanuki here among locals, for example, which is where I first heard of it. But I also like those tourist inquiries as well.

                    And as far as Jake's is concerned, I have no doubt that your meal was as bad as you describe. Ambiance counts for something, though. Having said that, the only person I'd recommend Jake's to would be the 45 year old woman taking her mother for her 80th birthday or something.

                    But my main point is really that I hate to read words like "ugh," and "horrible." And extramsg, who's opinions I tend to respect, once referred to my favorite lunch place, Thai Peacock, as "blech."

                    I've eaten at great restaurants all over the world, and Thai Peacok delivers every time, so why hurt the feelings of hard working restaurateurs with such words?

                    Words like "ugh," "blech," and "disgusting" are not helpful in describing the local food scene.

                    413 NW 21st Ave, Portland, OR 97209

                    Thai Peacock Restaurant
                    219 SW 9th Ave, Portland, OR 97205

                    1. re: MichaelG

                      If anything, I'm usually blamed for being overly descriptive. My burger reports (nearing 60!) over on have been called burger autopsies because of my CSI-style approach to including all the details. So if I said "blech", it probably just summed up what I had already described in detail.

              2. This is my first post, and I must say I was motivated to respond due to the lack of mention of some of my favorite restaurants. I have seen your other post and I know you have made some decisions already, but here is some more food for thought:

                1. You mentioned local food and steak. Your hotel's restaurant, The Urban Farmer, is a modern steak house with mostly local ingredients. You might be pleasantly surprised...

                2. If you want something unique to Portland, I'm not sure Ten01 is all that special, but still good. We love to go there for Happy Hour more than dinners.

                3. For special/unique, I really like Beast (as the name implies, you will get meat there) and Le Pigeon (for those interested in avoiding offal - I am usually one of them - there are other menu items available).

                4. In terms of the Gorge (which I recommend), try to drive along the Old Columbia River Gorge Highway.

                Hard to make these decisions...Good Luck and have fun!

                Le Pigeon
                738 E Burnside St, Portland, OR 97214

                Urban Farmer
                525 SW Morrison St., Portland, OR 97204

                4 Replies
                1. re: cobpdx

                  I was underwhelmed by Ten01, but maybe it's just me. The ambiance was excellent, and the food certainly very good, but when the bill came, it just didn't seem worth it for some reason.

                  1. re: cobpdx

                    After doing some more research I see Ten01 responses all over the place which makes me wonder, so they've been dropped for the time being (except for possible happy hour which does get consistant good reviews) . Also, a communal table will not work on a business dinner night. I think restaurants should make their seating style more obvious. Sometimes communal is just the thing you want but not always.

                    Thanks for your help even tho I jumped in on Mages thread.

                    Since we will be taking a ride up to Cascade to visit a friend is there any good Satrurday lunch places up towards Astoria?

                    1. re: collardman

                      The ten-01 reviews are all over the place because they have had some major chef changes, recent reports from those I trust say it is worth returning, but I have not done so yet. And ten-01 does not have communal tables that I know of (Clyde Common and Le Pigeon and SImpatica and Beast all do , though).

                      Best place I have eaten north of 26 and south of Astoria is Yummy Wine Bar and Bistro in Seaside, but they don't serve a true lunch, it's happy hour 3-6:

                      Either Portland or Astoria might provide a better option for a good lunch. Or buy stuff in Portland and eat it at the coast before or when you get to Astoria...

                      I have had two dinners there that have been very good and great values (esp. for the coast).

                      Le Pigeon
                      738 E Burnside St, Portland, OR 97214

                      1. re: JillO

                        Thank You, JillO.

                        The communal I was refering to was Le Pigeon which sounds interesting and is on my possible list with my wife, but not with customers. I read up on Beast but that is not on the list for this trip.

                        We have four nights, with two upscale, one at a private home (one of the river houseboats-looking forward to that) and well do one "downscale", maybe ethnic, maybe cart food.

                        Le Pigeon
                        738 E Burnside St, Portland, OR 97214