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Food picks for Portland trip 5/21-5/24

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  • mages May 7, 2010 11:30 AM
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Thanks to some responses I've received on my other post and for the past info posted on this board. I think I have narrowed down my food choices for our short trip (was very hard!). My husband and I are coming from So Cal to celebrate our 10th anniversary. Here are our picks...let me know if you'd make any substitutions (i.e. better can't miss foods, type of food too similar, etc.). Of course, in between our hunt for the food, we'd like to see as much of Portland as we can (Rose Garden, japanese & Chinese gardens, pittock mansion, Powell's, etc.)

Friday: spending the day visiting the Gorge and outlet shopping. hoping to make it back in time for dinner at Toro Bravo.

Sat:
Visiting the Saturday Market and eating breakfast/lunch at the market (unless there is a lunch spot you'd suggest
- Cool Moon for ice cream
- Ten01 for happy hour
- Paley's Place for dinner

Sun:
-Pok Pok for lunch (I'm hoping there's no "must-have" dish missing on the lunch menu)
- Le Pigeon for dinner
- squeezing in Sahagun in between

Mon:
- lunch @ the food carts in downtown - what are some top choices (I'd like to stay away from burgers, hot dogs, and sandwiches)

-----
Le Pigeon
738 E Burnside St, Portland, OR 97214

Paley's Place
1204 NW 21st Ave, Portland, OR 97209

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

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  1. That sounds awesome to me! I hope that you're talking about the Portland Farmer's Market (food) on Saturday and not the Portland Saturday Market (hippy crafts) where the only food is yakisoba noodles and elephant ears. Myself, I'd probably stay at Ten01 rather than going to Paley's, but YMMV. Either would be a suitable special occasion place.

    On Monday, I'd stop at Nong's Khao Man Gai or Ziba's Pitas for lunch at the carts on 10th and Alder, then get a macchiato at Spella. These are all within spitting distance of each other, so you could see what appeals to you when you get there and go to that one, or even get food from each--it would be a lot of food, but you want to be full before you get on that plane home, don't you?

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

    1. Nettie nailed the Alder & 10th food cart pod picks above (love Ziba's!), I'd also add maybe considering a visit to Taste of Poland if you find yourself a few blocks over at 5th & Stark.

      Also, Tabor in that same pod is another great one. Czech food. I see you'd like to stay away from sandwiches that day, but the Schnitzelwich is much more than just a sandwich - it's a revelation! Good soups and stuff there, too.

      ;-)

      And speaking of soups and salads, Addy's Sandwich Bar at Alder & 10th (the Ziba's / Nong's / Spella pod) has some really good and creative daily soup and salad specials.

      Built to Grill's pasta dishes over at 3rd & Washington are a nice change from typical cart fare, as well.

      3 Replies
      1. re: JayinPortland

        Yeah, I posted and then deleted the Schnitzelwich rec because of the no sandwiches request, but damn, it's AWESOME! Try one, it is NOT your run of the mill sandwich!

        Love Ziba's too.

        1. re: JayinPortland

          I'll be there in July.....can't wait to eat at all the downtown food carts!

          1. re: tattud_gurl

            Here's a good guide for our food carts (it's not really a review site, but definitely comes in handy as a detailed listing - you can search by cuisine, location, hours, etc...) -

            http://www.foodcartsportland.com/

            Also, many of our best food carts are outside of downtown but still accessible via quick bus or train rides.

            Enjoy your stay in our city!

        2. Sahagun is closed Sundays.

          It is entirely doable to have breakfast at the mkt with strawberries, oatmeal, and Pine State Biscuits.

          Pok Pok's signature dishes are on most menus, in my experience.

          Sounds like a great itinerary!

          3 Replies
          1. re: Leonardo

            thanks all for the recs...and the heads-up about Sahagun not open on Sundays! I would be very disappointed to miss that chocolate!

            Also, a friend of my is raving about Portland City Grill and telling me it's a must-go place. I haven't seen anything on this board about this place and seems the reviews are more thumbs up on the view than the food. What do you think? Is this a place I should squeeze in?

            -----
            Portland City Grill
            111 SW 5th Ave Ste 3000, Portland, OR 97204

            1. re: mages

              The reviews are spot-on. If you must go, get there at the opening of happy hour and be prepared to fight for a view table.

              1. re: Leonardo

                Right Leonardo is, and if it is cloudy and overcast, skip it, cuz ya ain't gonna see any mountains and you can drink and eat better elsewhere.

          2. I am very glad to see this post! I took a trip to Portland last year (http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/615899) and am returning again this coming weekend (Fri 5/28-Sun 5/30). Many of the restaurants on your list are the same as mine and I'd love to hear your reviews/experiences of them once you're back.

            I am especially excited about Toro Bravo, Pok Pok, and ten 01 for happy hour, none of which I've had before. I will also be going to Le Pigeon, Kenny and Zuke's, and Pine State Biscuits. And stopping by Ken's Artisan Bakery to bring some baked treats home. Also looking forward to my triumphant return to Sahagun for the incredible drinking chocolate. I may also try the iced chocolate this time around.

            -----
            Pok Pok
            3226 SE Division St, Portland, OR

            Le Pigeon
            738 E Burnside St, Portland, OR 97214

            Ken's Artisan Bakery
            338 NW 21st Ave, Portland, OR 97209

            Pine State Biscuits
            3640 SE Belmont St, Portland, OR 97214

            2 Replies
            1. re: calmossimo

              Sahagun has some exciting new offerings. Bad news is that in order to better focus on wholesale and mail order, the shop is open only on Saturdays. Better contact to make sure is open on the holiday weekend.

              1. re: Leonardo

                Thanks for the tip. I'll check in.

            2. We are back from our trip, and what a fabulous trip it was...despite the rain that was there everyday except on the day we left...go figure! We dined at the Urban Farmers at our hotel (the Nines) for breakfast almost everyday as it was included with our stay. Food was ok...not great, but then we were trying to eat healthier for breakfasts and save ourselves for the "real" meals.

              On Friday, we went to Toro Bravo for dinner. Waited for about an hour for a table and ended up at the bar by the kitchen. Food was great. My fav dishes were the drunken pork with avocado salsa and the spinach with pine nuts and golden raisins. But really, everything we had was great.

              Day 2 started with trip to Farmer's market. We had Pine Street Biscuit...the one with fried chicken, pickles, honey & mustard. Loved the sweet w/ the savory flavor. There were some tasty vendors as well. There was one that had these different flavors of pesto. Wish I could have brought some home with us. Next food/drink stop was Sahagun. I have to say, this was disappointing to me. I personally like my chocolate sweeter. On the day we went, the choc of the day was ecuadrian 80% and pretty bitter, even after I added sugar. For dinner, we had reservations @ Paley's Place. This, was my favorite meal of the trip. I loved the smoked salmon croustini they brought out as soon as we were seated. Everything I had was amazing and I LOVE the fact that you can order half orders so for me, since I really wanted to try the salmon and the crab risotto dishes, I was able to order 1/2 order of each and make it a full meal. My DH ordered the special of the night, an aged ribeye. This was good, but I wouldn't say it was the best piece of meat I've ever had. Overall, the only "complaint" I have is that the portions are on the smaller side, but the quality of the food and service were awesome!

              Day 3 started with Pok Pok for lunch. We skipped breakfast so we can enjoy all the foods @ Pok Pok. While the food was great, I think having Thai food as your 1st meal was not the best idea. We LOVED the fish sauce wings and the rotisserie game hen. Crab fried rice was good, but probably not memorable. the disappointment there was probably the Khao Soi Kai. Personally, I think it looked better than it tasted. Overall, it was a great meal and I'd highly recommend Pok Pok.

              For dinner, we had reservations at Le Pigeon...which was at the communal table. Fortunately, there were 2 open seats at the bar left so we asked to be seated there instead. What an awesome experience to watch them cook! Unfortunately, Rucker wasn't there that night, but the food was still amazing. My DH called this meal his fav of the trip. the lamb tongue appetizer was fabulous. I had the duck, which was not as tender as I would've liked, but the potato/fava mix that the duck was sitting on more than made up for it. DH had the pork chop with fennel. Awesome dish and the pork chop was so juicy and tender! Fab meal. Highly recommend sitting by the open kitchen vs. the communal table.

              On the day we were leaving (Monday), we planned out our food cart must-hits based on the suggestions of the nice people on this board. We only had 1 meal, but we managed to hit 3 carts! I thank those who urged me to try Schnitzelwich. Boy, I'm soooooo glad I didn't pass that up. That was the BEST of the 3 carts. Never had anything like it! 2nd cart we hit was Nong's Khao Man Gai. Great food and I actually loved the soup that came with it. The food felt lighter than everything else we ate during our Portland stay, although this is not something "new" to me as I've had similar chicken and rice in the past. Definitely need to go early before they sell out. The 3rd and final stop was Ziba's. I had high hopes for this one...but alas, it wasn't for me. It was a heavier meal and having just had the Schnitzelwich and the Khao Man Gai (and a full stomach), it just was good, not great.

              Didn't get to hit Ten01 as we didn't have the time nor the room in our stomachs with all the foods we consumed. Definitely some great foods in Portland. Wish we got to try more of the food carts. Next time!

              -----
              Toro Bravo
              120 NE Russell St, A Portland, OR

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

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

              5 Replies
              1. re: mages

                Thanks for updating! I'm glad to hear you had some great sounding experiences. Portland Chowhounders, does anyone have other specific recommendations on what to order at Toro Bravo?

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

                1. re: calmossimo

                  You can't go wrong at Toro Bravo, but some of my faves are the fried whole anchovies, scallops with romesco, roasted eggplant with mahon and lamb ragu, smoked coppa steak, leeks (or onions, or other veg, depending on what is out) with salbitxada, french kisses, chicken liver mousse, SInging Pig greens salad, salt cod fritters, moroccan tuna, halibut cheeks, jamon wrapped chicken....seriously, there is so much good stuff there (even I hear, the paella and the burger, which I never have!)...go for the new tasting menu option, and be surprised.

                  For dessert I ask for the almond ice cream but instead of espresso, I ask for the chocolate sauce they serve with the churros on the side...sooooo good. But his panna cotta is one of the best in town, too.

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

                  1. re: JillO

                    Oops, I saw this a bit late but we did end up going for the tasting menu at Toro Bravo. It was awesome since I tried many things I normally would never order -- we're big carnivores and the tasting menu was heavy on veggies. My favorite was still meaty though... the duck liver mousse terrine. YUM. The roasted eggplant was also delicious.

                    On another note, we also had exceptional experiences (both with food and service) at Pok Pok and Le Pigeon. PokPok's chicken wings and the house made rhubarb drinking vinegar = excellent. My partner's lamb tongue app and sweetbreads entree at Le Pigeon were incredible and I wished I had ordered the same as him. Foie gras profiteroles were rich and creamy and decadent.

                    Our brunches consisted of long lines and good food at Kenny and Zuke's (reuben dogs were great) and Pine State Biscuits (the reggie). We also did not have room to try ten-01's happy hour which I'm regretting now.. I don't know when I'll have another chance to visit and this is the second time I've skipped ten01! But Sahagun's hot chocolate was as good as before, as were the sundrops. The iced chocolate was refreshing and unique with the coconut milk and unsweetened flavors.

                    All in all, another successful gluttonous weekend in Portland. All advice, tips, etc. are much appreciated.

                    -----
                    Pok Pok
                    3226 SE Division St, Portland, OR

                    Le Pigeon
                    738 E Burnside St, Portland, OR 97214

                    Pine State Biscuits
                    3640 SE Belmont St, Portland, OR 97214

                    1. re: calmossimo

                      Glad you had a good trip, thanks for reporting back!

                2. re: mages

                  Thanks for taking the time to write this long report! Hope you'll be able to be back soon.