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Stopping in Portland - foodie recs, best of Portland

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We are going on a road trip from Seattle to the Bay Area. On the way there and back we plan on stopping in Portland twice. Once for lunch and the second time for dinner. We would like to get some ideas on the best that Portland has to offer, especially some sort of unique specialty dish, special foodie spots, etc. What's not to miss in Portland?

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  1. Why not spend a few minutes, read some posts and reviews, tell us more about your preferences, transportation, and budget, and then ask some more specific questions? Help us to help you.
    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/7050...
    "New to the Portland Board? Read This First"

    5 Replies
    1. re: Leonardo

      We will be travelling via car in a sizable group of foodies. Therefore, we are willing to eat anything. The whole purpose of going to San Francisco is to try some cuisines that aren't available to us in Seattle. We would like to keep things at $15 or less per plate, although for the first stop when we come for lunch, cheaper would probably be better. I have read through a few of the posts, but am still fairly confused as to where we should go. One thought that I've had is that Apizza (I think that's what it's called, sorry) would be fun to go to. Or maybe Voodoo Donuts. But I would really like to hear what the locals are fiercely proud of. Whether or not it is an ethnic food is of very little consequence for our purposes here, as we will be getting lots of that in the Bay Area. Unless you just so happen to have an ethnic community that doesn't exist in either Seattle or San Francisco.

      Are there any dishes that are uniquely Portland? San Francisco has cioppino, and Philly has the cheese steak. Obviously, Seattle doesn't have any itself, but is there a good "Portland on a plate" kind of dish? Otherwise, is there a place that the locals love to show off to all their out of state friends, maybe where people line up to go to? Or that Portland is famous for (or you would like it to be)?

      1. re: Teknotic

        SW 10th & Alder, SW 5th & Stark. Wander the (3 dozen or so) food carts in those two pods for your lunch on the way down. You'll all find something(s) you'll love. Highlights = Tabor Schnitzelwich, Korean Twist, Addy's, Nong's, Frying Scotsman.

        1. re: JayinPortland

          Frying Scotsman?!?! Haggis?

          .... Please say yes.

          1. re: Teknotic

            Hmmmm, sorry I don't think he does that. Just great fish and chips. He might know where to stop for some while you're here, though...

            1. re: JayinPortland

              The Frying Scotsman used make haggis on Saturdays, I think...but that was before he moved.

              Rose & Thistle sometimes has it, I think, but it is not on their regular menu. They don't seem to have a website (don't get me started on that rant, OK?), so you should call them if you are interested. (503) 287-8582

    2. If I wanted a great midpriced lunch, I'd head to:

      Pok Pok (SE asian) or HA &VL (for their viet soups) or Broder (if it is a weekday for their breakfast). Food carts are good too depending on the weather - I'd say that the foodcart scene is uniquely Portland and (I don't know Seattle or SF well) but I'd say we're darn proud of our coffee. Barista (2 locations) is my favorite place if I have time to sip and savor my coffee. I think Portland's defining trademark is that an eclectic approach can survive/thrive in a small city.

      Dinner:
      Le Pigeon and Autentica are two good spots in my mind. Castagna and June have good buzz lately and are on my need to visit list...

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

      Le Pigeon
      738 E Burnside St, Portland, OR 97214

      Castagna
      1752 SE Hawthorne Blvd, Portland, OR 97214

      4 Replies
      1. re: MyNextMeal

        Seattle has 9 billion great mom and pop coffee shops, and I feel like we do it really well. That being said, I do really like coffee. Is Barista anywhere near the food cart spots? We don't really have much in the way of streetfood. I have a feeling the food carts are going to be what really draws me.

        1. re: Teknotic

          Do the carts downtown for lunch. (Apizza Scholls opens at 5pm, no lunch possibilities there.) You are right, you don't have anything like it in Seattle (though if you want to bring me some Salumi and a Cuban Roast pork sandwich from Paseo, feel free! ;o). Schnitzelwich at Tabor, Nong's, etc. What Jay said.

          Lots of good cart info with times, pics, reviews: http://www.foodcartsportland.com/

          If you don't want to do carts, I'd do Kenny & Zuke's for Jewish style delicatessen (you don't have anything like it in Seattle either - and the pastrami is awesome). Or you can try Bunk; or Meat, Cheese, Bread - two of our great sandwich places. Or do Pok Pok, Thai unlike what you have in Seattle...their lunch and dinner menus are different, though, you should check both menus out.

          Voodoo is for donuts only, they really don't serve any other food. That said, a Memphis Mafia (a fritter with banana, peanut butter and chocolate) is probably equal to what your daily calorie intake should be, so there ya go. ;o) If you do go, go to the one on the east side, on NE Davis near NE 15th off of Sandy Blvd. - they bake them there and there is parking. I live near there, if you need to drop off that Salumi and Paseo Cuban Roast sandwich. ;o

          )

          If you like southern style food (I don't think you have much of that in Seattle either, but not sure), Screen Door is a great and reasonable dinner. The seasonal menu (lots of veggie stuff and salads) and the fried stuff are great, and the mac and cheese is some of the best I have had. Lots of folks love the weekend brunch (and I like it a lot too), but I like eating dinner there even more.

          If you are looking for great Texas BBQ, Podnah's Pit up on NE Prescott near NE15th is the real deal. Hard to find stuff this good outside of Texas. (Remember though, Texas BBQ isn't about sweet sauces...it's about meat and smoke.) I like dinner better than lunch there...

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

          1. re: JillO

            I would echo just about everything JillO has said about PDX options you can't get in Seattle:

            Lunch - Do the foodcarts at SW 10th & Alder or Kenny & Zuke's
            Dinner - Apizza Scholls and Screen Door are both amazing

            ...or see what Portland's legendary happy hour scene has to offer (check UrbanDrinks.com).

            Additionally, if you happen to see the Koi Fusion (Mexican-Korean) food cart pass by - chase it!

            -----
            Apizza Scholls
            4741 SE Hawthorne Blvd, Portland, OR 97215

          2. re: Teknotic

            I'd say that you should do the food carts at Mississippi and Skidmore for lunch--the access from I5 and parking are really easy. But I think some of them are only open W-Sun; Sugar Cube, which has the best desserts, has gone to Fri-Sun now, so if you'll be there another day it wouldn't be a great stop. http://www.foodcartsportland.com/ can give you the details on all the carts in town if you're leaning toward that (although you will need people on this board to narrow down the choices in carts, because there's a lot of them).

            The Barista on Alberta and NE 15th is a short drive from the carts on Mississippi (and if you don't pick those carts, it's a short drive off the Alberta freeway exit). The reasons that you should go here: all the baristas are all extremely competent, and they're all really friendly and not stuck up.

        2. You got some great responses, with many great options. Between MyNext and Jillo's respoonses, you should be set. To answer your question about what Portland is proud of, a few things are:

          1. Food Carts - see Jillo's response
          2. Brewpubs - I like Deschutes
          3. Sustainable organic - Again see Jillo's stuff. Also Higgins for upscale. Sit in bar for amazing beer selection...

          7 Replies
          1. re: petebuick

            When I was checking into the restaurant recs I got, I noticed that quite a few of them were fairly expensive. This trip is going to be rather costly as it is. However, I think I will go with the recommendation about stopping at food carts. That's something we definitely don't have up here, and it looks like they are a much more affordable option anyways. I'm still curious about Apizza Scholls. I saw it on No Reservations, and was intrigued. Is it worth stopping in at? Is it a local favorite, or just a tourist trap?

            -----
            Apizza Scholls
            4741 SE Hawthorne Blvd, Portland, OR 97215

            1. re: Teknotic

              Apizza Scholls is DEFINITELY not a tourist trap. It is worth stopping at by all means if you love pizza. That said, it is truly no reservations, so depending on when you arrive, you might have to wait quite a while. If you come too late, they might be out of dough. My favorite time to arrive is slightly before they open and wait 10-20 minutes instead of 1-2 hour wait in the middle of dinner.

              I like the food cart pod @ Hawthorne and SE 12th called Cartopia. They are open pretty from lunch through very late except for Monday. There, you'll find Whiffies which does amazing fried pies, Pyro Pizza which does wood-fired oven pizzas right on the spot, Potato Champion which does good fries, etc. You have lots of options for food cart lunches that people have detailed so I won't get into it.

              If you're able to time your dinner around happy hour time, you'll find that many restaurants have amazing deals that are nowhere to be found in either San Franciso or Seattle.

              -----
              Apizza Scholls
              4741 SE Hawthorne Blvd, Portland, OR 97215

              Potato Champion
              SE 12th and Hawthorne, Portland, OR

              1. re: midorimonsta

                What time do they open?

                1. re: Teknotic

                  I'm assuming you're asking about Apizza Scholls? They open at 5pm everyday except Sunday when they open at 4pm.

                  -----
                  Apizza Scholls
                  4741 SE Hawthorne Blvd, Portland, OR 97215

              2. re: Teknotic

                I like Apizza, but vastly prefer Ken's Artisan Pizza, also Pyro.
                There's no such thing as a tourist trap on the east side.

                Have fun. Please report back!

                -----
                Ken's Artisan Pizza
                304 SE 28th Ave, Portland, OR 97214

                1. re: Leonardo

                  true, no tourists traps but plenty of hipster-doofus traps! Bye&Bye anyone?;-)

                  1. re: nkeane

                    lol

            2. I'm pretty sure what we're going to do then is stop at one of the food cart streets for lunch on the way down. Everybody will be able to pick out their own lunch. And then when we're heading back up, we can go to Apizza Scholls for dinner. One more question. Is Voodoo Donuts near either of these?

              -----
              Apizza Scholls
              4741 SE Hawthorne Blvd, Portland, OR 97215

              9 Replies
              1. re: Teknotic

                Voodoo 2 is not that far and on the same side of the river (which is east, btw).

                If you want to GoogleMap it:

                Apizza is at 4741 SE Hawthorne Blvd

                Voodoo2 is at 1501 NE Davis (and it is open 24/7, btw) it's off of Sandy Blvd. which runs at a diagonal to the other streets, btw.

                There are both better donuts and desserts in Portland, btw...but yeah, visitors always want to go to Voodoo. Their marketing/PR is unequalled in this town in many ways...

                1. re: JillO

                  Oh yeah? What's better? And do any of the better places have obscure, unique and strange flavors as well? I'm always open to trying things recommended by locals as opposed to something I've heard from someone else. I've heard a lot of great things from people in Seattle and one from LA, but I tend to think Portlanders probably know Portland best!!!

                  1. re: Teknotic

                    Seriously, do NOT go to Voodoo Donuts. The Donuts are terrible, and it's a complete tourist/hipster trap. Alot of people have moved to Portland over the years and frequent Voodoo because they think "its weird" - In my opinion, it's not true Portland. Don't get mixed up in that - food carts are a much better idea.

                    1. re: RookieKim

                      I don't get the voodoo donuts hype either. I live two blocks away from Tonalli's on Alberta and I think their donuts are better and there's never a wait. I've heard Sesame donuts is the best in town but never been.

                      1. re: porky pine

                        Sesame is good but it is way out there in Raleigh Hills. I used to live very near there, and yeah, their donuts are really good possibly because the owner is almost always there and he obviously loves what he does.

                        Moody's Donuts on SE Belmont (with limited morning weekend hours) is very good. And there are a couple of new places that are supposed to be good like Acme and Coco, but I have not tried them. I can easily believe they are better than Voodoo. And no Teknotic, they do not necessarily have obscure and unique donuts, they have ones that taste better - if you only care about weird, you'll enjoy Voodoo, so go for it.

                        I have to admit, I think Voodoo's donuts have gotten better since I first had them...still, I live around the block from Voodoo2 and have bought donuts there once in 2 years, and only because a friend asked me to do so. YMMV.

                        For other desserts there is Pix Patisserie (one on SE Division, one on N Williams), frozen custard and yogurt at Tart (SE Division), and some great chocolate (and cake, ice cream and other treats) at Alma's and at Cacao. There is the Sugar Cube, a dessert cart at Mississippi Marketplace in N. Portland. There's Cool Moon Ice Cream in the Pearl (all homemade, and THE BEST HOT FUDGE anywhere), and Via Delizia in the Pearl if you prefer gelato (theirs is the best in town, IMO). There are a couple of cupcake places (neither which I am a fan of, again YMMV): Saint Cupcake and Cupcake Jones. Great cookies can be found at Two Tarts on NW 21st.

                        There is also Papa Haydn's, but I can't recommend going there...

                        -----
                        Pix Patisserie
                        3402 SE Division St, Portland, OR 97202

                        Via Delizia
                        1105 NW Marshall St, Portland, OR 97209

                        Papa Haydn
                        5829 SE Milwaukie Ave, Portland, OR 97202

                        1. re: JillO

                          If you want a donut go to Coco and get the "coco".

                          Another vote for Cacao (get the caramel by Sahagun), Sugar Cube, and 2 Tarts. You will also find the latter at the Portland Farmers Markets.

                          1. re: Leonardo

                            Tektonic, you need to go to Voodoo Donuts. It's wonderful, and quintissentially Portland. Some of the donuts are fabulous, and the idea of steering someone to Sesame, or anywhere else, is ludicrous!!

                            Do they have Grape Ape at Sesame or Moody's? Do they have Orangutang? Do they have the maple bar with bacon at those places? Sure, if you took glazed donuts from all these places home and did a taste test, maybe Voodo would come out at the bottom, but that's missing the point!

                            You gotta visit sketchy Old Town. Maybe you'll see some Swahili lessons while you're in the shop. Maybe Tres himself will be there to entertain. Maybe they'll have some interesting specials. When people say "there are better donuts elsewhere," I have to ask, "where did you go to school to be such a killjoy?"

                            Tektonic, please go to Voodoo and have a wonderful time. The only warning I have for you is beware of the lines, which can stretch to 30 minutes in the middle of the day.

                            I work right around the corner, and have actually been relieved to see the long line at times because I know I have been spared the gratuitous caloric pig out.

                            But for you, Tektonic, a visitor from faraway lands, please do yourself a favor and run, don't walk to the original Voodoo in Old Town Portland USA!!!

                            1. re: petebuick

                              Andina and Le Pigeon are two places to definitely check out! :)

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

                              Andina Restaurant
                              1314 NW Glisan, Portland, OR 97209

                              1. re: petebuick

                                Okay, sold. I've been to Old Town before though lol. I was there for a show one night. We didn't get donuts ....