HOME > Chowhound > Metro Portland >


Dinner in Portland--ANY place I choose...

Hello! I am preparing to be a missionary to Italy for the next year (and potentially the rest of my life) and my family is throwing me a going away party so I can see everyone before I go. The dinner will be at any restaurant in Portland that I choose...and I have no clue (I live in Washington and have not had the privilege of enjoying Portland's culinary scene).

I am open to all recommendations, but I eat mostly vegetarian (will eat salmon, turkey, and halibut) and love when things are local, organic, and made from scratch.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. My top two picks for ya would be:


    1. There is a new restaurant called Natural Selection on Alberta- it's vegetarian and has gotten great reviews
      If someone was treating me...I would want to go to Castagna, but that may not be for everyone
      Ned Ludd or Toro Bravo/ Tasty and Sons ...perhaps Autentica, you might miss Mexican food in Italy...

      1752 SE Hawthorne Blvd, Portland, OR 97214

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

      Ned Ludd
      3925 NE Martin Luther King Jr Blvd, Portland, OR 97212

      3 Replies
      1. re: cheeseisheaven

        I just checked out the Castagna menu (we are coming to Portland soon) and, ummm, I think I know what you mean when you wrote "...but that may not be for everyone." I think (used to think) I had a very adventurous palate, but, check out this dessert that was on Castagna's dessert menu tonight "Beets soaked in rye whiskey, malted ice cream, sorrel and bavarian malt." That is, quite frankly, disgusting.

        1752 SE Hawthorne Blvd, Portland, OR 97214

        1. re: wrldtrvl

          I haven't had that desert, but if it's like many of their dishes, the listed ingredients are entirely transformed by the time they hit your plate -- one desert we did have had sunchokes somehow turned into sweet, chewy toffee-like candies.

          1. re: grapesgrapes

            I have a hard time imagining the use of sorrel with any of the other ingredients in that dish. At some point, I wonder what is the point--If the ingredient is so transformed, why bother?? Guess I am more into pure, intense, flavors. Come to think of it, I probably like fewer flavors but a variety of textures....

      2. Natural Selections is excellent, but not very big and may not be enjoyed by any family/friends who just MUST eat meat with every meal. Castagna and Autentica may not be the most veg friendly options. Ned Ludd, Toro Bravo or Tasty and Sons would all make excellent choices, with lots of variety and space to accomodate everyone. Wildwood is excellent, as is Genoa, although that is a set 6-course menu, and may not really suit the occasion.

        I would also look at Clyde Common and Andina.

        Finally, although it's not quite as trendy as some of those places, the Farm is consistently excellent, vegetarian and pescatarian (and usually a meat dish on the specials), local and sustainable, good drinks, and if you nab the patio on a warm day, I couldn't imagine a nicer place in Portland to spend time with family

        Clyde Common
        1014 SW Stark St, Portland, OR 97205

        Andina Restaurant
        1314 NW Glisan, Portland, OR 97209

        1752 SE Hawthorne Blvd, Portland, OR 97214

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

        Ned Ludd
        3925 NE Martin Luther King Jr Blvd, Portland, OR 97212

        1. How is Caprial and John's restauarant? I don't live in Portland, but I see them on PBS, and they appear to be the Queen and her King of farm-to-table cooking and eating.

          2 Replies
          1. re: Jay F

            Caprial and John's closed down a few years ago. They still have a supper club a few times a month, I think.

            1. re: Jay F

              Don't know about royalty cred, but their place closed at least a year ago.

            2. So...do you know the Galloways?

              Honestly, I doubt that there is no one place in Portland that will "send you off well." I fed our wonderful American friends who returned to visit from Florence over these last 7 years and I watched how their tastes changed. They liked very little when they returned towards the end...other than... big breakfasts and ethnic food (Thai, Mexican, Vietnamese, etc.)

              You may be best heading to Fat City Cafe, Esparza, Pok Pok or Pho Von than trying to eat something like turkey or halibut.

              Good luck!

              Pok Pok
              3226 SE Division St, Portland, OR

              Fat City Cafe
              7820 SW Capitol Hwy, Portland, OR 97219

              1 Reply
              1. re: Starlag

                I don't know the Galloways, but I don't go to Italy until September...so maybe I will meet them?!?! I am definitely a fan of ethnic food from many regions ...I actually think I will have a lot of trouble adjusting to the food in Italy because I don't really care for pasta and I don't eat pork!

                Thanks for all the recommendations, I will investigate them all and let you know what I pick! Keep the suggestions coming if you all have more!

              2. Irving Street Kitchen has a range of food but mostly it has great celebration atmosphere

                3 Replies
                1. re: lilhellie

                  We were recently in Portland for 8 nights and enjoyed meals at : Gruner, Little Bird, Harborside @ the Mirana, Portland City Grill, Oba Meriwether's (love the ambiance here and their Osso Buco) and Gracie's @ the Hotel Deluxe. There are many wonderful places to dine in Portland, let me know if you have any questions about any of the places I have mentioned, also check UrbanSpoon where I have reviews with photos. :)

                  2601 NW Vaughn Street, Portland, OR 97210

                  555 NW 12th Ave, Portland, OR 97209

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

                  1. re: syrahgirl

                    Thanks syrahgirl! There are too many wonderful places to dine in Portland...I'm having a hard time choosing! Of the places you mentioned (or others if you should think of something else), would you say there is one or two that would be best suited for a group of 15 whose budgets are quite small? My mom did say I could choose ANY place I wanted...and then reminded me that most people in the family are on tight budgets, which is a not-so-subtle way of saying "choose frugally." This is tough because I want fresh, local, organic, etc. and that comes with a premium.

                    What place or places would be the most budget friendly and still suit my tastes? Thanks so much!

                    1. re: SharpCheese

                      Ooh, that makes it quite a bit harder. Is your party in June? That is Dining Month, where a lot of excellent restaurants offer $25 3-course meals: http://www.opentable.com/promo.aspx?m...

                2. Given your preference for organic and vegetarian foods I recommend Screen Door. They have a special menu with all seasonal organic foods that my sister in law says is fantastic. Plus, for any in your group who are not veggie they will have the traditional menu.

                  9 Replies
                  1. re: jpc8015

                    I second the Screen Door suggestion -- it's good, has lots of vegetarian and non-vegetarian choices, isn't very expensive, and can seat large parties.

                    1. re: grapesgrapes

                      I know, this makes it harder for me too! Unfortunately, the party is in August...so I miss the awesome dining month opportunity! As for Screen Door, the vegetarian specials look amazing and I know I would love it...but I'm not sure how the rest of the group would feel about southern food. I'm definitely going to keep it on the list and check the menu in August.

                      Thanks for the suggestions, feel free to keep them coming!

                      1. re: SharpCheese

                        OK, with this change in budget, it definitely becomes more difficult.

                        But I think Tabla would be awesome. They have vegetarian options (and with notice, can even be more accommodating), make some of the best pasta in town and always have a 3-course/$28 dinner deal (all the time) which allows you to choose from everything on the menu (some things with extra-special ingredients might have a few dollars up-charge).

                        They have a private room which can seat around 12, have a great and reasonable wine list by bottle, glass, and taste and good cocktails (if there are imbibers among you), and really, the food there is top-notch - Anthony Cafiero is a great chef.

                        If you don't want 3 courses, many combos of 2 courses there will run you closer to the $20 mark. This is definitely the upscale choice.


                        I love Screen Door, and though I am a true omnivore, I love that fresh organics menu and almost always do a "Screen Door Plate" where I pick a salad off the local organics menu and have mac and cheese (some of the best in town, maybe THE best for the baked in the oven with a cheesy crust variety) and usually go with the fried catfish (occasionally a pork chop)...usually get 2 meals out of the $13.95 they charge for it. They also do great savory bread puddings (usually on the local organics menu) and desserts. Good pick by the poster who originally suggested it.


                        Another fun thing, if your family is into it, is doing a big meal at a Chinese dining hall restaurant like Ocean City. The owner, Lisa, does speak English (many of the staff, not so much ;o) and can help you set up a really nice meal for you and your family. Price will be reasonable as long as you don't order things like whole crabs and things with sharks' fins in 'em. Don't know if your family digs this kind of thing, though.


                        Very inexpensive (very reasonable prices, large portions)and with good pasta and salads and a few other choices, this is not a fancy place and it won't stop you in your tracks, but it is a solid choice, Justa Pasta:


                        I get you are going to Italy, but this is more Italian-American food. While maybe not what you want right before you leave, it is a great choice if your family wants to give you an "Italian" send-off.

                        There is no finer 'Que in Portland than Podnah's Pit, IMO. It is Texas style (it's about the meat and the smoke, not the sauce which only is on the side) and delicious. And there ain't no way you are gonna find better in Italy...I'm willing to go out on a limb there. ;o) Meat and two sides run under $15...brisket and ribs are especially good choices.


                        Ocean City Restaurant
                        3016 SE 82nd Ave, Portland, OR 97266

                        1. re: JillO

                          Podnah's Pit may do the best breakfast in PDX.

                          1. re: jpc8015

                            Word. Best biscuits and grits in town, IMO.

                            1. re: JillO

                              Smoked brisket with eggs and that heavenly biscuit.

                              1. re: jpc8015

                                I am salivating just thinking about it... Haven't been for breakfast since the move, gotta get over there soon.

                                1. re: JillO

                                  Another wrench in the works...just found out the dinner will be Monday night...lots of the recommended places are closed Mondays! :( Who would have thought picking a place to eat would be this difficult?!?!

                                  1. re: SharpCheese

                                    Podnah's and Screen Door are closed Mondays, the other places mentioned are open.

                                    And SharpCheese, it's never as easy as you think it is going to be! ;o)

                                    Also, I don't remember if anyone suggested Country Cat, but they are open on Mondays and their food is good: