San Francisco Hound Coming to Portland...Please Critique My List For Your Wonderful Food City!!!
Greetings Portland! I am so excited to be visiting your beautiful city in 2 weeks for a total of 5 days/ 5 nights. I've been once before 2 years ago (in the winter so there were no roses in the Rose Garden then) and had an excellent time at Pok Pok, Apizza Scholls, Higgins, Bunk Sandwiches, Nong's Kao Man Gai, Potato Champion, cocktails at Ten 01, and beer tastings at Deschutes, Tugboat, Lucky Lab, and Widmer.
Since then I've found a love for espresso and drip coffee thanks to the Blue Bottles and Four Barrels here in San Francisco...so that is a huge mission for sampling this trip to Portland too.
My idea for the 5 days is sort of a lunch, dinner, and special pastry or ice cream snacks here and there, and pretend as if we'll do one cocktail or bar and one brewery tasting each day...we'll keep the trip flexible. The only repeat I really want to do is at Pok Pok, but to try lunch there this time around.
Thanks to your all of your wonderful recommendations on other threads with helpful suggestions, these are the ideas I've come up with:
Dinners (5): Le Pigeon, Beast, Ken's Artisan Pizza, St. Jack, and Paley's Place
Contenders: Clyde Common, Beaker & Flask, Biwa, Toro Bravo, Larelhurst Market, Nostrana, Portobello, and Natural Selection
Lunch (5): Olympic Provisions, Gruner, Tasty n Sons, Pok Pok, and Broder
Snacks/Breakfast if we feel like it: Salt n Straw, Voodoo Doughnuts, Waffle Window, PB & J Cart, schnitzelwich at Tabor, Pine St.
Breweries: Hair of the Dog, Cascade Barrel House, HUB Organic, Bridgeport, and Upright (unique blend of old and new, small and bigger is the goal)
Cocktails: Kask, Clyde Common, Teardrop, Rum Club, Beaker & Flask
Contenders: Bunk Bar, Bent Brick, cocktails at Wafu
Other Bars/Pubs: wine at Bar Avignon, tasting at Clear Creek Distillery, Horseshoe Pub
Coffee: Coava, Heart, Ristretto, Spella, Barista, Stumptown, Sterling, Coffeehouse Five
Please let me know your thoughts, I'm sure the list will be a little trimmed once we arrive, but it just shows how exciting it is to visit and dine and drink in Portland! Thank you so much!!!
Portland!!! Thank you so much for your very kind and incredibly helpful insight for my trip! Now I'm on to my first ever trip to New Orleans...it'll be tough to eat and drink even close to as well there as we did in Portland.
I'll run thru the quick synopsis here of how the trip ended up (I'm actually surprised how un-hectic it turned out to be despite all of the places we did make it to criss-crossing the city many times each day).
At my site Trev's Bistro I've finally finished writing several articles about the trip (you may have to dig a bit to find some like the Le Pigeon review). http://trevsbistro.wordpress.com/
arrived from Seattle, hosts immediately took me to Salt and Straw near their home. Sampled the outstanding pear and bleu cheese...loved the olive oil too. Strawberry-balsamic-black pepper-honey wasn't too special, just a great strawberry flavor.
some Pinot noir sampling at Bar Avignon-- loved the Ayres, the Brooks was very off
Outstanding dinner at St. Jack-- terrific cocktails (especially the Baccarat), salade lyonnaise, one of the best steak tartares I've ever had. Only the clams were merely o.k. Top notch boudin noir and steak frites (order extra frites!). Best was a special bouillabaisse with a remarkable caramelized onion broth, a truly special dish. Desserts were special too- those madeleines, the dark chocolate-caramel crémeux. Service was wonderful too. One poster had said we probably have something like St. Jack in San Francisco, but really, there isn't something this exciting yet distinctly français. In fact, St. Jack was better arguably than any equivalent bistro I went to while living in Paris.
lunch Broder- excellent smørrebrod, especially the herring. Very hipster, but service was very helpful. Be sure to get the aquavit infused in house with cumin and saffron! Got me excited for my July trip to Scandinavia...
picked up goodies at St. Jack Patisserie. They ran out of cannelés long before I arrived. Loved the Cracker Jack tasting chocolate chip financier and pain au chocolat.
Cupping at Stumptown's Annex- an absolute blast!
Re-grouped, rested...then arrived right after opening time at 5 to Kask--what outstanding cocktails. Hard to pick a favorite- Bootstrap Buck or the punch or Rabo de Galo with coffee bitters and cachaça or the Heaven's Kickback with pisco, st.germain, and celery bitters. Great, great, suave, cute place.
Espresso at Stumptown in the Ace- great, not spectacular.
Beer tasting at Amnesia- fun place, great people. The beers outside of the Copacetic IPA were only fair, the weakest of our tastings.
dinner at Toro Bravo-- we only waited 5 minutes after arriving at 9. Mostly a success-- loved the bacon wrapped dates, harira lamb and lentil stew! Moroccan tuna on couscous was dry. Cocktails and sangria were not highlights either. Excellent churros and rhubarb strawberry tart. Service was friendly but had pacing issues with all the small plates.
espresso at Spella- best of the trip from the master himself. So quaint, so Italian! Very crema heavy shot.
lunch-- Grüner. I couldn't convince anyone to share a burger...so we all ended up getting burgers. No big deal, it truly was the best burger I think it's fair to say I've had. I mean it. Shared some spaetzle too, and oh those hazelnut powdered doughnuts! San Francisco needs Grüner.
espresso at Water Avenue- great place, had the wackiest espresso of the trip, very raspberry heavy
tasting at Hair of the Dog-- Adam, Doggy Claws, Fred, Adam bourbon barrel aged...they're all epic. Somehow Greg and Little Dog were actually not good at all.
ended up being invited to a winery designer friend's home for a bbq-- tried some great Stoller Pinot noir and New Zealand wine from a place he designed
nightcap at Teardrop-- Wanderlust with bourbon, sherry, and date bitters showed their strength. The vibe felt very New York, but the bartender didn't have any attitude luckily.
espresso at Courier- such a small, friendly place with great coffee and cannelés!
tried the Coco at Coco Doughnuts-- great tip Leonardo!!!
lunch at Pok Pok- I went 2 years ago with a large group for dinner. I like lunch even more. The fish sauce chicken wings remain the stuff of dreams. The game hen was better than I remembered. Tamarind drinking vinegar was only ho hum part. Good service but I hate how they all have those walkie-talkies!
Espresso at Coava-- terrific, love this place. Great single origin shot from Rwanda. Feels like Sightglass in SF with the huge design space.
Visited the Pittock, Rose Garden (been to Portland, 0 for 2 seeing roses here!), and Art Museum
espresso at Public Domain- the one below average espresso. Watery, lacking any depth or crema.
drinks at Clyde Common- great bartenders! Barrel aged negroni...the experience went by too quick. I could've had 4 of them.
sampled the lackluster, dry bagels at Kenny and Zuke's they were giving away for free
tasting at Upright- took half hour just to find where they were in the office building. The rye ale, supercool ipa, and monk mingus stout were the best.
dinner at Biwa- hour wait at arrival at 8 pm, the host not once smiled to anybody. Excellent ramen, sashimi, udon, gyoza...only the grilled fava beans were stringy. Need to try the burger sometime.
tasting at Cascade Ales- all very unique, loved the blueberry and sang noir. Very friendly, civilized place.
missed on the farmer's market because of time constraints
had brunch at my friends' favorite spot where they used to live, the Tin Shed on NE Alberta. Loved the biscuits with raspberry jam.
Espresso with Heart's beans at Barista- seems a little lighter than most espresso blends
went up to Mt. Hood, Timberline-- fun tasting of Mt. Hood beers. They make a terrific IPA and stout
back in town, drinks at Beaker and Flask- fantastic place. Loved the New Vieux and Louisville Slugger. Favorite bartender too of the trip.
dinner- Le Pigeon-- everything I had hoped for. Portions weren't small at all, but not too big. Just right by Chef Rucker. Service was terrific other than one waitress who never seemed excited to see us. The grilled lamb tongue, beef cheek bourguignon, duck in green curry, lobster stuffed chicken, foie gras profiteroles, carrot cake, bacon maple waffle...the hits kept coming. Best was the smoked rabbit pie with hot mustard ice cream. This is truly some of the most exciting cooking I've encountered anywhere.
drinks at Rum Club- all drinks too sweet (daiquiri) or imbalanced (begonia) and the place was impersonal. The one miscue of the trip.
Wine tasting afternoon in Yamhill-Carlton AVA. What an experience as my friend took us around in his mini cooper, with nothing but sunshine and beautiful green scenery. Started at Trisaetum, the weakest and most corporate feeling of the bunch. None of their wines stood out, probably enjoyed the medium dry riesling and rosé shockingly the most.
Then Penner-Ash-- outstanding view of the valley, Mt. Hood, and sublime Pinot noir. The $100 Pas de Nom is unforgettable.
Followed by Adelsheim- terrific Pinot noir and chardonnay. The awkward tasting room server struggled so hard to make small talk, I don't know why.
We wanted to try Ken Wright wines, but settled for Carlton Wine Studio-- best were the Utopia Pinot Noir and Blakeslee Chardonnay. The studio is a terrific concept.
Interestingly-- my friend driving us became a wine club member at the last 3 stops. He was very inspired.
Back home for dinner, tried Patricia Green and Luminous Hills Pinot noirs-- both top notch
Salt and Straw for more pear/bleu cheese and the outstanding banana caramel flavor. Must get a waffle cone there!
Nightcap, final brews at Apex- tried the Hop Venom IPA from Boneyard and I had to finish with my favorite, Adam from Hair of the Dog.
Frantic morning of collecting what turned out to be all excellent goods for returning home with from Ken's Artisan Bakery-- cannelé, baguette, Oregon croissant, chocolate chunk cookie
Terrific espresso at Sterling, most expensive of the trip at $3
Spicy drinking chocolate at Cacao. Superb. Bought outstanding lavender salted caramel from Alma, Xocolatl de David's parmesan chocolate bar, and...those amazing Luscious caramels from Sahagun (Leonardo, those were spectacular!
)Then swung by Kenny and Zuke's to pick up pastrami and lox for the plane...on rye bread since the bagels were not worth our time as we learned before.
The grand winners: Spella, Courier, Water Ave. for espresso
Kask, Beaker & Flask, Clyde Common-- hard to pick a favorite
Ken's Artisan Bakery, Cacao
Pok Pok, Grüner, St. Jack, Le Pigeon
Next time, I've already got my list of the ones that got away, but we'll have to also revisit our favorites! Paley's Place, Aviary, Tasty n Sons, Natural Selection, Tanuki...
I certainly hope to return very soon! Portland is such a wonderful and delicious place, thank you so much for all your help!!!
pats38sox, you done us proud! So fantastic to have someone from out of town make such an effort to encounter and enjoy the food, restaurants, cafes, liquors, craft beers, and stores that we only occasionally frequent, We should pin this review for anyone seeking advice!
Seriously, you have made me hungry and I'm determined to find a partner to check out many of the routes you traversed. Can you spare a cup of energy first?
I am really happy you had such a good time at St. Jack's. For those of us who've lived in Europe, it's just the most perfect little place. The Neuske's bacon in the Salade Lyonnaise inspired me to teach the salad to a community college class--awesome. I love everything on the menu and am already planning to catch a bit of that bouillabaisse. (With a cagey eye to replicate my own. ;)
Aren't you glad you got the madeleines?!
Great writeup! And have to agree on the cannele at Courier, really knocked my socks off. I preferred it to the one I had from Ken's in March. They also do wonderful cornmeal muffins there, all baked in the tiniest oven.
I see what you mean about the space at Coava and Sightglass being sorta similarly industrial but I found SG to be very loud inside whereas Coava is quite the opposite. Also much prefer the coffee at Coava. And Coava has a drill press!
So far, so very good in Portland...except tonight was far colder than anybody expected!
Next week I'll cover the highs and if there are any lows ( only low was that St. Jack's patisserie had run out of cannelés by 1 pm...dinner there was terrific and the other baked goods excellent too.
Quick question- if we were to try a bagel and lox, should we try nearby Kenny and Zuke's? Or elsewhere? Any advice also on what to pick up at Ken's Artisan Bakery, Little T, and Bake Shop?
And we've been once to Salt and Straw now in NW...what do you consider the premier flavor (so far, pear and goat cheese for me)?
Everything has been terrific in Portland-- especially St. Jack, Toro Bravo ( 5 minute wait! (at 9 pm)), Stumptown Annex cupping and Kask. Especially with Kask, I can't remember tasting 4 cocktails at 1 bar where every cocktail was truly spectacular.
I think Friday for Dundee Hills-- Domaine Drouhin seems very likely. Our Sf Chronicle wine critic Jon Bonné loves the Arterberry Maresh pinot noir and the chardonnay and pinot noir at Bergstrom...probably 2 wineries for us, so hard to choose, plus Clear Creek Distillery tasting en route back to town. Speaking of which, we'll get picnic goods at Olympic Provisions beforehand--- let me know of anything to grab besides the chorizo navarre.
I'd say Trisaetum should be on your winery visit list. If they are not busy, you could ask to see their wine cave below the tasting room (both high and low tech by the way but I will let them give you the details). The dessert Riesling is not to be missed. I'd also add August Cellars because you will rarely get a chance to taste Marechal Foch in the US and their port (if available) is splendid. And finally, I'd add Adelsheim because of the single vineyard pinots and because of the Auxerrois. You will pass August Cellars on 99W on your way into Newburg. And Trisaetum and Adelsheim are both close in the Ribbon Ridge AVA area.
Hey there, SF hound currently visiting Portland. I'm guessing you've already finished your trip, but, for what it's worth, my thoughts:
You can skip Kenny and Zuke's for your bagel. I just had one; it's the same sort of non-bagel you can get in San Francisco, and which New Yorkers always whine about. I mean it's not unpleasant, but you definitely should not make some detour to get one.
I have to say, I thought St. Jack's was a nice meal, but not somewhere a San Franciscan needs to visit. If I lived nearby, I would happily eat there regularly, but as a tourist... there are many similar such places in San Francisco, some of which, dare I say, are superior.
I liked that they had epoisse, though. That made me happy.
Hey Portland-- After a few days in Seattle, it's on to Portland in the morning...here's what the rough itinerary looks like heading into town, which surely will change over the course of the trip. Let me know if there are particular "must have" items to order or a better way to arrange anything...
dinner- reserved- St. Jack- madeleines dessert
Columbia River Gorge
Dinner: Natural Selection
Little T Bakery
Tasty N Sons- lunch- chocolate potato doughnut, shakshuka
Beaker & Flask
late night dinner- Biwa- burger, ramen
Public Domain coffee
Coco Donut- get the coco, Voodoo- just to try the experience...
Lunch: Gruner- trout salad, burger
Cacao- get Xocolate de David
Rose, Japanese gardens
Salt and Straw NW
PSU Market- pick up picnic goods, look for Two Tarts, Pine St, Tastebud, Pearl Bakery
swing by Olympic Provisions SE- chorizo navarre
Stumptown Cupping at noon in the annex
Wine taste- any particular place in Dundee Hills? Thinking about Bergstrom, Domaine Drouhin or Maresh
Clear Creek tasting before 5
Dinner- reserved at Le Pigeon- boeuf bourguignon, anything with pigeon, foie gras profiteroles
Ken's Artisan Bakery
lunch: Pok Pok- ike's wings
Water Ave Coffee
Hair of the Dog
Dinner: Toro Bravo
Brunch: Broder- smorrebord
We won't get everywhere...but we'll do our best! Looks like the weather will be tremendous!
In the Dundee Hills I'd definitely do Lange. Domaine Drouhin and Tori Mor both have beautiful pieces of property and good wines. The Dundee Hills folks have a map/site: http://www.dundeehills.org/map
Frankly, I am more partial to our Yamhill-Carlton AVA: http://yamhillcarlton.org/wineries-vineyards. And I love Canas Feast and Scott Paul in Carlton.
Wherever you go, just make sure that you either have an appointment or that the tasting rooms you want to visit are open when you are there. We have a broad mix, and a lot of the smaller places are only open by appointment.
The OR wine Board also has a good site: http://oregonwine.org/Home/
You have a great itinerary planned - have a great time!
At Cacao a must is the Luscious Caramel by Sahagun.
Wine: allow 50 minutes each way. Other places to try: Anne Amie, Stoller, Domaine Serene. Big "meh" on Tori Mor wine.
Don't eat a meal at Cana's Feast. Pretentious jerks.
I'm exhausted just reading your itinerary. Please make a report!
Thanks everybody for all of the terrific help! We are about to head out... leaving Saturday for 3 nights in Seattle and then on to Portland. It turns out thanks to delaying our return flight to SF, we will now have 6 nights in Portland, but that extra night most likely will be spent with dinner at our friends' home...we'll need a break.
I'm thinking with our extra day of doing some wine tasting in Dundee Hills and Newberg...I'd love to hear some thoughts. Based on some quick board research and newspaper articles about great pinot and chardonnay, Bergstrom, Maresh, and Domaine Drouhin look like some great, unique choices.
Later tonight I'll piece together the "itinerary" we'll leave home with.
That's too bad about Broder's service...maybe it will be better if we go there?:)
With lunches pretty set with Pok Pok, Gruner, Broder, Tasty n Sons, and Olympic Provisions, where do you think we could maybe fit a Tabor Schnitzelwich in? Perhaps just share a charcuterie platter at Olympic and share a schnitzelwich?
I'm certainly leaning towards St. Jack over Paley and trying Biwa and Natural Selection. Still weighing between the very intriguing Aviary, Toro Bravo (I can wait but some others aren't too keen on it even at Secret Society...), and more of a splurge at Beast. Beast sounds very enticing, but with all these meals and this amount of time, would that evening be better served elsewhere, being able to try different dishes?
Speaking of different dishes...seeing the Toro Bravo menu, how in the world do you choose what to have there? So many great options...
I try and get to Toro Bravo around 4:45 and wait outside for them to open at 5pm. I know, that's kind of early, and especially so if your days are filled with eating and and drinking, but I don't like waiting either. It's worth it, the food really is that good, but you either go early or you wait. And if you do end up waiting, just get drinks at Secret Society, don't order food. ;o)
But, I do love Aviary. I was there recently and had a fabulous meal.
And yeah, if you do Olympic Provisions and just munch on charcuterie and some wine, you could do a schnitzelwich. Of course, you can always just buy some of OP's charcuterie to have on hand for snacking or to bring home and clear a lunch spot for carts or somewhere else.
Honestly, though, it just sounds like you are going to have to plan another trip to try more stuff here. ;o) It's an embarrassment of riches, we are very lucky.
It is incredible what an embarrassment of riches Portland has! Makes it very hard for visitors in a weekend or even a week! :)...hmm 4:45 at Toro Bravo is almost lunch time for us, which could work then late, late dinner at Biwa! I've pretty much decided against Beast as wonderful as Naomi's cooking sounds.
An option for Aviary looking at the map is to have a snack and drink at the bar, then dinner further east on NE Alberta at Natural Selection? It does seem like the menu at Aviary is more exciting overall than Natural Selection but outside of the not very exciting Greens, we don't have anything here in SF like Natural Selection.
Hi, pats38sox. I've loved your evolution of choices and all the strategic planning you've done. The heart of true foodie!
That said, you might want to have some back up plans--if you can't find the place, it's closed, or too crowded, or someone is sick, too drunk, etc.
I like the idea of stopping Olympic and picking up a few goodies for down times or picnics at the Pittock or Rose Garden. I've had unfortunate service twice there, but still bought more to take home!
I also agree that St Jack is the bomb, even if you've lived in France. Their happy hour is a bargain--get everything on it. Also madeleines warm from the oven. (You could arrive at the end of HH and then order from the rest of the menu, as well.)
Am I the only one who thinks Le Pigeon serves small portions?
Biwa and Tanuki might rate your attention. Beware of the bathrooms at Horse Brass, but nothing worse than most dive bars.
Others might hit me with a baquette bien cuit, but it might be fun to catch some music at the Doug Fir; food's not so good but it's an interesting/cool venue to walk around.
You may already know this, but we also have Powell's cookbook store on Hawthorne (next to Pastaworks) which could rate a passing visit. (Powell's online tells you where the book they're selling is located if you click on 'more info')
Portland's kind of kookie (not edible) and you might like watching some Portlandia episodes before the trip.
Oh, and Eastburn (Burnside and 18th) has a "Recess" for HH which includes swings, fire tables, beer, skeeball, free jukebox, beer, food, etc. Just quirky PDX--gotta love it. http://tinyurl.com/7o3pdm8
Woke up in a panic last night at 3 am thinking I had left booking at Le Pigeon too late and managed to snag a 7:45 on Friday, phew. Even happier about that after reading formerbarista's comment that the portions may be small -- prolly just right by my Canuck standards -- y'all have big ass plates of food south of the border!
grayelf--so glad you got a reservation at Le Pigeon! After all your work and planning, it would be a shame to miss it. Although there are a lot of restaurants here as good or better than LP.
Also, I think I recall sharing all the plates the only time I was there. Yes, portions in the U.S. are normally large--I just had that confused in my memory.
The trout and the profiteroles were wonderful, that's clear!
Have a great trip!
Part of the reason I want to go is that we met the chef and his wife at a coffee house last trip. Something fun about eating food from someone you've actually talked to :-). We've got some other good bookings down as well: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/846961 Thanks for the specific reccs on the trout and profiterole, will look out for those if the menu hasn't changed.
Madeleines warm from the oven...that alone may have convinced me to do St. Jack! I hear their patisserie makes great canneles too?
I did thoroughly enjoy Horse Brass when I was last in town 2 years ago--it's where I fell in love with Hair of the Dog Blue Dot IPA! I don't recall a particularly memorable bathroom, for better or worse.
We certainly will have back up plans and I'm sure we won't get to ALL of the places on my list...Portland just has too many worthy options for me to cover in 5 days...or even in a month if I did nothing but eat!
We're very good at organizing the right amount to eat, drink, pace ourselves...actually one of our party doesn't drink so that certainly helps us not go overboard with the breweries and cocktail bars. We may have a day trip to Mt. Hood and a dinner at my friend's home too, so we like to remain flexible and plan for the maximum and if we can't hit them all, there's always next time.
I have 16 coffee places on my list right now...I'd be happy to hit half of them! Then again, there are the "must" go to places I missed last time and really wanted to try or the new ones that I've heard about without even doing research like Le Pigeon, Hair of the Dog, Gruner, Stumptown, Spella Espresso...of course now my list will go on and on of the places I feel I "must" go to!
I understand and am glad you've got a good balance. Sometimes when I read the 'after' reports, I feel disappointed that the travellers didn't get to many places.
Re: St. Jack's. I'm sure the caneles would be good. (omg, my first, rum flavored, was in Paris, age 20, alone. I ate it within two blocks and went back for another--the counter clerks laughed!)
The Cervelle de Canut (Silkweaver's brain--praise or curse?) served as a quenelle with a few crispy croutes--it's chevre and fromage blanc--yum. I liked it in the smaller portion, but no matter.The tablier du sapeur can provide some fun wordplay, even for those not eating the tripe. Just google. Also, St. Jack uses Neuskes bacon (the best!) so that's always a treat. Happy Hour is only one hour--from 4-5pm.
I read somewhere that you can visit Hair of the Dog(61 SE Yamhill (503) 232-6585) anytime without appointment. Their beer used to be available at Beverages and More (201 Bayshore, SF).
I hope you have a wonderful trip and get to enjoy the best of Portland's eateries. It certainly takes time and inclination to taste in a considerable fashion. Enjoy.
We have dined at Le Pigeon twice. The Beef Bourginon there is amazing and the portion was a nice size. We love the Foie Gras Profiteroles for dessert at Le Pigeon. We also love, love, love Little Bird Bistro! They have the best Mussels there I've ever had and we have seafood alot when we dine out.
A few nights ago we enjoyed our third awesome meal at Departure Lounge on the 18th Floor of The Nines Hotel. I would definitely try to get up there for a meal. If you can't get in, go for a drink, the views are amazing and they have a great outdoor seating area there. :)
Saraveza sounds very worthy of a stop...but it might be tough with limited time since we're very interested in individual breweries. I had a great time visiting Belmont Station last time in Portland, but just to buy bottles on the way to the airport. I'd love to re-visit the Horsebrass- where I fell in love with Hair of the Dog's Blue Dot IPA and a terrific atmosphere.
If I visited Ken's Bakery in NW, it sounds like I don't need to try the pizza, as good as it may be? Is everyone o.k. with Broder as a good lunch spot (I'm going to Copenhagen in June and want to try lots of Scandinavian...)? Any thoughts on St. Jack vs Paley's Place?
I'd do St. Jack or Aviary over Paley's...but that's me. ;o)
I like Broder's food, but their service can supremely suck, YMMV.
Cascade makes great sours (I am not a fan, but many close to me are) and has stuff that no one else makes. If you want a nice list that includes both Portland brewers and Oregon brewers (and a couple of others here and there) in one spot, I recommend Hop House (2 locationson the east side: http://oregonhophouse.com/). Killer taster trays, not cheap pours (their only downfall, IMO), but a nice list for an out of towner wanting to try a lot of local stuff in one place...and good food, which is hard to find in most pubs/breweries here.
I am also a fan of Roscoe's (and the nearby, much-loved Tanuki: "No sushi, no kids!" which defies description but izakaya comes closest), not PDX/OR focused, but a great tap list. http://www.roscoespdx.com/roscoespdx.com/Roscoes_Home.html (lousy page, but their FB page always has recent taplists: https://www.facebook.com/Roscoespdx
Of course, Green Dragon is walking distance from Cascade (and a lot of the Distillery Row spirit-makers, if you are so inclined) so doing both in a beer-soaked afternoon could be a great day. http://www.pdxgreendragon.com/
O.k., I'm convinced to skip Ken's. Should I at least go to the NW bakery for a pastry since I'm staying in the NW?
You have certainly convinced me to choose Natural Selection over Portobello. Not to slight Portobello, but Nat. Selection looks fascinating and like nothing I've been to before.
I've got Le Pigeon, Nat. Selection, Paley's/St. Jack, Biwa, and Toro Bravo/Beast now. Very hard to pick between the Paley/St. Jack and the Toro Bravo/Beast (very different from each other!).
Is there another brewery outside of the Amnesia, Hair of the Dog, Cascade, Upright I should think of? I've read great things about Hopworks but if it's too kid friendly and the beers are only o.k., then I'm sure there's a better beer choice out there.
Those bakeries at PSU market sound great! I'm thinking for our Saturday- graze around the market, visit the Rose Garden, light lunch of charcuterie at Olympic Provisions, see a museum/breweries, then our big dinner at Le Pigeon at 8.
You hotel is strategically located between Coco Donut and the Rose/Japanese Garden. Nice.
Ken's Bakery is a must, IMHO. And his pizza is my favorite, gotta go against some posters there.
Saraveza is not a brewery, but as a beer joint it just screams "Portlandia". Good pasties too.
I love Saraveza, but I'm not sure I'd send a tourist there all the way from the NW. If pats38sox is looking for local breweries, I assume he/she wants to drink Portland/Oregon beer. Saraveza right now has one Portland (HUB, incidentally) and one other Oregon beer on tap. If we're talking non-breweries, I would recommend Bailey's Taproom downtown. It has lots of local breweries on tap, and you can try them out in flights of six.
having just returned from a trip to pdx, i urge you not to skip ken's. i'm not a big sweets/baked goods person, and i went there 3 times in 4 days! it's a lovely vibe, and the food is really great. had an oregon croissant--startlingly crisp pastry and pearl sugar, filled with hazelnut creme, studded with boysenberries (i could be wrong on the berry--better go back and check!). a simple grilled cheese was anything but simple--amazing walnut bread with aged gouda. i didn't have the pizza as i was heading out before the monday night special a the bakery. every single bite we put in our mouths from ken's was memorable. don't deny yourself the pleasure!
Thank you everybody for the very helpful replies!
I completely didn't realize how rich/foie gras/Lyonnaise cuisine filled my original dinner plans were...so changes need to be made.
First, I have made a Le Pigeon reservation for us on Saturday night (the trip btw in 2 weeks is arrive Tuesday night, leave Sunday mid afternoon). Le Pigeon, Gruner, and tasting at Hair of the Dog are the 3 that "got away" when I was last in Portland in December 2010 and vowed to do when I would be in town next.
Your advice is so helpful and Portland just has so many tough choices to make...so let's see now what I can adapt from this based on your recommendations.
Lunch (5) seems pretty solid, good mix of locations, cuisines, and since I'm going to Copenhagen in late June, really want to try Broder: Broder, Pok Pok, Olympic Provisions (original location), Gruner, and Tasty n Sons (other contender if I don't do Ken's Artisan Pizza for a pizza dinner, Nostrana)
Dinner (5): some changes here: Le Pigeon (set), Biwa, Ken's (having been to Apizza Scholl's, could be fun to compare...), Beast (should I consider brunch there?), Paley's Place (I lived in France for 6 months recently and love steak tartare and escargot...but one dining partner doesn't eat either and loves fish, would this be a bad choice for her with those 2 being Chef Paley's specialties?) .
St. Jack, Toro Bravo, Natural Selection, and Portobello are very closely in the running, Aviary looks great too!
Coffee: I'm a big espresso guy but let me know if any of these 10 are better at espresso or lattes or drip coffee: Coava, Heart, Stumptown (either free daily cupping or the one on Division), Barista, Sterling, Ristretto, Courier, Spella (weekdays!), Water Ave., and Public Domain. Am I missing anybody?
Breweries: Based on the tip for Amnesia from Leonardo: Amnesia, Upright, Hair of the Dog, Hopworks Hub (which of their bars is better?), Cascade...6th runner up is Bridgeport since I do love their beers
Cocktails/bars/distilleries: Clear Creek, Kask, Teardrop, Clyde Common, Rum Club, Beaker & Flask, Bar Avignon, and Horse Brass. Distillery Row looks great...but probably can't taste that much in 1 hour with this schedule, right?
Snacks/light breakfasts/pastries: Salt n Straw (I'm staying in the NW and my host says there's a new location there opening?), taste off Voodoo (to see how bad it has become) vs coco, Waffle Window vs Flavor Spot, Pine St at PSU market, a cannele at St. Jack since I love them and fail at baking them, and chocolates (Moonstruck and Alma, drinking chocolate at Cacao?).
Lots of tough decisions, lots of excellent insight, thank you so much Portland!
Dinner: I, personally, wouldn't do Ken's. If you really, really love pizza then by all means, but... it's pizza. There are plenty of good thin crust pizza places in San Fran. I highly, highly recommend Aviary. St. Jack is awesome, though if you lived in France, maybe not so exciting? I don't know. Toro Bravo is also awesome, so long as you can bear the wait. Definitely Natural Selection over Portobello. The latter is a nice place to eat if you're a local, but I wouldn't send a tourist there unless they're vegan. Natural Selection I would recommend to anyone.
Coffee: You'll get good espresso at any of those places (except Stumptown Annex, which doesn't do espresso, but definitely go for the a cupping), although it's true that some are probably a bit more interested in their drip, and I know some people don't care for single origins with espresso, which many of those places do. You'll probably enjoy Spella - they have a beautiful Rancilio and are probably a bit more Italian in focus. Public Domain have a nice Slayer and probably do more espresso than other drinks. Barista are just really top shelf baristas, no matter what you get there. If you're looking for coffee nerd conversations with your baristas, Courier, Coava and Sterling.
Breweries: Personally, I prefer taprooms over breweries so I don't have much to say on this, except a word of warning: Hopworks, both locations, are FULL of kids. I also think most of their beer is pretty boring, but that's nothing compared to how much I hate having toddlers screaming in my ear.
Booze: Yeah, you probably can't do Distillery Row quickly. Clear Creek is a good choice for tasting. I also really like the tasting room at House Spirits. But if you're staying in the NW, you could check out Bull Run up there, which is pretty new and the folks are really nice. Another cocktail bar I would check out is Central.
the DH and I may be the only people in the world that think Ken's is 'meh' (but we make our own). I'd swap that out for Biwa and think seriously about making the time for Toro Bravo. If we go here, we typically arrive at 4:45pm to get 5pm to get seating. Drinks at Secret Society next door can dull the pain of waiting. Brunch at Tasty n Son's is nothing short of amazing.
I know Beast is moving from their current locale. I don't really go there so I don't know if the moving out part has taken place yet or not. I do think with Pigeon, Beast, St. Jack and Paley's while you don't necessarily have overlap you do have some rich to super rich food lined up against one another. I freaking love Biwa. The food is amazing, the restaurant has great energy, it smells amazing and it is pretty unique (at least to Portland). Took my girlfriend's sister and her restaurant owning boyfriend there when they came to town a couple of weeks ago and they were completely thrilled. Beaker has had a chef change but I would definitely still consider for later night/cocktails along with Rum Club. Toro Bravo is awesome but time does not have to be a factor to you because you are going to wait to get in unless you go insanely early. I might throw Nostrana into the lunch category as it is easier to get into, service tends to be better and I like their food for that meal but that's just a personal preference. Kask is very nifty. Small. Get there early or at around 7:45 when they have some turn over. I like Bent Brick but it can be quiet in there. Bar Avignon is terrific and triples as wine bar, cocktails (not the best in town but they aren't shooting to be a cocktail bar but what they do is solid) and good dinner fare. Relaxed atmosphere with an upscale tone. Voodoo is, well, we won't go there. It's hard to miss on coffee but I agree with chalmers. Personally I favor Barista and Heart but it's an embarrassment of riches really.
I had the same thought about such rich food for multiple dinners. Natural Selection/Portobello are good choices to change it up. Or Chiang Mai. I love that place. And I also recently had a great meal at BIWA, too.
AVIARY might be some place to consider as well - I haven't been but only hear good things about an interesting menu.
Good on you for doing your research and bringing the questions! I don't even reply anymore to people who can't be bothered to do some poking around on their own.
I'd trade Amnesia for Bridgeport, Flavor Spot for Waffle Window, Coco Donuts for Voodoo (you want great donuts or interesting ones?). Do Pine State Biscuit at Portland Farmers Mkt at PSU. Check out Distillery Row. http://www.distilleryrowpdx.com/
Also consider Tanuki.