Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Metro Portland >
Apr 22, 2012 05:27 PM

Portland restaurant and bar recommendations please (researched)!!

Hello everyone,

8 of us are planning to visit Portland over the July 4th weekend. We'll be staying at The Inn@Park Lane Suites in downtown. Most of us are traveling from NYC and SF. Based on what I've read, I've narrowed it down to a few restaurants and bars and was hoping to get some advice on the same - if I am missing a gem or have a dud in my list! One important thing is that one of us is a VEGETARIAN. I also have a couple of questions and I'll appreciate if someone could help me with those as well!

GRUB (A quick note, I deliberately did not include Pok Pok because of its branches in NYC. I understand that the Portland one is probably better but I'd rather try the other things that Portland excels in)

Friday lunch:
- Food carts@10th and Alder (Nong, Zibar's, Ate Oh Ate which is at SW 9th), Clyde Common (We'll be arriving at different times so I wanted to keep something relatively close to our hotel but if there is a stellar lunch place that I should absolutely have in place of these, I can look into it)

Friday Dinner:
- Ned Ludd
- Also considered Olympic Provisions and St. Jack

Saturday brunch/lunch:
- Carts@Cartopia and Good Food Here (I read about the Saturday Farmers Market but I'm not sure as to how many in my group will be willing to brave the long lines that seem to be the norm at the good eateries there, plus these 2 pods seem to have some pretty decent carts - Whiffies, Pyro, Eurotrash, Sugar Cube, Lardo, Kitchen Dances). I know that there are some benches that one can sit on in the pods on the east side. Can we also get some beer there?

Saturday Dinner:
- Little Bird or Gruner - will getting anything vegetarian be a problem here?

Sunday brunch/lunch:
- Tasty N Sons

Sunday Dinner:
- Toro Bravo (I know that this is managed by the same people as Tasty N Sons but the menu looks very interesting). Since this does not accept reservations, I would like to have a backup, maybe the one that we do not go to for dinner on Saturday (Little Bird and Gruner).

I'm not sure when/how but I'll see if I can fit in some places for coffee and some bakeries as well,
Coffee - Barista, Risteretto, Spielmen, Heart, Stumptown, (Considered Public Domain, Water Avenue, Oblique and Sterling)
Bakeries - Nuvrei, Ken's Artisan Bakery, Little T Bakery, Lovejoy Bakery (Considered Pearl Bakery, Bakery bar, Baker and spice, Pix Patisserie)
Chocolates - Cocoa and Alma


We are planning 2 crawls, one on the east side and the other on the west side. Casual, fun, lively, maybe with live music, quintessentially Portland kind of places. The places that I found are,
WEST - Deschutes, Bailey's taproom, Oregon wines, Gilt Club, Teardrop Lounge and Clyde Common
EAST - Apex, Horse Brass, Coalition, Breakside, Upright, Migration, Bazi Bier, Cascade barrel room, Burnside, , Belomont station, East Burn, Green Dragon, Roscoes, Hophouse, Beaker & Flask and Thatch Tiki Bar

Here are the problems,
- All the places on the West seem to be pretty close to each other but are in downtown. From what I understand Old Town is a fun, casual, Bourbon Street-esque neighborhood which would be awesome. Not sure if we should stick to the well known places in Downtown or go to unheard of places in Old Town which might be a more fun/lively experience
- On the east, the places seem to be pretty spread out. Cascade and Green Dragon are close, Horse Brass and Belmont are close but it's hard to plan a crawl with 4-5 places here

Any suggestion on the above? Based on that, I'll try and narrow this down.

Thanks a lot!!

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Thanks for doing your own research!

    Old Town night spots are for the young bridge and tunnel crowd to get drunk, dance, and get picked up. I can't say what kind of "lively" is for you. Nothing notable in the way of food or drink. Must-do west side bar: Teardrop. Thatch? Absolutely! While there, two doors down is Pour Wine Bar, owned by an Advanced Sommellier from the Court of Master Sommelliers, a title held by only 273 people worldwide.

    Chocolate shop is Cacao not Cocoa. Get the "luscious caramel" by Sahagun.

    Carts downtown: Ziba's (not (Zibar's) has been closed for awhile. The best downtown carts are open only weekdays mid-day. Of course there are exceptions.

    Cart pod on N. Mississippi has beer.

    Want to be precise here: you said "Saturday Farmers Market". There's "Portland Saturday Mkt" that is a hippie craft fair with mediocre food. And there's Portland Farmers Mkt at PSU on Saturday 8:30 - 2. The latter has excellent food and you can sample some of our best bakers plus hot dishes by the likes of Pine State Biscuits. Worth the wait. Plus you can pick up fresh local berries! Also at PFM you'll find Alma and Pearl Bakery.


      This recent thread might be helpful. If you want to have a special meal for the vegetarian - check out Natural Selection for dinner. As a bonus, it is in one of those unique Portland neighborhoods.

      For coffee and pastries near your hotel, just stick with Ken's Artisan and check out Coffeehouse Northwest.

      1. Thanks! I'm trying to find a backup for Toro Bravo in case it's too crowded and some of the places that I read about were Le Pigeon, St. Jack and Aviary. Out of these, I found the menu at Le Pigeon to be interesting but since I'll probably be going to Little Bird anyways, does Le Pigeon make sense? If not, any suggestions between Aviary and St. Jack or some other place close to Toro Bravo? For the carts, are there any "must do's" that I might be missing from the 3 pods?

        Also, do the places in my original list look OK? Dinners: Ned Ludd, Little Bird/Gruner, Toro Bravo. Lunches: Pod on 10th and Alder & Clyde Commons, Pods@Cartopia & Good food here and Tasty N Sons. I will try to make it to the PSU farmers market on Saturday!

        For the bars - I don't think old town is what we are looking for so I'll probably skip that :) For beer, I don't really care if it's a brewhouse or a taproom as long as it has excellent beer in a fun and lively atmosphere. Taking that into consideration can I please get some help in narrowing down my list on both the east and the west side to about 4-5 places each? 2-3 beer+1-2 cocktail places. I'm open to places that I may have missed of course. Since, I'll try to do a crawl, if the places are close to each other, that'll be awesome!

        Lastly, are there any late night dining options close to my hotel? I read that the pods on the east side remain open late but not sure about options close to where I'll be staying.


        4 Replies
        1. re: indiefoodie

          Mississippi Ave would be a good place to do a crawl. Could start at PROST which is next to a foodcart pod and work your way down the street. Lots of options in a fun strip of North Portland

          1. re: MyNextMeal

            And Amnesia Brewing is on Mississippi.

            Indie: don't get so hung up on this eastside/westside thing. Everything is close. Late night to 12/Hawthorne carts is a ten-minute drive. Late night near you is Roxy's, an overpriced hipster greasy spoon.

            1. re: Leonardo

              In fairness, there are eight of them and possibly no car/sober driver - that's two taxis. I live downtown and don't have a car and would never go that far for late-night food.

              Late night food downtown: Depends how you define "late". Roxys is open 24 hours, but it's pretty bad. Many of the carts at 3rd and Stark are open until about 3am Thurs-Sat, as well as the hanful of ones at 3rd and Ash. I *think* the La Jarochita cart on 5th and Oak is open late - they do great huaraches. Sizzle Pie is open until 4 am on weekends. Luc Lac, which does good Vietnamese food and has a great bar, is open until 4 am Fri-Sat. The Original at the Courtyard Marriot is open until 4, I think, on Friday and Saturday. It's gimmicky, but not the worst thing you could eat at 3 in the morning. And obviously, Voodoo Doughnut is open 24 hours, which also tastes better drunk.

          2. re: indiefoodie

            Two good late night options nearby are North45 and Cassidy's:

            North45 has good mussels and cocktails and a good Belgian beer list. Cassidy's is seriously old school - but they have really good food...a lot of service folks go there after shift. They have a great cheap bar menu/happy hour 10pm-2am. Cassidy's isn't that far from your hotel, either

            East side easy beer crawl means Green Dragon and Cascade. Cascade is known for their sours, they make stuff no one else does around here, but you have to be into that kind of thing. Green Dragon makes all kinds of stuff, and has a huge tap list. These two places are very close to each other, you can't go wrong. If you can still drink, a good walkable cocktail place (with great food, too) is Beaker & Flask. All of these aren't too far from Le Pigeon, either. And all of these are also near many distilleries: (most tasting is on the weekend). Not a fan of Burnside Brewing at all, never had anything I like there. Amazing tap list at Apex and amazing bottles diagonally across the street at Beer Mongers (@ intersection of SE 12th and Division) to muddy the waters for ya! ;o


            Westside beer places include Bailey's Taproom and Deschutes, which are definitely walkable. There's also Rogue and Tugboat, and Henry's has a lot of taps, though they are not a brewpub. Westside cocktails include Teardrop and Clyde Common (and CLyde Common has great food, btw). GIlt CLub is another great choice for cocktails with great food and also open late night.

            I might be tempted to move Gruner into a lunch spot and do Le Pigeon for dinner when you do east side breweries/cocktails...if you can eat/walk by dinner, that is... ;o)

            You're doing good research, indiefoodie, keep the questions coming! ;o)

          3. Friday lunch: As mentioned, Ziba's is gone. Ate Oh Ate is a restaurant on E Burnside, you probably mean 808 Grinds. But I wouldn't worry - there is over a block of carts; just walk around and choose whatever looks good.

            Friday dinner: All of these are good, though I am personally very fond of Ned Ludd and your vegetarian friend will have the best options there. NL and OP are probably the best two for a large group.

            Sat brunch/lunch: I agree with others to do the Saturday Farmers Market. The only place with a line is Pine State, and it probably would be a more fun, relaxed way to spend your Saturday (you can walk from your hotel) than travelling out to 43rd and Belmont. If you do want beer: GFH has beer sometimes, but I don't know when/how regularly. Cartopia doesn't, but there is a new bar, the High Dive, which lets you bring cart food in.

            Sat dinner: Both have vegetarian food. Gruner doesn't usually have a veg entree, but it always has plenty of smaller plates, and you can get several of them or get them to make a bigger version of one. I go often with a vegetarian friend, and we never have a problem. I personally like Gruner more and think the food is more interesting, but both are very good.

            Sunday brunch/lunch: Tasty's is excellent, but make sure you make reservations, or you'll be waiting hours.

            Sunday dinner: TB actually does take reservations on Sunday nights for parties of 7 or more, so do that.

            Coffee: There is so much good coffee in and around downtown, I wouldn't go out of your way to go elsewhere. Barista, Stumptown, Courier, Public Domain, Coffeehouse NW and the Red E's Pearl location should be open by then. And Water Ave and Coava are just across the road. Spielman do decent coffee, but it's not in the city's top roasters. Heart is excellent and Ristretto is quite good, but again, with so much near your hotel, I would only go if you're in the area.

            Bakeries: See advice above. Bakery Bar isn't really much of a bakery, more a brunch spot. Baker and Spice is ages away. Pix is more a patisserie than a bakery. It's good, but I wouldn't go out of your way.

            Chocolate: I think Cacao stocks some of Alma's products now. If you're up on Mississippi for something else, you could also check out the Meadow, which has a great chocolate collection, as well as artisan salts and bitters. But Cacao are really generous about letting you taste anything, and have the biggest range, so I'd choose them first.

            Drinking: East: I guess Gilt is sort of "quintessentially Portland" because it was on Portlandia, but as a bar, its just OK. My downtown bar crawl would include Central and maybe Kask. You might also like Departure -- it gets a bit obnoxious late on weekends, but the view is really great.

            Old Town is generally pretty gross, but you wanted something like Bourbon St, right? It's not as gross as Bourbon St, and is the liveliest night life. Good places in and around Old Town: Central (cocktails), Valentine's (artsy), Ground Kontrol (video game arcade with a bar; it's really great), Ash Street (pretty dirty rock n roll bar, but you can catch some great bands if that's your thing). Also Ping, which is more a restaurant, but you can definitely go for drinks, and they do good cocktails. There are also a bunch of Irish bars -- I don't like Irish bars, but if you do, Old Town has 'em in spades. And Mary's, which is a strip club and also an institution. But definitely don't just walk into random bars in Old Town unless you're looking for barely-clothed 20-somethings downing sugary shots

            5 Replies
            1. re: chalmers

              I'm researching for our May trip and I have a cryptic scribble about the two Pix-es closing and consolidating somewhere but no note of when -- anybody know?

              For the OP, if you all do make it to Gruner, please try their spaetzle. Good God. I'm trying to figure out how to go there for lunch to try the burger and still have that as a side.

              1. re: grayelf

                That doesn't happen until late August. 2225 E Burnside.

              2. re: chalmers

                Thanks Chalmers. For the downtown crawl, you suggested Central and maybe Kask. Would you put these before the likes of Bailey's, Deschutes and Teardrop? Thanks!

                1. re: indiefoodie

                  Deschutes is a brewpub not a bar (no hard liquor), and if beer is what you prefer then that is your best downtown spot. So comparing it to a bar, well, that's up to you.
                  Best downtown bar for me is Teardrop.

                  1. re: Leonardo

                    *Technically* both Deschutes and Teardop are in the Pearl, not downtown. I would go to Bailey's over Descutes any day of the week (bigger selection, better beers, not jammed with tourists) but you could certainly do both. Teardrop probably makes the best cocktails in the city, so no, I wouldn't put anything ahead of it, BUT if you're not going to Deschutes (which is nearby), then you might find it's a walk from other downtown bars. If you want to keep things downtown, then yes, I might choose Central based on location. Both do excellent drinks. I like the atmosphere of Central better.

                    All of these places are fine though. Just decide what you want to do (cocktails or beer or a mix), look at where everything is on a map, then decide which work best on a route that doesn't require you to stumble long distances all night.

              3. How's Andina compared to food at Gruner and Little Bird? I know that they are very different cuisines but for someone who eats and likes everything, purely in terms of deliciousness?

                And, Tasty N Son's only takes reservations for 9:00 AM (at least that is what the lady that I spoke to on the phone told me). It'll probably be impossible that we'll get there by then so is the another place for brunch/lunch on Sunda that is can consider?