My girlfriend and I will be visiting my brother in Portland in July and are very excited about the trip. I've been reading Chowhound boards about where to eat when we're in town, but am having a hard time figuring out what I should be getting in Portland that you just can't get in New York (or many other places).
Perhaps it's that I've just looked at too many menus that everything is starting to look the same, but nothing has really popped out with how unique and innovative it is.
Any help would be appreciated.
Thanks in advance.
I'm not sure if any restaurant tries to set out to do something that can't be found anywhere else unless they are shooting for Michelin stars.
That said, Chiang Mai on Hawthorne has some interesting dishes I've never seen on any other Thai menu and done very well.
HA&VL is this Vietnamese cafe that does from scratch soups (not just pho but sometimes including pho) that are truly truly top notch.
While I have not been myself, AVIARY and CASTAGNA are places that might fit the bill for unique and innovative.
What sets Portland apart is the top notch quality of dining for an extremely reasonable price point at places all across town in a variety of neighborhoods.
Castagna is a lot like WD-50 in New York in my opinion although it has a local foods twist. It is probably the best version I've had of modernist/molecular gastronomy on the west coast other than Atelier Creen in SF.
I think what makes Portland different from NY is the local ingredients and simple preparations. I think Beast is very unique and not quite like other places both in terms of service, the chef and the food.
There are also tons of mid range places doing really well simple preparations and the seafood is far better than in most NYC place even at a low price point.
I think Portland is generally less about innovative and more about local, fresh and substantial...you may want to check the menu at Mextiza and I second Chiang Mai...the Kao Soi wowed a NY food obsessed friend of mine. The food at Aviary is delightful, and delicious every time.
I also highly rec, Tasty and Sons for Brunch, altho there will be a wait