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Jun 17, 2012 01:42 PM

Need guidance for short trip to Portland-- researched!

Hi all,
My husband and I will be spending about 2 1/2 days in Portland in July after spending the first part of the week in Seattle (posted on the Seattle board about that already) and Cannon Beach. I'm having trouble narrowing down our meal choices. I have a feeling from what I've read on this board and elsewhere that I will be in food heaven as a local food enthusiast, and my husband will be in beer heaven, but I'm a bit overwhelmed! We are from NY and want to try places that are unique to Portland. Coffee, ice cream, cheese, beer are musts. No Italian or pizza. We're staying at the Paramount but will have a car. However, can't imagine we'll get too far afield with such limited time. Thanks for any feedback!!!!!!

We need 3 dinners (Thursday, Friday, Saturday), 2 lunches (Thurs and Saturday), and 2 breakfasts (Fri and Saturday). We'll be spending the entire day Friday driving out to Hood River so will basically have 2 days (Thurs and Sat) to explore Portland and eat/drink as much as possible. :)

Thursday- arriving midday for lunch from Cannon Beach- lunch at food trucks near our hotel- seems like a couple of the pods are close by, what are the favorites?
Dinner- Toro Bravo? (The 30$ prix fixe sounds enticing)
Drinks- 3 or so bars/brewpubs close together for our own beer crawl

Friday- need a fast breakfast before we leave for Hood River
Dinner- Something on the cheaper side?-- maybe a series of small bites at a couple of places?
Drinks- another beer crawl

Saturday- breakfast- probably nibbles at the PSU Farmers' Market
Lunch- Pok Pok- this is a must
Dinner- ? Need a great final Pacific NW meal but nothing toooooo heavy as we will be getting on the plane back to NY after dinner

These are the restaurants on my radar...
Clyde Common, Gruner, Wildwood, Aviary, Toro Bravo, Pok Pok, Ned Ludd,St. Jack, Le Pigeon, Biwa

Desserts/Specialty food...
Salt and Straw, Cacao, The Meadow, Alma, Voodoo, Little T, Ken's

Amnesia, Cascade,Rogue, Deschutes, Bailey's, Hair of the Dog, Hopworks, Upright, Henry's, so many...

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  1. In the food carts at Alder/Washington my go to is Khao Mon Gai. There is 1 thing available and it is a poached chicken breast with a ginger sauce and rice. It's $6.50 (variable with additions/sizes). That's the only thing they serve and it is incredible. It is at 11th and Alder.

    The restaurants you ask about have been covered extensively here. I would definitely not go to Pigeon for the Saturday dinner if you don't want heavy. Lots of places are doing the 3 for $25 (or whatever it is) right now. I like Pok Pok better for lunch than dinner as I feel their food is more conducive to that meal but that's me and my desire for something spicy after drinking too much the night before. If you wanted something totally inexpensive and different check out Double Dragon which does great Banh Mi sandwiches over on the east side on Division. Very inexpenisve and one is a real meal. Mostly only open for lunch. Gruner, depending on how much charcuterie and sausage you consume, could also be out side your desired heaviness level as well although I think the food there is awesome. St. Jack is terrific but if you live in NYC a French bistro may not interest you as much even if it is extremely well done. Lots of people here like Clyde and it is certainly a unique spot but I don't dig the vibe that much, don't like communal tables for the most part and think the food is hit or miss. I love Wildwood for super local, super fresh and interesting NW style cuisine/wine/beer/drinks. I think taking a look at the Olympic Provisions website might be a good idea. Like the place, especially up in NW part of town. Ned Ludd is definitely interesting but it's a very particular style of place and quite small. Biwa is awesome in every way and depending on what and how much you order would be relatively inexpensive. We usually over-indulge on whatever sashimi they have and double (okay, triple) down on the fried chicken. I would say Noisette but it wouldn't be on the cheaper side and might push the richness boundary for Saturday.

    Portland is nuts for breakfast which I am not. Kenny and Zuke's seems to be the place of record. I only eat at the James John Cafe for said meal and that is not even close to on your way to Hood River.

    You might want to add Produce Row into the beer crawl thing especially if you go to Biwa on Friday. That and The Green Dragon (not to be confused with Double Dragon) and the Cascade Barrel House are all pretty close as far as doing a east of the river pub crawl that would all be within about 12 blocks of each other.

    Good luck with the trip

    5 Replies
    1. re: oregonjim

      Thank you so much for your feedback. I really appreciate that you took the time to write such a detailed reply; this is exactly the kind of info I was looking for. Wildwood's menu appeals to me so I may book that for Saturday night, but I'm not sure yet. My husband loves Japanese food so he will prefer Biwa especially based on your rave, so I think that would work for Friday night. Biwa doesn't take reservations, right?

      En route to Hood River we'll probably just stop at a bakery for something on the road. Maybe Ken's? Not sure of the route yet so not sure what makes sense.

      Thanks again!

      1. re: i_eat_a_lot_of_ice_cream

        Huge second for Biwa.
        Coffee: Ristretto.
        Small bites: Navarre.
        Ken's is enough on the way to HR in that there's a freeway onramp close by. Great choice.
        Wildwood still has it going on, and the prototypical Pac NW cuisine.
        Voodoo? Really? Ya want "good" donuts or "interesting"?
        Portland Farmers Mkt at PSU has so much to offer as far as breakfast, in addition to cheese, berries and cherries. Go early to avoid crowds and get the best selection.
        The best downtown food cart (don't call them trucks even if they are!) pod near your hotel is 10th/Alder. As mentioned, Nong's Khao Mon Gai. Others of note include a tiny Viet cart on Alder between 9-10th called Mai Pho, Noodle House 9th & Washington.
        Meadow or Cacao are good because you can get the Luscious Caramel made by Sahagun Chocolate. Get it.

        Here's the latest readers' choice poll.

        Three items for $25 is June only.
        Have fun. Please report back!

        1. re: Leonardo

          Thanks for your input. I can see that Voodoo is touristy/hype but my husband will kill me if we don't go. He wants to try the bacon maple donut (and Rogue's bacon maple donut beer)- I admit I'm curious too!! Any other desserts we can't miss?

          1. re: i_eat_a_lot_of_ice_cream

            For great Japanese food, you should go to Departure Lounge on the 18th floor of The Nines Hotel. The food is incredible and the views are awesome! We have dined there 3 times. They have a great outdoor space there if the weather is nice. We also love Little Bird Bistro in downtown Portland for innovative food in an energetic ambiance. Dont' miss the Mussells there, it's one of my favorite dishes they serve. :)

        2. re: i_eat_a_lot_of_ice_cream

          We just went to Wildwood and I was incredibly disappointed. Not bad, but not good compared to everything else we just ate.... I regret that one meal.

      2. Saturday dinner and drinks at Tanuki. Take a cab. Put down 25 on omakase and order a bottle of sake.

        1 Reply
        1. re: dagrassroots

          True, it's like nothing you have ever tried or been to. I love it, I am a once a week regular.

          ...and if you can't handle Japanese flicks like RoboGeisha and/or Machine Girl, don't face the television behind the bar. You've been warned...

        2. Hi IEALOIC,

          We just got back from Portland. I made a report on another thread, but just wanted to add that I tried a place at Cannon Beach that you might like -- Osburn's Ice Creamery. Their ice cream was surprisingly good for what looked like just a regular old tourist ice cream spot, especially the coffee flavor with chocolate pieces in it.

          In Portland, we got bread and breakfast almost every day at Ken's Artisan Bakery because it was a few blocks from where we stayed. I don't know. Their bread is solidly good, but not spectacular. As with Andina, I'm not sure what's prompting the extreme raves. I had at least four samples of bread that was as good or better at the PSU Farmer's Market. (You can definitely make a breakfast of samples alone there.)

          A couple of things I really wish we'd had time to try are Aviary, Scoop organic ice cream at the North Station food cart pod and Bushwhacker cider bar.

          So much great food, so little time.

          Hope you have a wonderful trip,

          2 Replies
          1. re: ninrn

            Thank you for your recommendations! Do you have any other Cannon Beach recommendations? I had wanted to drive down to Newport but I didn't realize how far it was so I'm not sure we'll get down that far. Just want some great, no frill seafood while we are on the coast.

            1. re: i_eat_a_lot_of_ice_cream

              We only made a day trip to Cannon Beach, so I can't give any first-hand recommendations for other food, but there was a huge line at a place called Ecola Seafoods and people seemed to be enjoying their food. It's a fish market with a cafeteria-style restaurant. It looked like they sell mostly fried seafood with a pretty good selection of boiled/steamed shellfish, and chowdery soups as well. Nothing fancy, but probably very fresh. We were also told that Fishes Sushi was pretty good.

              One cool-looking place we didn't get to try (closed on Tuesdays) was the Oil and Vinegar Bar. They offer samples of high quality olive oils and balsamic vinegars set up like wine tastings.

          2. The original comment has been removed
            1. I wanted to post a quick trip review. We had an amazing couple of days in Portland. We wished that we had another week to explore the food scene in Portland-- such is the bounty of amazing culinary options.

              Big Ass Sandwiches- we had an unplanned lunch here after picking up our rental car to go to Cannon Beach on Tuesday. After seeing the sandwich on Adam Richman's show we had to try it and it was gloriously over the top. We ordered the gut bomb, which was double roast beef and double cheese bechamel with fries on an excellent ciabatta roll. Amazingly enough, it wasn't a stomach clutching gut bomb-- it was great for us to share and not excessively greasy... very messy though! Their cole slaw was of the non-mayonnaise variety and flavored with caraway seeds-- a great complement to the sandwich.

              Eurodish- our first meal for the official start to our Portland trip. We circled the carts near our hotel (I think 10th and Alder?) and I was so overwhelmed by the amazing choices that finally I made my husband pick and he chose this one. The cute lady at the cart was making fresh pierogies so we waited for a few minutes. They came out piping hot with polish sausage, pickled cucumbers, sour cream, and mustard. What a snack and for something like $6!

              Deschutes- We loved Deschutes so much that we couldn't resist ordering two sampling trays. Our mutual favorite was the white IPA and the fresh pretzel with cheese sauce was a great beer snack.

              Toro Bravo- For $30 each, the tasting is a fun, frenetic feast. We were served bread with amazing butter, salt cod fritters, bacon wrapped dates, a salad, corn with cilantro pesto, chili shrimp, spinach, pork wrapped in jamon, and eggplant with a lamb ragu. Too full for dessert. We marveled at the uniqueness of this restaurant and lamented its lack of NY counterpart.

              Crema- we stopped here on the way to Hood River. This is an adorable neighborhood coffee shop/cafe and we had a huge apricot cherry muffin and a delicious savory breakfast turnover with eggs, peppers, etc. I had a ginger lemonade which was very refreshing.

              Luc Lac- We were too tired after our day in Hood River to venture very far from our hotel, so my husband chose this Vietnamese place. We loved it. Casual yet trendy and very budget friendly! We each had the pho which was way more food than we possibly could have eaten. I had some sort of amazing Vietnamese iced tea with salted whipped cream on top. My pho was packed with shrimp and had a wonderfully aromatic broth.

              PSU Farmers' market- this market is amazing and I am so jealous of all you Portland folks who get to enjoy it every Saturday! We had flavorful chilaquiles with vibrant, fresh summer vegetables. We got a couple of things to bring back with us (preserves, some candies) but though I looked wistfully at all the fruits and veggies we didn't have room for them.

              Pok Pok- we ended up having a late lunch at Pok Pok as our final meal and what a great way to end our vacation. Loved the laidback atmosphere and friendly service, not to mention the serious chow they have here. We loved the sticky fish sauce wings, the super spicy pok pok, and the pork skewers with an addicting coconut curry sauce. The strong Thai coffee washed it all down. I wonder if the Pok Pok in NY is as good.

              Salt and Straw- a couple hundred yards from Pok Pok is the S&S cart, with NO line (compared to the huge line outside the NW one that we refused to wait on), where they encouraged endless sampling. I went for the almond brittle with salted ganache and the banana with caramel and walnuts. Total melty creamy bliss.

              Portland for sure has my vote for one of the best food cities in America that I've visited so far. It can definitely teach NY a thing or two about creativity, value, service, and atmosphere. Cheers for the suggestions!

              2 Replies
              1. re: i_eat_a_lot_of_ice_cream

                Yeah, it's hard here. So few choices. It's also 84, sunny and completely humidity free here today. I live near the PSU Market and it is so great to have easy access to that array of fresh, local and organic produce.

                1. re: oregonjim

                  Ha!!! Yes the weather was another thing we were sad to leave- feel like we are living in a rain forest in NY lately...