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Aug 27, 2012 11:25 AM

First timers to Portland - need winery, brewery and dining recs please!

My husband and I are headed to Portland for a long weekend. Everyone that knows us says we will love it - hailing from SF and NYC, and being wine / food people, they say it is our "mecca" outside of Napa / SF.

We are totally clueless on where to eat and where to go to check stuff out. We're staying downtown at the Monaco hotel, which seems like it is a good location for biking, walking and streetcars. We will have our car, as well, to get to the wineries or other sights outside the city. We'll be there for 3 nights, and will have 2 full days and one 1/2 day to explore.

The hotel has complementary bikes for guests, so one day we want to bike around the city and go to a bunch of breweries. Caveat - I'm gluten-free, so I know I won't be able to sip at quite a few, but from what I've read, Deschutes and Widmers both have GF beers at the Public House / Gasthaus. For my non-GF husband, any recommendations that are must? Or know of any others that serve GF beer.....or at least good cocktails?

Would love some recs on wineries in the Willamette Valley. We're planning a day trip, so a few good ones would be great. We'd like to stay more towards the north, rather than heading down all the way to Corvallis.....but if it is worth it to get some good wine, then so be it, we'll go.

Lastly, food. We're looking for anything from food trucks to 5 star. I'd love at least one night with a great chef's tasting menu, or something similar. The rest could be more casual. Something that will embody all that Portland is. We'd be open to having pre-dinner cocktails and snacks at one place, then heading out to another for dinner.

It will be Labor Day weekend, so if there are any fun festivals or other events to check out, that would be great too. And in general, other sights - the gardens, etc.


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  1. For the valley / vineyards .. in the Dundee Hills area (north end of the valley) head to Torii Mor and Lange Vineyards. Two beautiful and excellent small producers... They are near one another so you don't have to drive far at all once you get into Dundee. For restaurants in Portland, Pok Pok comes to mind. You could also walk to it's sister restaurant Ping in Chinatown. Many options for fine and fun times for foodies in the city.

    1. There are several excellent and in-depth recent visitors' reviews. Why don't you first check them out and ask some questions? Just scroll down a few weeks and you'll see a wealth of advice for visitors and then their reviews.

      Portland Farmers Mkt on Saturday morning is a must.

      I won't answer site-seeing questions as any post will be deleted by moderators as off-topic. This is a food board.

      7 Replies
      1. re: Leonardo

        I should have been more clear about the events - food / beer events were mostly what I was asking.

        We were already planning on doing the Farmers Market for Saturday breakfast.

        I did some research, and what comes up as looking good to me are:

        -- Broder for brunch (love Swedish food, and it is hard to find)
        -- Le Pigeon
        -- Little Bird
        -- Clyde Common
        -- Central
        -- BEAST (but probably can't get in this short notice)

        The menu at Ned Ludd is slightly intriguing, but seemed more so/so. Paley's Place looks too ordinary. Andina looks a lot like what we can get in SF. Park Kitchen is possible. Then maybe just find some food pod areas for lunch, or eat at the various brewpubs we're going to tour one day.

        Thoughts on the above restaurants, or have I clearly missed a great one?

        1. re: kws123

          Deschutes & Widmer are both near good cart pods, meaning better food at the latter. SW 10th/Alder & N Mississippi Ave, respectively.

          There are some outstanding threads both here and on the Oregon board on wineries. You need not go all the way to Corvallis. Some of the best places are in Washington (west of here) & Yamhill (southwest) counties.

          The food booths at Art in the Pearl this weekend are just OK, nothing stellar.

          1. re: kws123

            We hit up a few places in our first eating trip to Portland last March with two friends who are GF: Deschutes, which has a nice, pubby, Northwesty feel to it despite being relatively new. The buns don't have great structural integrity and the NW Pale Ale prolly doesn't quite stand up to the real thing but passable GF burgers and beers is kind of a winning combo and your SO might enjoy a tasting "bat" since you can't share with him.

            We had an excellent impromptu second dinner at Clyde Common that Wednesday night as well -- interesting cocktails and a really outstanding game hen dish, and we didn't mind the communal seating or open kitchen. YMMV.

            Beaker and Flask and Teardrop Lounge were also on the hit list and the latter was the winner by a mile. We were in fact quite disappointed by B&F after the many raves I'd read online -- flaccid cocktails, ugly outdated room and awful music on crappy speakers. Try the Artistaint if you hit the Teardrop -- mmm good.

            Chiang Mai was another place that worked well with our GF DCs. Though we found most of the dishes we ordered to be too sweet, they were made with quality ingredients and obvious care. The nam khao was the standout and not sweet at all. They don't take reservations and the place is small so come early if you go. Very good value also.

            And if you want to hit up a drinking hole where gluten is not part of the equation at all, check out Bushwhacker -- all cider all the time :-). A bit hard to find and you deffo need to drive but worth the candle. They also have tasting flights, close earlyish on weekdays at least.

            Check out Evoe's menu to see if it appeals. They seem to be known for their sandwiches but we were transported by their veg offerings (and we are carnivores for sure). Super chill place for a lazy Sunday afternoon on a lovely stretch of Hawthorne for strolling before/after. Can't wait to go back in October!

            We didn't have much luck at Le Pigeon though it is a pretty room and the service was impeccable. Kinda wish we had tried Little Bird instead but that is 20/20 hindsight.

            One of the best things we ate during our May trip was the lamb rillette at Ned Ludd. I initially had the same response as you did to the menu there but decided to take a chance on brunch. Everything was tasty, well prepared and just interesting enough to be noteable without taking us too far out of the comfortable brunchy zone that I crave on a Sunday morning. It's a really lovely space as well and has a patio if the weather cooperates. Plus they take reservations, woot!

            Hope these thoughts are helpful. Have a great trip!

            1. re: kws123

              Ned Ludd is definitely NOT so/so -- I highly recommend trying it either for brunch or dinner. Other good restaurants to try: Laurelhurst Market, clarklewis, Lincoln, Nostrana.

              1. re: elfinpdx

                Could elfinpdx or other Hounds expand a bit on Lincoln? I could only find a couple of very brief, older mentions on here with no details on what makes it good other than that they use local ingredients. TIA!

                1. re: grayelf

                  The chef at Lincoln, Jenn Louis, is a F&W best new chef this year. Her food is creative and at the same time straightforward. Good roasted and braised meats, local fish well prepared, octopus app is excellent, desserts and bar are both also good. It's also a very nice space in an interesting area.

                  1. re: elfinpdx

                    Sounds great, thanks -- I did find a bit of a writeup on the barn (?) conversion it was in which is kinda neat too.

          2. In the valley, don't miss White Rose and Archery Summit. Domaine Serene is also close, but I'm not a huge fan. Domaine Drouhin is good. These places will have spectacular views (if weather cooperates) as well as good wine. In the small town of Carlton is the Carlton Wine Studio where several wineries collaborate and you can taste all their wines. Great space and a lovely patio. Even though you are GF, you might want to visit some places your husband will enjoy for beer. For a quintesssentially Portland experience (and great people watching), go to Apex, have some beer and then get food from Los Gorditos next door. Or you could swing by Lardo, pick up some food (which is awesome) and take it to Apex. I would not waste a minute on Deschutes or Widmer.

            1. There is a gluten free food cart..gluten free chef @ the Green Castle cart pod

              1 Reply
              1. re: cheeseisheaven

                Same site offers search using Gluten Free Options for even more cart ideas: