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San Francisco Hound Returning to Portland for New Years

Season's Greetings Portland!
Thank you again so, so much for your wonderful advice the last time I visited the city in May for a truly spectacular week of extraordinary beer, cocktails, wine tasting, food, and of course, lots of fun! Here's the thread from the last time I was in town: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/844561

Just to recap from my only two trips to Portland, in May and the other in 2010, here are the stops I've made:

Restaurants: Higgins, Le Pigeon, Pok Pok (twice), Biwa, St. Jack, Broder, Toro Bravo, Bunk Sandwiches, Grüner (only was able to try the burger), Apizza Scholls, Tin Shed, Kenny & Zuke's

Carts: Nong's Khao Man Gai, Potato Champion

"Other": Salt & Straw, Ken's Artisan Bakery, Cacao (drinking chocolates plus Xocolatl de David and Sahagun truffles), Coco's Donuts, St. Jack Patisserie

Coffee/Espresso: Stumptown Annex for cupping, Stumptown at the Ace, Spella, Sterling, Water Ave.,Courier, Coava, Public Domain, Barista NE, Barista Pearl

Breweries/Pubs: Cascade, Deschutes, Widmer, Tugboat, Hair of the Dog, Upright, Amnesia, Horse Brass, Apex

Wine Bar/ Cocktails: Bar Avignon, Clyde Common, Kask, Beaker & Flask, Teardrop, Rum Club, Ten 01 (I hear it's gone?

)

Willamette Wine Tasting: Trisaetum, Penner-Ash, Adelsheim, Carlton Wine Studio

Now, we resume our regularly scheduled programming, and return to beautiful Portland for a wedding, followed by the New Years holiday. It's so wonderful to see how much deserved national publicity Portland has been receiving this year...from Alan Richman to Serious Eats month in Oregon...and because of this magnificent food culture, it's always so hard for us visitors to trim our lists!

I'll have 6 days and 6 nights, keeping mind that 1 night is taken by the wedding, and 2 of the days/ nights are New Years Eve and Day, so I'd love help in uncovering who will be closed and open for these holidays. I'll also have a car and unlike last time, I'm staying Downtown instead of in the NW.

The "ones that got away" from my last visit and I vowed to go to the next time were Olympic Provisions, Tasty n Sons, Ken's Artisan Pizza, and Paley's Place, along with tasting at Clear Creek and coffee at Heart and Ristretto.

Since the rest of my traveling party has either never been to Portland or has spent very little time in town, we'll certainly re-visit Pok Pok (again), but I would love to hear your thoughts on the lesser-known unique dishes there since I've tried most of the standards now.
I also will make sure we re-visit Salt & Straw, Hair of the Dog, Kask, Clyde Common, and Spella-- all personal favorites of mine.

I already have a reservation at Paley's Place for New Years Eve-- I need to try the legendary spot and we've all lived in France, so want to try some of Chef Paley's classics.

Other than that, let's plan a spectacular trip! I've tried reading lots on the new places in 2012-- Ox, Luce, Lardo. Drinks at Woodsman Tavern, Hale Pele, and Imperial.
There are also plenty of places I've missed that are older than just a few months and very captivating-- Tanuki, Evoe, Ha & Vl, Beast, Laurelhurst Market, Navarre, Nostrana, Natural Selection, Aviary...
And also let me know about bakeries, little snacks/taste sensations (thanks Leonardo so much for the tips on wineries, the Coco, and what to get at Cacao last time!), coffee spots, cocktails, breweries/pubs (definitely going to try Bailey's and Saraveza). I've still never tried a Schnitzelwich at Tabor or a Pine St. biscuit.

Lastly, we'll have a wine tasting day with probably 4 or so stops...currently Soter, Stoller, Elk Cove, Brick Lane, Bergstrom, Domaine Drouhin, Domaine Serene, and a potential return to Penner-Ash are on my radar. I can't hit them all...advice would be very appreciated! We always prefer to sample at the winery instead of tasting rooms in towns. Lunch at Paulee might be in the cards too that day...

I can't wait to return...maybe I can find Alan Richman's favorite stinging nettle flan somewhere. Happy Holidays everyone!

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  1. Sounds like a great upcoming trip! A hearty "yes" to your list of "ones that got away" - though my personal opinion on pizza is Apizza Scholls all the way. Do Tasty n Sons during a weekday to save yourself the 2 hour wait. I like their brunch (Burmese red pork stew) and happy hour menu ($5 burger and fried cauliflower) a LOT.

    As for others food recommendations, Ox and drinks at Woodsman for sure (but my personal opinion is you can skip a meal there...I was just there earlier this week and find the food to be fine, with certain high notes, but overall, uneven).

    A big YES to Tanuki (uber Portland experience), Ha V&L and Aviary. Aviary is one of my favorite restaurants in town...they offer creative, delicious food at a Portland price.

    Other things to think about...how about brunch at Beast? The dinner experience is unique, but I actually prefer the food during brunch. You don't get the much touted foie gras bon bon during brunch, but fingers crossed that they are starting off with their version of clafoutis. Same suggestion for Laurelhurst Market...consider dropping by for a super-casual lunch sandwich instead of doing dinner there. Yes to Ox as well...it is a great addition to the restaurant scene.

    Another place that might be interesting for first-time visitors is The Ocean - five "micro-restaurant" grouped together on NE 24th and Glisan. (http://chatterbox.typepad.com/portlan...) You're gonna want to try everything there, but exercise restraint and order tacos from Uno Mas, then go around the corner to the Pie Spot. I've tried all the restaurants except Slowburger and I think you can skip Basa Basa and 24th & Meatballs.

    1. So glad you have a reservation at Paley's for NYE - if stick around for midnight the chefs all come out of the kitchen and it is great fun.

      My husband is in love with the egg sandwich at Penny Diner - swears it is the best he has ever had. We are still struggling with liking Imperial - their menu tends to be too heavy for me most of the time and the cocktails we've had there have been less than good. But it is a great space and has a good vibe!

      Highly recommend dinner at Little Bird. They currently have a foie stuff quail that is outstanding.

      I would also suggest Lardo on SW 12th that opened recently for lunch.

      I wouldn't waste my wine-tasting time on a stop at Elk Cove .... but would concentrate on Bergstrom, DD and DS ... OK, now I'm thirsty!! :-)

      1 Reply
      1. re: ekc

        Wine tip: don't make it far-flung. Keep it in a tight area. Go to Eyrie!
        Really enjoyed your last report, and your enthusiasm for all things PDX. Enjoy!

      2. Thanks so much for the initial replies! EKC- I'm curious, what don't you like about Elk Cove? The wine or the tasting experience or both?

        A few questions I've encountered as I start narrowing down the selections even more-- for Ha & VL, I've heard Thursdays are the best, but we won't be in town on a Thursday. What others days would you recommend?

        Any opinions on choosing one of the city's excellent Rustic Italian-Pacific NW destinations-- Navarre, Luce, Nostrana, DOC?

        And how any opinion about the newer, smaller brew pubs? I don't know much about Burnside, Commons, Occidental, Migration, and several others.

        You've convinced me to think about re-visiting Apizza Scholls and now I'll for sure visit Tanuki this trip!

        1. Hello Portland! One day until I arrive in the beautiful Rose City-- I hope you all had a very Merry Christmas!

          Here's how the trip is lining up. Please, please send me your thoughts..mostly necessary for choosing breweries, wineries, and any advice on specific dishes at restaurants. Staying in Downtown, have a car starting Day 3.

          Day 1: arrive late morning
          Lunch: (between Nong's Khao Man Gai, EVOE, Ha & VL, Smallwares, Luce, and Navarre)
          Dinner: Tanuki

          Day 2: Lunch: (same as above except Smallwares isn't an option since it's a weekend)
          Dinner: Wedding

          Day 3: Lunch: (same as Day 2 options, but with more people and closer to PDX since we pick people up at the airport, then go to Columbia River Gorge)
          Columbia River Gorge
          Full Sail in Hood River
          cocktails at Whey while waiting
          Dinner: Ox

          Day 4: (New Years Eve)
          Lunch: Pok Pok (certainly Ike's Fish Sauce Wings. Would love advice on my unique items here since I've been twice)
          Dinner: Paley's Place

          Day 5: New Years Day
          Very few restaurants open per my phone calls and research...
          Lunch: Tasty n Sons
          Dinner: Laurelhurst Market

          Day 6: Wineries Day
          Only Reserved is at Soter, looking at visiting 3-4 others
          Leaning towards: Bergstrom, Stoller, Domaine Drouhin
          Maybe: Penner-Ash (been before but loved it), Stoller, Domaine Serene, Ponzi, Eyrie (is it too far out of the way?)
          Lunch: Paulée
          Dinner: Aviary

          There's the plan, plus:
          Breweries, please help me narrow them down--
          For Sure: Full Sail in Hood River, Deschutes, Hair of the Dog, Bailey's Tap Room (near hotel), Horse Brass

          Others, would love advice: Bridgeport (it's a classic), Widmer (been but others haven't, it's a classic), Burnside, Breakside, Commons, Gigantic, Cascade (I've been and others haven't been), Alameda

          Cocktails:
          For Sure: Whey, Aviary, Clyde Common (been and love it), Kask (same), Woodsman Tavern, Imperial
          Others, would love advice: Hale Pele, Departure, tour at Clear Creek

          Coffee: For Sure Return To: Spella, Heart, Coava, Stumptown Ace, Courier
          New: Sterling (new location), Heart, Ristretto, Barista Pearl, Maglia Rosa

          Other: Return To: Salt & Straw, Courier for canelé
          New: Bake Shop, Little T, Sugar Cube, Blue Star Doughnuts

          And since I've never been...Voodoo Doughnuts. Ugh, I guess I need to go once for the bacon maple doughnut?

          Thank you so much for your help...so excited to celebrate New Years in your beautiful city! And it should be nice and sunny, too?

          5 Replies
          1. re: pats38sox

            The weather is drying out after two months of nearly nonstop rain

            Blue Star or Coco. Screw Voodoo. You can get Bakeshop at Ristretto. Sugar Cube is on the site of Lardo, they now have a large heated tent.

            Your new coffee picks are dead-on.

            Cocktails: been to Teardrop? Clear Creek is a great idea. Also do the New Deal & House Spirits distilleries.

            Horse Brass isn't a brewery. For the ultimate brewery day, come back for http://oregonbeer.org/zwickelmania/
            on Feb 16.

            Eyrie is slightly out of the way in McMinnville (great places to eat there), but well worth the trouble.

            New Year's Eve and some Days: http://portlandfoodanddrink.com/new-y...

            Pok Pok: Khao Soi, Pappaya Pok Pok, and some brussels sprout dish I just had.

            Navarre is always a good idea.

            Remember that the best downtown carts are closed nights and weekends. Nong's was open the 24th so probably open tomorrow but call first.

            1. re: Leonardo

              Yep I've been to Teardrop...it was very good, but I'd put Kask and Clyde Common above it. Clear Creek will certainly happen...only problem is we're car-less the day we'd be able to go there, so I'm trying to plan a little Clear Creek-Ristretto-Olympic Provisions-Bridgeport loop from the Downtown streetcar.

              1. re: pats38sox

                The two distilleries I mentioned are accessible on the eastside streetcar. Get an all-day ticket.

            2. re: pats38sox

              Hood River: Full Sail? Hell no, bag that and go to Double Mountain (which also has decent food , especially the pizza) the beer is sooooo much better: http://doublemountainbrewery.com/

              Whey/Ox is amazing. Just settle in and and have some great drinks and wait for the table. Yes, it is worth a 90 minute wait...although my last 90 minute prediction was only a 70 minute wait.

              Breakside, Gigantic, Cascade...yes. I hate the vibe at Bailey's, but the taplist and proximity keeps it on the list. Also great local taplist at Hophouse (one on SE Hawthorne in the low 40s, one on NE Brazee @15th) and a huge one at Apex (and Beer Mongers is across the street for a great bottle shop).

              Check out Roscoe's for a draft before you pop into Tanuki (which is the epitome of awesome, IMO) - it's a great, mellow local hangout that has an awesome taplist, with a nitro tap or two, - many local but some fabulously curated other taps. Pool tables, pinball, a couple of tvs...neither hipster nor true dive, just a great place to get a beer.

              Coffee list is good.

              No, skipping VooDoo is just fine, their marketing far surpasses their donut execution.

              If you like hard cider, we have a hard cider bar now too, Bushwackers. About 6-7 taps and the best bottle selection in town.

              Have a great new year here in PDX!

              1. re: JillO

                Bushwackers looks terrific! Double Mountain sounds terrific...I just know one member of our party thinks (too?) highly of Full Sail Pale Ale and Amber Ale.

            3. Clear Creek is a great idea. I am not a fan of the Eyrie wines and they are a little out of the way, so I would skip it. Definitely go to DDO, Stoller and Domain Serene.

              IMO, Nostrana is the best rustic Italian/NW of the four you listed, and they are open for lunch.

              I would leave Imperial for the last on your cocktail list. I have had less-than-successful cocktails there on more than one occasion, but would love to hear about your experience if you go.

              I wouldn't want to do Tasty and Laurelhurst on the same day. Is Ping open for lunch on NYD? I have had some great meals there.

              Skip Voodoo.

              1 Reply
              1. re: ekc

                Nostrana looks terrific-- they're not open for lunch weekends, so I'll work on going there Friday lunch.
                Tasty and Laurelhurst sort of have to be on the same day with the limited choices on New Years Day...the only other choice I've seen open is Broder. I've been there and enjoyed the smørrebrød, but certainly need to try the other two first before re-visiting.