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Jan 7, 2013 05:29 PM

Heading to Portland - narrowing the list, or perhaps expanding it?

Hi all. Traveling up to Portland in 4 weeks and am putting together my dining agenda. Have a goodly amount of time in town but as usual the potentials far outstrip the time. Overall I anticipate 3 meals and 1-2 snacks per day, but that can vary a bit. Places I'm considering are as follows:

Breakfasts/Brunches: The Woodsman Tavern, Screen Door, The Country Cat, Tasty and Sons, Gravy, Tin Shed, Ned Ludd, Broder.

Lunches: Evoe, Olympic Provisions, Nostrana, Pok-Pok (some of the brunches can overlap to lunch hours)

Dinners: Apizza Scholls, Little Bird 10pm, Ken’s Artisan Pizza, Beast, OX, Le Pigeon, Paulee, Castagna.

Snacks/Coffee/etc: Bushel and Peck, Waffle Window, St Honore, Ken’s Artisan Bakery, Salt & Straw, CocoDonuts, Pine State Biscuits,Little T, St. Jack, Blue Star Donuts, Voodoo Donuts, Cacao, Petit Provence, Sugar cube, Courier Coffee, Stumptown, Heart, Coava, Ristretto.

Places I might be missing are welcomed and anyone who might want to meet up for a bite is also welcomed.

Cheers and thanks!


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  1. Please tell us what city you are from. Hard to make recommendations without knowing where you are from.

    Except for voodoo donuts, it is a tourist trap and not worth the time or calories.

    screen door is very good. BUT if you are from NOLA, screen door is no match for the average restaurant in New Orleans.

    Tasty and sons is very good

    EVOE is excellent

    Apizza Scholls makes Difara taste like frozen pizza. Well Difara's actually sucks cannot believe I flew to NY just to eat there.

    17 Replies
    1. re: ronin223

      Phoenix recently, but prior Ohio. Have traveled extensively, however. Voodoo does indeed seem like a tourist spot - but much like Magnolia Cupcake in NY (before they expanded) and many others it seems like a place I should experience once.

      1. re: ronin223

        I'm from Brooklyn, NY originally, and I can't believe you flew to NYC to eat there either. ;o)

        uhockey, Apizza Scholls is not quite the same style but close enough, and it is better. Don't try it on a Fri or Sat night if you can help it...although if you are solo, a seat at the counter might not be a huge wait.

        Oy ronin223, we keep telling them about Voodoo...and yet, they keep going...whaddaya gonna do?

        Well uhockey, I'd add Accanto to the brunch list - really good stuff there. If I was looking for a French bistro, I'd go to St. Jack rather than Little Bird, but that's IMHO.

        If you are a pizza lover (and it seems that you are ;o) Dove Vivi makes some really good stuff - it's a thicker, crisp, cornmeal crust...not quite as thick as true deep dish pizza, but baked in a pan with edges and thicker than NY or CT styles. Great kale salad, and the pizzas are very good...and something different. Living in CHicago for 5 years taught me that there isn't just one type of good pizza, and Dove Vivi makes me grateful for that lesson.

        1. re: JillO

          ...the only problem with Accanto brunch is that the dinner menu looks even better. Question is whether it is 'better' than the other dinner options.

          1. re: uhockey

            Mike, strong list you have there, with the glaring Voodoo exception. Oy. Awful donuts. They are true PR/marketing geniuses, gotta hand it to them. Then go to Blue Star for the real deal.

            Have fun. Report back!

            1. re: Leonardo

              I shall - and yeah, I anticipate Voodoo to be okay or less....but y'know - gotta do it. :-)

              One of 'em MUST be good, no?


              1. re: uhockey

                Our poor Portland Hounds try to talk every visitor out of Voodoo and we all ignore them. I thought the two doughnuts we had at Voodoo were nice but not worth the calories or the unusually short wait we experienced. But obviously (many) others disagree.

                Blue Star and Coco are my doughnut targets for our upcoming fourth trip in about a year.

                We loved our brunch at Ned Ludd, quite unusual and delicious in a lovely setting, especially on a rainy day. Also great that you can make reservations, which is a bit unusual for brunch. Country Cat was good but not earth shattering. Tasty and Sons was disappointing and not very tasty.

                Thanks for mentioning Gravy -- it is now on my (42-page!) list for the Oatmeal Brulee, though we may not make it there as I understand there are rather crushing lineups. Same is true of a number of the brunch places you mention but I'm sure you've noted that in your research.

                Evoe is wonderful in all ways. It is my favourite lunch place. Period.

                Perhaps we ordered badly but I thought Olympic Provisions NW was forgettable.

                Glad to see you've got Courier on there -- love their baked goods, especially the cannele, which is the best example of same I've tried yet, better than Ken's IMO. Here's hoping you get the right (moustachio'd) barista. Heard from a recent poster that they now have the copper moulds so looking forward to a report.

                If you are at Ristretto, they carry cake doughnuts from Tonali IIRC so you could try one of those.

                Also Coava is great (both the space and the coffee), and you can get Nuvrei pastries there. The orange danish is particularly toothsome, and the monkey bread also worthy, but go early for best selection.

                If you're a fan of kouign amann, you might want to try the one from Little T (also available at Stumptown Ace). Not as good as the KA from Starter and b.patisserie in SF but solid.

                The one thing that is missing from your list that I'd add as a visitor is happy hour (even if you're not big into afternoon tippling, it's a chance for more snacks and at a discount, woot!). It's pretty popular in Portland. Our favourite is Matchbox Lounge for the burger. Also really enjoyed Cafe Castagna's HH for a more upscale but still relaxed experience with tasty food.

                Have a great trip!

                1. re: grayelf

                  You are always a wealth of information grayelf - thanks. Not sure I can "fit" any Happy Hours in, but will try. :-) Printing out your pastry recs as I type this.


                  1. re: grayelf

                    So many folks rave about that Matchbox HH burger...OK, now I gotta go and try one of 'em! ;o)

                    Can't recommend all. I love John Gorham and I love Toro Bravo, but Tasty & Sons underwhelms me, except for that Burmese red pork dish...I love that. So, as someone that wouldn't recommend Tasty, I am officially not recommending Gravy...but here's hoping that YMMV.

                    About subbing out a dinner for Accanto, uhockey, if you are not going to be in wine country to do wine tasting, then replace reason to go out there for that dinner, especially since their star chef, Dan Mondok just left. Of course, Accanto/Genoa's chef just left too, but we know the replacement and he's good...besides I am willing to bet that the head chef there concentrates on the Genoa side, rather than on the Accanto side (they are sister restaurants, next door to each other - Genoa is a multi-course prix fixe white tablecloth experience where Accanto is casual and neighborhoody.) And brunch wise, there is a female chef (whose name I do not know, unfortunately) who rocks it out on weekends.

                    Also, Tin Shed? Really? That one is easy to jettison. It's OK but not anything special IMHO. And the waits there can be long too. I'd say that the wait at Screen Door, which can be ridiculous, is worth it compared to the wait at Tin Shed. But there has never been a wait anytime I have ever been to Accanto.

                    1. re: JillO

                      Thanks. Didn't know that about Paulee. Where did Mondok go?

                      I'm the sort who fancies sweet to savory at breakfast and will be there at opening for all of those experiences, so waits won't be an issue.

                      Re: Accanto - the brunch simply doesn't wow me like dinner, so if I'm going there it is for dinner.


                      1. re: JillO

                        Glad to be of assistance, uhockey. I hope I don't steer you wrong!

                        As good as the HH burg is at Matchbox, the "full" version is even better, so don't limit yourself, JillO :-).

                        I forgot to mention about Mondok leaving, a bit of a surprise after less than a year. I'd hoped to go this March but will have to see what happens there. It only just happened over Christmas, apparently:

                        This list might be of interest:

                        If the other mentions are in the same league as Firehouse, I'll definitely be following up...

                        1. re: JillO

                          Toro Bravo a good replacement for Paulee? Just now looked at the menu.

                          Thinking that or Tenuki, simply for the oddity of it.

                          And what of "Roe?"


                          1. re: uhockey

                            Toro Bravo is always good...and there is almost always a wait. If that doesn't bother you, or you are willing to go at 4:45 and wait for them to open at 5 so you can be in the first seating, it's always a good choice.

                            I am a Tanuki regular, I go about once a week, so I am biased. There is certainly no place like it anywhere, and I think it is awesome...but it is not everyone's thing. If you are alone, you will have to sit at the bar. If you go with folks, there can't be more than 4 in your party, and if you want the omakase, everyone at the table has to order it. And, if soft-core horror zombie slasher films offend you (or if soft-core animated manga hamsters offend you) don't go. No kids, no sushi (although there is often raw fish among the omakase plates). Arguably the best sake list in town at the best prices in town.

                            I haven't been to Roe but is is very high on my list to try. Roe is a restaurant within a restaurant, and Wafu, the restaurant that houses Roe, is a fave of mine. If I had one night as an out-of-towner to go here, I'd go all the way and do the $100 chefs tasting menu.

                            Hard to choose among those 3, all solid choices...sorry. ;o)

                            1. re: JillO

                              Traveling solo, no kids - how is Tanuki for a non-regular who is dining solo?


                              1. re: uhockey

                                Just fine, as long as you are OK with sitting at the bar. It's a very small place, and you need a party of 2 to sit at a 2-top. And being a non-regular is fine, we all start out that way. ;o)

                                Oh, and there are 3 classic pinball machines there too, in case the movies aren't your thing.

                                I'd recommend going with a $20 omakase (you set a price, and the food just comes to you).

                                1. re: uhockey

                                  i really like eating solo here.
                                  Zone out on movies and have some shot n beers.

                                  had a off experience last time , the omakase was the same exact thing i had the past several times, and had to wait 2 hrs for a 4top because 1 diner was a minute behind. archaic/asinine seating policy aside, its worth hitting up and tasting some new flavors.

                                  1. re: eglbc

                                    eglbc - Tuesday is $5 noodle bowl night (all night long) - yesterday it was a garlicky chili pork broth with pork shoulder and udon noodles - huge bowl, so good!

                                    I find that a noodle bowl night here and there can break up the similarity of the omakase experience. Although there is usually a dish or two different, and you can always up your dollar amount to shake things up a bit, it is true, many dishes are on the omakase are similar night after night.

                                    1. re: JillO

                                      great call, im going to test that out. Ive also rarley ordered off the menu, so maybe its time to mix up.

                                      Ava genes!
                                      Go there.

              2. My husband and I visited Portland in July 2011 and went to Ned Ludd, Pok Pok, and Ken's Artisan pizza for dinner. I recommend all three.

                If you like beer, I would suggest Cascade Brewing Company.

                Also, I really liked the Voodoo donut that I had :)

                1. If you are here for a weekday, add Broder to your breakfast/brunch list. Amazing, amazing food. I resisted going for two years because I couldn't wrap my head around Swedish breakfast, but I kicked myself when I finally went for not going earlier!

                  Since you are from Phoenix, I assume you have been to Pizzeria Bianco? Well, Apizza Scholls rivals the brilliance of the Rosa at Bianco.

                  I was underwhelmed by Little Bird...and the wait at OX is just unbearable. How about Aviary instead? The chefs there are really doing great things!

                  And double yes to Tanuki!

                  13 Replies
                  1. re: pleen

                    Broder is on the list. See the original post. ;-)
                    OX is a must for me - I'll go at 5:00 and I'll be alright.
                    It seems like Tanuki is indeed a must.


                    1. re: uhockey

                      I was wondering if Aviary might be appealing to the OP. Has the advantage of taking reservations. Imaginative food combos that may or may not work for ya. Interesting drinks too. Just watch out for the insanely uncomfortable "booth" seats on the perimeter tables -- maybe ask for a table in the centre area?

                      1. re: grayelf

                        Perhaps not a bad choice. Traveling/Dining alone makes spots like Apizza Scholls and other 'large plate' places a bit restricting compared to small-plate concepts where you can try more things.


                        1. re: uhockey

                          Are the pies at Scholls as big as they look in online images? I really don't want a whole pie to myself compared to a place where I can try more varied options.


                          1. re: uhockey

                            Yes they are big, but sooooo delicious! Can you rally some people to go with you?

                            1. re: pleen

                              Oddly don't know anyone in PDX. Coming up to explore a new part of the country, see the Soundgarden show, and eat some good food. :-) Are there any local food-groups besides here at Chowhound? I'm always game for dining buddies who know the scene.


                            2. re: uhockey

                              They (at Apizza Scholls) don't advertise this fact but they make a very limited number of "personal size" doughs every night. If you go early (they run out very quickly) ask them if they have any small doughs as you are dining alone.

                                1. re: uhockey

                                  Just wanted to offer feedback that this is indeed true and if you make a reservation you can request a personal pie.

                                  Unfortunately, the personal pies can only be ordered as a single option (no 50/50 splits) and as such I guess I'll just be ordering a whole and eating a few slices before sharing the rest with either another person at the restaurant, the hotel receptionist, or a local homeless person. Gotta save room for more spots.


                                  1. re: uhockey

                                    You can make a reservation at Apizza Scholls?!? I thought it was no resos, which is why I haven't made it there yet.

                                      1. re: grayelf

                                        They changed policies and started taking resos a couple months back.

                                        1. re: RichardBreadcrumb

                                          Wicked, clearly missed that development. Scholls has now moved up the (considerable) list for March.

                      2. Does anyone know how 'bad' waits are at Ox for a solo? Trying to decide if I want to get there at 4:45ish and shoot for a first seating or if I'd be okay showing up at 9:00ish one night to get a seat.


                        1. Just a quick initial bit of feedback and thanks - the trip was great and the eating list was epic thanks to many of you. Reviews will follow in the coming weeks, but the total eats/drinks list included:

                          The Woodsman Tavern, Pine State Biscuit, The Waffle Window, Blue Star Donut, Stumptown (Original and ACE,) Ox, Nostrana, Tin Shed, Barista, Nuvrei, Ned Ludd, Water Avenue Coffee, Heart, Ken’s Artisan Pizza, Beast, Voodoo Doughnut, Courier Coffee, Tasty and Sons, Ristretto Roasters, Tillamook Cheese, Evoe, Le Pigeon, Lauretta Jeans, Little T, Broder, Salt and Straw (both locations,) Pok Pok, Common Grounds, Apizza Scholls, Little Bird, Gravy, St. Honore, Pearl Bakery, Clyde Common, Cacao, Cool Moon, Roe, Tanuki, Imperial, Ken’s Artisan Bakery, Screen Door, Oui Presse, Castagna, Whiffies Pies, Coco Donuts
                          St. Jack Patisserie, Spints, Country Cat, Tonalli’s.

                          Your city is great and I cannot wait to come back


                          4 Replies
                          1. re: uhockey

                            Looking forward to your full review - but WOW, you did a good job of eating your way around town! Good on ya!

                            1. re: uhockey

                              Ha! Well done! Based on my previous knowledge of uhockey's food trips (I have read reviews on other boards), this probably occurred over about 48 hours. ;-)

                              1. re: cobpdx

                                7 days. Between PDX and Seattle I managed 63 spots in 9 days. I had help, admittedly.


                                1. re: uhockey

                                  have read your bay area postings and looking forward to your portland reviews as i am going there in a few months...bring them on