Please help me on my bromantic vacation.
I am driving down from Seattle next weekend (1/25) and my best buddy is flying up from the SF bay area. We are meeting in your awesome city for a couple of days and I have been talking up how awesome the food scene in PDX is. Looking to keep it casual and affordable. How does my plan sound: Friday around 4pm (any place do a great happy hour on Friday?) was thinking of Apizza Scholls, Boke Bowl, or Pok Pok. Then we need a late night snack for Friday and I was hoping for a food cart (is Built to Grill open late Friday? Tabor?)
Saturday brunch I was thinking of Screen Door or perhaps Pine State Biscuits. We are going to a Blazers game that night so is there a "best" brewery near the arena? Thinking that we'll try to cram in a meal in before the game but might not succeed, especially if I get some Salt and Straw ice cream before then. Planning on Luc Lac late night sometime. Then on Sunday, what is the best brunch place with a wait time of 15min or less? Then Bunk Sandwiches for lunch and then the trip is sadly over. Anything I'm missing? Thanks so much!
Upright brewery is pretty much right next to the Rose Garden and they make really good beer. They're open for an hour or so before every home Blazer's game.
The earlier you can get to a brunch place the less of a wait there will be.
Tabor, as with all the better downtown carts, is not open late night. For that, go to east side pods.
Other breweries near Rose Garden: Widmer and Amnesia.
Haven't tried either of the carts but I do recall seeing the Reggie at the PSU Saturday market when I tried Pine State there last trip. Line ups are stupid long (I was fifth in line, having arrived 5 min after they opened at 8:30 am, and there were at least a dozen people behind me by the time my order was taken). The bricks and mortar Pine State and Screen Door are also known for their lineups, so if you're waiting anyway, you might want to do so where you'll eventually be inside. I wouldn't want to wait and then eat in late-January Portland weather, under the trees.
Speaking of waits, you asked in your OP about a short wait on Sunday for brunch. See if Ned Ludd appeals. We loved it and the fact that you could get a reso, though the day we went you could have done a walk in also.
Bushwackers is a bar that sells many different kinds of cider, both on tap and in bottles. If you like cider, it's worth a look. We tried a sampler there which was fun. Didn't find the room to be all that cozy though and it's in kind of an offbeat location, a bit hard to find, at least for this out-of-towner.
spirit of 77 is right by the rose garden, but for some amazing beer i would goto upright, one of my favorite spots.
Bro down over some poutine late night @ potato champion.
Roost does not have a brunch wait, and 2nd the nedd lud reso option. Sunshine tavern would probably not have a wait for brunch.
Clyde common is a nice spot for happy hour 3-6 fri.
Good people watching / portland scene.
So, things didn't always go according to the food plan but it was memorable and A LOT of food! I was only in Portland from 6pm on Friday to 3pm on Sunday and yet crammed in a pretty good variety of restaurants. My impression based on this trip and a shorter previous trip where I ate at Park Kitchen and Kenny and Zukes, is that the high points are higher in my town of Seattle but you guys are blessed with an overabundance of great and affordable dining options.
Friday night was Pok Pok to start and we only waited about 5 min before sitting at the bar. The cocktails were great - inventive and I happen to be a big fan of vinegar so the combination worked well for me. Ike's wings were the highlight for sure. I would like to eat here with a larger group because what I had didn't quite come together as a meal. The wings, ribs and a pork belly, shrimp and glass noodle clay pot dish did not compliment each other in anyway. I was a little limited by my buddy's spice intolerance.
After that had a very unmemorable fish and chips plate at a pool hall in downtown but it served its purpose as beer snack food. Also serving its purpose was VooDoo donuts since we walked past it at 11pm and there wasn't much of a line. It surpassed low expectations for me since the maple bar was better than average and topped with tasty bacon.
Next morning made our way to Pine St Biscuits. No wait really (a very awesome theme to the trip) and we split the reggie deluxe. I think it would be difficult to combine these ingredients into anything that wasn't tasty. It was a little better than the version I get in Seattle at Serious Biscuit so that's good. We walked over to Stumptown from there and washed the Reggie down so that we could then head over to Screen Door and get brunch! The wait here was 20 minutes and the longest we would encounter. I thoroughly enjoyed my fried oyster benedict and would happily order that again. The accompanying grits were not very impressive but this being my second breakfast I was not sad to leave most of it unfinished. My friend had the waffle with praline bacon and it was very good. I think that Portland does a much better waffle than Seattle. This meal was much cheaper than I expected especially because the giant grapefruit juice I got was only 2 dollars. We had some coffee we didn't care for at the place next door to Screen Door.
We spent a couple hours at Powell's and then went and got ice cream at Salt and Straw. I think this was the high of the trip for me because I believe it is better than any ice cream I can get in Seattle and it might be better than BiRite in San Francisco. I got to try about 10 flavors and the only disappointing one was the Elvis that just tasted like PB and J when I was hoping for bacon, bananas, etc. The blue cheese and pear ice cream was amazing and the olive oil my next favorite.
We went over to Bushwacker's Cider after and were both underwhelmed. But they were nice and it was very affordable so I would still possibly recommend it to any big fan of dry ciders. Then before the Blazer's game we grabbed some beers at Upright Brewing which had a cool casual setup. I enjoyed the beer aged in a pinot noir barrel. We grabbed a couple of sandwiches upstairs at Stingray Cafe and it was better than I had hoped. It served its purpose of holding us off till the game ended.
After the game we walked over to Toro Bravo (lots of walking was key!) and shared some small plates. I found TB to be the most disappointing and quickly crossed Tasty and Son's off of my brunch possibilities for the next day. I did enjoy the salt cod fritters and the mushrooms on toast but found the potato dish to have a flavor too similar to ketchup mixed with mayo. I think the bacon wrapped dates could have benefited from one additional flavor component (manchego cheese, harissa?) and one additional textural component (if the bacon were crispy or if the almond in the center was larger?) The blood orange salad needed a bit more acidity and salt. The pasta dish was not right for me - the egg noodles too chewy and the flavors evoking more mac and cheese than anything Spanish. The olive oil cake at the end was fine though and the bill was cheaper than I anticipated.
The next day we targeted the Waffle Window and saw that we could sit at Bread and Ink which we thought would have the same menu. We were disappointed once we realized that this was not the case but honestly, I think the chicken and waffles here was one of my favorite things on the weekend. The forkful of juicy, crunchy fried chicken, sweet waffle with cardomom syrup, and lemon parmesan cream was a combination that general appeals heavily to me. My friend's Frisian french toast was much more average than I expected and a bit disappointing.
After hiking Multnomah Falls we returned and grabbed some sandwiches at Bunk. While being good, I don't know if Bunk would even make my top ten sandwich places if it were in Seattle. The pulled pork with apple slaw was very tasty but the bread a bit overly toothsome. But I have to say I liked it better than the pork belly cubano. I was a expecting something more novel but it tasted like a standard cubano but with pork belly. My friend and I remarked that after Paseo in Seattle most sandwiches are a bit of a disappointment. Oh well.
Picked up some really fantastic cookies from Two Tarts bakery to take home too.
Great trip overall. There are still plenty of places I still want to try and I thought it was odd that we didn't end up making it to any food carts. We just mistimed things in that regard. Thank you all for the recs and guidance. It really is a remarkable city for food and drink.