NYC hound looking for some quick PDX recs
I'm a NYC hound who will be in PDX shortly and--realistically--I only have time for 2 dinners, 2 lunches and a few breakfasts/brunches/happy hours/snacks. I've only been to your fine city once before and ate at Pok Pok (before we had one in NYC) and Tasty & Sons. I liked basically everything at Pok Pok and the Burmese pork stew dish at T&S.
This time around I'm traveling without my SO, so I'm looking for places with good, full-menu bar dining and/or places to catch up with old friends (mostly men, early 30s). Although I enjoy all of the following at times, I'm not looking for prix fixe-only spots, "date night"-type places, or anywhere that only serves pizza, southern food, or BBQ on this trip. I'll have a car so I'm happy to travel.
I was thinking of Evoe for lunch and Matchbox lounge for happy hour (+burger), but I really need your dinner suggestions. If there's somwhere in Portland similar to Momofuku Ssam or Roberta's in NYC, Cochon in New Orleans, Empire State South in Atlanta, or Barley Swine in Austin--that's the type of place I really don't want to miss...an unusual menu with food you don't usually see and that's at least somewhat based on local culture/ingredients, not too precious and not molecular gastronomy, casual atmosphere yet upscale ingredients and/or cooking technique, great food *and* cocktails/local beers. I don't mind loudness, waiting (as long as there's somewhere to wait indoors and you can get alcohol), or expense as long as you get what you pay for. I'm fine with a blowout one night and would prefer cheaper options for the other night and breakfast/lunch.
You might want to look into the brand new Racion in downtown doing Spanish/Spanish influenced food. Anthony Cafiero can really cook and this new venture is out of the box, at least by Portland standards. Roe (in the back of Wafu) would also be something interesting to consider. I have not been to Ox (hard to get into) but everyone I have talked to has really liked it. Mid-day maybe give Luc Loc in downtown a chance for noodle-y style dishes. Later on it becomes a hipster paradise but at, say, 4:00 its not horrible for that sort of scene and the food is really good and incredibly inexpensive. While trendy, I have enjoyed Oven and Shaker (this may violate the pizza rule although they do have sandwiches and such) and they have a cocktail list that is some 250+ cocktails long (and they're good). I think Olympic Provisions is solid. Not great (at least the westside) for cocktails but they do have a solid wine list. Food is excellent and interesting. Tasty and Sons now has a westside location (Tasty and Alder) as well if you are interested in standing in line for breakfast (they are doing a full scale dinner as well). I think the brunch/breakfast is better (and certainly easier to attend at Imperial but too each their own I guess. Mucca in downtown is a terrific Florence/Tuscan style restaurant with local ingredients but you probably aren't looking to come here for Italian food. There are standards such as the Higgins bar, Gruner, Wildwood (their food is underrated and their lunch is a deal AND they have a very new and very good happy hour both in terms of quality and breadth) am less well versed on the northeast part of Portland dining scene. Hopefully there is something in there you can use.
Ox is a must - it is Ssam but better, and more interesting. Would also consider Le Pigeon for this purpose.
Roe is absolutely unique to Portland and if you don't do Ned Ludd, shame on you.
Tanuki is completely insane, and a hell of a deal.
Spints Brunch is also quite impressive.