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Mar 24, 2013 07:47 AM

DC Foodies visiting Portland for 1st time!

Staying in downtown Portland from a Wednesday night - Sunday morning this summer. Just husband and me, no car. Traveling from DC. We pretty much like any food, and budget is not a concern. Would prefer amazing food at casual places, rather than "fancy" or "fine dining" but one nicer dinner out of the 3 would be fine...I'm not a huge coffee drinker, but want to try a couple places like Stumptown or Barista.
Also don't like alcoholic drinks, but husband does enjoy wine, local beers, and suggestions for a couple places would be appreciated.
Might be staying on "east coast" time, which means breakfast, lunch and dinner on the early side. Don't really want "the best pizza" or "best burger" but something that we can't get in DC.
3 breakfasts: Waffle Window, Pine St. Biscuits, Tasty and Sons???
3 lunches and dinners: Pok Pok, Le Pigeon, Castagna, Ox, Tanuki, Evoo??? or cut out one of the above for food carts....
of course heard about Blue Star donuts, Cacao chocolate drinks, Salt 'n Straw ice cream, and Ken's Artisan Bakery for snacks in between meals!
wish I could stay longer, but gotta work! Thank you for your suggestions -

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  1. In general, if your focus is primarily on food, your husband should be able to get good options for local beers, wine and cocktails at most restuarants that you are likely to be targeting. Since you are not a drinker, it probably does not make sense to go to, for example, a brew pub for one of your meals.

    For some great current recommendations, I recommend you search the board here for uhockey's recent trip reports. So far he has posted some exhaustive reports on coffee, sweets, breakfasts/brunches, and pizzas, I believe. Still pending are his dinner reports, which I am eagerly awaiting, and I live here!

    I think for breakfast, he might steer you toward Nedd Ludd and Clyde Commons. Pine Biscuits is also good. If inclined, you could get that at the PSU Farmer's Market Saturday morning, which you will be able to walk to (the restaurant itself is on the East side a little further out and if you have no car you might choose your trips to the east side carefully so you are not hopping in a cab everytime you turn around).

    Highly recommend Ox. You have to get there early to avoid a wait (as in, before they open, or go on a weeknight), so that will work out fine for your schedule. Depending on your stamina for walking, you could walk there from downtown even though the restaurant is across the river. Tanuki is definitely unique, but pretty far out on the east side, so you would need a cab for that.

    Unfortunately, I don't know the DC scene all that well, so it is hard to say for sure what you should do here that you can't get there. Pok Pok is a good choice (they have one in NYC now, too, if you ever get up there). Also on the east side (see what I mean about a bunch of cabs?).

    Most places, even the nicer ones, are reasonably casual so I think you don't have to worry about anything being 'too fancy".

    We enjoyed our dinner at Castagna, we like Le Pigeon but actually prefer Little Bird a bit more (both are Gabriel Rucker places). Other people prefer Le Pigeon.

    Enjoy your visit!

    7 Replies
    1. re: cobpdx

      May have just been because it was the first weekend but Pine State wasn't at the opening PSU farmers' market in March. OP may want to email them to confirm they are going to be in attendance.

      We have now had brunch and dinner at Ned Ludd and it is indeed worthy based on that limited experience. Bit of a schlep if you don't have a car though.

      Very keen on Evoe! We've been several times now and the guys there know what they're doing. Might work well for the OP to have an early dinner there if on East Coast time -- lunch is great too.

      Loved the hard apple cider fritter from Blue Star as well, not so crazy about the blueberry basil one...

      1. re: grayelf

        I agree, the blueberry bourbon basil donut was nothing special. The chocolate vahlrona is great and I can't wait to try the apple cider fritter!

        Good call on the PSU farmer's market and Pine State. I haven't yet been to the market this spring due to traveling and I suppose it is possible they won't be there this year. Good idea to check.

        Still have not done Evoe...

        1. re: cobpdx

          Pine State is still listed as a vendor on the PSUFM website so perhaps they are back now.


          That's my foodie cheerleader coming out. We had a perfect salad there this trip, beets and a vinaigrette royale with pistachio and perfect wee clumps of tender mache on top. Gah, so good.

          1. re: grayelf

            Sorry to be so picky, but there's no such thing as PSU Farmers Market. Only thing PSU about it is the use of their restrooms. It's Portland Farmers Market. PSU location. One of seven locations.
            I expect Pine State to return in the next couple of weeks.

            1. re: Leonardo

              Wow. Don't want to be snarky, but everyone calls it that. Even on the Portland Farmers Market website they refer to it colloquially as the PSU Market.

              And the King Market is also not commonly referred to as the Portland Farmers Market - King location, either.

              The most important thing for visitors, really, is to not confuse it with the Portland Saturday Market, which is a totally different thing. I think calling it the PSU Market or PSU Farmers Market makes it less likely to confuse the two.

              1. re: cobpdx

                Sorry about the incorrect nomenclature, my goal was definitely to avoid confusion with the Portland Saturday Market (which is also on Sunday, go figure, and has pretty much no foodie appeal IMO). Easy to fall into that trap as a tourist.

                1. re: grayelf

                  A sadly common fatal tourist mistake indeed! I often make that caveat on here.

    2. I might check out:

      Natural Selection (veg)

      Tasty and Sons owner opened a new location downtown called Tasty and Alder.

      A new market in the Pearl that has wine/beer/coffee

      1. it may not be prime season for Dungeness, but it is very different from Blue and quite worthwhile. which one is better is a pointless question, just different (the crabbers just trawl farther North in Summer so they might be from closer to Alaska, still it's a species rarely seen in DC - one per is usually plenty, not ordered by the bushel)

        have been reading about PokPok with envy. PDX is a cool and walkable town.