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Food Trucks and other recommendations - July/August

Hi all,
My husband and I are visiting Portland sometime around the end of July/beginning of August. We'll be in town for 4 days. I'm most interested in the food scene. My husband prefers to eat at places with "ambiance". We're coming from Calgary, Canada, where beef is big. However, I'm from the east coast so I plan to get as much seafood as possible during this trip to Portland (followed by Seattle).

Here are a few places I've singled out. Asterixes by the ones I am most interested in visiting:

• Saint Honore Boulangerie
• Voodoo Doughnuts ***
• Stumptown Coffee ***
• Pok Pok (Asian) ***
• Beast (French/American)
• Beaker & Flask (cocktails)
• Apizza Scholls (pizza)
• Broder (Scandinavian – breakfast/lunch) ***
• Olympic Provisions (charcuterie)
• Le Pigeon (French, fancy) ***
• Tasty n Sons (breakfast)
• Tin Shed (breakfast)

Does anyone have any comments on any of these establishments? Yay/Nay? Any recs of 'must eat' places similiar to these? I should also note that I'm a healthier eater so I'm not up for "Diners, Drive Ins & Dives" type of gluttony, though a well made treat or fatty meat isn't off the table.

Re: food carts: any recommendations? I can't seem to find a good list of what's available & what's served in each one. I know that if I have to choose to eat at one out of twenty carts in front of me, I'd like to be a bit prepared!

One more thing: where is the best area to look for a hotel? On the East or West side of the river? Looking at 3 or 4 stars at $150/night or less.

Thanks in advance. I'm off to read some other posts on this board :)

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  1. Priceline any 4 star in downtown and you'll get a good rate and a good hotel in the heart of the city. If you're not in for that check the Marriott on Broadway rates. It's a newer Marriott and it is quite fine if not exactly incredible.

    There's a million threads on all the restaurants you have asked after. I would say there are large upgrades from Tin Shed and Beaker and Broder to be had. I'm not a Beast guy but others like it a lot. If you're staying downtown a lot of decisions will likely be made by the simple fact that it will be easier to just walk to certain places than drive around.

    2 Replies
    1. re: oregonjim

      Thanks for the Priceline idea. I used it once when we went to Chicago a few years ago & got a great deal but didn't think of it for this trip.

      What do you mean by "large upgrades.... to be had?" As in, there are better options out there when compared to those three restaurants?

      1. re: oregonjim

        Quick note for anyone reading this thread later: Beaker and Flask has since closed.

      2. Not going to comment on hotels as this is a food site and my post will be deleted for being off-topic.

        You're a "healthier eater" so you're going to Voodoo? Seriously? Gross. Truly icky donuts. Genuine tourist trap. A dozen places make FAR better donuts. If you're going to eat unhealthily at least make it worthwhile by going to Blue Star or Coco.

        St Honore? For bakery go to Ken's Artisan Bakery, Little T, and Bakeshop.

        Scroll back, read the thread, you'll find a bazillion high quality reports by visitors and advice for them.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Leonardo

          Voodoo was on my list because it pops up on a lot of recommended places to eat in Portland. Based on people's comments on Chowhound and elsewhere, they may not live up to the hype. I was considering it because it looked fun and my husband likes that sort of thing. Perhaps a better choice of indulgence would be found at one of the bakeries you mentioned.

        2. You can do far better than Stumptown. Try Spella downtown, they have the best espresso in Portland, but get none of the hipster hype, no nonsense, no pretense, just great coffee. Sterling in NW is also good, likewise Water Avenue on the inner Eastside. Barista doesn't roast, but they always have at least one decent selection (out of three or so which rotate).
          Tin Shed sucks. Voodoo also. Not a fan of Pok Pok, but that's just me.
          Ken's is great as a traditional bakery...they really do a good job. His pizza joint is just ok, but I'd rather go there any day than Scholls which is just so much hype.
          Food carts: have really never had good food at any of them. Interesting concept(s), mediocre execution, but that's just me.

          1 Reply
          1. re: sambamaster

            I'll keep Spella in mind... thanks.

            My city is new to the food truck concept and I feel the same way: good in theory, mediocre in taste for the most part. I had higher hopes for Portland's selection since the carts are more established.

          2. I love PokPok & it is a must do in my opinion. Tasty & Sons is also great. You may also want to look into Salt & Straw for unique ice cream that tastes good (translation not odd just for the sake of being odd). Also, Toro Bravo has great tapas and ambiance. Have a delicious time!!

            6 Replies
            1. re: SweetObsession

              Salt & Straw is on my list for sure. I read about it after I posted and I must try their strawberry balsamic & candycap mushroom ice creams. Looks so good. :)

              1. re: cellophane_star

                Read visitor reviews by greyelf, for one. Then come back with questions.

                If you want to blend in, don't call them food trucks! They are commonly called "food carts" even though they may be carts, trailers, or trucks. There are many excellent carts, IMHO, contrary to what the above poster said.

                HIghlights from Bizarre Foods Portland.

                1. re: Leonardo

                  Haha. My city just got food CARTS last year so it's "food truck this and that". Thanks for the tips :)

                  1. re: cellophane_star

                    Kind of you to refer visitors to my reports, Leonardo, but they will have to spell it grayelf with an 'a' to do so :-).

                    I have used boyzoma's rec www.foodcartsportland.com a lot in looking for good ones to try out. PDX671 is our favourite so far.

                    A bit out of date but useful from the Willamette Weekly: http://www.wweek.com/portland/article...

                    Also found this (though I haven't used it yet) https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/food-...

                2. re: cellophane_star

                  Thanks for the recommendation. Salt & Straw was fantastic. The aroma when you walk through the door is amazing and the ice cream and sorbets were delectable

                1. Food cart rec's...There are some great food cart pods...good eats here on SE Belmont and Se 43rd has Viking Soul food...lefse wraps with house smoked salmon...(my fave)
                  9th -10th Sw Alder & SW Washington...one full block of food carts, mostly open for lunch during the week. SW Sark@5th, Tabor chech food...fried muenster for me, but most people love the schnitzelwich
                  foodcartsportland.com will tell you everything you need to know about food carts!
                  Also Blue Star Donuts!!!!! Dulce de leche donut, or chocolate ganache donut( have you ever had real chocolate on a donut?) if you want superb, delicious donuts..if you want kitch, Vodooo'll do you...
                  Pass on Tin Shed..food is sub par
                  I think you should try the POk POk wings...everyone loves them. Tasty's breakfast is amazing...but order carefully...
                  if you want Ambiance...go to the Pearl, after your visit to Powells....or Departure, happy hour for the view...

                  Have a great time!!!

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: cheeseisheaven

                    Also at Blue Star: Chocolate Crunch or Key Lime/Meyer Lemon.

                    1. re: Leonardo

                      And don't miss the Blue Star apple fritter... drool...

                    2. re: cheeseisheaven

                      Viking Soul Food sounds interesting. And Blue Star seems more worth it than Voodoo. Will check it.

                    3. • Saint Honore Boulangerie - just ok, there are better bakeries in town esp. vietnamese bakers but I still think you should go

                      • Voodoo Doughnuts - I agree it is a tourist trap and not worth the visit BUT if you really must go may be worth it for the Portlandia vibe, if you do go, go before 8 am, there is no line. Hipsters are still asleep

                      • Stumptown Coffee - not the best coffee in town but a must go for tourists

                      • Pok Pok (Asian) - below average americanized thai food, for me they suck compared to thai food in thailand or los angeles. BUT since you are from Canada really recommend them

                      • Apizza Scholls (pizza) - MUST GO, get the portlandia vibe, I think one of the best pizzas in the world. Yes, been to NY, Rome, Naples. BTW avoid their hawaiian pizza it is disgusting. Get their apizza amore. Their cesare salad is very good as well

                      • Le Pigeon (French, fancy) - good
                      • Tasty n Sons (breakfast) - excellent
                      • Tin Shed (breakfast) - good southern food

                      not on list you should consider

                      Toro Bravo instead of tasty n sons or both (same owners)
                      Pine street biscuits vs tin shed - toss up
                      EVOE - one of my fav resturants in oregon
                      Paley's place

                      Also, why no breweries? Portland is known for their craft beers and liquor.

                      Also consider food carts, some are very good like NONG'S KHAO MAN GAI, some are ok, all have the portlandia vibe

                      5 Replies
                      1. re: ronin223

                        Thank you very much! :)

                        No breweries yet because I haven't had a chance to research them but we will definitely be hitting up a few! I saw a bike + brewery tour that sounded like fun.

                        1. re: cellophane_star

                          FWIW, we succumbed to trying Voodoo on our third trip to Portland last year, only because we were driving by the second one on NE Davis and there wasn't a big line. Pretty standard doughnuts, maybe not even as good as Timmy Ho's used to be. Maybe the draw is the Old Town store, but if so I'm thinking it must be more for the scene than the 'nuts.

                          Second ronin's suggestion of Evoe for lunch or an afternoon snack. That place is permanently on my list. Everything is so much better than the sum of its parts, and that's saying something in a town of such fine provisioning.

                          1. re: grayelf

                            Evoe always a great destination.

                            Best biscuits, even better than Tin Shed & Pine State: Lauretta Jean laurettajean.com/
                            Find at Portland Farmers Market at PSU, or their own shop on SE Division.

                            1. re: Leonardo

                              Agree on the Lauretta Jean's biscuits -- best I've had so far in Portland. You can also get just the biscuits downtown at Café Velo on Pine -- no seating though.

                        2. re: ronin223

                          I have to respectfully disagree w/your comment about Pok Pok. As someone who has spent a good deal of time in Thailand w/my Thai friends & their families I can saw it is the most authentic Thai food I've had in the States. I've even been there w/Thai friends that have said it reminds them of home. A lot of the dishes are not the typical ones that you find in most restaurants. They are a combination of street food and food that Thai's eat in their own homes. Very unamericanized. Just my 2 cents ; )

                        3. -For Doughnuts go to Blue Star.
                          -My parents love Pok Pok, and Whiskey Bar Across the way has the same exact menu as Pok Pok if it is to crowded.
                          -Tasty n' Sons makes a great brunch
                          -There is some great Dim Sum in Portland, perhaps Ocean City on 82nd, but if you are going to Seattle you may save Dim Sum for then.
                          -Food Carts:
                          -You MUST go to Nong's Khao Man Gai for the Chicken and Rice. It is super simple but delicious, they now have two locations so I would check them out.
                          -The Hawthorne Carts are good, and Lardo is close by for some delicious sandwiches.

                          If you are going to be here with the nice weather and you are a beer drinker I would recommend APEX Beer Bar located next to Los Gorditos. You can order some yummy tacos and take them over them over to Apex and enjoy one of their many rotating taps (careful its cash only) and sit at the picnic tables, its very Portland and very nice.

                          1. I get to visit Portland occasionally and happened to drop by the pod of food carts on SE Belmont and SE 43rd (called Good Food Here). With my travel partner, I sampled a few different items from several food carts there. It was around noon on a Sunday and not all the carts were open.

                            Malasadas from Namu, a Korean/Hawaiian place (1/2 dozen for $4) -- we both liked them, they were fresh and soft, a little oily.

                            Chicken and waffles from Cackalack's Hot Chicken Shack. I really liked the chicken on this, but the waffle was not impressive. It came with a side of fries, which made it a good deal for $8.50, but far too much food. I wouldn't mind trying a fried chicken sandwich next time.

                            Lefse with butter and honey from Viking Soul Food ($2.50). I didn't have the stomach to get one of the lefse wraps, but I took a butter and honey one to go and it was lovely. I would go back to this pod just for the lefse. Next time I would try the savory #1, and their seasonal sweet wrap was rhubarb and chevre. Although as a disclaimer, I've never had lefse anywhere else so I have no frame of reference. I thought they were delicious here. Their lingonberry iced tea was very tasty and not too sweet, according to my dining partner (he ordered a second cup!).

                            My companion got chicken wings from Cackalack's to go and tried them later -- he approved. He got a biscuit sandwich from Blue City Biscuits(?) and the biscuit was really good, but didn't contain enough ham to balance it out.


                            1. Rather than staying in a hotel downtown I would opt for a stay through Airbnb.com. You can stay in an apartment, house or part of a house. Lots of places in cool Portland neighborhoods and you can walk to some of your dining spots. I would recommend the east side. If you are there over a weekend I would try to get to the Portland State farmer's market on Saturday a.m. Great provisions, scene, tastings and fun. Ditto to others on Evoe and Lauretta Jean's. the People's Pig is a great downtown food cart and the scene weekdays is fun. Tasty and Alder downtown is new and has a great brunch if you get there at the 9 am opening. Ox has great food but you need to go early if you don't want a big wait. My favorite dinner place is Simpatica Dining Hall, just two nights a weekend. Menus are set but available online. Great meals at a reasonable price and amazing use of local produce.