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Proposed Portland List - Need a vet from you vets

  • jlunar May 28, 2013 11:59 AM

Hello Portland CH'ers! Soon I will make my first trip to PDX, arriving early at 8am on a Friday (leaving Monday evening) and I just wanted to get your thoughts on my plan:

FRIDAY
- Stop off (via cab) at St. Jack (caneles!)
- Continue via cab to Courrier Coffee (caneles!)
- Walk to Blue Star
- Walk to Voodoo
- Pondah's Pit for an early lunch

And then the rest of the weekend is up in the air in terms of timing, but includes:
- Waffle Window, an attempt to hit Pine & State, Salt & Straw, finding a food cart lot, Tasty & Sons (or Alder), Lauretta Jeans. I've also got reservations at Pok Pok.

On the maybe list
- Beast
- Boxer Sushi

Anything that I'm missing that I should make an effort to get to? I'm from Toronto (Chinese isn't so much of a draw for me). Let me know if you need more details. Thank you!

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  1. I didn't know Pok Pok took reservations but I see it's only for parties of five or more. Still, good to know, thanks.

    1. 1. avoid voodoo it is a tourist trap

      2. Saw you like chicken and rice, one of the best food carts is NONG'S KHAO MAN GAI, which is thai boiled chicken and rice, sounds plain but is very good.

      Have you considered bamboo sushi or Murata sushi. You have to try salmon while you are in portland, better than anywhere else I've been too.

      8 Replies
      1. re: ronin223

        Good list, agree with above about Voodoo. It and Blue Star are pretty much polar opposites in every imagineable way. But if you wanna be among the tourist throngs who don't know any better hauling around the dreaded pink box, be our guests...

        Pine State not Pine & State. Find them and Lauretta Jean's at Portland Farmers Market at PSU, Saturday morning. The latter are my favorite biscuit.

        1. re: Leonardo

          +1 for the Lauretta Jean biscuit. I still dream about it two months later, though I had mine in an egg dish at their bricks and mortar on Division. They are also available on their own at their little store on Pine downtown.

          1. re: grayelf

            Thanks grayelf!! It's why I want to hit up LJ's - everyone's been going on about it, but I've friends who're all about the Pine State biscuit... so why not (try) both?!

          2. re: Leonardo

            Oh! they're both at PSU? I'll aim to hit 'em up there, then. Thanks - it'll be a time-saver.

          3. re: ronin223

            I know Voodoo is a tourist trap, but I feel like I need to go there anyway. I won't try too hard though.

            Hmn. Chicken & Rice, eh? I will do some research, thank you for the suggestion.

            Sushi-wise, I just wanted some good sashimi since I'm out on the coast! I chose Boxer because it's (somewhat) in an area I'll be in. Do you feel either Bamboo or Murata is worth the swap/detour?

            1. re: jlunar

              Hokusei is the best sashimi in town.
              No one else is even close.

              1. re: RichardBreadcrumb

                Thanks for the rec! Will ponder swapping Boxer out.

                1. re: jlunar

                  I agree, Hokusei is the best in town.

                  I like Boxer, but Hokusei is worth the extra bit of $$ (and they have a decent sake list, which is almost nonexistent at Boxer). I like Murata and Bamboo too, but I do not think they are as good as these two newcomers. Boxer does a $38 omakase that is an excellent value, but overall, I'd rather pay for a better selection of fish served with a bit more restraint in less complicated preps. (Though the uni on watermelon cubes at Boxer I had a few days ago was truly awesome, I have to admit.) Sit at the sushi bar at Hokusei, you can make a reservation to do so...it is not the same experience at a table.

                  Pine State is about the tasty excess as much as it is about the biscuits. Lauretta Jean's is less overkill, IMO. I haven't been to LJ's Farmers' Market stand, I go to their SE Division location and have their egg/bacon/cheese/strawberry jam biscuit sandwich for breakfast (with a quad macchiato). (They make EXCELLENT pie too, btw.)

                  Though I haven't been to Toronto in years, I spent quite a bit of time there in the early 90's...and yeah, seriously, don't bother with Chinese or dim sum here.

                  Coava coffee makes excellent espresso - go there for expertly pulled shots. Ask about what beans they have, and select based on your preferences - they'll give you flavor profile descriptions. Heart is also a great place for a great shot or two, if you are a coffee freak.

          4. COAVA Coffee.

            I'm not a terribly picky coffee drinker but every time I have some COAVA - it really makes me pause because it is exceptional.

            8 Replies
            1. re: MyNextMeal

              I might be able to hit this - what do you usually order?

              1. re: jlunar

                I've only been to their location a few times. I mostly drink it when I pick it up in the morning at the market near my office. It's whatever blend they have brewed in their carafe.

                http://www.localchoicemarket.com/ is the market
                which might be fun to pass through too. they've got some good baked goods (from bakeshop - the buckwheat scone!!!)

                1. re: MyNextMeal

                  Coava is a great place for coffee (my coffee fiend SO's favourite so far in Portland -- he usually orders cappucino) because they source good beans, roast them well and train their baristas. The shop shares space with a woodworking business which makes it a unique space. And they have cinnamon danishes and monkey bread from Nuvrei, both topnotch pastries.

                  1. re: grayelf

                    Thanks grayelf!! I love cappucinos, so have put this down for a detour if possible.

                    1. re: jlunar

                      My 25 cents: the best espresso-based coffee in Portland is at Spella Caffe on SW Fifth. Coava is ok, IMHO, immature roasters. As are most in Portland. Try Spella...light years ahead fo the pack. That is, IF you truly understand and care about espresso in the Italian traditiion. Which using most SO Ethiopian or many other locally favored beans is NOT. Sorry. Read Illy's book on espresso. Go to Italy, see what the real deal is. Water Ave comes closer than Coava, Heart, etc. I had a NASTY tasting coffee at Barista, another local fave, on Saturday. The "pour over" I had on Saturday morning at the Farmers' Mkt from Nossa Familia (notable for importing family beans from Brasil, and roasting in house, they are friends of mine!) was amost undrinkable. No, it WAS undrinkable. Spella NAILS it.

                      1. re: sambamaster

                        Thanks sambamaster! I don't know if I'm that much of a coffee snob, but Spella is conveniently located for me. A good Italian style coffee - or better yet, latte - is a thing of happy memories for me.

                        1. re: sambamaster

                          Haven't made it to Spella yet but you are so enthusiastic we'll have to give it a go. I'm not averse to the Italian tradition, it's just different than the third wave approach. I seem to recall reading that there wasn't any seating at Spella but maybe that was the cart. Can you describe the setup there a bit more, sambamaster?

                    2. re: MyNextMeal

                      Thanks for the tip!!

                2. Don't see much discussion about dinners for you here. I am a fan of Beast, but there are other great options as well.

                  In the SE: Biwa, Apizza Scholls, Roe.

                  Elsewhere: Ox, Little Bird

                  What are your dinner preferences? Budget? How many people in your party?

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: cobpdx

                    I've mostly left dinners alone because I'll be with a large group (25) and I don't even want to tackle that beyond the Pok Pok reso. I just need a few places up my sleeve in case the group breaks off for meals and I can steer like-minded peeps to places I want to eat...

                    BUT.. on Monday, my flight doesn't leave until 10p, so I can squeeze in an early dinner. Which is likely going to be sushi because I'm not sure when else I'd manage it.

                    Sooo.. maybe Hokusei it is! They open at 5, so that works with my plan. Plenty of time to get to PDX.

                  2. Snap. I meant to write a report and while doing research for another trip to Portland, I realized, I hadn't (bad, ch'er!)! This trip was primarily about seeing friends, so I didn't necessarily get to everything. But here's my round up of notable eats from my 4-day June trip:

                    The Reggie, Pine State Biscuits
                    http://www.flickr.com/photos/jlunar/8...

                    Now, this was more because it made excellent food porn and all my friends had built up this whole thing around it in the weeks leading up to our Portland trip. A ridiculous, somewhat over the top, sandwich. I had one, it was tasty, and now I'm good. Also: I liked the fried green tomatoes there.

                    Croissants & Caneles, St. Jack's
                    http://www.flickr.com/photos/jlunar/8...
                    http://www.flickr.com/photos/jlunar/9...

                    I came for the caneles and loved the croissant. Great croissant there.

                    Ribs & Sausage, Pondah's Pit
                    http://www.flickr.com/photos/jlunar/9...

                    I can't differentiate between the nuances of BBQ, but some real bbq snobs came with me and they liked it. They still critiqued it, mind you. I would totally go back.

                    Nasu Oranda Ni, Hokusei
                    http://www.flickr.com/photos/jlunar/9...
                    Loved the flavours on this one. Also had my sashimi, but was more envious of the sushi my dining companion was getting. Order fail. Did like that it was happy hour so I could try more things and not abuse the wallet so badly!

                    Cappuccino, Barista
                    http://www.flickr.com/photos/jlunar/9...
                    It was right across the street from where we were staying. Loved the space. A really nice cappuccino. I think I also had a good pastry from there, but I didn't ask where they source from.

                    Ice Creams, Salt & Straw
                    I am shocked I didn't upload photos from here. I could have sworn I had some.
                    Anyway, so worth a visit. Wish I'd had time for more!

                    Biscuit, Lauretta Jean's
                    Had it while I was at the PSU market. Fantastic. Wonder how they freeze and if I can take some home…

                    Pok Pok
                    This was a crazy meal where we booked out the upstairs room and way too many people crammed in there. A fun meal that made me wish to return and eat with a little less chaos. And be able to shoot photos (I gave up early on)!

                    And that's it! I need to hit up Courier still for their canele (I swear I walked by it twice, but didn't get a chance to pop in) and Blue Star for their donuts. Tasty & Alder is high on my list still as well.

                    I had a fantastic time in Portland. Between the eats and the company and the stress-free biking, my brief visit made me love your city. I so look forward to returning.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: jlunar

                      Thanks for the report! How cool about your book.

                      So how was the Lauretta Jean biscuit? Just had one this morning with my mom's raspberry jam.

                      You missed out on Voodoo. Whoo hoo!

                      Also make sure to get a cookie at Courier.

                      Had a Blue Star chocolate crunch donut the other day. Ya gotta go...

                      Yes, the Reggie is over the top ridiculous. Must try it once to say you did!

                      When are you returning? Now is the farmers mkt peak with nectarines, peaches, & melons at their best.

                      I'll be at Salt & Straw this evening...