Trip Report - Eating and drinking in Portland (July 2013)
I just got back from my trip to Portland, the Oregon coast and Seattle. I wanted to post about all the great food and drink I experienced in Portland, due in large part to recommendations from this board (previous posts linked at bottom). Thank you so much for helping me find places I normally might have bypassed. My husband and I spent 5 days in Portland and we pretty much ate and drank beer or coffee the whole time. It was amazing. In addition to the great quality of the food & drink, I found the service (and just the people in general) in Portland to be great. I really enjoyed visiting this city!
I'll divide this into a few categories:
Gruner - First night's dinner. This place was very laidback. We ate on the "patio", which was really the sidewalk. I had a very nice trout dish and my husband had the chicken. For appetizers, we had the beet devilled eggs and a peach, speck & blueberry salad. I liked the food but it wasn't a place I would need to revisit. Nice but not outstanding.
Ken's Artisan Bakery - went here for lunch. I wanted to try their pizza but went to the wrong location (NW instead of SE). I found the staff a little snooty but the food was decent. I didn't try any baked goods but my pulled pork sandwich on brioche was very nice.
Andina - almost didn't go here but was persuaded by some locals we met plus the glowing opinons of this board were on my mind. It was probably my favourite dinner of the whole trip. We got a quiet table in the basement. It was so hard to choose what to eat because everything on their extensive menu sounded great. For apps, we ordered chicharrones (chicken crusted with quinoa) with agrodolce and cured tuna & avocado. For mains, scallops for me, duck for him. Every dish was amazingly simple but so delicious. I also had a horchata drink that was delicious.
Elephant Deli - after a long, hot walk through Washington Park, our Frommer's guide told us this place was nearby so we stopped for lunch. Not exactly a foodie destination but I appreciated their large selection of salads, prepared lunches, drinks and desserts.
Prasad - needed some vegetables. I had heard about this all-vegan restaurant on other blogs. Turns out it's a cafe inside of a yoga studio. I ordered a completely raw meal, with lots of greens, raw walnut-based "meat", cashew cheese, and a cocktail with green juice and cava. It was very refreshing.
Viking Soul Food (food cart) + Divine Cafe (food cart) - VSF was amazing. The lefse were light and the fillings were delicious (chicken sausage & fennel slaw for me, a fish special for him). I wish I had room to order a dessert lefse too. Divine Cafe was in the same pod as VSF and they drew me in because of their sangria. They had three kinds of sangria so I ordered watermelon & blackberry. So nice on the hot day. I got a salad with tempeh for a very good price considering it was quite big.
Le Pigeon - we did the chef's tasting menu (5 course) with wine pairings. We were seated in the middle of their large communal table. Halfway through the meal, an older couple from California came in. The man used to be a writer for Full House and the woman was an actress. They were hilariously chatty foodies so they really added to the night. The woman insisted I tried her foie gras-mushroom-white chocolate dish... it was incredible. I'm glad we did the tasting menu because one of the dishes on the menu (razor clams) was something I would never order but it was one of the best. The meal highlight was probably the foie gras profiterole, which was savoury, sweet and rich. I thought it was funny that Gabriel Rucker's James Beard award was displayed in the front of the restaurant but his Food & Wine best chef award (a frying pan) was hung in the bathroom.
Evoe - Ok, I know this place is highly recommended. And yes, our lunch was nice. I thought it was neat how the chef was there and you could watch him and just one other girl prepare every dish after ordering. We were served by the girl, not the chef who's name I am forgetting, and I found her to be standoffish and disinterested. My beet & arugula salad was one of the best I've had. My egg sandwich was just ok. My meal didn't live up to the hype I had created in my head.
Pok Pok - There was a 30 minute wait so we had a drink at Whiskey Soda Lounge. I tried the drinking vinegar (Tamarind). Surprisingly delicious. Inside Pok Pok, we ordered their famous wings, a boar collar dish, an eggplant dish and their green papaya salad. I loved how the boar dish was served with crushed ice and chilled mustard greens on the side. the wings were just as good as everyone says.
Tasty & Alder - for breakfasts, we either ate at our hotel or at the Whole Foods two block away. We made a point to eat here on the day before we left Portland. I loved this place. We ordered the potato bravas, which was so incredibly good (and HUGE), a half order of french toast with apricot topping, housemade cottage cheese with berries and a frittata. Probably too much food considering the size of the bravas, which were the highlight of the breakfast. The french toast was a close second.
Voodoo Donuts - waited in line for about 25 minutes. Had a Portland cream (Boston cream donut) and quite enjoyed it. Pure junk food. My husband had the one with Captain Crunch on top, which was just too much for me. I like chocolate more.
Blue Star Donuts - went here after checking into the hotel - sold out & closed at 3:00. Went back at 8:00 the following morning after eating breakfast. Got the apple cider fritter with the intention of eating it later. It was hard by the time I got to it :(. Ordered the blueberry bourbon one for my husband and he enjoyed. Went back on the day we left Portland for fresh donuts for the car ride. I ate their chocolate ganache donut and yes, it was a better donut than Voodoo's. Husband got maple bacon - also agreed it was better than Voodoo. Enjoyed both donuts though :)
Salt & Straw - Good god, I loved this place. Went three times. Their almond brittle ice cream with chocolate ganache was incredible. Perfect, even! Also tried: blueberry-chocolate-rice krispy, strawberry balsamic (not much balsamic flavour), pear & blue cheese (more sweet with just a hint of blue cheese), olive oil and a few other sample bites of the others.
Cacao - tried the drinking chocolate (spicy one). So rich! 2 oz was definitely enough. Loved the selection of weird bars for sale (bought a small one with chocolate & WOOD).
Townshed's Tea - ventured up to Alberta Street but didn't eat. Stopped here for a very good iced chai latte.
Broder - we have a Scandanavian obsession (husband's family is Danish, we went to Denmark last year) so we wanted to try the aebleskiver (puff pancakes with jam). They were bigger and a big crispier than the ones we get at home. Still good. I found the service good here but the place was really hot.
Kargi Gogo (food cart) - This was located in the cart pod was near our hotel. we stopped by this Georgian (Eastern Europe, not Southern US) food cart some very nice beef & pork stuffed dumplings and a tomato-cucumber salad + eggplant rolls with a walnut dressing. Very tasty.
Lucky Labrador, Lompoc, Bridgeport - part of a Brewcycle tour. Tried a few samplers and didn't have any complaints!
Rouge - tried the chocolate, banana, bacon beer. So strange but I didn't hate it :) We also went to their brewery in Newport to sample a few more. Rouge has far too many beers for us to try them all!
Tugboat Brewery - cute little pub with a really nice bartender.
Hopworks & Deschutes - did some samplers here. stuff was good, didn't dislike anything though some of the hoppier beers at Hopworks are not my taste.
Also happened to be in town the same time as the Oregon Brewer's Festival. So busy, hot and line ups were long. Still, it was our first day there and we enjoyed ourselves. Got a nice souvenir glass too!
Fresh Pot - decent Americano with Stumptown coffee
Stumptown - Love. Really good Americanos and a tasty Thai iced coffee.
Maglia Rose - definitely would have overlooked this place if not for a Chowhound rec. it's inside a bike store, from which we rented bikes on our last day. Delicious Americano poured with care.
Courier - Delicious. you can tell they put a lot of care into their process. another Chowhound rec, though it was also mentioned in the Frommer's book.
Places I wish we had time/stomach capacity in which to eat: Olympic Provisions, Lauretta Jean's, Roe, Pine State Biscuits, Little Bird, maybe Lardo & Bunk... so many others!
My previous posts were here:
To end this super long post: Thanks again for all your help! I hope to get back to Portland some day! :)
Great Summary! We are headed there in a few weeks and I had many of the same on my list. This helps me narrow it down and add to it. Thanks!
Sorry you didn't love Evoe as much as we do -- it's a slightly unusual place and perhaps I shouldn't rave on as much as I do about it without explaining it better. We've never had effusive service there (I daresay that's not the chef owner's style) but standoffish and disinterested is not good. I'm wondering if that beet salad was my beloved dream salad; he was serving it with mache the three times I had it.
I've had the fritter from Blue Star three times now and I think it is meant to be hard/crunchy on the outside. I've eaten them right after purchase in front of Maglia Rosa and later in the day as well. My SO (whose favourite doughnut is an apple fritter) is not a fan because of that. I love the super caramelized, almost but not quite burnt action on these puppies but for sure a personal preference. Will be sure to note that the next time I mention it!
Glad you liked Courier. It is my favourite coffee place in Portland so far, though it can vary a fair bit based on which barista you get. Guess that is true of pretty much every cafe though!