PaaDee, Thai Comfort Food for dinner, Harlow's for breakfast the next morning
Phoenix area CH here: My son lives in Portland and took us to PaaDee's for a Friday night dinner and to Harlow's for Saturday breakfast. I have found no mention of either restos on the Portland board - is there a reason? We enjoyed our meals at each place.
Yes, Pok Pok gets a lot of press but PaaDee deserves a place in the Portland recs. "Thai Comfort Food" was a pleasant surprise for us. On a drizzly Friday evening, no reservation, we were seated immediately and greeted by our waiter who began pouring water as he handed us menus. Apps: Grilled Pork Skewers and Fried Wings with a Siracha-fish sauce were devoured upon arrival - we must have been hungrier than we thought. My husband, a Pad Thai fan, ordered Pad Kee Mao with prawns and was overwhelmed with the delicious mix of flavors. My son and I both chose Gra Prao Muu Sub, with poached egg. Glad that we did! The pork belly was crisp and a great foil for the green beans & chiles in the dish. This was a wonderful meal in a relaxed atmosphere. We never felt rushed even though it was a busy time. As a guest, I have no idea of the tab.
Breakfast on Saturday morning, after the Portland Farmers' Market (!), was at Harlow's. We found seating immediately and realized that one goes to the counter to place orders. My husband was amused when he ordered "Huevos Rancheros" and was asked if he wanted eggs with his choice. Coming from the Southwest, it had never occurred to us that Huevos rancheros would contain anything but "huevos". Ahhh, Portland. I should have thought there would be an alternative to animal products. So yes, vegans, there is something for you too. My "Golden Girls" was a solid OK - not terrible and not great either. Kale anchored the dish with some black beans and polenta piled atop. Poached eggs and avocado finished the dish which suffered from lack of seasonings; there wasn't anything wrong with it but it did not 'sing'. My son said that he would not order the pancakes again since they were overwhelmed with the blueberry compote atop the two large flapjacks. Others at the table enjoyed their bowls - a chili bowl (not a bowl of chili) and something else I disremember. There is something for every type of eater here -- GF, vegan, omnivore, et al. In a very casual, relaxed atmosphere, we never felt rushed even though it was quite busy.
Edit: I believe that both places are located in the SE, Harlow's across the street from Powell's cookbook store which is reason enough to choose it!
I live in the building that Paa Dee is in and eat there frequently, probably once a week. It is a vastly under rated spot with very few weak dishes. I think the characterization of it as standard Thai fare versus Pok Pok is not really "on" . I will readily admit along with almost any other person in Portland that Pok Poks wings are the legal version of heroin, I just am not a huge fan of long waits which are the norm at Pok Pok
We have been to PaaDee a couple of times (not really in our neighborhood) and we have found it to be a solid option on both occasions. It is more of your standard fare type Thai restaurant, though, where Pok Pok is very different and I think that is why Pok Pok gets the hype.