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Three nights in Portland, mid-March 2014

g
ghague Feb 25, 2014 01:09 PM

Hi all! My wife and I are heading down to Portland (from Vancouver BC) for three nights, arriving Friday March 14th and leaving Monday March 17th. We're staying at the Governor Hotel downtown.

We were able to see a small bit of the city a couple of years ago when we were there for a family wedding, but we're now looking forward to being able to spend some good time there.

Wondering if you might have some thoughts or suggestions on the following points:

It would seem right now that our only "must do" is a dinner at Pok Pok. We love Thai food in general, but we've not had much experience with any kind of 'elevated' version of this cuisine. Given our arrival on a Friday and their no-reservation policy, is there a best day over the weekend that we should go to minimize our wait? Once inside, sounds like their fish sauce chicken wings are pretty amazing; anything else that's a must-order?

For one of our other meals, we're leaning towards Little Bird, as it seems to be getting universal praise around here, and we enjoy a good French bistro.

That leaves one more dinner to plan... looking for some suggestions here. We've got Thai and French already; what else is burning up Portland these days? We'll eat anything, and particularly enjoy quirky or unique experiences. For background, some of my all-time favourite meals have been tasting menus such as the Willows Inn (WA), WD-50 (NY), Cinc Sentits (Barcelona), or Le Chateaubriand (Paris)... however we also had a really disappointing (and overly-expensive) one at Mistral Kitchen in Seattle. In Seattle we've had a fantastic meals at the Book Bindery, Sitka and Spruce, and Cascina Spinasse. Perhaps there's something along these lines in Portland? Only caveat is that my wife is pregnant, so we're not going to do raw shellfish, and we'll skip anyplace that's largely known for their cocktails.

Aside from dinners, we'd like to hit up a few food carts (mostly for lunch). When we were last in Portland, we had a couple of fantastic pizzas at Pyro Pizza. What else must we try? Are most of the PDX food cards open for lunch on weekends?

Looks like our hotel is a couple of blocks away from Blue Star donuts -- I'm sure we'll make a couple of trips there! I know this has probably been discussed to death, but I'll ask again anyway: is it worth trying to brave a lineup at Voodoo Donuts, or are we good (or better?) with Blue Star?

Finally, another likely stop will be Pine State Biscuits. Some good friends are huge "Diners Drive-Ins & Dives", and they raved about their visit here after seeing them featured on a DDD episode. We love sharing food experiences with our friends, so we want to go there too (and the concept of 'chicken and biscuits' is pretty foreign to us, meaning it's not particularly common here, so we're excited to give it a try).

So that's a bunch of random stuff that we're thinking about. Any thoughts from you ever-helpful people?

Thanks!

~Geoff

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  1. c
    cobpdx Feb 25, 2014 08:14 PM

    I think you will be happy with Pok Pok and Little Bird.

    For the rest of your questions…

    <In Seattle we've had a fantastic meals at the Book Bindery, Sitka and Spruce, and Cascina Spinasse. Perhaps there's something along these lines in Portland?>

    Go to OX

    <Aside from dinners, we'd like to hit up a few food carts (mostly for lunch). When we were last in Portland, we had a couple of fantastic pizzas at Pyro Pizza>

    Check the Board for food cart recommendations. Nong's Khao Man Gai is good, but there are many others

    < is it worth trying to brave a lineup at Voodoo Donuts, or are we good (or better?) with Blue Star?>

    Blue Star for quality, no question. Don't wait until too late in the day; they close when they sell out. Voodoo for the spectacle. If you go mid-day the lines generally are not bad.

    <Finally, another likely stop will be Pine State Biscuits.>

    I think you will be pleasantly surprised at the result!

    Enjoy!

    3 Replies
    1. re: cobpdx
      g
      ghague Feb 26, 2014 01:19 PM

      Thanks cobpdx -- good to hear that our planning seems to be, so far, on the mark.

      Have now read about the Portland Farmers Market at PSU; we'll definitely be checking that out on Saturday morning. What should we do for breakfast in that area? Speaking of breakfast, Broder sounds interesting, so we'll hopefully make a trip out that way.

      We're looking to make some dinner reservations pretty quick (particularly for Little Bird), so we're wondering the best day to slot in dinner at Pok Pok. Which would likely be less busy at Pok Pok, Friday, Saturday, or Sunday?

      1. re: ghague
        grayelf Feb 26, 2014 03:08 PM

        Hey, fellow 'couverites, nice timing to be in Portland for the return of the PSU farmers market. It really is quite remarkable, beautiful setting, great local products and lots of things to eat. My favourite option is the Lauretta Jean's stand for lovely biscuits. I favour them over Pine State, but no chicken at LJ's. I'm sure you've read about the lines at Pine State, which are long at their PSU outpost as well. You'd best come 15 minutes before opening. Also good to check on the market website to see if they're going to be there that week.

        I've tried to get into Broder a couple times, speaking of crazy lineups. You might want to try their newish outpost, Broder North, which I read has shorter wait times.

        We enjoyed Little Bird so much in October that I've booked it again for our March trip, though I may switch to Kachka if it's open by then. I read that the burger has changed there, but I've only had the original at Le Pigeon. The room is quite fun and not necessarily what you'd expect in a bistro, at least music wise (think rock, not Piaf). Someone mentioned they preferred the appetizers and I think that's useful advice based on one visit.

        I haven't made it to Pok Pok because of the lines. Every time we're in the hood (which is often as that is an epicenter of restos) I look at it and think, nope, too long, whether it's happy hour or dinnertime. My SO went once for the wings at an off hour and didn't have to wait.

        You may have figured out by now that I'm lineup averse :-) so it took us a while to sample Voodoo. We were driving by Voodoo Two one afternoon when a sugar low hit and we braved it. Still a 10 minute wait at 2 pm on a weekday at the lesser known location (!). Would have been okay if the doughnuts had been better. They equate to Timmy Ho's at home, if that's any help. Coffee also about Timmy's quality, which is to say, brown crayon water.

        If you do make it to Blue Star (and go early per cob's excellent advice), I can recommend their apple fritter. It's really got character. And deek into Cacao just up the street for some chocolate while you're at it.

        Have fun, and congrats on the impending sproggage.

        1. re: grayelf
          c
          cobpdx Feb 26, 2014 09:20 PM

          If Pine State is at the market again this year, that is a great way to see the Farmers Market and knock out one of your meals at the same time. The line goes fast.

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