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One day in Portland, want seafood

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In a couple of weeks, I'm going to spend a week in Forest Grove with some friends, where we'll be eating cafeteria food (yay...). We have one day in Portland, and we're looking for recommendations for seafood (we're from Massachusetts, so yeah, seafood, we like it). Casual is good (we'll be carrying a ton of gear and won't have room to pack the dinner jackets), as is moderate price. We're wondering if there's anything that answers that description. We will be staying near the airport and getting about via public transit. Any suggestions?

...and if you happen to also have recs for Forest Grove, because I expect eventually the cafeteria food will send us screaming into the night, that would be excellent too. TIA!

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  1. I don't think there is a single place that requires a jacket for dinner here, so you are good.

    If your day in PDX is flexible, try for Roe (only open Thurs, Fri, Sat nights).

    1. Which airport are you staying near? Hillsboro? PDX?

      Because PDX (Portland's main airport) is about 40-60 minutes (about 35 miles) from Forest Grove by car...and you have to take BOTH light rail and a bus to FG (changing in Hillsboro) from PDX if you don't use a car...and I'll bet that it is well over 2 hours of travel time if you do that...

      And if you are near Hillsboro Airport...well, that's not in Portland, and getting around on public transit for dinner and drinks could be very time consuming and confusing...and would lead a lot of us to recommend the one or two places in Beaverton or Hillsboro that might be good.

      But let's stick to Portland recs for the sake of convo...

      Roe is not at all moderate in price, it is one of the most expensive restaurants in Portland (which is not as expensive as many places). I liked the food there, but honestly, I just wasn't as impressed as almost everyone else who posts about it on this board. And I just didn't think it was worth the hype (much less the price tag). It is a special high-end back room of another restaurant called Block and Tackle. I have not been to B&T, but it is a seafood-based place and might be a good place for you.

      About a block or two down from there is The American Local. They have several raw fish plates which are great and serve lots of great local ingredients (I see the owners at the local Farmers' Market) in their amazing small plates menu format. Great cocktails there too and awesome service.

      The omakase sushi/sashimi at Boxer Sushi is also worth seeking out. For $45 pp you will enjoy some of the best sushi/sashimi in Portland - some from local waters, some not. If you like sushi, this is great stuff and will seem like a bargain.

      We are about 1.5-2 hours from the coast...Portland is not really a seafood town (though you can find great local oysters in a lot of spots - check out that thread on this board) and we don't have a lot of places that specialize in seafood.

      In Hillsboro, I have heard that Syun Izakaya and Vivi's Vietnamese Noodle House are good. The only place I tend to go in Forest Grove are the butcher that processes/packages the 1/4 cow we get every year and the Sakery (Sake One/Momokawa). A visit to the sake brewery is very cool - do the tour and have some tastes...unless you go to Japan a lot, there aren't many sake houses to visit around the world. ;o)

      1 Reply
      1. re: JillO

        Nice points, JillO.

        I guess the problem is we don't know what is meant by "moderate" in this case. Many from the east coast would consider some of the more expensive restaurants in Portland to be moderate.

        In my opinion, Roe is excellent and somewhat unique, but it also depends what one wants for seafood. If one wants a filet of, say, halibut or salmon, then Roe is not it. Same for if they are looking for sushi. But I am not the only one who thinks Roe is worth it.

        For more "traditional" seafood fare, Paley's, Higgins, and many other restaurants have seafood items on their menus. I would not target Ringside Fishhouse or Jakes.

      2. Thanks for the recs, all! JillO, we will be staying near PDX, going to Forest Grove Friday AM. So, OK, Portland's not a seafood town, we can skip that (but I might put in a vote for Boxer Sushi). What does Portland do especially well, if not sushi?

        2 Replies
        1. re: LilBrownBat

          Portland does fresh ingredients from it's own backyard in combo with ingredients from elsewhere really well, when in the hands of a skilled chef:

          American Local, Ava Gene's (stay away from pricey entrees and stick to salads, panne (bread with toppings), and pasta selections), Nostrana, Ox, Racion (great MG focus without being stuffy)

          We do Asian-fusiony stuff pretty well:

          Aviary, smallwares

          We do Thai well:

          Pok Pok, Chiang Mai, PaaDee/Lang Baan

          In a category of it's own: Tanuki

          It is a bar with food - not a restaurant - and it is not for everyone. If you can't handle extremely gory Japanese softcore on the TV with your meal...it isn't the place for you (and I am not at all kidding). If you hate really dark bars, it isn't the place for you. If you are allergic to things, it is not for you (no subs). If you don't want an omakase meal with lots of small courses...it is not for you. If you have more than 4 people in your party (place is really small, only one table for 4 and a few 2-tops), this is definitely not the place for you. But if you want really interesting, delicious and inventive food, the best sake list in town (and some great cocktails), some awesome classic pinball machines, welcome to the fold. She makes her own kimchi (which is awesome), and serves things like spicy squid jerky, jellyfish salad, kimcheezbacon croissant buns, trout in nori brown butter sauce, steak marinated in kimchi, raw fish with nori wraps...and so much amazing stuff.

          C'mon PDX folks, what else would you say we do well?

          1. re: JillO

            Can't argue with the above suggestions. I love Tanuki as well, but if I were going to have ONE dinner in PDX, I'm not sure that would be it. But I wouldn't do sushi either, unless I couldn't get it at him.

            OX is great (and has some good seafood dishes). Roe is also special IMO, as I have already mentioned. Have to throw Kachka into the mix now, too. It is Russian, completely different, and very, very good. I would pick one of these 3 if I had only 1 night.