Another "what to eat in PDX" question.
April 17, 2012 12:44 PM   Subscribe

Looking for places to eat in Portland.

So boyfren and I are going to Portland for a weekend in June. Just 2.5 days, 2 nights...and we want to eat good! I know there are lots of other threads on this subject but many of them are years old and you know, things change.
We went to PDX last year and here is where we ate: (These places were all good but since we've done it already no need to recommend them)

Little Bird
Ned Lud
Kenny and Zukes
Ken's Artisan Bakery

These are places we haven't been and are interested in:

Tasty n Sons
Toro Bravo
Pok Pok
Screen Door
Le Pigeon
a Cena

We can only choose 2 dinner spots, 2 breakfast spots, and 1 lunch spot (we will be checking out Columbia river on one of the days so theres no time for a sit-down lunch that day)

So what are the musts?
posted by hellameangirl to Food & Drink (44 answers total) 30 users marked this as a favorite
You must go the The Veritable Quandry (or the VQ) for breakfast. Everything is amazing, brunch type menu...and awesome bloody marys.
posted by virginia_clemm at 12:48 PM on April 17, 2012

You should really, really make time for Por Que No.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:50 PM on April 17, 2012 [1 favorite]

Go to Tasty N Sons. It is awesome.
posted by dobie at 12:54 PM on April 17, 2012 [2 favorites]

I only had about 6 hours to wander around Portland, but I ate at Pok Pok and it was fantastic. If you're at all interested in non-Americanized Thai food, it's worth a visit. Get the chicken wings and a drinking vinegar.
posted by noted industrialist at 12:57 PM on April 17, 2012 [1 favorite]

If you want some precious, over-the-top vegan food, go to Blossoming Lotus.
posted by Danf at 1:00 PM on April 17, 2012 [1 favorite]

I love biwa, but if I was in town I would go to Tanuki. Get the omakasi for two.
posted by furnace.heart at 1:00 PM on April 17, 2012 [3 favorites]

Tasty N Sons for brunch. Get there early, plan to stay a while and try at least two different types of bloody mary. Damn.
posted by joan_holloway at 1:04 PM on April 17, 2012

I highly recommend Killer Burger! Soooo delicious unless you don't like bacon. It's not fancy, maybe a good lunch spot.

I also really like Aviary which has some very interesting dishes (olive juice spheres, crispy pigs ear etc...) Afterwards, walk down the block to Salt and Straw for some amazingly delicious and unique ice cream! Unless you feel like pie, then cross the street to Random Order and get some pie!
posted by vespabelle at 1:05 PM on April 17, 2012 [1 favorite]

Boke Bowl
Salt and Straw
posted by grouse at 1:06 PM on April 17, 2012

Yes Tasty n Sons. I like this better for breakfast/brunch than dinner, but you'll be happy either way.

Yes Pok Pok. There'll likely be a li'l wait, so head over to the Whiskey Soda Lounge (essentially Pok Pok's waiting room) and get some cocktails (tamarind whiskey sour) and some appetizers (fish sauce wings).

Por Que No is pretty great. I think I might take it for granted that other towns don't have easy access to extremely fresh and tasty Mexican food.

Check out Tanuki for fantastic Japanese/Korean drinking food. Seriously, if you're at all into Japanese food, make time for this. You won't be disappointed.

Other places I love: Laurelhurst Market, Beaker & Flask, Gruner, Boke Bowl, the kobe burger at Yakuza, Olympic Provisions.

If you're a pizza fan, try Ken's Artisan Pizza (italian-style) or Apizza Scholls (NY-style). Both are outstanding.

We can talk cocktails next time.
posted by sportbucket at 1:09 PM on April 17, 2012 [4 favorites]

(Oh, sorry, you've already been to Gruner. Well go around the corner to their new bar KASK and talk to the world's friendliest bartenders!)
posted by sportbucket at 1:10 PM on April 17, 2012

you didn't list this, but broder's brekkie/brunch is my new favorite.
posted by violetk at 1:14 PM on April 17, 2012

Tasty N Sons has a great brunch and a very tasty happy hour and dinner menu. It's under the same owners as Toro Bravo. Be prepared to wait for a table at either/both places.

Screen Door has a very tasty weekend brunch as well as good dinner service. For brunch, if you want to get in the first seating (9am), get there at 8:30-40, or be prepared to wait.

LePigeon and Little Bird are under the same ownership.

Dinner recommendations for places not on your list that we like a lot:
St Jack (good cocktails, very nice food, my current favorite Salad Lyonnaise in Portland)
Metrovino (good cocktails, food when I last visited was good but the chef has changed over, recently started weekend brunch service)
Olympic Provisions (excellent charcuterie and food, recently started a weekend brunch)
Beaker and Flash (excellent food and cocktails)

Bunk Sandwiches or Bunk Bar
Mi Mero Mole
Boke Bowl
posted by Kpele at 1:15 PM on April 17, 2012

Le Pigeon and Pok Pok are both excellent.

My personal favorite nice restaurant in town is not on your list: Higgins, downtown. Best sit-down meals I've ever had, and an excellent international beer list as well if you like that sort of thing.
posted by cortex at 1:16 PM on April 17, 2012 [1 favorite]

oh goddammit Beaker and FLASK
posted by Kpele at 1:17 PM on April 17, 2012

Response by poster: Oh, man, so many options!
Looks like we'll be sure to do Tasty n Sons for brunch, we actually did try and go last time but the wait was way too long.
Probably won't do Por Que No (or Mexican in general) because we live in Los Angeles and get plenty of it already :)
Also, Pok Pok sounds cool but is it better for lunch or dinner?

I forgot to mention that this trip is for my boyfriend's 30th birthday, so a nice* dinner recommendation helps too!
*nice doesn't have to be super fancy, but can be.
posted by hellameangirl at 1:19 PM on April 17, 2012

Screen Door is a great brunch place, just be prepared to wait. Ditto with Tasty and Sons. Last time I tried to go there (at 10AM on a FRIDAY) it was packed, with a 45 minute wait. We hightailed it to Las Primas up the street, for some delicious Peruvian "street" food.

I've eaten at Biwa several times and I think it's pretty meh. I wouldn't waste a meal there.

Mi Mero Mole gets high marks from all my friends who have been.
posted by medeine at 1:20 PM on April 17, 2012

Also, Pok Pok is great but also super, super packed. The Whiskey Soda lounge across the street has a similar menu and a nice vibe.
posted by medeine at 1:21 PM on April 17, 2012

So my favorite restaurant in Portland is Screen Door. There will be a wait, but really it is never very long. It's awesome for brunch on the weekend or dinner (they don't do lunch). It's so good I want to explode. Locally sourced Southern inspired deliciousness. Great cocktails, too.

Biwa is pretty good - amazing happy hour snacks. Cool part of town if you're looking to go out and about after.

Jade is fine. It's a cool, low-key place (usually, though my rock band used to play there sometimes). The food is okay. If your time is limited, probably wouldn't prioritize it.

Nostrana, while good, is overrated, in my opinion.

I have not been to Le Pigeon but I think you'd need a reservation, fyi. But I've heard it's incredible.

Pok pok is pretty good, but yes, very busy.

One of my favorite breakfast spots is Jam on Hawthorne. It's so very, very good, very reasonable, great breakfast cocktails if you're into that, great service.
posted by Lutoslawski at 1:26 PM on April 17, 2012 [1 favorite]

N-thing Tasty and Sons but be prepared to be in a food/booze coma for the rest of the day because the food is amazing and the drinks pack a wallop. There are worse problems to have. That whole block is great because Eat and Lincoln are in the same building.

For dinner we recently went to DOC and it was spectacular. It's a tiny little place where you enter in through the kitchen, the tasting menu is served twice (once at 6:00 and again 8:45) and well worth the time.

I keep hearing very good things about The Woodsman Tavern and keep meaning to check it out. It's some ex-Olympic Provisions folks and the original Stumptown Coffee location is very close by.
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 1:53 PM on April 17, 2012

Beaker and Flask
Clyde Common
Pok Pok
posted by tracert at 2:05 PM on April 17, 2012

I'm probably in the minority here, but I don't think Screen Door is worth the wait. The fried chicken is better at Country Cat (ooh, there's another brunch option!).

One other thing that hasn't been mentioned here is all the food carts. For late night options, definitely check out Potato Champion (poutine!) and Whiffies Fried Pies at on SE 11th & Hawthorne. I'm sure they're good all day, but they're especially good at 1am. For lunchtime, maybe Nong's Khao Man Gai or a sandwich from Addy's or the wings at 808 Grinds (all of which are around SW 10th & Alder). While you're there, grab a coffee at Courier on SW Oak or Barista over on NW 13th between Glisan and Hoyt.

Take your man to Paley's Place for his birthday, but only if you really love him.
posted by sportbucket at 2:18 PM on April 17, 2012 [1 favorite]

Thirding Tanuki. Their omakase is absolutely the best deal in town. Biwa is good, but doesn't come close to the sublime insanity that $25 will get you at Tanuki.
posted by a box and a stick and a string and a bear at 2:48 PM on April 17, 2012

nnthing Tasty N Sons. Long wait, but a truly hall of fame brunch,.

I had Screen Door on my last visit; good, but (unlike Tasty N Sons) not worth the 90-minute wait.
posted by eugenen at 2:48 PM on April 17, 2012

Response by poster: Ok, question: we love sushi, but the the Tanuki homepage says "no sushi" what is their omakase?
posted by hellameangirl at 3:04 PM on April 17, 2012

We have not had Tanuki's omakase yet, but check out the sample menu-- it'll give you a sense of the kinds of things to expect if you order omakase, which is just chef's choice at the price you specify.
posted by Kpele at 3:12 PM on April 17, 2012

Of the places on your list, I'd do Tasty n Sons and Screen Door for your brunches, Nostrana for one of your dinners, Pok Pok for lunch. The second dinner is a tough one.

If you're feeling over-fed, you should skip the big breakfast one morning and enjoy reading, talking and people watching over a pastry along and espresso drink or pour-over at one of Portland's better coffee shops - Ristretto, Red E Cafe and Coava are all pretty hot right now. (Ristretto has a really good granola if pastries won't cut it.)
posted by croutonsupafreak at 3:32 PM on April 17, 2012

Birthday dinner: Laurelhurst Market.

But, really, you can't go wrong.
posted by amanda at 3:36 PM on April 17, 2012

Here's a pretty decent review of Tanuki's omakase. "No sushi" does not equal "no delicious raw fishes".
posted by a box and a stick and a string and a bear at 3:38 PM on April 17, 2012

Response by poster: Cool, thanks.
Can anyone second Beast?
I'm kinda liking the looks of it for the bday dinner..
The trip is still over a month away, but I want to make a reservation soon to play it safe.
Any other n-thing will help too!
Thanks for all the suggestions..drooling here ;p
posted by hellameangirl at 3:53 PM on April 17, 2012

I haven't been to Beast, but I have heard only great things, and the chef has started a couple other Portland food institution type places. If you're up in that hood, you should swing by Hail Mary's, because it's one of the coolest/weirdest shops in Portland. Also the Concordia Ale House is just down the street from Beast and always has one of the best beer selections in town, if you're into beer.
posted by Lutoslawski at 4:00 PM on April 17, 2012

We did a special-occasion dinner at Beast, and it was quite tasty. We did the second seating, which I would only recommend if you're a night owl-- I found it difficult to be as appreciative as I ought to have been of the later courses at 10:30-11pm. The website says the second seating is at 8:45, but my sense is that it's consistently late, like a 9-9:15 seating.

I'm not totally certain that I think that our Beast experience ($220+tip) was enough more spectacular than the meals we've had at Beaker & Flask for $100 less, but YMMV, of course. The meal at Beast was really great-- I don't mean it wasn't-- but there is so much terrific food in Portland that I found it a bit challenging to justify the price tag.
posted by Kpele at 4:16 PM on April 17, 2012

Seconding Beast - my steady date went there with out of town friends and really enjoyed it. He paid ~$75 with a beer pairing. Everyone I know who can afford to go to Higgins raves about it, as well.

The folks I know who lurrrve Biwa love the late night bar menu. Go there instead of the Hawthorne food carts.

Podnah's Pit has brunch, with the best damn biscuits I ever had and no wait. I probably shouldn't be telling the internet about this, in fact.

Perhaps you could do Bunk sandwiches as a takeaway lunch in the Gorge? You could probably even pick them up at Bunk Bar the night before if you have access to a fridge (and try the mole tots while you're there).
posted by momus_window at 5:57 PM on April 17, 2012

Beast is good, but the food was just a little too rich for my taste, I felt like I needed a two hour nap after dining there. I also recommend Tanuki's omakase. ClarkLewis is still extremely good, and they do their own version of omakase if you are too overwhelmed by choice. Then there's Grain and Gristle which is a strange little "only in Portland" neighborhood bar with very interesting and very delicious food and a good taplist.

You will need reservations for pretty much every place that's been recommended here, or be prepared for a long wait.
posted by monotreme at 6:37 PM on April 17, 2012

When I left Portland years ago, Higgins and ClarkLewis were probably my top recommendations for couples spending a single weekend in town. However, the chef that was at ClarkLewis when I left is now in L.A.... The people I still know there all agree on Beast. If Castagna is still there, it's probably still great.

For lunch, I'd suggest going cheap and ethnic: Esparza's for amazing tex-mex (lamb enchiladas, buffalo tacos, ostritch I forget what) and margaritas, Pho Van or Pho Hung for Pho I wish I could get in SoCal.

On the divier side of things: Stanich's for no frills and no fuss burgers and beer. The Delta Cafe (and Lounge) for a hipster (probably post-hipster by now) take on southern cooking and cocktails.

There are a few 'name' joints that have ALWAYS been misses in my view: most important among them AVOID Paley's Place and Genoa
posted by snuffleupagus at 7:19 PM on April 17, 2012

..and the best Portland restaurant that is no longer there (and would still be the best if it was) is Couvron...

posted by snuffleupagus at 7:20 PM on April 17, 2012

Also be aware of The Kennedy School for late night fun. It was once a public school, now it is bars and a restaurant that is also a hotel.
posted by snuffleupagus at 7:24 PM on April 17, 2012

Definitely hit Toro Bravo, and Bamboo for sushi. Yummmmm.
posted by alpinist at 7:40 PM on April 17, 2012

When I left Portland years ago, Higgins and ClarkLewis were probably my top recommendations for couples spending a single weekend in town. However, the chef that was at ClarkLewis when I left is now in L.A

well, one of them is. the other half of the couple who started clarklewis is naomi pomeroy who is the chef at beast. hands down my favorite spendy restaurant.
posted by violetk at 9:42 PM on April 17, 2012

Not mentioned yet, but one of my favorites is Navarre. I suggest ordering the "board" for both wine and the meal.

It is tapas, and I think it superior to Toro Bravo. Two of the best meals of my entire life have been at that restaurant. That's one more than any other restaurant in my 40+ life.

Warning, it is very small, so the wait may be long. God I love that place.

Also, I love Pambiche (Cuban). It is a little over-popular, but I do love it. I'd go there anytime at the drop of a hat, although maybe not at prime-dinner-time. We try to go about 5pm, before the crowds line the street (not kidding).

Thanks for this question, since I don't know 90% of the restaurants mentioned, my wife and I now have tons of fun places to explore.

For what it is worth, we both agree with the Pok Pok recommendation. Those wings are certainly the best either of us have ever had. Really, get them, but the problem is that you'll crave them in a week or two, and then you won't be able to get them, or to explain why they are so great. "Eww fish sauce on wings sounds awful" has been my response when blabbering about the wonder that is their wings. Ignore that, try it, love it, crave it.
posted by Invoke at 9:47 PM on April 17, 2012

Higgins is really quite good, and one time when we were there, Masaharu Morimoto was eating there and the kitchen was aflutter that one of the Iron Chefs was there. I doubt that you will get such an experience if you go there, but the food is amazing and the attached bar is quite good as well.

Sportbucket mentioned the Country Cat, and that is really good, plus Ya Hala and the Observatory are just a block or two away. It's been too long since I've been to either, must rectify this.
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 10:32 PM on April 17, 2012

I second Veritable Quandary for weekend brunch--limited menu but everything we've had there was wonderful.
posted by WorkingMyWayHome at 4:33 PM on April 18, 2012

So, I've just seen that Anthony Deme from Couvron has come back with Noisette. Reviewed this month: "Decadence Returns"

This is unquestionably what I'd do if I were there right now, even if its "fussier" than typical Portland cooking. Couvron really was that incredible.
posted by snuffleupagus at 8:42 PM on April 19, 2012

posted by snuffleupagus at 8:51 PM on April 19, 2012

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