Portland OR restaurant for 20th anniversary?
April 10, 2013 2:30 PM   Subscribe

Our 20th is the 23rd of May - and we want awesome food!

To clarify we'll be in town that Thursday - Sunday evening. That's Memorial Day weekend, but we'll be coming home on Sunday.
Thursday is the Big Day, but we could do any day of the weekend.
We'll have a car, and would like recommendations for great (truly) food. Price is (almost) no object - we'll only have one 20th anniversary.
For background, we've enjoyed Simpatica in the past, but our last two outings there were not as good as previously; we just don't care for one of the new chefs.
I searched, but I know the Portland restaurant scene changes quickly, and I'm seriously Yelp-challenged.
posted by dbmcd to Food & Drink (28 answers total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: I would recommend DOC for this. It's a tiny little place in NE with just a handful of tables. You enter through the kitchen, which is pretty fun.

The tasting menu is amazing--they'll pick some dishes out of all of the courses for $60/person and you can sample quite a bit that way. They also do a wine pairing for an additional charge but I've mostly had their cocktails instead.
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 2:40 PM on April 10, 2013

During my last Portland trip my husband and I had a fantastic meal with wine pairings at Roe. It's a private dining room inside a meh-quality izakaya-style bar and the service is wonderful. It's dark and cozy and private, and the food is also gorgeous. Emphasis is on seafood (lots of it raw) and interesting ingredients, presented small-plates style.
posted by joan_holloway at 2:42 PM on April 10, 2013

Higgins is absolutely wonderful. Extremely well prepared delicious food, with great service. Good wine list too.
posted by Specklet at 2:49 PM on April 10, 2013 [2 favorites]

Andina and Genoa were the two fancy-schmancy restaurants I've been to recently for celebration; both were absolutely wonderful.
posted by hopeless romantique at 2:49 PM on April 10, 2013

My partner and I were very pleasantly surprised by Castagna. If we return to Portland, we'd definitely try to make it to Le Pigeon. On the more casual side of things, we also really liked the Portlandia vibe of Ned Ludd.
posted by peripathetic at 2:54 PM on April 10, 2013

Toro Bravo is absolutely delicious. The downside is that they don't take reservations and the wait for a table can be about an hour (maybe even more on a weekend). The upside is that just upstairs is a bar called Secret Society where you can wait and have some really good drinks, and when your table is ready Toro Bravo will call the bar to let you know (or maybe they call your phone, either way, they let you know!) If you don't mind the wait, I would really recommend this. The food is totally worth it.

Le Pigeon is also great. Those without reservations are seated at the chef's counter, which is right in front of the kitchen so you're watching them cook. Maybe not as romantic as a tucked-away table, but I've sat there before and I thought it was a lot of fun. Also, when the chef overheard me asking my husband if it would be declasse for me to pick up the pigs tail in my soup, he came right over and insisted I do it, which made me smile.

Pok Pok will also have a wait, and I'm not sure if they call your phone when your table is ready (some places do) but it's another real food highlight. A sister restaurant, Whiskey Soda Lounge, is right across the street.

Laurelhurst Market is an amazing steak place, although not much of an ambience (I think all the tables are communal). Not sure how much that matters, given that it's a big anniversary. It's not like it's a dive or anything, it's fine, I just wouldn't call it romantic (actually, Pok Pok really isn't either!) But if you like steak and don't need candlelight, I would heartily recommend it.
posted by DrGirlfriend at 3:06 PM on April 10, 2013

I hear a lot of good things about Le Pigeon, but have yet to try it.

I don't believe higher price = better food, however. I constantly recommend Alexandria to my friends and acquaintances. It is wonderful Greek/Mediterranean food, but really easy on the bank account. You can get out of there at $25-30/person with main course, an app, and some wine. I've eaten at numerous places like it, but it's easily been the best (though I know a place in Michigan that's a close runner-up!).
posted by sam_chompers at 3:07 PM on April 10, 2013

Tabla Bistro, +1 for Castagna, Laurelhurst Market
posted by spacewrench at 3:08 PM on April 10, 2013

+1 for Andina. See if you can get a booth for a little privacy too! Same with Oba! which is my favorite restaurant on either coast.
posted by msfrizzle at 3:21 PM on April 10, 2013

Departure Lounge is super swank and cool with a nice view. I had a fab dinner there, but it might be a good pre-dinner cocktail spot since it's not quite romantic.
posted by vespabelle at 3:53 PM on April 10, 2013

Best answer: Seconding DOC. The tasting menu is a joy and the place has a lot of character. There are two seatings per night — it was a bit noisy at the end of the first seating and much quieter for the second seating, if that's an issue for you. The wine pairing is fun if you can spring for it — we ended the night with a nice bitter, bubbly digestif. It's about a twenty minute cab ride out of downtown, which I'd recommend if you do the wine pairing.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 3:53 PM on April 10, 2013

I'll nth DOC, Castagna, and Roe. June is worth a look also.
posted by outfielder at 4:20 PM on April 10, 2013

Best answer: DOC is an excellent choice and one of the few places - in the sea of casualness that is Portland - that feels Special Occasion (without being stuffy).

Roe is also excellent but 95% seafood with a limited menu. That is perfect for me but I don't know your food preferences.

Other options that are more casual but still super delicious are Le Pigeon and Ox.
posted by click at 4:36 PM on April 10, 2013

Best answer: I'm going to throw another vote in for DOC. I think that there are a million places here with amazing food, but many of them feel like you're just another table. I think I love the food at both Andina and Toro Bravo more than almost anything in town, but DOC is one of the few places that really feels like it's all about you. Le Pigeon has some of that feeling, too. And while it's more casual, Firehouse is also great.
posted by monkeystronghold at 4:58 PM on April 10, 2013

Laurelhurst Market is fantastic, and I'll add a Cena Ristorante in SE. It was really amazing on my last birthday. At either place I would call ahead for reservations.
posted by efalk at 5:13 PM on April 10, 2013

Best answer: Probably redundant, but nthing DOC. Definitely do the wine pairings if you're into it -- they do some really interesting pours and are great to chat to about each glass. I'd agree Le Pigeon, Castagna and Roe could also be fine choices, but for an anniversary dinner, I think the atmosphere at DOC would be best.
posted by retrograde at 5:45 PM on April 10, 2013

Best answer: I'll nth DOC — the tasting menu with wine pairings is great, and it is as others have said, atmospherically very special. I think it's a c-note each, but you'll have been on a serious journey.

If something about DOC doesn't appeal, though, you could do worse than pick from this year's crop of Beard Award semi-finalists. Most, if not all, have been mentioned above: Ox, Toro Bravo, Beast, Le Pigeon, Nostrana, and oh, The Country Cat. Hmm. The Cat is very good, but I wouldn't do my 20th anniversary there.

Don't go there for the big night, but if you're interested in food and don't mind Japanese gore-porn on the video screens, I heartily recommend Tanuki. Go balls-to-the-wall omakase and don't look back. Incredible food is served there.
posted by mumkin at 5:56 PM on April 10, 2013 [1 favorite]

(For further PDX dining plans, this year's Eater 38 just came out, and it's a pretty reliable list.)
posted by mumkin at 6:01 PM on April 10, 2013

I will second Higgins. The menu is sometimes made only after a visit to the farmers market.
posted by couchdive at 7:56 PM on April 10, 2013


Dinner at the Painted Lady is an experience -- elegant and special and SOOOO tasty! Well worth the expense.

The restaurant is actually in Newberg, OR, so you'd have to be willing to make an approximately 45 minute drive. For such an occasion, it's well worth the effort.

Happy Anniversary!
posted by Boogiechild at 8:43 PM on April 10, 2013

I'll also throw out Lincoln, where we've had several amazing meals. They have a great bar and I can forgive the PDF menus because the food is so good.

I have a friend who cannot say enough good things about 3 Doors Down, though I have not been there myself.

If you're feeling particularly carnivorous and old-school, it's hard to beat the charm of Ringside. Get the onion rings!

Thirding Higgins, we were are dining there for my birthday one year and Iron Chef Morimoto was eating there. I walked by the kitchen and they were plotzing a little bit.
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 8:59 PM on April 10, 2013

Also, Veritable Quandary (www.veritablequandary.com). Do the chef's menu, take a cab -- seriously -- and add the wine pairing. Awesome!
posted by Boogiechild at 2:01 AM on April 11, 2013

Paley's Place.
posted by togdon at 7:08 AM on April 11, 2013

Clyde Common
posted by seemoreglass at 7:30 AM on April 11, 2013

+1 for Paley's - outstanding food, friendly service.
posted by hungrybruno at 7:49 AM on April 11, 2013

3 Doors Down is great, and just the right size for an intimate dinner.

However, I do have to agree that DOC sounds perfect for your anniversary. Congratulations!
posted by montag2k at 7:50 AM on April 11, 2013

Response by poster: Thanks to all of you, it's DOC ftw! I'll try to remember to report back.
Looks like we've got a few other places to go as we'll.
posted by dbmcd at 11:31 AM on April 11, 2013

Not really romantic, but good food and fun is Montage.
posted by NotSoSimple at 5:10 PM on April 11, 2013

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