Portland filter: Too many restaurants--not enough time...
August 8, 2013 10:42 PM   Subscribe

... or gut capacity to enjoy them all. Will be in Portland for two dinners, two breakfasts, and 1 or two lunches the end of the month. Help me make the most of that limited opportunity. Spoilt for choice and overwhelmed by ideas. What is absolutely the do not miss it thing we must eat?

The two of us eat just about anything. May be joined by another adventurous eater for one dinner. We're driving up after a stay in California where I expect we will have had plenty of Mexican, live in Japan, so we get all of the sushi and izakaya food we can manage. Looking for something really especially good and unique to Portland. Staying near downtown.

Looked at porlandfood.org, but too much to sort out. Yes, we probably will do the food cart thing at least a bit, I've read a couple other posts and these options looked interesting. Can anyone comment on these? Something else that is really extra good?

1. In Portland, the new hotness seafood-wise is Block + Tackle.

2. Portland: Burnside Brewing is putting out some great food, and they've got a bar you can sit at. In Portland, the new hotness seafood-wise is Block + Tackle.

3. If food carts are your thing, it's hard to go wrong with the selection downtown, particularly SW 5th and Oak. And yes, summers in the Pacific NW are generally stunning.

4. Whiffies fried pies at 12th & Hawthorne is truly, truly amazing. They fry their hand pies in rice bran oil and they (both the pies and the proprietors) are just unbelievably fantastic.

5. I had a fantastic solo meal at Beast in Portland. The website makes the place look like a "date night" kind of restaurant, but I wound up seated at the "chef's table" (which was really Naomi Pomeroy's workspace) where she chatted with me about food, Portland, traveling, and cooking while she prepped dinner for 30. A friend has also eaten here solo and gotten the same treatment, so I'm inclined to think it's not that unusual.

6. Places in NE Portland with bar seating: Podnah's for BBQ

7. Also for great food, check out Produce Row. From there, you can go wander the Eastbank Esplanade along the river.

posted by Gotanda to Food & Drink (13 answers total) 21 users marked this as a favorite
I thought Pok Pok was a fun place where I got a pretty authentic bowl of assam laksa, and it's a Wieden+Kennedy designed space, which makes it extra Portland, I suppose.

My partner and I really enjoyed the tasting menu at Castagna, which was no less delicious than Baume and Manresa, which have two and three Michelin stars respectively.

As tourists, we thought Ned Ludd was "very Portland", from the decor to the servers. But the food was delicious and memorable.

When we return, we'll definitely try Le Pigeon, which came highly recommended by our very hip cab driver.
posted by peripathetic at 1:03 AM on August 9, 2013

I used to live in Portland and I intensely miss the food, so I'm envious! Here's what I would do if I were in your shoes:

Definitely a reuben at Kenny and Zuke's for lunch! Short walk from Powell's too, which is great. The food cart pods you find downtown (and the one at 12th & Hawthorne) are also great lunch spots with a lot of choice. Whiffies Pies are good, but I always chose the Potato Champion Belgian fries cart across from it. They do a PB&J Fries (Fries with a Thai peanut sauce and a jalapeno grape jelly, I believe), which were quite good.

I'd also do breakfast at Screen Door (the chicken and waffles are huge and amazing), but the line can be long, so come early. Breakfast is also really good at The Country Cat on Stark (nice little neighborhood there too). Gravy is also a popular choice, and I really do like their biscuits and sausage gravy; the oatmeal "crème brûlée" is also very nice.

Castagna is a very good choice for dinner as well (a bit pricey compared to a lot of Portland dining, and a little more upscale, but well worth it). And just a block from Castagne is Vincente's, which has great pizza (lamb sausage and feta is my favorite). Pok Pok is also really good (try the fish sauce wings and drinking vinegars). If you go to Pok Pok, I was going to recommend walking down Division to Pix Patisserie for dessert, but it looks like they've moved. Regardless, the desserts at Pix are real works of art (they're famous for the caramel sea salt macarons), and they have a stout-and-homemade-cappuccino-icecream float that was also pretty interesting .
posted by Yiggs at 3:27 AM on August 9, 2013

That's a good list you've for going.

I would add Broder for breakfast. There's always a pretty hefty line, so get there early.

Yeah, while you're getting whiffies, god yourself a favor and get some poutine.
posted by furnace.heart at 6:52 AM on August 9, 2013

First time Portland visitor here—visiting family with my fiancée. Meat Cheese Bread, Alma Chocolate and Ken's Artisan Pizza all put me in a food coma yesterday, and we haven't even been here a full day yet.
posted by emelenjr at 8:52 AM on August 9, 2013

For food carts, why not do a food cart tour for one of your meals?

I would also suggest Slappy Cakes for breakfast- because: make your own pancakes with your in-table griddle & drink booze!
posted by haplesschild at 9:23 AM on August 9, 2013 [1 favorite]

Toro Bravo. Tasty n' Sons (or I guess Tasty n' Alder now, too). Pok Pok. Screen Door.
posted by jeffamaphone at 9:58 AM on August 9, 2013

I am not a foodie, but I have been to Slappy Cakes a couple of times. I don't drink alcohol so perhaps that would have enhanced the experience, but there is an insane wait to get in, it is incredibly crowded and noisy, and it is full of kids doing kid things (spilling stuff, whining, shouting, crying, etc...). I thought it was overpriced and the food was underwhelming. Yes, there is a griddle on your table, and yes, you can cook your own pancakes. But, I think the only reason to go there is if you have kids that would get excited about that sort of thing and you want to do that for them. For an adults-only group, no. That's my $0.02.
posted by elmay at 11:03 AM on August 9, 2013

I once made a long list of my favorite places to eat in Portland on an AskMe and I need to find it so I can link it for all these questions.

First off, I've never heard of Block + Tackle, but I'm usually dubious of new hotness places because I rarely find the crowds and the wait worth it, but maybe that's just me. For other seafood, you might check out Eat, which is an oyster bar and is good if you like oysters, which I only kind of do.

My favorite restaurant in Portland is Toro Bravo. It's tapas and it's amazing. If you go, get the steak. It's worth it. The same guy did Tasty n Sons, which is another one of my favorite places. I recommend both. Tasty n Sons is more family-style type American fare. Both are very Portland and extremely delicious.

If it's your first time in the city, it might be worth a happy hour at Portland City Grill, just to have a beer and check out the view. The food is way too expensive for how good it is though, so don't eat there.

Screen Door is definitely another favorite. Brunch or dinner. Southern food with a Portland twist. Absolutely delicious. Country Cat is good, I don't love it as much as some do. I would much rather go to Screen Door, personally.

For Thai, Pok Pok or Pok Pok Noi. The Chef who did Pok Pok also did the Whiskey Soda Lounge and it's delicious as well.

For Japanese food, Biwa.

For sushi, Bamboo - pricey, but worth it.

For Cuban food, Pambiche. Delicious. I'd go for happy hour and get small plates.

For Pizza - I personally swear by Hot Lips. It's not quite as fancy as some place like Ken's Artisan Pizza, but it's really fucking good pizza. Sizzle Pie is also fantastic.

For Italian food, I really love Nostrana.

Clyde Commons is good if not a little pretentious and probably over-priced. If you're hungry in that neighborhood, I'd probably opt for Kenny and Zukes. Kenny and Zukes also now has a NE location.

I've actually never eaten at Beast - but I'm relatively sure it's one of those pay $75 for whatever they are serving that night, date-type, need a reservation places. Not my style personally, but I have heard that the food is fantastic.

Podnah's Pit is fucking delicious. A favorite of my parents (who are from the midwest and know their pork bbq). It's also a really unpretentious place which I like. Highly recommended.

Dessert - Salt and Straw is a must. Line is long but the ice cream is worth it. Ken's Bakery is also really tasty. Do not go to Voodoo Doughnuts. It is a cute enough gimmicky place, but the line is hardly worth it and the doughnuts, while novel, are not anything to write home to mom about.

Cheap Lunch - Bunk Sandwiches, Laughing Planet, Por Que No, Addie's Sandwiches. There are a ton of great carts. My favorites are probably Nong's and the Viking Soul Food place. But hit up any pod, really - the downtown pod on 10th and Alder, the pod on Mississippi, the pod at Hawthorne (Potato Champion is a famous little joint - good, but only if you want to feel slightly gross afterward).

Cheap Breakfast when hungover - Pine State Biscuits. God damn delicious, but heavy. I mean, fried chicken with cheese on a buttery biscuit with gravy heavy. Also the Flavor Shack, which is a cart that serves various waffle sandwiches.

Le Happy crepes probably deserves a mention.

Cheap Authenticish Mexican - La Sirenita on Alberta of King Burrito on Lomard.

Coffee - my favorite coffee in Portland is Ristretto Roasters. But Extracto is a close second. Of course, Stumptown is delicious as well.

Beer - So much, hard to say where to start or where to go. Do not go to the breweries downtown on the so-called brewery blocks. The lines are so long, especially at Deschutes and Rogue. If you want to go to a brewery close to downtown, go to Bridgeport. Otherwise hit up some of the East Side ones. I love Hopworks (brewery of Bike Bar) and I'm also a big fan of Lompoc and Laurelwood and especially Amnesia. Produce Row's food is really meh - basically just bar fare. But they have tons of great beers on tap, and it might be worth it for that. Cute little joint too. I've never had the food at Burnside Brewing but the beer is super good great. Try the ESB if you go.
posted by Lutoslawski at 11:44 AM on August 9, 2013 [7 favorites]

Will be in Portland for two dinners, two breakfasts, and 1 or two lunches the end of the month

To be really direct, if I had this, this is what I would do:

Toro Bravo and Podnah's Pit or Pok Pok for dinner's.

Tasty n Sons and Screen Door for breakfasts.

Food carts for lunch.
posted by Lutoslawski at 11:59 AM on August 9, 2013

Apizza Scholls; best pizza on the west coast. Get there early, they stop serving when they run out of dough (Usually they have enough, but sometimes they close at 10ish if there was a huge rush)
posted by wcfields at 12:46 PM on August 9, 2013

A friend works several shifts in Portland a month, and every single time she finds a way to eat at least one meal at LePigeon. I haven't had the chance to try it out, but her recommendations haven't failed me yet.
posted by conradjones at 3:51 PM on August 9, 2013

I have apizza scholls on my lost of restaurants to try, I heard it is great.

Pokpok was delicious but apparently lines there (and most places) are ridiculous from about 5pm - we went for a late lunch at 3pm and were seated immediately.

If you would like to try voodoo doughnuts and are driving around, check out the Voodoo 2 location in the northeast, much less crazy.
posted by jacalata at 4:36 PM on August 9, 2013

Response by poster: Looks like a pretty heavy consensus for Toro Bravo, Podnah's Pit, Pok Pok, Tasty n Sons, Screen Door, and Le Pigeon.

Thank you all so much for your advice, a couple of new ideas, and help slimming down the list.

I, on the other hand, will not be slimming down.
posted by Gotanda at 8:09 PM on August 9, 2013

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