Stopping in Portland, OR for lunch on Saturday road trip: where to eat?
June 4, 2021 10:23 AM   Subscribe

Four of us (all fully vaccinated) are taking a road trip from Seattle to Eugene and would like to stop for lunch somewhere in Portland. COVID and general upheaval have changed the restaurant landscape and many of my previous favorites have closed. Looking for a place that may be a unicorn. Sub-questions below the fold.

1) Would you recommend takeout or patio dining? Normally I prefer takeout but since we aren't staying in Portland I'm not sure where we can eat it. Also, patio dining is absolutely slammed in Seattle, so I don't know if we can get in anywhere.

2) I need a place that has a wide range of options because there's a wide range of personal preferences among the diners (the picky omnivore won't be happy at an all-vegan restaurant, the health-conscious person won't be happy at HatYai because there's not much more than fried chicken there).

3) If at all possible given the constraints of "must be open for lunch on Saturday" and "wide range of options" and "can't wait an hour for a patio table" I'd like the food to be tasty. On past trips, we've enjoyed restaurants in the Pok Pok empire, the aforementioned HatYai, the late lamented Smallwares, the Biwa izakaya.
posted by creepygirl to Food & Drink (10 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Do you have to eat in Portland proper? Because both Syun Izakaya ( and Amelia's Mexican Restaurant ( in Hillsboro are AWESOME!
posted by Boogiechild at 11:12 AM on June 4 [1 favorite]

Get food at your favorite grocery store and then eat at one of Portland's abundant and delightful public parks. BYO picnic blanket.
posted by aniola at 11:13 AM on June 4

Cart pod for variety of options and outdoor seating? I can make suggestions if you give me a general area.
posted by momus_window at 11:18 AM on June 4 [4 favorites]

Saturday at noon offers few spots with guarantees of easy seating, unfortunately. But the nice part of the pandemic is that it's easy to order takeout online.

For easy access to I-5, I'd recommend three great options for lunch takeout: LucLac (they also have a patio. No idea how large it is.) or Lardo Sandwiches. Lardo East has some outdoor seating. Not sure if it's open, but their sandwiches travel well. Either location will be easy to access from I-5, though I'd give the edge to East. Or Pine State Biscuits. I'd go with the NE Schuyler location.

Ask for napkins/forks from each, and find a nice park to chill in.

Most places are also open for indoor dining, at least at partial capacity. My experience is that those places that have great patios are easy to get seated indoor (everyone wants to sit outside).

Last weekend, I went to Kells, which is great, and there was generally a table or two available indoors, but the outdoor seats filled up quickly. (and I think you've got one in Seattle, so not special to Portland).

Next door to Kells is the Pine Street Market, an indoor food court. Probably busy, but usually a quick turnover.

Just noticed your food variety preferences - for that, Kells or LucLac would be best. Everything I've had from LucLac is delicious.
posted by hydra77 at 11:33 AM on June 4 [1 favorite]

Best answer: The Cartopia food cart pod at SE 12 & Hawthorne is convenient for I5, and has a pretty good food selection. It's across the street from Lardo! There's a bunch of other restaurants within 2 ~ 3 blocks of the pod, so you should find something that meets your needs.
posted by monotreme at 11:52 AM on June 4 [4 favorites]

You want food carts. I suggest either Cartopia or Asylum - both of which are a few blocks from each other and have a lot of options.
posted by mulkey at 11:54 AM on June 4 [2 favorites]

I'd probably swing by the farmer's market, where everyone can find things to make them happy. There's plenty of outdoor seating, but it will likely be raining on Saturday, so a cart pod might be a better option. If you're on the east side, the Barley Pod carts have some covered seating, I think.
posted by OneSmartMonkey at 1:10 PM on June 4 [1 favorite]

Yes – if you're in somewhat of a hurry, don't want to wait around for patio seating, and have a variety of preferences, a food-cart pod (like Asylum or Cartopia mentioned upthread, or several others, like Pod 28) would be good. You can order from different carts, get your food in about 15 minutes, and sit together, likely at an open-air table with an umbrella.

Or try a micro-restaurant pod (like a food-cart pod, just in actual buildings with shared outdoor/covered seating) – like the Ocean or the Zipper (a few blocks from each other in NE Portland).
posted by lisa g at 1:31 PM on June 4

I'd second the farmers' market in the park blocks on the Portland State University campus, as long as you get into town by 2:00. Lot's of great food there but also plenty of restaurant options nearby.
posted by perhapses at 9:08 PM on June 4

Response by poster: We ended up at Cartopia, which worked perfectly. The picky omnivore was happy with his burger and tots, health conscious person was happy with her chicken dumplings, and I had a great falafel wrap from Tahrir Square. Thanks!
posted by creepygirl at 11:43 AM on June 6 [1 favorite]

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