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Portland Restaurants: Reviews & Reccomendations

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I loved ClakLewis (website to annoying to link to). Get a reservation if you can, but they do accept limited walk-ins. Excellent food that has all the same annoying buzzwords as every other menu ("seasonal" "artisanal" "vision") but pulls it off better than most. Jeans, suits, whatever.

I hesitate to recommend pizza to an East Coaster but Appizza Scholls (called The Pizza Nazi by some) is truly excellent and if you have a slow evening it's on a great funky strip of bars,comic book shops, knick-knack joints etc., and they have one of those restored Grand Old Movie Palaces where you can get liquor and watch second-run movies, only in this one you can get a good Oregon Pinot Noir. In fact, across the street from the Pizza Nazi and down the street from the theater, there's a liquor shop that will sell you some excellent Pinot Noirs that the guy swears never make it to the East Coast (if you don't mind risking having an all-burgundy-colored wardrobe by the time you get off the plane back east).

I don'tl know what it's like in March, but there have been few breakfasts in my life that I wouldn't trade for a stroll through the Portland Farmers Market, even if there was little I could buy. It's just that wonderful.


I'm on the pavement

Thinking about the government.

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I think on a weekend night you do need reservations at Andina, but I'm not sure about week nights. And yeah, you need to go to the market on Saturday morning, if only for the cured meat vendors. It'll absolutely make you drool.

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I think on a weekend night you do need reservations at Andina, but I'm not sure about week nights.  And yeah, you need to go to the market on Saturday morning, if only for the cured meat vendors.  It'll absolutely make you drool.

You can also pick up some "fresh-from the briny" Oregon oysters at the market and meet some of your east coast folks that night for a taste-off. I'm actually a Wellfleet guy myself, but there are no losers contests like this. I also bought fresh chanterelles at the market for about $10 a pound ("did you gather these yourself?" "No, our parents picked them yesterday").

And I know that this is not entirely on topic but I'll bet a guy like you would have a heck of a time hunting cookbooks, new or used, at one of the Earth's great bookstore's, Powell's.

Ken's Artican Bakery has great freekin' bread and is next door to an excellent wine shop and around the corner from a bunch of hipster cafes -- another decent "just knockin' around" 'hood -- and might be a worthy pastry and coffee breakfast spot. Then you buy a loaf or two of the bread and a couple bottles of Pinot, head to the market for the oysters, cured meat and shrooms, (there will be cheese, too) carry it all on (except the wine) skip the shitty airline food and feast with friends at home. And they'll say "dang, Portland, who knew?"

Later, when someone brings up the Pike Place Market in Seattle you can say something subtly put-downish, like "one of the better spots in the Northwest, indeed. If you can't get to Portland." (And Abra will correct you :laugh: )

(Getting nostalgic for Portland. Couldn't tell, could you? Son has application in to Reed. Fingers are crossed.)


I'm on the pavement

Thinking about the government.

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I don'tl know what it's like in March, but there have been few breakfasts in my life that I wouldn't trade for a stroll through the Portland Farmers Market, even if there was little I could buy. It's just that wonderful.

April 7th is the first Saturday of the farmer's market this year. Go go go! It's always great, even early in the season.


Kartoffel

A Food-Obsessed Linguist

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It's been a while since I've eaten in Portland, but three memorable meals come to mind:

1) The best kung pau chicken I've ever eaten was in Portland's chinatown, down by the train station... don't know the name of the place or even if it had a name. It was 1:00am, it was upstairs, the fluorescent lights had a yellow hue to them, and the fly strips were hanging... but, my god, the food was good. Might be worth exploring in chinatown to satisfy your ethnic food cravings.

2) There's some strip club up the river that offers a really tasty ribeye, but that's a whole other story.

3) McMenamins Brewery/Alehouses are scattered around the Portland area and I really enjoyed their food and drink. Memorable... I can't remember.


Sitting on the fence between gourmet and gourmand, I am probably leaning to the right...

Lyle P.

Redwood City, CA

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It's been a while since I've eaten in Portland, but three memorable meals come to mind:

2) There's some strip club up the river that offers a really tasty ribeye, but that's a whole other story.

Ah, the Acropolis. I've been wondering about the steaks there, may have to go next time.

My favorite place of all time so far in Portland is Pambiche, pick a meal any meal, wonderful Cuban food.

Rocky

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If you're in the market for moderately priced and easily accessible from downtown, I'd strongly suggest a dinner at Whiskey Soda Lounge--here's a link to a review since their website is not that great. Definitely order a tamarind whiskey sour and don't miss the yam samun phrai. It's a hot spot and not that big, so plan to wait a while.

Also have a look around the website I've linked. Under the review for clarklewis there's a blurb about the chef leaving and an updated review planned for Feb/March.

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You might want to start by checking out my tipsheet: http://www.extramsg.com/uploaded_misc/portland_tipsheet.html It does need a bit of updating, but it's still largely accurate and should familiarize you with the local scene to some extent.

Moderately priced ethnic is a good choice in Portland, surprisingly, despite being the whitest city in the country. Here's a quick ten:

1) Pok Pok Whiskey Soda Lounge for Thai. Rarely an item found on a typical American Thai menu. And execution is darn near perfect.

2) Pambiche. Cuban. Get the maduros and oxtails.

3) Autentica. Guerrero style Mexican. Get the octopus tostada if they have it on the menu.

4) La Calaca Comelona. Oaxacan/Pueblan Mexican, mostly. Stay away from the tacos and the ceviche and instead go for the green (or other) mole, the pambazo, and other more unique items.

5) See other midscale Mexican here: http://extramsg.com/modules.php?name=News&...rticle&sid=1114 (note La Vanguardia is closed)

6) Pho Van/Silk: Local chain of quality Vietnamese. Silk is their most upscale location and it's on your side of the river in the Pearl District.

7) Andina: Can be spendy if you order off the normal menu, but the tapas menu is extensive, lower-priced, and arguably better. Several good ceviches.

8) Siam Society: Midscale Thai with some fusiony dishes as well. Get the catfish curry or the mussaman curry. Get the silk cocoon for dessert.

9) Karam: Lebanese. Really good falafel and tasty stews.

10) Vindalho: Chic, sometimes fusiony, Indian.

For breakfast on Saturday, I would choose Genie's. You'll probably have to wait (like most places), but I think they do an especially good job.

Downtown without a car makes it a bit more difficult to get to the best. Downtown you could go with Typhoon and Karam. Silk and Andina are in the Pearl, which is available by streetcar. Otherwise, you'd have to bus or taxi it to most of the places I've listed, though I avoided places too far out one way or another. Breakfast downtown try Mother's, Heathman, or Bijou. None favorites, but all decent.

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The link that Eilen gave is a handy one for finding addresses and hours of operation for places in Portland. I use that one a lot as well as Extramsg's website. They both have a list up top of current specials and events going on and you can find things like upcoming menus for special dinners at Simpatica and the like.


Pamela Wilkinson

www.portlandfood.org

Life is a rush into the unknown. You can duck down and hope nothing hits you, or you can stand tall, show it your teeth and say "Dish it up, Baby, and don't skimp on the jalapeños."

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3) McMenamins Brewery/Alehouses are scattered around the Portland area and I really enjoyed their food and drink.  Memorable... I can't remember.

I like the McMenamin's -- they run the movie theater that I mentioned in my post and this place, out in the middle of no-frickin'-where Washington, a converted lumberman's hotel, complete with the century-old pool tables where they used to gamble away their wages after months in the woods, is one of the coolest places I've ever been. There's even a Mcmenamins bar around the corner from the bakery I reccomended where I spent a pleasant hour away from the kids one afternoon. They do atmosphere and good beer very well, I'd drink in one of their pubs in a minute. But even for pub-style grub, they can be a little underachieving.


I'm on the pavement

Thinking about the government.

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McMenamin's does a cool thing. They refurbish historical buildings and cool older buildings. They also have good beer options. But the food isn't much, if any, better than you'd get at many chains. I'd probably rather go to Red Robin for a burger and fries.

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One of my favorite treats when I was a kid was going to McMenamin's Hillsdale Brewpub for a Pep & Cheese sandwich, which was a sandwich with pepperoni slices and probably mozzarella. They also had a sandwich called the Big Mack. Needless to say, neither of these sandwiches is on the menu now.


Matthew Amster-Burton, aka "mamster"

Author, Hungry Monkey, coming in May

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If you're staying at the Benson, Saucebox across the street has a good happy hour. I love their coconut lime rickeys, their khao soi and their crab cakes. Good to remember too that happy hours in a lot of places in Portland run not only from 3 or 4 to around 6 but also later, usually starting up again around 9. Aura, across the street from Powell's books, is another good happy hour. I've heard good things about Olea in the Pearl for happy hour. They have lobster corndogs that people tend to like. I'll try to think of some others. I think McMenamin's has a better burger than Red Robin, but they're really all about the beer. I second Karam. Good food and nice folks.


Edited by duckduck (log)

Pamela Wilkinson

www.portlandfood.org

Life is a rush into the unknown. You can duck down and hope nothing hits you, or you can stand tall, show it your teeth and say "Dish it up, Baby, and don't skimp on the jalapeños."

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We enjoyed a nice lunch at clarklewis, some of the best sea scallops in town there. Last summer we stayed at the Heathman Hotel and had a nice breakfast there the next morning. Yummy crab cakes and poached eggs, fresh fruit and whole wheat toast, great service here. Our dinner the night before was very good, the Black Cod was perfectly prepared and the desserts were also very good. We have dined at Silk when it was Pho Van Bistro and had a great experience there, one of my husband's favorite places in Portland thus far. Enjoy your trip! :)

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http://mappyhour.nerl.net/

Haven't waded all through the happy hours here on the site but the Portland mappyhour listings I've looked at so far seem to be really good about having the hours listed and links to websites for the restaurants. Portland City Grill would be a good place for a drink just for the view. It's almost at the top of the US Bank tower which is a block from your hotel.

http://www.urbandrinks.com/main/usa/or/por.../downtown/today

is another good resource for happy hour listings.


Edited by duckduck (log)

Pamela Wilkinson

www.portlandfood.org

Life is a rush into the unknown. You can duck down and hope nothing hits you, or you can stand tall, show it your teeth and say "Dish it up, Baby, and don't skimp on the jalapeños."

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Heathman Hotel does the best classic cocktails in the city (they tasted my Pegu before serving it, which is a plus in my book since it can be tricky). Their happy hour has great deals on food and runs all day on Thursday. Grilled lamb's tongue, crab cakes, fried oysters, crab topped deviled eggs, bistro burger, cheese and charcuterie plates, etc. The drinks are spendy (for Portland) and the bar is filled with bidness types talking about what rubes Portlanders are, but you can easily tune them out. The food gets served in the lounge too, where there is some "jazz" band playing on Thurs.

Avoid Mint if you like classic cocktails.

Pok Pok is worth the bus trip unless you're Thai and a cook, or been to Thailand and can cook it yourself.

I think one of the fun things about Portland are all the food trucks. If you're feeling adventurous, check some out, maybe the Eastern Euro ones at 10th and Alder. I'm never sure what "ethnic" means (food made by not-white people? or just not American). I adore my local taco truck, especially since he feeds us stuff not on the grease board menu, but I don't know how the taco trucks are downtown, I suspect they're not as good as the ones found out of the center, where they feed gringos and latinos in about equal measure, so you can get some good food.

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I adore my local taco truck, especially since he feeds us stuff not on the grease board menu, but I don't know how the taco trucks are downtown

The taco trucks downtown are the worst in town. I've only tried about half of them, but... Given the quality of the other trucks, there's no point.

The taco truck you go to hasn't been around in a while (the one on Powell and 30th or so). Know what's up?

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So has the chef change at clarklewis had any troubling impact? (Please forgive if I'm missing a topic here; a quick search turned up a few pages but none on clarklewis itself.)

I've been there for lunch since the chef change, but not dinner. The lunch menu is about half the size it used to be, and not as interesting. The food was good, but did not have that special something that I used to recall (especially the simply dressed salads that used to be out of this world).


Check out our Fooddoings and more at A View from Eastmoreland

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I adore my local taco truck, especially since he feeds us stuff not on the grease board menu, but I don't know how the taco trucks are downtown

The taco trucks downtown are the worst in town. I've only tried about half of them, but... Given the quality of the other trucks, there's no point.

The taco truck you go to hasn't been around in a while (the one on Powell and 30th or so). Know what's up?

I'm not sure what you mean, Torres de Morelos, the truck on Powell and 30th is still there as of today. They're not there on Sundays, and sometimes take vacaciones, but that's all I know.

regards,

trillium

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I was just in Portland this last weekend. Went to Noble Rot, Ken's Bakery, Nicholas, Castagna, Bay 13, and Pambiche.

Noble Rot was pretty forgettable for the most part, though I did like my grilled ham and cheese, but you can get a good ham and cheese lots of places.

Ken's was great, I wanted to buy one of everything and bring it home.

Nicholas was awesome! You guys have been hiding this from us haven't you! :angry: Some the best Lebanese food I've ever had and definitely the best pita I've ever had.

Castagna was good and very enjoyable.

Bay 13 sucked out loud! The chowder was good and the poke was pretty decent, everything else was actively bad. There were huge blood lines in all of the sushi, the tuna was getting a bit long in the tooth, poorly sliced, and didn't seem of very high quality to begin with. The rice was under-vinagered and over worked, rendering it a tasteless, gluey, stiff, mass.

Pambiche rocked as usual, I love salt cod.

Rocky

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Nicholas was awesome!  You guys have been hiding this from us haven't you!  :angry:  Some the best Lebanese food I've ever had and definitely the best pita I've ever had.

Are you telling me that there's actually a great Middle Eastern restaurant within driving distance?!?!?! Fuck, a trip to Portland wasn't really in the plans, but...


Most women don't seem to know how much flour to use so it gets so thick you have to chop it off the plate with a knife and it tastes like wallpaper paste....Just why cream sauce is bitched up so often is an all-time mytery to me, because it's so easy to make and can be used as the basis for such a variety of really delicious food.

- Victor Bergeron, Trader Vic's Book of Food & Drink, 1946

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I like Karam even better then Nicholas. But if you make the drive just for Lebanese food, go at night when Mrs. Karam (not really her last name) is in the kitchen keeping an eye on things. Some of the best falafel in North America...but the other fancier stuff is good too (like the special kibbeh in yogurt).

We cook so much we don't eat out often but Karam is on the rotation list of places to go when we do. Really good stuff.

regards,

trillium

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I'm not sure what you mean, Torres de Morelos, the truck on Powell and 30th is still there as of today. They're not there on Sundays, and sometimes take vacaciones, but that's all I know.

I think they were gone while they rebuilt their shelter. I saw they were back the other day.

I agree with Trillium on Nicholas v Karam.

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