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Food experiences in Northern Oregon

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I'll be in Portland next week for a conference, and I was planning to extend my stay by arriving there a few days early. I'd like to spend the extra time I have there doing something food related.

Does anyone have recommendations for food experiences in Oregon, preferably not too far from Portland?

We already have a fairly complete wishlist of Portland restaurants to hit, but if there's any restaurant that you think is a must, please do tell. We'll have a car, so restaurants outside of Portland (that can be reached as a day trip) interest us, Visits to creameries, chocolate makers, farm meals, and any kind of food artisans are also interesting. Wine makers and brewers are less interesting.

Thank you in advance for any replies!

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You'll be here during Portland Dining Month, which is when lots of restaurants, including some of the best, offer a prix fixe menu for $29. A couple of my favorites on my list are Imperial, East India Co. and Oven and Shaker.


A combination of dinner and a food experience is Simpatica Supper Club. Friday and Saturday nights different chefs prepare a menu which is served at communal tables (though usually plated individually.) The kitchen is open, and the chef comes out and tells you about each course. I've been close to a dozen times and the food is always great. You can see the menus here http://simpaticapdx.com/ If one interests you, call to make a reservation.

Finally the biggest fanciest area Farmers Market is Saturday morning in downtown Portland. There are vendors selling not just fruits and vegetables but meats, pickles, cheeses, kimchee, baked goods, chocolate, etc. and usually the maker is there selling to tell you all about it. They also have cooking demonstrations featuring local chefs.


Have a wonderful trip! Feel free to PM if you have questions.

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Thank you both for the fantastic ideas!

NadyaDuke - Simpatica sounds amazing. I made a reservation for Friday next week.

The farmer's market seems like a fantastic way to pick up some local cheeses and chocolates without driving to all the different food artisans. I'm in for that too! Although Rogue creamery and the farms could make for a nice day out, perhaps in addition to the farmer's market.

Portland dining month sounds good too, but I'll all booked for dinners. It may work for lunches though - it will be between that and the food trucks...

Does anyone have recommendations about particular food trucks in the downtown area?

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  • 2 weeks later...

I was thinking about a few recommendations, but a broad list can be found at Oregon Live, the online version of the daily Oregonian newspaper. It's a great guide to some of the best, (and affordable), restaurants in Portland-


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Is Portland into the food truck thing? Any of note?

um. yes. you could eat breakfast, lunch and dinner for a month and not hit all the good ones. (pro tip--in portland, they are called carts,

even if they are housed in trucks. the carts are stationary, in pods throughout the city. coming from LA, i find it very convenient not to

have to chase them all over the place!)




"Laughter is brightest where food is best."


Author of The I Love Trader Joe's Cookbook ,The I Love Trader Joe's Party Cookbook and The I Love Trader Joe's Around the World Cookbook

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One I forgot to mention is Dan and Louis Oyster Bar. It's downtown in a questionable area, open since 1907. Forget the trendy, funky, tatooed Chefs of Portland and go for what are the most delicious little fresh Oregon oysters you can imagine. I prefer the pan-fried oysters, but any of the dishes are wonderful. A great taste of the Oregon Coast.

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I got back from Portland yesterday, and I must say I am seriously envious of all of you Portlander foodies. I don't know of any other place like Portland.

Portland people demand local, organic, non-GMO everything. Often restaurants have a large billboard on the wall stating that all their ingredients are local and organic, and listing the farms they use to source their ingredients. We even saw organic beer. We also saw some restaurants that had food gardens in the back where they grew the basics. I got the feeling that in Portland, using lower-quality cheaper ingredients would actually result in financial losses for the restaurant/cart because no one would buy from them. It proves that if enough people demand good food made with good ingredients, even businesses selling cheap snack food adapt.

Chris - Here are some noteworthy places from my week in Portland:
* Food carts downtown. You can't go to Portland without going to the food carts. Cheap and good. Some of my favorites are Nong's for the Thai steamed chicken and rice, Kargi Gogo Georgian food (Georgia the country, not the state) for almost everything (I don't have a favorite between the kachapuri, lobiani and badrijani), and The Whole Bowl for a healthy rice and beans bowl with toppings.
* Pok Pok. One of the very few truly authentic Thai restaurants in the US. Everything we had there was excellent.
* Andina for Peruvian food. I really like Peruvian food in general, and Andina does a solid job.
* Ox. Technically, it's a Argentinian-inspired grilled meat restaurant, but we had several non-meat dishes that were excellent (we went there with vegetarian friends).
* Tasty n sons for brunch. Standard brunch fare, but very well executed.
* Simpatica. Fantastic meal with mostly local ingredients. Only open Fridays and Saturdays, and Sundays for brunch.
* ... I hesitate to recommend Tanuki, unless you're the adventurous type. It's a sake bar, with a large sign at the door saying "No minors. No sushi. Dark." I would add to that "no vegetarians", "no parents" (depending on what kind of parents you have) and "no coworkers". This place is out of the way. They were playing distorted metal music and Japanese cult movies, and there were pinball machines in the back. They serve Korean-inspired drinking food (small plates). We thought the food was susprisingly good, and the sake selection was impressive.

I'm curious to know what you Portlanders think the best place for donuts is. We went to Blue Star donuts and Voodoo, and each place had its fans.
Nuvrei bakery was also really good, especially the chocolate almond croissant.

But for me the highlight of my time in Portland was the farmer's market on Saturday morning. Enormous and full of interesting ingredients! It beats our biggest farmer's market in Seattle. We planned our trip so that we could load up on ingredients just before our drive up to Seattle. We got sea beans, morels, porcinis, maitakes, fresh peas, fava beans, garlic scapes, chard, mustard greens, two kinds of kimchi, goat cheese, blueberries, cherries, Spanish chorizo, pasta, and more. We also had some really yummy snacks for lunch there.

I hope you have a great time in Portland. We certainly did. Would love to hear about your food discoveries, so please report back!

Thank you everyone for your recommendations. We'll be back soon for sure, so any places mentioned that we didn't have a chance to hit are very welcome for the next trip.

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Personally, I think Voodoo donuts is more fad than fabulous donuts. Sure, they do the bacon maple bar thing and the cute donuts dunked in fruit loops, but for old-fashioned baked goods and donuts, I would head to Beaverton Bakery in the westside suburbs or the beloved Helen Bernhardt bakery in N.E. Portland. Some would call them retro bakeries, but they've been in business so long that retro is now popular. Both have wonderful donuts and classics like bear claws and butterhorns, but of course the selection varies daily.

The Beaverton Saturday Market is also fabulous, and this time of year Oregon has wonderful strawberries and raspberries. You might see the early marion, logan and blackberries.

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Personally, I think Voodoo donuts is more fad than fabulous donuts.

Yeah, worth going once but not for the taste.

I liked the food at Andena if I recall but it isn't a meal I remember much about. My cocktail wasn't that great.

I really enjoyed Toro Bravo. Once again the cocktails didn't match the food.

It's almost never bad to feed someone.

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A brief trip report.

First, the donuts: we skipped Voodoo entirely, I'm not that into gimmicky donuts, which it sounds like is their specialty. Instead we visited Annie's and Bernhard Bakery. Both produced excellent donuts. I'd give the Maple Bar edge to Annie's, but the overall edge to Bernhard due to their excellent Danishes. Not a bad donut in sight at either place, however, and we ate a lot of them.

For lunch and dinner we just hit various food trucks. I'll say that in my limited experience the Portland food cart scene is really a lunch scene: by dinner many of the carts are out of food and closed, or the best stuff on the menu is no longer available. The carts are stationary, so they can't move to areas with more nightlife in the evening; they just close down. Of those that do stay open, most are the hyper-generic gyro carts or pseudo-Asian places. We managed to find a few good ones, though, thanks to the Eater link chezcherie provided uptopic. We were also limited by it being a holiday weekend: several of the most highly-recommended carts were closed the whole time we were in town.

Here are the carts we managed to try:

Noodle House (dinner, regular seafood noodles: very good)

Aybla Grill (lunch, regular gyro: excellent)

Viking Soul Food (lunch, smoked salmon lefse: OMG)

Euro Trash (dinner, chips with chorizo and egg: very good)

EuroDish (dinner, pierogies & polish sausage: excellent)

I'd recommend all of these to someone visiting.

Chris Hennes
Director of Operations

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