stephmodo: Portlandia


• 17 June 2011

Our family is heading to Portland soon and I'm super excited to finally set eyes on a city that receives rave reviews from just about everyone I know. On the docket is a visit with a friend from high school (proprietress of "real life home no.7"), family photos with Bonnie and Sally's "packaging" class at Summer School. Since our day is pretty full we won't have a lot of time for sight-seeing, but if there is a yummy, casual place you recommend for lunch or dinner, do tell please. After all, we do need to eat...:) And since you are all excellent about sharing the best tips, I couldn't help but ask!

p.s. are the food trucks in Portland all that?

p.p.s. is there any sightseeing we should "make" time for?

image by Bonnie Tsang of a Portland restaurant (love that couple schmooching)


  1. i'm so jealous! i've only been to portland once, so i won't pretend to be an expert, but if i could pick any place in the world to live, it would be there. we went to the chinese gardens, which were amazing, and spent a lot of time in powell's books.

  2. i was in portland a couple of summers ago and absolutely loved it!

    le happy is a fun place for sweet & savory crepes. and there are tons of food carts in pdx!

  3. Screen Door (pictured in Bonnie's photo) is AMAZING. Head further east on Burnside and take a right onto 28th for a spot that the whole family will love - The Grilled Cheese Grill where you can eat your lunch in a converted double decker bus. They make tasty classics and grown up versions too, my favorite is the Pops: Daves Killer Cracked Wheat bread, Honey Mustard, Havarti and thick juicy tomato slices. Hungry Yet?? And if you have time, Gossamer Fiber Arts is a loveley shop that sells plant dyed wool, and all sorts of dun Waldorf supplies. And then of course a visit to The Whole 9 Yards is a must if you love being inspired by fabric, pattern, color, and creative people!! Enjoy your visit, we LOVE it here!!!

  4. Yes, foodcarts are definitely as good as everyone makes them out to be! There's a great crepe one in 12th and Hawthorne (and check out the frites place next door too) The Grilled Cheese Grill is delicious and also kid-friendly. The double-decker one on Alder and 28th-ish is especially fun for kids. If the weather's nice pick up picnic foods at Elephants on NW 21st and have a picnic at the rose gardens in Washington park.

  5. We are native Portlanders and just ate at Lovely's FiftyFifty last week! Their specialty is wood-fired pizza and out-of-this-world homemade ice cream. It doesn't take long to get in, the service is great, and they use adorable china! Great place for families. Try the salted caramel ice cream...heavenly. Have fun!

  6. hurry up! can't wait to see you guys! i'll be full of pdx tips tonight. xoxo

  7. Voodoo Donuts! It's just "fun"

    The rose gardens should be in full bloom right now--and it's a beautiful site.

    Have fun!

  8. Eat a meal at Mother's in downtown Portland, SO good! Yes, there are food trucks right by Mother's. (but eat at Mother's instead, so good!!). There is also a restaurant called "bread and ink" that has an amazing chocolate buttermilk cake, YUM! I bet your family would love to walk around Multnohmah Falls, if no time on this trip, another time! ENJOY PDX!! (oh, and you must hit up the Pearl District!)

  9. Yes, the food carts are all that. And more. YUM. If the weather is nice, I could spend days just cruising around the Pearl District, drinking coffee, window shopping, lunch at Bridgeport Brewery, Jamison Square... Or, walking up and down NW 23rd... Or, checking out the Rose Garden and hoping for a clear view of Mt. Hood. Jealous. Have fun!

  10. I second the rose gardens in Washington Park, I've never been in portland while they were in bloom but I can imagine it would be amazing. (I have done the Japanese Gardens though and they are beautiful also.) The rose gardens are free and down the road and around the corner is a great playground if the kids need some time to run around.

  11. I've always wanted to get there....someday soon hopefully....enjoy!

  12. We love "OBA!" it's in the Pearl on NW 12th. It's latin food and really good. If you go during happy hour it's pretty reasonable and if its warm you can sit outside with the kiddos! If you want something fun for the kids OMSI is awesome and the zoo is pretty great too. Have fun!!!

  13. Please please go get a rice bowl from Native Bowl. SO GOOD. I got the one with peanut sauce. Such a great food cart pod.

  14. You must (MUST!!) try Bunk! Best sandwiches ever.

    And yes, the food trucks are all that and more.

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  16. I'm taking the packaging class too! I'm excited to finally meet the lady behind the blog that I read daily!
    The carts are awesome. My fave "pod" is the one on Hawthorne & 12th. Potato Champion has belgian frites w/ lots of sauces, Whiffies has the most amazing fried pies. Good Food Here (Belmont & 42nd) also has a great selection. Lardo for pork sandwiches, Violetta for burgers, Sugar Cube for potato chip cupcakes, Namu for Hawaiian/Korean. Mississippi Marketplace (4237 N. Mississippi) has some goodies too. Native Bowl (that another comment mentioned), Good Egg has great breakfast egg sandwiches, Nuevo Mexico is opened by a member of The Shins.

    There are plenty of other carts & pods that you may pass too.

    Clyde Common at the Ace Hotel or Kenny & Zuke's (NY style Deli) may be good options for lunch before class.

    Hope you have a good time!

  17. Yes...the food trucks are all that. When we pop down from Seattle we never eat at an actual restaurant - we hop from food cart pod to food cart pod. This is a blog/website that talks about them all:

  18. 21st & Alberta pod - a bit out of the way - but ohmygosh, the biscuits & gravy!!!

  19. Yes, the food trucks are all that especially the ones near Portland State. However, Portland is filled with great restaurants. My favorites are Papa Haydns 5829 SE Milwaukie Ave
    Portland, OR 97202
    Swaggarts ( Indian) in Beaverton, and

    The childrens museum is nicer than the one in Seattle and the Rose Gardens offer a fantastic view of the city. If you don't mind going for a little drive up the Columbia visit
    It is worth the drive.

  20. Thai/Vietnamese street food at Pok Pok on Division and french macaroons at Pix Patisserie one or two blocks east. Pok Pok has the most unbelievable flavors that will blow you away...especially the boars neck. It's not your traditional American Thai. And the Fleur de Sel macaroons at Pix are the best. Have fun!

  21. Three words...Pine State Biscuits.
    At least that's what we tell anyone who asks us for Portland tips:)

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  23. NW 23rd Street and the Pearl District are a lot of fun. There is also the Saturday market.

  24. Yay, you're coming to Portland! Yes, food here is amazing, just eat your way through the city. I live 2 blocks from Washington Park, where the Rose Garden is (the actual garden, not the arena), and the air is heavenly sweet up there right now. We've had some good sunny days lately so the roses are opening right up! When my parents were here last, we did beer sampling at the local brewpubs, of which there are many! I agree with others that Clyde Common as well as Kenny & Zukes are great. If you just jump on the streetcar you;re sure to find great things.

    Hope you have a great time!

  25. May I echo the other commenters and give our little food carts a BIG thumbs up!

    If you are bringing your kiddos and want the chance to experience some variety, I highly recommend dining at a food cart "pod" so that everyone can get a little taste at a great price! The beauty of a pod is that you can give everyone $5-10, turn them loose, and explore lots of options. Kids love it.

    I'm with commenter Connie...for a good selection, here are some of the larger pods:

    The SE 12th & Hawthorne pod features Potato Champion's poutine (man food: french fries with cheese curds and gravy), or the PB&J fries are a nice surprise with raspberry and peanut satay sauces; you can eat hot sweet or savory individual hand pies at Whiffie's; crepes at La Perriera are made slowly & are utterly delicious; a gorgeous white truffle/garlic pizza at Pyro Pizza is my favorite offering here...and they built their cart around their wood-fired oven. A bonus: this pod has very late hours (about 3 am closing time), so if you are hunting for dinner or a late evening snack, you won't be disappointed by shuttered carts. Consider swinging through here at the end of the day on your way home.

    The Good Food Here pod collection on SE 43rd and Belmont is another great stop. The Sugar Cube is my VERY favorite cart in all of PDX, and you can find an interview/recipes from the sweet owner on the Sunset Magazine website. The triple threat chocolate cookies (not currently on the menu, but the recipe is on Sunset's site) are absolutely wonderful. Don't miss their fizzy lifting drink or a treat for dessert. Violetta's burgers and sweet potato fries are amazing; there is a great Hawaiian barbecue mixed plate at the corner cart; Lardo's sandwiches are great; the Urban Garlic flatbread cart is nice for a snack; and the little school bus in the back does wonderful croque monsieurs/madames and beet salads. These carts are generally open for lunch and dinner; most roll up their sidewalks around 8 or when they sell out, whichever comes first.

    If you are looking to stay closer in to the west side/ downtown and kill two birds with one stone, the pod collection around Alder & Washington streets and 10th/11th is absolutely huge, and then you can walk to Powell's Books, for which you MUST make time. My favorites: the delicious pulled pork sandwiches at People's Pig; the Frying Scotsman's fish & chips (the owner is completely charming); the tasty vegetarian concoction at the Whole Bowl; the amazing chicken and rice dish at Nong's Khao Man Gai--this has been written up in lots of magazines and is my #1 recommendation for this pod; or the crepe lady at the Snow White House cart are all good options. The only downside: most of these downtown carts are only open for the lunch crowd, around 11-2 or 3, so plan accordingly.

    Powell's Books can eat up an entire afternoon. You will love its massive selection. The children's book room is awesome!

    After you hit Powell's, take a walk over to Cacao on SW 13th for a well-edited taste of chocolate truffles (like Fran's and Theo), sweet little flights of thick drinking chocolate, and a good selection of chocolate for baking/eating out of hand.

    If you find yourself on SE Hawthorne, I also second the vote for Bread and Ink cafe. They have a sweet outdoor walk-up waffle window. The "Rose City" is a gorgeous Belgian waffle topped with strawberries, rhubarb, whipped cream, and a tiny, perfect dollop of rose-infused cream. It is a lovely concoction.

    If you can squeeze it in, a visit to Bolt fabric shop on NE 21st and Alberta is inspiring and lovely! They have a great selection of trims/ribbons and beautiful retro dress patterns.

    Hope you have a lovely day in Portland!

  26. My sister lives in Portland and we love it there. You will have a wonderful time. It's a very kid friendly city, with a lot to do! My favorite breakfast was at Petit Provence. I posted about it on my blog:
    My sister said that Petit Provence also has a great lunch, but my favorite part is the cases of pasteries in the restaurant. (pictures on my blog.)
    Also, we had a great dinner at Lucas where they had a brick oven for yummy pizza and were great with the kids.
    Where are you planning on staying? We could list toms of places, but would be able to give you a great place near where you are staying.

  27. The tasting tray at Torro Bravo is one of the best arrays of deliciousness I've had in my life. I would go to either Bunk sandwiches or food cart for lunch but definitely Torro Bravo for dinner!

  28. From a native Portlander here are some FREE family ideas: Forest Park hike then Rose Garden picnic after or bike ride along the waterfront. Enjoy my beautiful city!

  29. 1. the food trucks ARE all that, esp. Kim Jong Grillin.

    2. whatever you do, no matter what, I command you to go to Pine State Biscuits. Order anything.

    3. Multnomah Falls is like Sweden meets Hawaii and the kids will love it

  30. There's one food cart that is definitely worth a visit: The Whole Bowl. Clide Commons is a really fantastic restaurant, plus its located in the coolest hotel in town, The Ace. Portland is one of my favorite cities! I hope you have a blast.

    If you have time for more Portland browsing before your trip, you can check out my post about it here:

  31. you should defintely go and see the Pittock Mansion...

    and the foodcarts are fine but if you REALLLLLY want to go somewhere AWESOME you HAVE HAVE HAVE to go to the Waffle Window. you will not be disapointed!

    and of course for something a little crazy...VOODOO Doughnuts!

    and for sure visit the Portland Rose Gardens.

    Powells book is just a bookstore, nothing exciting!

    portland is so great! have so much fun!

  32. there's a great article in the current issue of Sunset, comparing the Seattle and Portland food scene. it has lots of great suggestions for both cities

  33. Elephant's Deli ... is a MUST! Been there since 1979...a specialty food market featuring local ingredients made from scratch daily. Use to live in Pdx and go there EVERY SINGLE TIME when visiting. Bakery, cheese shop, coffee bar, hot foods, cold foods, ..great to pick out favs and go on a picnic. Don't miss it 115 NW 22nd. Have fun! So jealous!


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