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Portland cheap and delicious, plus a splurge or two (and a wine bar)

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Portland cheap and delicious, plus a splurge or two (and a wine bar)

AnneInMpls | Feb 9, 2009 09:12 PM

Portland chowhounds, I need your advice.

Mr. Tastebud and I are taking the train to Portland next week to help boost the Portland economy. (No used-bookstore employee will get laid off if *we* have anything to say about it!) We'll be there for 4-1/2 days, and will be staying downtown at the Heathman (I know - what a splurge, but they had a great discount and I do love the place).

I've read lots of PDX threads, but still need your help. This is a long post - I have a billion questions - so please bear with me.

We're looking for cheap and delicious lunches, ethnic or otherwise, and one or two "affordably awesome" dinners (I *love* this phrase from the recent thread http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/573454 ).

I'd especially like tips on casual places for wine-and-nibbles mid-afternoon/early evening, especially near a used bookstore (Powell's or otherwise).

We don't want expensive or swanky places - we'll be in hiking boots and parkas, and might have several grocery bags full of books. (For example, we've had good meals at the Heathman and Southpark, but they're more fancy and pricy than we want for this trip.)

However, we'll probably go for one or two "splurge" dinners - in the neighborhood of $75 for two, perhaps with a glass of wine. It could be just a bit swanky - we'll ditch the books first.

Oh, and please pull out your crystal balls to predict whether it will be warm-and-dry enough for a food-cart lunch. We're native Minnesotans, so anything over 39 degrees is PICNIC TIME for us. After memorizing foodcartsportland.com, I'm completely jazzed about trying Portland's food carts, especially India Chaat House, Savor Soup, Ziba's Pita's, and Heritage Street Food. (But I'm devastated that Sugar Cube is closed until April.)

Finally, we won't have a car (arriving on Amtrak), so we're focusing on places that are relatively central and Tri-Met accessible. We like walking, so 6-7 blocks from a Tri-Met stop is fine.

So far, here's what sounds good to me:
- Pok Pok (my number-one "must try" spot)
- Biwa
- Toro Bravo (or should we go elsewhere for Spanish and/or fusion tapas?)
- Pambiche
- Pearl Bakery or Ken's Artisan Bakery for pastries
- Der Doner Kebab (I'm addicted to doner since a trip to Stuttgart)
- Silk/Pho Van (we loved our meal there 4-5 years ago - is it still good?)
- Cacao or Sahagun or Alma for truffles & hot chocolate (NOT Moonstruck - been there, was bored)
- Ten-01 for happy hour (otherwise, it looks too pricy and/or swanky)
- Pine State Biscuits (if I can convince Mr. Tastebud to skip his morning oatmeal)
- the food carts mentioned above (and more...)

Oh, and two places I found on Google Maps that I haven't seen mentioned on this board:
- Steamers Asian Street Bistro (PacWest Center) - looks fast-foody, but are the dumplings any good? It's close to our hotel, and I could fancy some dumplings for a quick late breakfast or early lunch ...
- Chef Naoko Bento Cafe (on SW 12th & Jefferson). Anyone tried this place? Worth a visit? The salmon bento looks nice.

What else? Or what instead? Or what in addition (we could always eat non-stop...)

Many, many thanks,
Anne

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