Recently a friend and I underwent a roughly 7-day long, 2000-mile excursion around California and Oregon sandwiched around the Labor Day holiday. While the trip was more focused on getting in the sights (a rather ambitious attempt, as we found out), we were going to try our darndest to get in some chowy goodness along the way. I had asked for some advice on a few boards for potential suspects and wanted to report back.
As we found out, timing (and hunger) is a little hard to figure out sometimes, so potential places fell by the wayside, and some places were guesses and/or bows to convenience (or sheer tiredness).
The Portland Metro area proved to be something of a brief stop during our travels and was not truly targeted in a chowhound-style manner, but for sake of completeness, I wanted to report on what we found.
Voodoo Doughnuts, Downtown Portland – no, we weren’t drawn here because of the various features on numerous TV shows, but more as homage to a friend who recently passed away, whose nickname matches this well-(some may argue over-)exposed spot. Also, I was not in the mood for a birthday cake (it was my birthday that day) and we figured a birthday bacon and maple bar would be just fine.
It was pouring buckets when we finally got here in the heart of afternoon rush hour, and there was a still a line going out the door. Quite a few folks begging for, uh, donations, were also on the sidewalk; signs inside asked that folks donate instead to local homeless/charity organizations. The interior was smallish & cramped, but despite all that, everyone in line was pretty cheery.
The décor was what we had remembered from the specials, from the signage to rotating display case to the promo items at the ready for selling.
As it turned out, the bacon maple bar turned out fine later that as a birthday sweet treat despite it not being at optimal freshness. We decided to grab one of their Voodoo Doll donuts also, but it unfortunately didn’t survive the journey back to our B&B too well (a victim of a rather nasty squishing) and went uneaten.
Max’s Fanno Creek Brew Pub, Tigard, OR – this was a convenience pick for dinner, both for me and my companion (we still had to travel back to Bend to get back to our B&B) and an uncle of hers we were meeting who lives in that area.
My friend noted early that the interior wasn’t like the brewpubs that she was used to – wide, expansive, and almost industrial in nature, versus the cozy and typically tightly-packed versions she frequents. Indeed, her uncle confirmed that this setup might be one of the reasons why they’d been struggling to build a regular clientele.
After about nine miles of hiking around Mt. Hood and quite a bit of travel, filling pub grub was perfectly fine with all of us, but the food itself is average at best. My friend’s mac & cheese filled her up quite nicely, while my uncle must have caught our wave of hunger when he devoured his sandwich in one sitting, after intending to take half of it back home for later. Both said their seafood chowder was only so-so, which proved to be the story with my fish tacos; the beans and rice that came with it were also on the salty side.
My friend and her uncle are beer aficionados, more so than I am, so the beer was at the forefront more than the food. However, a pint of their house-brewed Pacific Red they both ordered proved to be merely ordinary compared to other craft beers they’ve tried. Maybe the best item of the whole night (other than the company) may have been the basket of freshly-fried pub chips we ordered for group munching.
ETA: In case you wanted to read the journey before and after our brief Portland visit, you can check out these posts:
SF Bay Area
22 SW 3rd Ave, Portland, OR
Max's Fanno Creek Brew Pub
12562 SW Main St, Tigard, OR 97223