My hubby & I were out in Portland with friends for 5 days this past week (and were quite proud of ourselves for making it out before Irene had her way with the East Coast!) - we did some marvelous exploring thanks to many 'hound recommendations.
We stayed in downtown SW at the Nines hotel - fabulous location and hotel...highly recommend. Had brunch/lunch on arrival at the Veritable Quandary - wonderful neighborhood-y restaurant right around the corner. The burger was extraordinary - couldn't get over it. Companions had the croque, the pulled pork, and an ahi tuna eggs benedict creation that were all top notch. The coffee was very good too - we had debated returning later in the trip for another meal but opted for something different. Great start.
Dinner was at Naomi Pomeroy's Beast in NE...I know people have mixed feelings but we did the wine flight/pairings with our dinner and had a wonderful experience. Service was gracious, the pace was right, and the steady stream of food not overwhelming. There were some highlights, sure, but no misses. As the menu changes often, perhaps even daily, I doubt you'll have what we did but it was lovely start to finish.
The next day we snacked our way through the Hawthorne Blvd Festival on the east side - one standout was the fresh mexican at por qui no on Hawthorne. Ironically, the NY Times had released their "36 hours in Portland" recs that same weekend and had singled out the other location of the same restaurant (usually leading to chaos) but the wait was manageable and the food really, really good. Amazing spicy salsas & accompaniments.
Cocktails @ Clyde Common before dinner - bartender was great and made some seriously well concocted drinks for us. The menu looked lovely and the food leaving the kitchen made us sit up and check it out...would readily return to try a meal there.
Dinner was at the Little Bird Bistro and was the highlight of the whole trip. The restaurant is a don't miss if you have one single meal/dinner/experience in PDX. Its a charming little bistro, very small, with impeccable (but not formal) service and a small but well derived menu. We chatted with our waiter about his recommendations and he had great suggestions. We shared a few bottles of wine, began with the charcuterie plate (must start here) and some salads, and between the four of us had the roasted short rib, the chicken, the pork shoulder, and the duck confit. All were beautifully plated and just amazing from start to finish. The chicken of all things, which outside of Jonathan Waxman's masterpiece @ barbuto in NYC doesn't usually win accolades, was outstanding. I can't say enough good things but it was a spectacular dining experience. And, all things considered, not unreasonably priced.
Days were spent in wine country and evenings at some of the food carts for subsequent meals...we had an enjoyable lunch in Hood River at the Full Sail Brewery: another memorable burger with some great beers, and our final dinner in Portland proper was at Pok Pok. Was REALLY excited to try the wings, have some mind altering-ly hot food & etc...and we had a "nice" experience, but I wasn't, sadly, blown away. The wings are worth having...we ordered them spicy & actually had them while waiting for a table across the way at Whiskey Soda Lounge (same people, same wings). I liked them...I didn't LOVE them. Same with dinner - tried a bunch of dishes including the skirt steak salad and the boar collar, the papaya salad and the curry...many were flavorful but none were talk about later amazing. I might go back...but I'd be more apt to grab the wings again with a lovely tamarind whisky sour and call it a day.
All in all, consistently memorable and enjoyable eating experiences throughout PDX. Looking forward to some more exploration in the future.
1014 SW Stark St, Portland, OR 97205
3226 SE Division St, Portland, OR
1220 SW 1st Ave, Portland, OR 97204
Whiskey Soda Lounge
3131 SE Division St, Portland, OR 97202