Oregon – Portland and Willamette

by Russ Anderson on April 11, 2014

Breakfast (no particular order):

1. Kens Artisan Bakery — Best bakery in Portland, in my humble opinion. Great coffee and a cool spot to spend a quiet morning.  I’ve never had a bad baked good here. **Bonus, its in the ‘trendy-first’ neighborhood of NW. Trendy-First and Trendy-Third (NW 21st & 23rd streets) are lined with tons of good restaurants/bars and ‘trendy’ boutiques. http://kensartisan.com/bakery.html

2. Kenny & Zukes — classic Jewish deli. House cured pastrami and salmon, bagels, eggs, all other good deli style stuff. Can have long lines, but they usually move quickly. Two locations: one in downtown (SW 11th & Stark) and one in SE.  http://www.kennyandzukes.com/

3. Helser’s on Alberta — upscale hash-house. My favorite breakfast in town. The crumpets are worth the trip to the Alberta neighborhood in NE. ** Bonus — Alberta is a cool, eclectic street to wander. They occasionally have tall bicycle jousting matches, which is a sight to behold.  http://www.helsersonalberta.com/

4. Stumptown Coffee — As good if not better than 3-cups. They have pastries and whatnot for munchies, but I usually forgo breakfast and just grab a cup. Really cool drip brewing system.  http://stumptowncoffee.com/

5. Bread & Ink Cafe —This was my local breakfast hangout when I lived in the Hawthorn District in SE. I know it sounds strange, but they have the best homemade ketchup I’ve ever had. ** Bonus: The Hawthorn District is very cool neighborhood to explore. It extends from SE Division Street over to SE Belmont, with SE Hawthorn in the center. Really cool houses, neat parks, awesome restaurants and a culture all its own.  http://www.breadandinkcafe.com/

Lunch:

1. Bunk Sandwiches — lots of press, worth every word written.  Just opened a new location on SW 6th, right next door to The Little Bird Bistro (more on this spot later). The original is in SE.  http://www.bunksandwiches.com/

2. Meat, Cheese, Bread — Read the menu, speaks for itself

http://www.meatcheesebread.com/menu.php 

3. Kenny & Zukes — Great for lunch, too!

4. Food Trucks — There are food truck blocks (entire city blocks full of different food trucks) all over downtown (SW). You can just wander and find them, pick and choose. Some of the best are around SW 9th & Stark/ Washington.

5. Bamboo Sushi —  pretty good sushi for lunch. They only use sustainable caught fish.  Two locations, one on SE 28th and one in the ‘trendy-third’ (NW 23rd) neighborhood. http://bamboosushi.com/

Dinner:

 ** There are so many good places that you can’t get wrong, but I highly recommend that you try at least one of the first three places listed while you are in town. These are my three favorites (no order).

1. PokPok — Technically in the hawthorn district, but located on SE Division street. It was just a food stand, but expanded into the restaurant it is now. The chef, Andy Ricker, has traveled all over rural Thailand learning to make traditional dishes in peoples homes. He is uncompromising in his adherence to traditional Thai peasant cooking, so everything you taste, from the dishes to the drinking vinegar, is absolutely authentic. I recommend the pork belly curry in clay pot and the fish sauce chicken wings (voted best dish in the country by Gourmet Magazine… when there was a gourmet magazine 🙁    ** Bonus: If you can’t get a reservation but still want the experience, try the pokpok whiskey soda lounge across the street. They have a lot of the pokpok menu available (including the chicken wings), but are far less busy. Good cocktails, too. Oh, and MAKE RESERVATIONS NOW!!!

http://www.pokpokpdx.com/

2. Le Pigeon — Phenomenal and creative food. Located directly on South Burnside, just across the burnside bridge. The Chef opened this tiny place for 20k. All the tables are mish-mashed together and its all shared seating. If you are lucky, you can get a seat at the bar and watch the chefs cook. This might be my favorite restaurant in the country (tough choice though). The food is good enough for any 5 star joint, but is humble and really creative so you wouldn’t notice. As tempting as it might be, don’t order the burger (you can get it at le pigeons sister restaurant, the little bird bistro). Try the Foie Gras Profiteroles for dessert. MAKE RESERVATIONS EARLY… its tiny, so fills up quickly.   ** Bonus: One of the best breweries in portland is right across the street. I can’t remember the name right now, but it is local (they don’t export out of the city) and really tasty… great to grab a beer before or after dinner… Also, the Douglas Fir Bar and music venue is right up the street. Might be worth checking out who is playing for an after diner activity.  http://lepigeon.com/

3. Gruner — really good German food, neat wine list. Last time I was there I ordered a chicken dish that makes my mouth water to this day. The spatzel is also pretty awesome.   http://www.grunerpdx.com/

4. Beast — Some people say this is the best restaurant in Portland… It is amazing, to be sure.  http://beastpdx.com/

5. Clyde Common — Located in the Ace Hotel on SW Stark street, it is another shared table, really creative, but more rustic place. I had never been there before this trip, but had read about it in a few magazines… I went on Saturday night and can emphatically recommend it. I had the rabbit sausage and braised leg pappardelle, which was really top notch. Great barrel aged cocktails and wine, too. Lots of good charcuterie and cheese.  http://www.clydecommon.com/

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