This Guy in Portland
posted July 18, 2011 4:43 AM   RSS | iCal | +googleCal

Wed July 20 at 6:00 PM, Beaker & Flask
727 SE Washington St, Portland, OR, USA (Map & Directions)
Short notice! My partner and I will be in Portland from tomorrow evening (Tuesday, 19 July) to Saturday. I'd love to see if anybody is up for a night of dinner/drinks somewhere in the area.
We'll be staying downtown, but we'll have a car. Our schedule is pretty much as flexible as it needs to be. We also know almost nothing about the city, so any suggestions for places to go or things to do would be great! We generally tend towards quieter places with good drinks and we're essentially foodies. Our trip to Portland was basically spurred by the idea of getting out of the city for 1-2 days to do a wine country tour in the area, so great winery suggestions are even more welcome.
posted by This Guy to Meetup (23 comments total)

Check out Bluehour. They have a great happy hour from 4:00 to 6:30.

For sights, try Washington Park which has the Internation Rose Test Garden, Japanese Garden, and Oregon Zoo.
posted by nickthetourist at 7:22 AM on July 18, 2011

I'd be down for an early-evening beverage some time this week. Wednesday or Friday would be my personal preferences, but don't let that deter you from selecting another evening that works better for other folks.

Other than that, some suggestions for your trip.

Higher-end foodie stuff in Portland:

Le Pigeon is fucking fantastic, and rightfully has a national reputation for it. It's sort of french-meets-local-northwest, with an emphasis on non-traditional meats, especially in the appetizer-- the last time I was there the appetizer list included dishes with the following: foie gras, sweetbreads, goat and, yes, pigeon. Not all in the same dish, though. Chef Gabriel Rucker just won the Beard award (the foodie Oscars) for "Rising Star Chef of the Year." Reservations are strongly recommended if you want a table (which have communal seating-- be warned), but if you feel like getting there early or waiting a bit, they keep the seats at the Chef's counter open for walk-ins only. If you go, make sure you get the cornbread dessert. It's out of this fucking world. They don't have cocktails, but have an excellent wine list at a variety of price points, as well as a decent selection of beers.

Pok Pok / Whiskey Soda Lounge is another great one, and one of the most unique places I've eaten. Yeah, it's Thai food. But I promise you that it's unlike any Thai restaurant you've been to in the US. Chef Andy Ricker also just won a well-deserved Beard award, for best Northwest Chef. They don't take reservations for small parties, which can be annoying and can lead to a bit of a wait, but they also own a bar across the street which is a good place to wait for your table. Everything on the menu is great, but the fish sauce chicken wings are a must-have. They have some great cocktails, too.

Laurelhurst Market is like a foodie steakhouse, without the preposterous prices of a steakhouse (entrees are 20 - 35 instead of like a zillion bucks) or the comically oversized portions (I love steak but who the fuck can eat a 24-ounce ANYTHING?). They have really great sides, salads and appetizers based on fresh, seasonal ingredients, as well as a kick-ass burger and really good cocktails. Don't take reservations for small parties (this is a common problem with Portland restaurants. It's fucking annoying.) , so expect to wait a bit in their bar unless you get there pretty early.

Beaker & Flask
(shitty uninformative website, sorry) is a cocktail-y lounge-y place that happens to have a kitchen that puts out fantastic small plates. Their cocktails are also exceptional, and their bartenders (sorry, I refuse to use the word "mixologist") knowledgeable, friendly, and helpful with suggestions. Kind of in a weird spot and doesn't really have a sign, so it's worth calling and asking for directions.

Ned Ludd, true to their, uh, Luddite, name cooks everything in a wood-fired oven. And damn is it all good. Reservations recommended (they actually take them!), as it's small and fills up quickly.

Toro Bravo. Best tapas I've ever had, no exceptions. Like pretty much all of the places I'm recommending, their menu changes frequently based on what's in season locally. Excellent cocktails, and the Sangria-by-the-pitcher is both excellent and an excellent deal. Make sure to get an order of the bread-- it's only a buck and you'll want bread to retrieve the last bits of all the excellent sauces (or you will if you're a pig like me...). Another place that, annoyingly, won't do reservations, but tey'll take your cell number and there's a cocktail lounge upstairs called "Secret Society" with lovely cocktails while you wait for a table. Waits can get pretty ridiculously long, though, unless you get there by 6 or so.

The unfortunately-named Grain & Gristle has gotten mixed reviews lately, but I think the people panning it are fucking insane. I think it's one of the best dollar-for-quality dining values in Portland. It's sort of a "gastropub," with fancied-up pub food, but it's really good fancied-up pub food at surprisingly reasonable prices. Nothing's over 10 or eleven bucks except for the daily "two-fer" special, which is a full dinner for two, including 2 12-ounce beers, for twenty bucks. They always have a wide selection of really interesting, really good beers, as well as a limited but excellent cocktail selection. In my opinon, the burger is great-- the second best in Portland. Do note that they're right next door to Pok Pok Noi, which is an outpost of the above-mentioned Pok-Pok but is NOT AS GOOD. Don't go to Pok Pok Noi. Go to the original location on Southest Division St.

So I just realized that those places are all on the east side (i.e. across the river from where you're staying), but they're all quite close, especially if you have a car. None should be more than about a 10-15 minute drive from a downtown hotel.

For lunches, I'd recommend checking out some of the foodcart pods. They're all over the place, including downtown. I'm especially fond of the Garden State cart in the pod at N. Mississippi and Skidmore (also on the east side, sorry). Here's two guides to Portland's cart scene.

For wine country, I assume you mean the McMinnville / Willamette Valley / Dundee Hills area?

If so, here are some of the places I dig:

Cana's Feast has good wines and bocce courts.

Adelsheim is beautiful and has excellent wines.

Brooks make some of my favorite wines, like, ever.

Torii Mor has a nice Japanese Garden to sit in.

Obviously, there's tons more. If you stay the night out there, the Hotel Oregon in McMinnville is funky and interesting. Like all properties owned by the McMenamin brothers, the space is really cool and interesting, the beer is mediocre, and the food is pretty bad, so if you do stay there, don't eat there. McMinnville does have some pretty great restaurants. Thistle, though I've never eaten there, is reputed to be the cream of the crop. As far as other places to stay in wine country, the only other place I've been is this B&B, which I quite liked. The crazy French owner-chef guy made a pretty great breakfast using ostrich eggs, which he had just gotten from some friend of his. This was at least four years ago, though, so things might have changed.

Jesus shitting fuck that got long. Sorry about that. Anyway, yeah. Meetup.
posted by dersins at 12:41 PM on July 18, 2011 [12 favorites]

Thanks for that, dersins. Please hold forth at length in a similar nature in the future.
posted by mimo at 6:42 AM on July 19, 2011

What dersins said.

My favorite fancy restaurant in town is Higgins, downtown near PSU; great beer list, fantastic food.
posted by cortex at 7:42 AM on July 19, 2011

Please hold forth at length in a similar nature in the future.

Heh. Sorry, yeah, there are a few topics that when I get rolling it's kinda hard to get me to STFU. Food is one of them. But yeah, drinks? Where did that This Guy guy go? It's his jam...

"that This Guy guy" is a fun phrase to both write and say out loud, I have just discovered
posted by dersins at 8:16 AM on July 19, 2011

Yeah, um, this is going to be my reference for the next few months of restaurants I need to go to.
posted by Secretariat at 9:08 AM on July 19, 2011

Wow dersins. You sound like me when somebody asks for a recommendation in Charleston. Pretty much everything I've seen so far looks great. Wednesday night is probably what we are shooting for since I think we are getting together with my partner's relatives on Friday. Beaker & Flask looks like a great place to start an evening. We will probably have some drinks there starting at 6 before heading out to dinner. We would love to have people join for any part of the night. Let me know if there are any other suggestions!

Sorry for the mia. This has been a crazy period at work and getting things set up to work while I'm on vacation has been a nightmare.
posted by This Guy at 9:22 AM on July 19, 2011

Ok. Seconding Higgins, Pok Pok, and Le Pigeon. Higgins has a crazy beer menu. I have also heard that Happy Hour at Blue Hour is great, but it also gets busy- I tried to get in around 5:30 in the middle of the week once but there was no place to sit.

Another place I've taken out of town foodies is Le Bistro Montage. It's kind of a Portland classic- shared tables, fun atmosphere, great mac & cheese if you're into that, and they serve a cajun alligator appetizer. (I admit, we went there because we didn't plan ahead and couldn't get a table at Le Pigeon- but it's still good)

My new favorite source of salami is Olympic Provisions. I haven't eaten at their restaurant, but if it's like their salami I'm sure it's good.
posted by Secretariat at 9:28 AM on July 19, 2011

One caveat re: the places I mentioned above, including Beaker & Flask: probably not awesome places for a metafilter meetup or any gathering of a non-pre-determined size-- they're all either fairly small and / or very busy so that seating / tables are in high demand / short supply....
posted by dersins at 9:29 AM on July 19, 2011

Wow typing on a phone takes a while. Any suggestions for meetup-friendly starter locations? Or would people rather do a dinner place?
posted by This Guy at 9:31 AM on July 19, 2011

dersins, no, really, more whenever you care to.

Also, I'm surprised to find that what restaurant reviews are missing are more fucks. Perhaps you could rate restaurants that way instead of with stars. "Le Pigeon: Great food: four and a half fucks."
posted by mimo at 11:52 AM on July 19, 2011

mimo, apparently you don't go to restaurants for just the food....
posted by Greg_Ace at 3:23 PM on July 19, 2011

No, I also enjoy a nice glass of wine.
posted by mimo at 3:47 PM on July 19, 2011 [2 favorites]

Regarding Wednesday drinks, where are you guys staying? Some of the hotel bars are surprisingly decent. Some are shitty and utterly devoid of character, of course (Westin and Hilton, I'm looking at you) but a surprising number of the downtown hotels have tolerable, if somewhat overpriced, bars. There's tons of other places for a cocktail, of course, on both sides of the river, though many of the the nicer ones tend to be difficult for larger groups. I've got a couple of suggestions nearer to where I live (close-in NE) because I'm selfish that way. Both have great cocktails and a pretty chill vibe, especially before 8 or 9 PM or so. They both also have decent (though decidedly unspectacular) food.

Of the two, I'd suggest Beech House on NE Beech between MLK and Grand. It's so new that there's nothing to link to-- not a web site or a yelp review or anything. It's owned by the same people that own Tiga, which means a diverse cocktail list that uses a lot of house-made infusions, a rotating selection of interesting craft beers, and also cheap beers in cans and bottles for the hipsters. It's in a renovated Victorian-ish house on the south side of Beech street just off MLK, sort of behind the Local Lounge. Not sure the exact address (or whether they have a sign yet) but they're in their soft open phase still so it's pretty uncrowded, especially at that time of day. They have a whole upstairs area that I've never actually seen anyone sitting in....

That's just one thought. Obviously there's like a million other options. I'm mostly just suggesting that because I'm lazy and can walk to it.
posted by dersins at 4:28 PM on July 19, 2011

We are staying at the Courtyard City Center but we are definitely open to suggestions for places for drinks. I have a feeling their bar won't be super exciting but I can always report back web we get in this afternoon.
posted by This Guy at 4:53 PM on July 19, 2011

So something has come up and I won't be making it out tonight. Have fun storming the castle, kids!
posted by dersins at 3:15 PM on July 20, 2011

Unfortunately I won't be able to make it either. Maybe next time.
posted by Greg_Ace at 4:35 PM on July 20, 2011

I'd gladly come out, but I have class tonight.
Evil, evil math, in case you're wondering.

Any chance you might want to reschedule for tomorrow or Friday?
posted by nickthetourist at 5:07 PM on July 20, 2011

We really have no set plans. We're about to head out to Beaker and Flask for a drink tonight before dinner, so anybody who wants to join is definitely welcome. If people would be up for something tomorrow night, we were already thinking about heading to Bluehour for happy hour since it looks like it's pretty easily walkable from our hotel. On Friday we'll be doing dinner with some family members, but after that we could probably be up for something if people are going to be around. Let us know!
posted by This Guy at 5:22 PM on July 20, 2011

I just realized that we're heading to the TV on the Radio show at Edgefield on Friday.
If anyone is up for something tomorrow, late afternoon, chime in.
posted by nickthetourist at 6:02 PM on July 20, 2011

We are at Beaker and Flask at the bar. If you're looking for us we are unintentionally christmassy in a red polo and a green polo.
posted by This Guy at 6:16 PM on July 20, 2011

Sorry to have made suggestions and then vanished- Obviously I didn't make it yesterday, and coincidentally I have some friends from out of town visiting today and tomorrow. So I hope the suggestions helped, even if the meetuppery sort of failed?
posted by Secretariat at 10:19 AM on July 21, 2011

I missed this, but wanted to say I started to read the list of restaurants comment above, and about three restaurants in, I knew it was dersins...
posted by Specklet at 4:50 PM on July 21, 2011

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