A biased guide to eating out in Portland, Oregon.
By Jack Hoehn
Are you coming to the AT1 gathering in Portland, Oregon October 4-6? Deanne and I are planning on attending and it would be wonderful if many other readers and writers join us for the spiritual feast. If you don’t live in Portland you should also know that there are very many other “feasts” available in this town. Happily inexpensive and very interesting—Portland is a great “foodie” city.
To enhance your visit to Portland, you can use online guides. YELP.COM (or the app on your phone) can help. I often look for “vegetarian friendly” restaurants as this seems to give me a wider choice. YELP ratings tend to be more by locals. TRIPADVISOR.COM has more what tourists like. FOURSQUARE.COM has local ratings too.
But here is a very eclectic totally uneven list of Jack and Deanne’s favorites as frequent visitors to this wonderful city. These are places Deanne and I have personally eaten at and admire. The information may or may not be completely up to date, so check with a phone call. But if you are lacto-ovo-vegetarians like we are, we think you might enjoy most of these places, and many others as well.
Spielman Bagels and Coffee Roasters
No reservations necessary.
7712 SW Capitol Hwy, Portland OR 97219
(4 miles from Embassy Suites)
|This is fairly near to our meeting site. Spielman has bagels. I counted 18 choices. They have a breakfast version with egg cheese and seitan vege-sausage. Or enhance your choice (Golden raisin with fennel was hers) with cream cheese, flavored cream cheese, butter, olive oil, lox, PB Jelly, smoked salmon, or hummus smears. Their house coffee is fresh ground specialty varieties.
ESTES at DAME
2930 NE Killingsworth St
|DAME is a small comfortable restaurant and beverage purveyor that is 2 restaurants in the same space. This review is about the Italian one, ESTES, whose chef works wonders Sundays to Wednesdays. (A different chef and menu happens Thursdays to Saturdays. PASTURE, more meat centric.) The vegetarian ESTES choices are outstanding for all 6 dishes we tried. Their flat bread appetizer came with a fantastic spread. The warm faro leak romaine was lick-your-spoon good. The broccolini was also warm and rich tasting. Then the simple pasta with Grana Padano and pepper had magic sauces. The cappelletti filled with chestnuts and mushrooms was enough to stop the meal and offer a second prayer of thanks. And I have N-E-V-E-R had a better-tasting risotto. Pear puffs they called donuts is like calling the Mona Lisa a selfie! Nice helpful Portland friendly wait staff. Wow. Portland is soooo fortunate.
Kenny & Zuke’s
1038 SW Stark St
|Want a good Jewish breakfast and you’re not in New York? Lucky you, Kenny and Zuke knows Latke’s (potato confection), half a dozen kinds of bagels and softer blinis, eggs any way you want, with lox or vegetarian choices. Get there early on weekends because there may be a line for the Sabbath or Sunday brunch crowd. Everyone at our table left happy.
Middle Eastern. Iraqi
320 SW Alder St
|DarSalam is a story as well as a restaurant. Once a romance, then a food truck, then a funky friendly place on Alberta Street, and now Lazurdi downtown on S.W. Alder. Walking in here you enter a reproduction of Nebuchadnezzar’s Ishtar Gates of Biblical Babylon that Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego would have seen. You join the family whose restaurant is part of their story. Owners and their children and relatives are with you and your Iraqi food. Learn their story, but mostly enjoy their flavors. It you want rich complex flavors without pain, try any of their dishes. Eggplant stew was 5 star. Meze platter or lentil soup, chickpea stew, onion dolmans, all await my return visit. I’ve been to the Alberta Street version and the food is equal, but Lazurdi has a bit more environment, but both places are welcoming and friendly.
2448 East Burnside St
|Fusion of Portland with Morocco. Great breads and pastries. Free sparkling or still water. Tasty and different egg and house-made cheese dishes. Moroccan breakfast was both exotic and tasty. Comes with 7 plates! Breakfast sandwich very good. Turkish sandwich very satisfying. Baked eggs like shakshuka.
1314 NW Glisan St
|Peru is the home of the potato, quinoa, and yucca. They can do unusual and tasty things with potatoes. More vegetarian choices than meat or fish options. They also have a blue-corn drink that is unique and alcohol-free.
Persian House Restaurant
Reservations recommended but sometimes you can walk in.
1026 SW Morrison St.
|Downtown Portland. Run by a lady and her family. They have been very kind to us when we arrived late into town one night. Perfect service attitude and good food. Lots of vegetarian choices. Vegetables on rice or pita bread–chick peas, lentils, yellow dahl–I like their okra.
St. Honoré Boulangerie
11 miles from Embassy Suites but a LOT closer than Paris, France which is the next place you’d have to go to get to a more authentic boulangerie!
2335 NW Thurman St
|OK, this is more than a Bakery. This happens to be my favorite French breakfast destination. It is the cheapest way of being in Paris I know of. Find a place to park and walk into a French boulangerie. Fantastic pastries. Great European breads. Atmosphere. Ambiance. You and your taste buds are in France. Love the egg mimosa sandwich on a croissant. Fig anise roll with a pat of butter could be enough. Not the best almond croissant in Portland (see Nuvrei) but the best place to enjoy a very good one with family or friends and a cafe au lait. If you can resist one of their fruit tarts you are a stronger man than moi.
Pine State Biscuits | Division or Alberta
1100 SE Division St
|If you love biscuits you will love these large soft ones. They are the best comfort good ever. And they serve them with a vegetarian mushroom egg gravy that is delicious. I’m rather sure they don’t fit into the CHIPS or Weimar diets, but I’d bet James White would eat ‘em every chance he got.
The Original Pancake House
Just show up.
8601 SW 24th Ave
|This is no IHOP; its the real thing. Lots of Oregon berries available in season. Cash only, so you know they have been here for a while for good reasons. Open at 7 am to 3 pm Wednesday-Sunday.|
BAKERIES—Deanne’s favorites are baked goods. Here are some of the best beside St. Honorie’ above.
102 NW 9th Ave
Lots of good bakeries in Portland. But the Pearl is one of the very best. Fig anise rolls best in town. Wonderful breads. I’m afraid Deanne is addicted.
Ken’s Artisan Bakery
338 NW 21st Avenue,
Good breads. Ken wrote a bread book. Also has a pizza shop. Very good sandwiches.
404 NW 10th Ave
Lots of almond croissants in Portland. You are welcome to enjoy your own test of them. But my conclusion has stood the test of time. No atmosphere, few places to sit. Just world’s best almond croissant. That’s all.