The information on this page is obsolete. Altportland, as a blog, is on extended hiatus. Thanks for visiting, and please see this as a piece of history, reflecting when it was written.

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  • 333 SW 1st (in the Robert Duncan Plaza—open bldg hours)
  • 1120 SW 3rd (in the Justice Center, 24 hours)
  • 1220 SW 3rd (in the Edith Green Federal Building -- open bldg hours)
  • 1021 SW 4th (Court House, open bldg hours)
  • 5th & Stark
  • 421 SW 5th (Mead Building, open bldg hours)
  • 421 SW 6th (Commonwealth Building, open bldg hours)
  • PSU Smith Center, 1825 SW Broadway, ground floor, & basement (bldg hrs)
  • Portland Building, 1120 SW 5th (M-F 8-5)
  • Federal Court House -- 1000 SW 3rd (bldg hours)
  • 811 SW 6th (at Yamhill -- WA Mutual)
  • Galleria, 9th & SW Morrison (WA Mutual)

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July 29, 2005 | Permalink

Abou Karim

221 SW Pine
(503) 223-5058
get there via trimet

Abou KarimEvery now and again, I go to a place that I really want to recommend, and really want to love. But it'll have a fatal flaw. You know where I'm going...

Appetizers ($2.25-$3.50)

  • hummus
  • baba ghanooj
  • ful madummas
  • tabboule
  • feta appetizer
  • labne

Sandwiches ($4-4.50)

  • falafel
  • schawerma (beef)
  • kafta
  • chicken
  • eggplant
  • vegetable
  • arayes

luncheon platters ($6.50-$8)

  • shawerma (beef)
  • chicken filet
  • shish kebab (lamb)
  • chicken kebab
  • vegetarian kebab
  • grape leaves
  • mujadra
  • munazle

My experience: I'm greeted by the owner who tells me to sit anywhere. All the two-tops are dirty, so I sit at one in the main room. After ten minutes, his wife notices me, and asks if she can help me. He immediately appears, apologizes, and brings hummus, pita, and a glass of water. He says the hummus is gratis.

The hummus is fairly standard Lebanese restaurant hummus, which is to say, perfectly fine. The pita has been reheated, and has the taste and texture of cardboard.

My shawerma with baba ghanooj arrives: the beef is yummy, though thoroughly covered in onions. The baba is smokey and richly eggplanty, which I love.

Too bad about the pita, I think. The owners are nice enough, the atmosphere is a combination of cloth table cloths and the acropolis meets star wars mural—I love that. The lunch prices are great, and the dinner prices just a bit higher. And, they make good on a mistake.

But the problem is, there are now a plethora of Lebanese places that make pita on demand, and it arrives to your table as a pillow of glory. Now, pita that might have been made earlier in the day, or came in a bag, just doesn't cut it.

And then, I get the bill. I can't read the writing (maybe it's arabic?) so I'm not sure what I was charged for, but the $8 meal I was expecting was actually $11. Looks like I was charged for the hummus. At this point, I'm late to be back to work, and I've lost patience—I don't want to argue with them, I just want to get out. So I pay and call it good.

If it weren't for the pita, I'd give them another chance.

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April 5, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (4)


506 SW 4th Ave
(503) 274-7004
get there via trimet
Lunch, early dinner
Thai Lunch Counter

This tiny hole-in-the-wall is a welcome surprise. There are maybe 10 tables inside inside this old-stylee chinese-influenced thai place. First, you go up to the counter and order. Aroy has 8 luncheon plates, a curry special, and 43 different appetizers,soups, salads, and entrees. They also have Thai iced tea & coffee, and coconut ice cream with jackfruit and crushed peanuts! A luncheon plate is simply that entree, no soup, no eggroll, but the serving is significant and quite potentially firey. And if you want it hotter still, the proprietors are happy to supply you with hot sauce, hot pepper oils and other condiments to raise the heat level. They are only open 'til 8 pm weekdays, 6 pm on Saturdays.

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January 1, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (1)

BC2 - Bento Coffee & Cookies

431 SW Madison St. (Portland Building)
(503) 227-0707
6:30 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday-Friday
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find a bike route
Great little bento shop for unusual bentos and good city/county gossip.

Bento Coffee & Cookie

Aaron wrote me awhile back, asking about BC2. So like a good reporter, I dropped everything and went there for lunch. And then sat on it until this week.

BC2 is a tiny place tucked in on the Madison Street side of the Multnomah Building. From the outside, it looks like just another bento/rice bowl shop. But that's where the comparisons end.

BC2 is a place with a following. Many folks who work in city or county government are devotees, for obvious reasons. And thus, many news reporters from the Oregonian also make this a necessary lunch stop.

They offer an assortment of cookies, naturally. And coffee. But I didn't pay any attention to that, because the lunch options are worth crossing town for. Of course they have an assortment of chicken bentos, shrimp, salmon, and tofu as well. Nothing really exceptional there.

But where you can you get unagi kabayaki? Or ginger pork bento? Or udon soup? Hawaiian bento? Mexican or spring roll or potsticker bento? Octopus Mt Vege bento? Sesame seaweed? Kimchee? Fish Cake? Bibimbob? or the Hi-Pro Lo-Carb? You know where I'm going, don't you?

On my first visit, I ordered the Octopus Mt Vege bento ($6.75)—that's an octopus salad, made up of pickled ginger & seaweed, with a cabbage & carrot salad and your choice of white or brown rice. Both types of salad were delicious, and I love having a choice of rices. And it was a perfect amount of food -- enough to sate, but not enough to make you sleepy the rest of the afternoon.

On the second visit, I saw someone enjoying the unagi kabayaki (that's grilled eel to you, $6.75). I decided to try something more pedestrian, like the tofu bento ($5.50). This is a traditional bento with steamed veggies and your choice of rice. The tofu was heated and doused in teriyaki, and thery were very generous with it. The veggies had seen a bit too much time in the steamer, but they were still had a little flavor.

With all the bentos ringing in between $5.25-$6.75, this is a very reasonable lunch downtown. Add a cookie for a $1, and, well, you have a cookie.

There are two vegetarian options and one vegan, so vegetarians, this is probably not the place for you.

filled under Restaurants Downtown
February 14, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBacks (0)


200 SW Market St
(503) 248-0004
get there via trimet
French bistro, lunch & dinner

Just saw this on

Happy Hour or France on the Cheap
If a Paris café seems too far to travel for your evening repast, Carafe offers food and drink specials during happy hour —Monday through Friday from 3:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. Pair a Slow-roasted Pork Sandwich ($3) or Goat Cheese Spread on walnut crostini ($3) with a French Martini with vodka, crème de Framboise and pineapple juice or a Jupa Gin with gin, fresh squeezed lime juice, sugar syrup and tonic. Carafe's Happy Hour menu also offers beer, wine and aperitifs...and of course, pommes frites ($3).

Main (non-happy hour) review is in Food, downtown

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April 7, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0)


200 SW Market St
(503) 248-0004
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find a bike route
French bistro, lunch & dinner

Think of a Parisian sidewalk cafe. It might be just like Carafe. There are drinks, and beer (I believe), but the emphasis is on wine by the carafe. This place is not cheap, but it's pretty reasonable, all things considered. The lunch menu is quite a bit cheaper than dinner, with most of the same entrees. I have yet to have something that didn't thrill me to my toes here—mussels, charcuterie, confit, salad, sandwiches, entrees, dessert—yum!

I was there most recently on a romantic lunch, so I didn't get a chance to take notes on prices (though the two of us ate to bursting, sans alcool, for $26). It's got great ambience, and good service, and lunch entree prices top out around $13 (for the bifsteak/frites), with dinner entrees are a bit more (like $20ish for the bifsteak/frites). I keep coming back for the hamburger and the steak, both with great fries. And no one will hold your bad high school French against you.

The downside here is that it's small, so if you really want to get in, make reservations. When it's full, it's noisy. And, like so many French bistros in France, the bathrooms are an adventure. Ask for the key at the hostess stand, and you'll find the washrooms in the parking structure. Hey, but if you've been in a Turkish toilet, you know you've got nothing to complain about.

See also:

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February 17, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Chinto's Burritos

SW 9th & Washington
get there via trimet
weekday lunch
mex burrito trailer

Greasy and entirely yummy. Nothing on the menu (tacos, lunch plates, fajitas, tostadas, burritos, nachos, and tortas) is more than $6. The carne asada is especially good, but they also have vegetarian versions of most menu items. Avoid the breakfast burrito, and avoid the trailer of the same name on the bus mall—nowhere near as good.

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January 1, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Downtown Portland Farmers Market

10:00 am to 2:00 pm, Wednesdays, April 30 – October 29, 2008
Park Blocks at SW Salmon St.
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find a bike route
Oregon Trail EBT Food Stamp Market

Wednesday Portland Farmers Market
Wednesday Portland Farmers Market
The Portland Farmers Markets seem exquisitely organized, and the Wednesday downtown market is a nicely-edited city-block-sized version of the Saturday market. There's hot food, veggies, plants, flowers, meats and cheeses, prepared foods, bread, music, demos, and everyone you know who works downtown, looking for a little something for lunch or to make dinner from. Definitely not for the clastrophobic!

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March 30, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0)

El Grillo

703 SW Ankeny
(503) 241-0462
get there via trimet
mexican diner/ experience

While this is not exceptional or even good compared to tacqueria food and prices outside of downtown, you don't have a lot of choices when you are downtown. So in that light, not bad. And then... well, I noticed that the tejano music at the grill conflicted with the thump-thump coming out of the backdoor, and hmmm, what's with these scantily-clad women? Oh, Mary's Club is through the backdoor... Anyhow, it's some of the best short-order mexican you can get downtown if you don't mind going through a strip joint to get to the bathroom.

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January 4, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Essence of China Restaurant

510 SW 3rd Ave. (at Washington)
(503) 235-1976
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Cantonese & Mandarin, lunch & dinner


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January 10, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (2)

Good Dog/Bad Dog

708 SW Alder St

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October 28, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (2)

Goodwill on 10th

SW 10th & Taylor
get there via trimet
higher-end thrift store

Goodwill on 10thI was curious to check out the new Goodwill downtown. In the manner of previous downtown thrifts, this is aiming at better-heeled bargain hunters. Unlike most Goodwills, there is a controlled and calm, edited presence in On 10th. Racks are not overwhelmed by clothing, and the clothes don't appear written in (unlike most Goodwill garb). There is an overabundance of mall brands and higher-end mail-order, quite gently used, in an overabundance of small sizes.

While most Goodwills have an adult clothing base price of $6.99 (with better quality stuff more, and less desirables less), the On 10th employees stammered when I asked about a base price there (I'm guessing $25.99, with t's for $7.99, jeans $9.99, and some other items $14.99—though I saw other items at $199.99). To be fair, corporate prices their clothing before it ever comes downtown. So I asked about the clothing selected. I guess that the majority of stores do not contribute to the downtown store—just two stores do. So your neighborhood Goodwill might have the same sorts of gems at a cheaper price.

filled under thrift and resale shops
January 18, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (1)

Great Harvest Bakery

810 SW 2nd Ave at Yamhill
(503) 224-8583
get there via trimet
kick-butt hippy corporate bakery
soup and sandwiches til 3 pm, scones and breads til 6.

There are many benefits to Great Harvest. One, their baked goodies are really good, with lots of varieties of breads, scones, cookies and the like. Two, they have great scones. Three, they have homemade soups (one is always vegetarian) and the best sandwiches in town. Four, they always offer you a slice of fresh-from-the-oven bread. If you're looking for the nouveau european crusty style breads, you won't find them here -- Great Harvest is more Moosewood than french. But it sure is tasty, and generally, a pretty good deal, and, it might even be good for you.

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January 1, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Henry's 12th Street Tavern

10 NW 12th (12th & W. Burnside)
(503) 227-5320
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find a bike route
opens 11am everyday til 11pm weekdays, 12pm weekends

the icy layer that keeps the beer coldWhen I heard about Henry's the first time, I thought, right, 100 beers on tap—how likely is that? I had all sorts of expectations that it would be suburban and sportsy and not serious. And you know, I was totally & completely wrong.

The bar has several different levels, including a lovely outdoor patio. You can watch sports on the huge flatscreen tvs, or, you can sit so you don't even know that there are giant flatscreen tvs. The volume is on mute, anways. It's a classy place, and hooligans are asked to leave immediately. Really. I saw some guys come in who were obviously already inebriated, they treated a waitress badly, and several managers went over and helped them out.

You can sit well away from the bar, but if you're serious about beer, you want to sit at the bar. They have a cool ice ring to set your beer on, and their bartenders know the beers well and serve them in appropriate glassware. (The wait staff haven't a clue).

Be sure to ask if the beer is old, and if you can have a taste. Somethings don't move so fast at Henry's.

For your friends who don't get beer: there's mixed drinks. Though I wouldn't know anything about that.

I wouldn't expect a lot from the food (this is a Pacific Coast restaurant, so solid but unexceptional chain fare), but if you order during happy hour, at least it's cheap.

filled under taverns, bars, taverns with megataps
September 26, 2006 | Permalink

Hope's Deli

120 SW Jefferson
(503) 224-4247
get there via trimet

An acquaintance raved about the cheeseburgers at Hope's Deli. As I sat, hungry and weak, watching a documentary on cheeseburgers yesterday, I was ripe. Hope's serves breakfast and lunch, with a small cheeseburger combo coming in under $5. They serve american and asian style food. And, boca burgers!

So, my cheeseburger was small, dressed with pickles, shredded lettuce, tomato slices and thousand island dressing. French fries were crickle-cut. No-name ketcup on the tables. All and all, nothing to write home about, but cheap, emphasis on cheap, and filling, complete with its own indoor tables.

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October 5, 2005 | Permalink | Comments (1)


411 SW 3rd Avenue (between Stark & Washington)
(503) 228-5686
get there via trimet
lunch, dinner and spanish coffees

Huber's 3rd Ave entranceHuber's is known for two things. Spanish coffees, flamboyantly made, and turkey. You're forgiven if you had no idea of the latter. Most people do come for the delicious, potent Spanish coffees and the scenery: the fireworks involved in making a Spanish coffee at the table by a hunky waiter, the incredible old bar done all clubby with the arched stained-glass skylight, the terrazo floor, and lots of stained wood—solid Philippine mahogany paneling, and the see and be seen crowd, most notably, the Blazers. It's Portland's oldest restaurant. The restaurant portion looks out on 3rd Avenue, while the bar is tucked inside, accessible from 3rd or Stark.

We went there with a bunch of scooterists to try out the lunch menu. Here's what I heard and tasted. Almond-encrusted turkey on a bed of spinach (I think) was simple and good. The hot turkey sandwich is the last of its kind in Portland: served on white bread with your choice of yummy dressing or powdered mashed potatoes, it hits the nostalgia button but good. The buffalo burger with fries was good, but overdone. Cobb salad is hard to do wrong, and Huber's certainly does fine. Pan-fried oysters were good, but the breading was distracting. And finally, turkey noodle soup—fine, about what you might expect. Everything, save specials and seafood, comes in under $10.

In the end, Huber's is solid, a little pricey, and unexceptional for lunch. Spanish coffees, now that's something else altogether.

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January 9, 2006 | Permalink

Hunan Restaurant

515 SW Broadway
(503) 224-8063
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Hunan RestaurantHunan used to be known as one of the best Chinese restaurants in Portland, back before everyone was so concerned about authenticity, etc. Today, they still make a mean hot and sour soup, and very tasty potstickers. Otherwise, a recent lunch there was an exercise in frustration at worst, and okayness at best.

At lunch, there is the special lunch menu, which is a la carte. Want the General Tso's chicken, which is probably this place's claim to fame? Well, you'll have to order it off the dinner menu. Main courses on the lunch menu range from $6.25-$8.50, and aren't terribly generous. Dinner prices are a bit more, and are quite a bit more generous. Want that Hot & Sour soup? You'll have to order it separately, for another $1.75.

You get an hour for lunch right? Unless you get a half hour, of course. Most places downtown get that, hustling the food out in record time. Not so here. The soup comes out, then the appetizer, then the food. One of our group had to get his to go because it took so long.

So, we ordered General Tso's, beef with snow peas, shrimp in chili sauce, and kung pao chicken. The General Tso's was awful, the meat tough and difficult to chew, though the sauce was nice. The kung pao was referred to as kung poor. The shrimp and beef were okay, no complaints. All in all, they might have been having a bad day.

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March 2, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Island Joe's Coffee

538 SW 6th Ave

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March 15, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (1)

Karam Restaurant

316 SW Stark St
(503) 223-0830
get there via trimet
breakfast, lunch and dinner

Karam RestaurantKaram has always been a foodie's wet dream, but I've never been convinced. Sure, it's a nice atmosphere and they have alcohol, they make pita to order (and whole wheat if you ask nicely), and they have a huge, unusual menu. Maybe it's just because I've been such a fan of Ya Hala. Who knows?

We went for lunch, and I was pleased to see a big breakfast menu (15 items from $3.50-$7) also available at lunch. Then I ignored it. Did I mention the lunch menu? With 17 ala carte main courses ($7.50-$19.95), 11 sandwiches ($5-$6.50), 10 pizza/calzoney things ($6-$8.95), 8 salads ($4.50-$9), and 4 stews ($8-$9.95), it might take a while to decide. We ordered the meat mezze, which has one of everything, a falafel sandwich with baba ghanouj, Fatte with lamb, and the lamb shank. The hummus and baba ghanouj are excellent. The Fatte, a layered dish with pita, roasted eggplant, garbanzo beans, pine nuts and yogurt was beautiful and yummy. The lamb shank came in a broth with vegetables, also gorgeous. Portions were huge, and everything was very tasty—we were all moaning over our food. We were groaning, but still ordered dessert (6 from $2.25-$4.50) (katayef bil-ashta and katayef bil-jos) which were also really good.

While there are lots of vegetarian choices and ways to eat cheap, the menu is kinda pricey. And the service—leisurely. Our lunch took over an hour and a half, making all of us late, and for three folks going a bit overboard, cost us $20 each. It's certainly easy to eat under $10 if you show some self-control, but you might as plan for it taking a while. It's worth it.

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February 8, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Kelly's Olympian

426 SW Washington Street
(503) 228-3669
get there via trimet

Kelly's is just what it seems: a smokey bar with breakfast served all day. And while it seems from the outside like a dive, it's just playing. New owners have taken the truism More neon is better to heart, and it's really rather an interesting tavern. And it gets the most interesting when we're talking about beer and appetizers. One in particular, Fried Macaroni and Cheese Bites, is so wrong, and so very right. With 20 taps devoted to micros, plus PBR and a couple other macros that your dad or your cow-orker prefers, everyone can be happy.

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November 3, 2005 | Permalink | Comments (1)

Kenny & Zuke's Delicatessen

1038 SW Stark St
(503) 222-deli (3354)
Tu-Th: 7am - Midnight
Fr: 7am - 3am
Sa: 8:00am - 3am
Su: 8:00am - 10pm

Kenny & Zukes

Tuesday is the grand opening of K&Z. I've been a couple times during the soft opening, and while they've been working the kinks out, the food has been right on target.

I've got more photos online if you care to look.

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October 22, 2007 | Permalink

La Terrazza - SW 3rd

933 SW 3rd Ave
(503) 223-8200
get there via trimet

La TerrazzaOkay. Now the two La Terrazzas have two different owners, and I haven't been to the Morrison one lately. But, I have been to the 3rd Ave., and it recently changed hands and management. The crew turned almost entirely over. Pasta servings are now significantly smaller, and the sauces have been consistently off (too salty, not balanced, etc.)

Now that there's a Macaroni Grill within two blocks, it will be interesting to see what happens here. If they can manage to return to their origins—pasta, fast, reasonable and unpretentious—they have a chance.

filled under pasta, food downtown, pasta veloche
September 20, 2005 | Permalink | Comments (2)

Lorn and Dotties Luncheonette

322 SW 2nd Ave (at Oak St.)
(503) 221-2473
get there via trimet
find a bike route
6-2, Monday-Friday
breakfast and lunch

Lorn & Dottie's Luncheonette
Lorn & Dottie's doorway
Back when I was a secretary, Lorn's was a favorite hideout when I was having a bad day. I didn't eat out so often: I couldn't afford to. The booths are high, dark stained wood, the plates are solid, substantial, the silverware feels... heavy! It was a real treat.

Lorn and Dottie's has been one of my favorite places for breakfast for a really long time. Favorite is probably not the right word, as there are better places, and cooler places, and places we end up more frequently, but L&D has consistently good food, and consistently short waits. It's very reasonable, very nice, and the city's best kept secret for weekend breakfast downtown. So what's not to love?

So imagine my surprise that we end up there on Labor Day (because all the places I wanted to try on the west side were closed for the holiday! Sheesh!), and find out that they're not open weekends any more.

Hmm, I think. New owners? New cooks? The menu is the same, the prices are the same, and it appears the family that runs it is the same. But all our favorite waiters and waitresses are gone. And it appears the crowds are too, as the place has plenty of open tables and the entire counter is empty.

We order with some trepidation. At this point, we're taking one for the team. It seemed like they had so much more business on the weekends, why would they be closed for them? It doesn't make any sense.

Remembering the old rule, we stick with the starches. This is where Lorn & Dottie's excels. Hot cakes ($6-8.50), plain or with blueberry or banana pecan, dutch babies, german potato pancakes, and the yeasted waffle... oh, the yeasted waffle ($6) is so light and airy and wonderful. But the dutch babies ($9-10) are too. And the potato pancakes ($6-8.50) are great with applesauce, or ask for sour cream.

They offer Banana-Nut Bread($3) and Jalepeno Cornbread ($3), too, both really good. They also have steel-cut oatmeal ($5) everyday, Cream of Wheat ($5) on Wednesday & Thursday , and Zoom ($5) on Fridays.

Not that the eggs are bad; they're not. Really. But the starches are the thing.

So we order a yeasted waffle with Canadian bacon ($8.50) and 2 eggs with potato pancakes and sausage ($9), along with two coffees. Now, this is Starbucks coffee and not really great Starbucks coffee at that, but they do keep your cup full.

The food comes, and it's as good as ever. Delicious, filling, everything we ask of breakfast. So why are they closed weekends? What gives?

filled under Restaurants in Downtown Portland Oregon
September 4, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (1)

Lotus Cafe

932 SW 3rd Ave (at Salmon)
(503) 227-6185
get there via trimet

I can't speak to the Lotus as a bar (it has a handful of unexciting beers on tap), but I can speak to the Lotus as a lunch spot. The Lotus isn't great, but it's plenty good enough. The food is good, fast, reasonable, and the service, as long as you aren't a jerk, is good. I wouldn't go out of my way for it, but for me, it makes a great lunch joint when it's too icky to get cart food, and I just want to be able to sit and read and have food appear almost instantly.

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November 18, 2005 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Mama Mia Trattoria

439 SW 2nd Ave.
(503) 295-6464
get there via trimet
american Italian
dinner, late night

Mama Mia's
Mama Mia's, in spite of the name, has got some serious bordello going on. You shouldn't go in expecting the new Tuscan cuisine that is touted as Nouvelle Italian—this is the Italian of your childhood, redolent of cheese and red sauce, perhaps lacking in subtly, but... I'm not complaining, please!

Huge menu. Starters range from $4-10, with the standouts being the chopped salad, the zucchini, and the calamari. Individual sized 10" pizzas are $11-$12.

16 pastas come in huge portions, from $8-$16. The sunday gravy and gnocchi are crowd pleasers. The Losta the Pasta Lasagna has been uneven: perfect and well balanced one time vs eggplant undercooked and tough. Entrees range from chicken, beef, veal, and seafood, $14-$19, featuring all your childhood favorites: scallopine, parmigiana, milanese, alla marsala. Three of us got veal and loved it, though it was interesting to see how serving sizes varied on the same dish. (The veal, by the way, is free-range and naturally fed)

There are quite a few veggie options and the menu indicates a willingness to accomodate vegans as well.

The mixed drinks are impressive, and about the usual price. They do have 8 taps, with Widmer Hefeweizen, Widmer Drop Top Amber, Newcastle Brown, Moretti, Stella Artois, Lagunitas Censored and Bridgeport IPA. The pints are $4, unless they're Guinness, and then they're $4.75.

We finished the meal with about one of everything off their dessert menu. While dessert is not their strongest course, that didn't stop us from devouring almost everything before us.

You can make this a cheaper meal, or as we did, go completely overboard. I love coming here, it's like coming back to a childhood memory, except it totally doesn't suck. It's really a pleasure.

filled under american italian, mama mia, mama mia's, pasta, food downtown
April 18, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Mandarin Cove

111 SW Columbia (at First)
(503) 222-0006
get there via trimet
Lunch, Dinner

The atmosphere is airy, with most lunch seating in an atrium filled with ferns, the wait staff efficient and professional, and the luncheon prices pretty reasonable. They have a To Go Only Express lunch from 11-1:30 for cheap, which is an entree, rice and a fortune cookie. They also have lunch specials, Monday thru Friday 11-2:30. Not all that impressive.

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January 4, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0)

No Fish! Go Fish! Cart

SW Yamhill at the northwest corner of 5th
get there via trimet
find a bike route
Monday-Friday 11:30am-2:00pm

No Fish! Go Fish! CartNo Fish! Go Fish! has a goofy name, to be certain, but it's a good source for an inexpensive and yummy lunch. Especially if you like soup and like little fishy non-fish sandwiches.

The NFGF guys have had a cart for quite a while now, selling sandwiches with a handful of tasty fillings and three different types of soup. The sandwiches are, well, let's let them explain it.

No Fish are sandwiches baked in the shape of fish. They look like cute little fish but they contain no actual fish. [They were] inspired by a traditional Korean sweet bean fish-shaped pastry known as Pung Ap Bang. Loosely translated, Pung Ap Bang means fish bread that has no fish... We developed our own bread recipe which blends the sweetness of corn bread with the high fiber benefits of oat and the texture and flavor of wheat flour and incorporated the visual appeal of the Korean fish shaped pastry. The delicious and somewhat crisp bread is baked fresh right at the carts or at the restaurant while you watch and are filled with a variety of cheese and vegetable fillings.

Anyhow, there are a handful of standard fillings: some vegetarian, and one vegan (curried vegetables). There's always some special fillings as well. These are especially tasty if they're made to order and inhaled immediately, but most travel okay.

There are always three different soups, with at least one of those vegan each day. If you're on their (amusing) weekly mailing list, or check their website, you can see what soups are on today, and, even see what the ingredients are (bonus!, but only on the website.). With over 105 soups in rotation, there's generally something new and interesting on.

A cup of soup, a pint really, is $3.50. Add two sandwiches (mix and match on the fillings if you like) and it's $5. Like all other carts, a drink is $1. So, for $5, you get a nice light lunch, to sort to not put you to sleep at your desk with the 'itis, but to ready you for the fight ahead.

filled under Downtown Food Carts
March 23, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (2)

Oregon Historical Society

1200 SW Park
(503) 222-1741
get there via trimet
find a bike route

The OHS artifacts collection comprises over 85,000 artifacts, including ancient objects from the earliest settlements, and objects that illustrate exploration in the Oregon Country, the growth of business and industry, the development of artwork and crafts, and maritime history, among many other topics.

The OHS Research Library contains one of the country’s most extensive collections of state history materials, including approximately 25,000 maps, 30,000 books, 8.5 million feet of film and videotape, 16,000 rolls of microfilm and 12,000 linear feet of documents. The Research Library’s photographic archives include over 2.5 million images from pre-statehood to the present day.

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March 19, 2005 | Permalink | Comments (0)


65 SW Yamhill St (at First)
(503) 224-5626
get there via trimet

This bar can be quite cosy. Ten taps, three with a beer engine, and the largest selection of spirits in the state of Oregon. Just recently had the worst lunch in recent memory there, with abysmal service to boot. They have a new chef, and supposably will have another one in a month.

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April 3, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Portland Art Museum

1219 SW Park Ave
(503) 226-2811
get there via trimet

Our local art museum...

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March 19, 2005 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Red Coach Restaurant

615 SW Broadway
(503) 227-4840
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find a bike route
cash, burgers, lunch
Monday-Friday, 11-3:00

hamburger & fries
Does it get any more old school than Red Coach? I don't think so.

Red Coach is open from 11-3 weekdays, and they take cash only. A minimum order is $5.

The menu is unexceptional: burgers start at $4.50, ala carte, and go up to $9.25. Cheese is an option, as is bacon.

Sandwiches ($6.50) include a BLT, grilled cheese, grilled tuna & cheese, and a grilled tuna. They come with fries.

There's a chili plate or a sloppy joe for $7.25, or a dinner salad with tuna and cheese for $5.75. And there are sides of fries, side salad, and chili ($3-$4).

All drinks are $1.50, other than the milkshakes ($4/$6).

So let's talk about lunch. While we've had the BLT on occasion, this time, we got cheeseburgers. You can get it with bacon—we did. Don't get uppity though -- there's only one kind of cheese. The burger comes on a pillowy bun with krinkle cut fries.

There is something so delightful about this place. It's not cheap (a bacon cheeseburger is $8.00), and as they only take cash, not always so easy, and the food is not by any stretch of the imagination gourmet. Maybe it's the table service, or the sea of maroon vinyl, or the strange enclosed garden out the window, maybe it's the homemade shakes, or maybe it's the fact that it's so insanely fast. I timed it; 6 minutes between ordering, and having a cheeseburger of my own. Anyways, it's great in an anti-bistro burger sort of way.

filled under Food Downtown, in Portland
December 3, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (2)

Red Star Roast House & Tavern

509 SW Washington (corner of 5th and Washington)
(503) 222-0005
get there via trimet
find a bike route

Red Star TavernOkay, so I didn't eat in the dining room. I had a catered lunch at a meeting.

When I think of catered meals, even from nice places, I think of premade sandwiches wrapped in saranwrap and steamtable fare. My expectations are lowered. I'm happy if anything tastes at all like the original foodstuff.

But I was much impressed with the Red Star. I'm writing this from the standpoint of if I had eaten in the dining room: those were my expectations. And they were met, ably.

Much to my surprise, we were offered a smaller version of the lunch menu. Appetizers range from $6-13, and we tried a clam chowder, crab-salmon cakes, a beet soup, grilled asparagus salad, a caesar, and a roasted beet salad. The presentation was gorgeous, and everything I tried was excellent and nuanced.

For the entree, there were a range of choices: salmon, cheeseburger, fish and chips, quesadilla, chicken breast sandwich, prime rib french dip, new york steak, and mac-n-cheese ($10.50-$24)—we tried all but the first two. Again, beautiful. The mac-n-cheese was as good as a homemade version, with a nice crust. The steaks were thick and grilled to order, and so flavorful. Everyone else raved about their food, and everything looked so good, enough to make you think, maybe I should have ordered that.

We also had dessert—also lovely and tasty.

My lunch, if I had paid for it, would have been $30. Was it worth it? Yeah, I think so. The atmosphere of the place is definitely business lunch, but the food was good. And was beautiful. I don't know that I'd be going there every month, but once every year or so? Why not?

filled under food in downtown Portland
August 18, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sungari Restaurant

735 SW 1st Ave
(503) 224-0800
get there via trimet

Sungari entranceSungari is the best, and nicest presented, chinese food in downtown. Not that that's some exalted thing, as the bar is set so very low in Portland, and especially downtown. For lunch, everything is $10 or less, and you have the choice of ordering with or without soup. The menu is crowded with interesting looking dishes, including some vegetarian & Szechuan options. And while the portions are small, the food is good.

My problem is with the service. I came in just before 1pm and asked for a table for one. I waited for 8 minutes to be seated. There had been 3 or 4 4-tops open, but I was never offered one of those. During the time I waited, no groups came in, no couples, no singles, nobody, except a guy for his call-in order. I was finally seated when a couple left, and their 2-top was free. And maybe my waiter was having a bad day. But he seemed to be annoyed to be waiting on me. And when there are orchids on the table, I expect that someone will feign to be pleased to get my tip. Is that wrong? My waiter won! This one's moving into my not-recommended but I'll-eat-there-if-someone-else-suggests-it,-and-not-make-a-fuss file. Would I go back on my own? No way.

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January 19, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0)

The Driftwood Room at the Mallory Hotel

729 SW 15th Avenue (at Yamhill)
(503) 223-6311
get there via trimet

Time is running out on the tiny Driftwood Room. Admittedly, time left it somewhere behind in the early sixties, but February 1, the Mallory Hotel closes and is transformed, into what, who knows? The Driftwood Room—did I mention it was tiny?—is claustrophobicly small. With 9 tables, and only one a 4-top, and only a couple big enough to eat at, this place is small. When somebody starts smoking, it's like you're smoking. With a couple tables full, it's loud.

When I was younger, I would have loved sitting there, soaking up the smoke and the muzak versions of Sara Smile and Dollar Brand, though my cranky old self was less than enthralled. There are three taps, with Mac's, Mirror Pond, and Hefeweizen, and wine by the glass, but this is all about hard alcohol. Wait service was erratic, and I sat with an empty beer glass for a while. And during Happy Hour (which is an amazing 6 hours long, 3-9pm, Sunday-Thursday) there's no discount on drinks, but there's a hardcore food discount. Nothing's over $4. And while nothing was worth writing home about, hello!, I am okay with a half-pound burger for $4.

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January 5, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (1)

The Roxy

1121 SW Stark St.
(503) 223-9160
get there via trimet
24 hours except Mondays
greasy spoon with attitude

from Kat (4/26/2000): "i'm surprised you don't list the roxy as a cheap good freaky resturant/gay/lessy land (at night) it's over by powells book store's been 2 years since i lived in portland but the roxy is it...!"

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January 4, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Todai Seafood Buffet

3rd floor at Pioneer Place
(503) 294-0007
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find a bike route
lunch and dinner

Todai Seafood Buffet
inside Todai
Okay, buffet lovers. There are several areas here to concentrate on, and if you do, you won't regret it.

1. salads: most of the salads are really fresh and interesting. Of course, if the edamame or cucumber salads look old, they probably are.

2. udon counter: don't worry about the udon filling you up -- it's just a small bowl, kitsune style with abura-age (deep-fried tofu seasoned with sugar, mirin, and soy sauce) and a thin slice of kamaboko fish cake. But they do a nice job of it.

3. hot bar: lots of good stuff here. It's worthwhile to watch when the new tempuraed shrimp and veggies come out, and load up.

4. dessert crepe counter: you might mistake this as the udon counter. Crepes are made to order, and topped with whipped cream and a bunch of other sweet things. You can add powdered sugar and chocolate or maple syrup. You might even want to go back for seconds.

You'll notice I've said nothing about sushi or nigiri here. That's because, while this is generally better than supermarket sushi, it's far worse than kaiten sushi like Sushiville, Marinepolis Sushiland, and others. Turnover seems to be fairly fast, but the sushi still seems a bit forelorn.

There's also a dessert bar with softserve ice cream, and a fruit bar. 160 feet of Japanese Seafood Buffet in all!

So this is great if you're looking for variety, but at $15-$17 for lunch, or $25-$27 for dinner, it's expensive. Dinner at a conveyor belt place rarely costs me more than $12, and I can generally get away from a Japanese dinner at Biwa or Takahashi Restaurant or Yoko's for around $25-$30 a person, much less if I'm pinching pennies -- and that's for really good food, cooked to order.

So, Todai is what it is. I don't expect much of buffets, and you'll be happier if you don't expect a lot from Todai.

filled under Downtown Portland Restaurants
September 24, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (1)

Tom's 1st Ave Bento

1236 SW 1st Ave
(503) 241-3373
get there via Trimet
M-F, 11-4ish

Tom's 1st Ave Bento
the interior of Tom's
I went to Tom's yesterday. Wow. I'm just blown away by how good it is, how much food there is, etc. You really could do a lot worse than Tom's. Yes, it's not the cheapest bento but it probably is the best in town.

Don't bother with the salads - proceed directly to the protein: chicken, cooked to order sirloin, lamb, roasted pork, salmon, prawns, or tofu. In addition to grilled meats, they now have a roaster, and yesterday's specials included roasted pork and rosemary roast chicken (which was really good). Add some perfectly steamed veg and white or brown rice, or—la pièce de résistance—garlic mashed potatoes. Maybe add some potstickers if you're feeling greedy, and you have enough food, delicious, luscious, wonderful food, for two meals. This, all, for usually less than $10.

The surroundings are fine, clean, cheerful, though tending to be full of business folks talking loudly on their cell phones. A condiment station has sauces (including a spicy peanut sauce that occasionally zaps ya) and seasonings, to-go boxes, and just about anything else you'll need. On nice days, you can sit outside at tables on the sidewalk, and the garage-like door opens and lets the fresh air in.

Drawbacks: this place is popular. It's not cheap. Getting to the ordering area involves stairs and there is no apparent wheelchair access. And those porcelain plates laiden with piles of food are heavy!! Still, the folks that work there are masters of customer service. I, who eat there maybe 4 or 5 times a year, was greeted like a regular; I dropped a fork and one of the guys runs over with a new one. Generally, you just feel a bit coddled: good food, nice service, a respite from work.

filled under bento, lunch, alfresco, garage door
March 15, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (5)

Tugboat Brewing

711 S.W. Ankeny
(503) 226-2508
get there via trimet

This tiny space is the "only fully owner-operated brewery/pub in the
western world" per their very engaging web page, and it is full of books, which I always think is a plus.

That said, ask what's selling well, and order that, or get a taster before you order. They have some fairly consistent infection problems that cause their slower-sellers to sour. And, stay away from the food. You're really not that hungry.

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March 27, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (1)


232 SW Ankeny
(503) 248-1600
get there via trimet

According to the Willamette Week, there is no more lunch service. Valentines is a lounge with small plates. Sigh.

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July 23, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (0)


412 SW Fourth Avenue
(503) 226-3400
get there via trimet
Mon-Sat: 9AM-6PM
vegan & raw food emporium


Veganopolis is an all vegan cafeteria in Portland, Oregon. For those of you who perhaps aren't clear about vegan cuisine, the method is simple: No animal products whatsoever are used in the kitchen; Our emphasis is on flavorful and nutritious soups, salads, sandwiches and vegan baked goods. We will also be serving fresh Illy coffee and espresso, juices, iced green tea and organic sodas.

Much as I admire vegans, I seem powerless before cheese and meat. However, if I could eat at Veganopolis all the time, I don't think I'd have any trouble. I mean, they have wifi and beer, I'd never have to leave.

Veganopolis is a nice combination of fake meat and fake cheese, and actual vegetablish entrees. This place is a gold mine for the lactose intolerant as well as raw foodies.

But how do omnivores who aren't crazy about vegetables do with it? Well, obviously enough, fine.

First, the web site. There are menus and they are up to date. The specials for today are posted in HTML. They have a weekday buffet from 11-3 of an entree and sides for 6.95 per pound. And a Saturday breakfast buffet for the same price.

Drinkwise, there's espresso, a cooler of drinks and beer, and fresh squeezed OJ. There's a selection of soup, salads, sides, and sandwiches, made with just about any type of fake meat you can think of. Prefer your protein in the form of tofu or almond pate or housemade cashew ricotta? Well, duh!

It's a lovely space with great light, wide open, wheelchair accessible. A couple tables outside allow you to enjoy the ambience of the neighboring Subway. There is also seating on the mezzanine, which gives you the opportunity to be secretive (or to look down upon the front kitchen/counter area).

With the exception of the daily raw platter, everything is under $7. I'm addicted to their seitan caesar sandwich on a ciabatta roll, which won't convince anyone that it's meat, but it's really tasty all the same. And I love the idea of the vegan BLT. Next time...

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April 21, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (1)

Vegetarian House

22 NW Fourth
(503) 274-0160
get there via trimet
find a bike route
lunch buffet: M-F, 11-2:30

Vegetarian House
My curiosity about Vegetarian House got the better of me the other day, and I went in for the $6.50 buffet. I'm a softie for a veggie/primarily vegan meal, and I love gluten in asian foods. Actually, I was meeting someone I didn't know there, and when I first walked up to the window with its big poster of the Supreme Master Ching Hai, my immediate response was to want to bolt.

Now mind you, before I became a slave to TiVo, I used to watch a lot of community access television, and I relished, absolutely relished, seeing a Ching Hai lecture. Sometimes she has short hair, sometimes long hair, sometimes her head has been shaved. She tends to wear a single color, and her entire dias will be that color. I appreciated that effort. Man, you either have to have a serious staff for that sort of thing, or you rarely change colors.

But while I loved watching Ching Hai in the privacy of my home, seeing a poster of her, now bleached-blonde, made me worry about what the person I was meeting would think. I was trying, of course, to come off as a productive adult.

I was early, so I stood outside, until I had been panhandled once too many, and I decided to wait inside.

It's a narrow little restaurant, painted a sterile blue-green. Everything is spotlessly clean. There's a front table with literature about vegetarianism and veganism, and a counter with copies of "The Key of Immediate Enlightenment". The waitress comes up, and leads me to a table. She's wearing a little pin with a picture of the Supreme Master. That's when I notice the big flatscreen TV playing Supreme Master television. OMG!

Let's cut to the chase, shall we? The menu is on the expensive side (for lunch in a dive), with entrees from $7.95-$14.95, so we chose the buffet. It's a small buffet table with a hot soup (hot & sour), spring rolls, fried noodles, fried rice, tempura veggies, mixed seasonal veggies, pan-fried noodles, and eggplant.

In the hour plus I was there, I never saw anyone add fresh hot food to the buffet. So the things that had been fried were really suffering, becoming soggy & greasy. There were no real standouts, foodwise: everything was fairly underwhelming. The hot & sour soup was the winner to me, though it seemed to be mostly broth (unless you dug down to the bottom, and then it was mostly seaweed, cut a little too long to fit neatly into a person's mouth).

We had excellent service from the waitress, with frequent refills to our water glasses.

I really wanted to like this place, but I have to admit: there were too many vegetables and not enough gluten and too many fried things that had sat too long. And then there was the complete lack-of-subtlety about the whole Ching Hai thing.

I'm curious about items from the menu, and I will go back, I will. But not for the buffet.

filled under Restaurants in downtown Portland
September 27, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (4)



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