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Restaurants in Northeast Portland

North Portland restaurants have split off to their own page!


1303 NE Fremont St
(503) 249-5001
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AcadiaWe won a school auction of a Acadia gift certificate, so it was time for a splurge.

We were last at Acadia maybe 5 years ago. It was expensive and underwhelming. But, they had donated this gift certificate to a friend's elementary school, and it was time to give them another chance. After all, it's for the kids!

We ordered a decent bottle of wine which didn't seem exorbitantly marked up off the short but sweet wine list, and settled in to try a number of things. We started with the Barbeque Shrimp ($10.95).

Barbeque Shrimp is four large Louisana Gulf head-on shrimp in a butter, worcestershire, garlic, white wine, lemon and pepper sauce. It was terrific, and the sauce was decadent and lovely sopped up with Pearl bakery baguette.

Next was salads. I had the Bleu Note ($8.95), with fourme d'ambert (bleu) cheese, toasted pecans, and pears aside salad greens tossed in balsamic vinaigrette. My companion had the House Salad ($6.50), salad greens tossed in a creole mustard vinaigrette topped with crumbled egg. They both were gorgeously presented, perfectly dressed, and really really good.

My companion chose to do the 3-course $25 dinner. You get your choice of the house salad or a caesar, one of the starred entrees (which is everything but the barbecue shrimp, filet mignon, pork chop, or the taste of new orleans [crawfish etouffee and soft-shell crab]) and dessert. What a deal! It's available all night on Tuesday through Thursday, and before 6 and after 9 on Friday and Saturday.

So he had the Shrimp Acadian ($18.50), which was jumbo shrimp with shrimp and crawfish stuffing atop slices of crispy luscious eggplant. Oh, and there was a tomato beurre blanc sauce. Really really good.

I went for broke and had the Royal Street Filet Mignon ($29.95) atop grits. The grits were wedges of crispy-fried goodness, crunchy on the outside, smooth and creamy on the inside. The filet: well, that was incredible.

We finished with a slice of the gooey lemon cake which was really one of the most lovely desserts I've had in a dogs year. Wow.

Now, this wasn't inexpensive. Our bill was $119 for two, including a bottle of wine and a bottle of Abita Turbodog. Was it worth it? I think so. It was a really great meal, and for a special occasion, yum.

Now, if you want a cheaper experience, stay away from the sauce, go for the 3 for $25 deal, or better yet, go on Mondays when they offer 8 entrees for $10 each (as well as the regular menu).

filled under Restaurants in NE Portland
August 23, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Aladdin's Cafe

6310 NE 33rd (attached to the southside of the Food Villa) at Holman
(503) 546-7686
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First, I'd like to begin with the reasons why you won't want to eat here. One, they close at 8pm. Two, they are way north in NE Portland, far away from anything trendy. Three, they have a limited Lebanese menu—no fancy names you aren't sure how to pronounce. Four, there is no atmosphere, and in cold weather, the dining room is cold. Five, they have some american food items which encourage people to bring children. Six, they have no liquor license. Seven, small dining room. Eight, location is hard to find.

So, that's the downside. The upside is that the food is so good, you won't want to tell anyone about it. It's so reasonable, that, well, you might feel guilty that you're not elbow to elbow with punk rockers. They've applied for the liquor licence, and they take credit cards.

The pita is heads and shoulders above anything in town. It's so flakey and delicate that it melts in your mouth. Pita arrives hot from the kitchen soon after you sit down. Oh! The mezza goodies (falafel, homous, baba ghanouj, grape leaves, labneh, and foul) are each under $5, with a mazza combo for $8.50. The roasted eggplant in the baba is coursely ground, not at all bitter, vibrant with the peppery olive oil that marks all of the dishes. The homous is creamy and smooth and wonderful.

The rest of the menu is sandwiches, soups and salads, safeehas (pita dough with toppings), and grilled things. Nothing fancy, but everything done at a reasonable price. Lentil soup is not soupy lentils as at many restaurants—it's pureed almost smooth, a nice lemony note, and quite possibly addictive. Cheese safeeha—yummy cheesy goodness without falling into cheeziness. The meats—oh! Lamb is tender, chicken is incredibly good, covered in spice and flavor, and the rice is unlike any I've had before, and that's in a good way.

We finished our meal ($26) with a baklava and a turkish coffee, both less cloyingly sweet than usual. This is worth going out of your way for!

filled under Restaurants in NE Portland
February 20, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (5)

Alameda Brewhouse

4765 NE Fremont
(503) 460-9025
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The food and beer are reliable, nothing exceptional, but solid. (Except, of course, when it's not.) Fish and chips are one of the better options.

filled under Restaurants in NE Portland
May 17, 2005 | Permalink

Alberta Street Oyster Bar and Grill

2926 NE Alberta
(503) 284-9600
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September 7, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (2)

Autentica Mexican Cuisine

5507 NE 30th
(503) 287-7555
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haute Pacific Mexican
dinner Tuesday-Sunday, brunch Saturday & Sunday

Pescado entero
Camarones... mojo de ajo
It's been a little bit since I've visited and written up about Autentica, so let me tell you about a meal just the other night.

A caveat: I went on a Sunday night, and the chef/owner Oswaldo Bibiano was not there.

The service here is much improved. I'm not sure what happened, but something certainly did because the service is attentive.

I ordered a margarita, which is always good here, blended or on the rocks. They also offered a pomegranite version.

The menu is divided up between small & large plates, seafood cocktails, salads, soups, and sides. Large plates do tend to be generous enough that you don't need an appetizer or salad. Those run from $17-$20.

Seafood cocktails run from $12-$15; small plates from $3-$10; salads, $8-$13; soups, $7-$8; and sides, $4-$7.

Generally, there are at least a couple vegetarian and vegan options, but on the current menu, there is only one vegetarian dish.

We ordered a succession of food: pulpo al pescador, queso fundido con chorizo, and a couple of platillos mexicano. And they began arriving, along with three homemade salsas and freshly made corn tortillas, almost immediately.

The pulpo is an octopus cocktail. The octopus is sliced into small pieces and then combined with chunks of avocado and onions in a red chile sauce. It's served with saltine crackers. All in all, a very traditional dish. As always, the octopus was delicious, but I really wanted bigger chunks of it, and more of it.

At about the same time, the queso fundido arrived. This is basically a mexican fondue, made with oaxacan cheese and chorizo -- a heart attack in a little bowl. And it has the potential to be incredible. Not so on my visit -- the fundido was overcooked, leaving tough cheese, little islands of chorizo and puddles of grease. It still tasted good, and my companion and I scraped and scraped to get bits of cheesy goodness off. This was especially good with the black corn tortillas in our tortilla basket.

And finally, the main event. The platillo mexicano ($18) is made up of two enchiladas, in red and green moles, with a chile relleno. It sounds like your regular combo plate at your corner mexican joint, right? Wrong. If you're a fan of mole, you have to try this! The green mole is made from pumpkin seeds, tomatillos and serrano peppers, really rich and complex, over a simple chicken or cheese in a tortilla. The red mole is made from 8 kinds of dried chiles and nuts, and is better than any I've tasted anywhere. And the chile relleno is stuffed with cotija cheese, in a tomato sauce topped with crema. We were glad to have some extra, handmade, fresh corn tortillas to sop up all the extra sauce!

Other dishes I've tried before include the tortilla soup ($8) which was delicious. Camarones al autententico mojo de ajo ($20) are to die for, gorgeous, subtle and garlicky, and accompanied by rice . Anything with a mole sauce is worth seeking out, as is the pescado entero or whole fish. Tamales and tostadas are excellent too.

I've never tried the desserts.

All and all, it was not as good as I've had in the past, but still a very good meal.

By the way, check out their brunch.

filled under Restaurants in NE Portland, Mexican, weekend brunch, Concordia, Fox Chase
December 10, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (5)

Aztec Willie and Joey Rose Taqueria

1501 NE Broadway St
(503) 280-8900
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Aztec Willie
options on the rice, beans, protein bar
A burrito
Got kids? Picky eaters? Folks who won't set foot into a tienda/taqueria, or who like Chevy's? Need a drink? Or WiFi? Here you go.

Nobody would claim this is great food. But it's very edible, and you get lots of food.

Here's the set-up. Walk in and order from the giant board of burritos, tacos, tostadas, quesadillas, taco salads, nachos and combo plates. Choose from 4 types of chicken (chile verde, mole, asado & chile colorado), chile verde pork or carnitas, carne asada or ground beef. Then there's beans: black, pinto, refried (all vegetarian). There's grilled veggies, and the option to swap in spicy garlic prawns or mahi mahi.

Prices range from $3.50-$9.50, most in the more expensive range.

Just like in a Mission taqueria, you follow your food down the line, so you can specify none of this or more of that, as you wish. (Unfortunately, that's where the resemblance to a Mission taqueria ends) Pay up, and take it back to your table. That's it.

In spite of having a small play area, this is not overrun by children, so it's quite pleasant for the child-averse.

They have maybe a half dozen beers on tap, and, of course, many margarita options. It's non-smoking until 9:30 pm.

Of course, there are downsides. If you want a beer or a drink, you'll need to go into the bar and purchase it, separate from your food. Getting a seat on the sidewalk is hard during good weather—it's popular. There is exactly one table salsa, and it's nothing to write home about.

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July 20, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Bernie's Southern Bistro

2904 NE Alberta St
(503) 282-9864
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K7AAY, aka John, writes (5/18/2006)

It's fusion, but in a good way.

Bernie's, on rapidly gentrifying Alberta Street, is an alternate history restaurant, taking the basic theme of working class food from the Old South and raising it to astronomical heights of culinary achievement. Sadly, no Sundays, no Mondays, and no lunch, but for a moderate cost, you'll find crisply fried okra, black-eyed peas not boiled into oblivion, and tasty greens.

$3 happy hour features fried green tomatoes, mac and cheese, and po boys from 4-6 pm and 10-close Mon-Sat

Where else you gonna get a decent mint julep in Puddletown, annyhow?

WARNING: Impossible on 4th Thursdays due to Culture Vultures.


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May 18, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Binh Minh Bakery & Deli (aka Maxim's Bakery)

6812 NE Broadway St
(503) 257-3868
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Binh Minh
Banh Mi Pate
Banh Mi! Banh mi are Vietnamese sandwiches made with crispy but tender baguettes. The fillings include pickled carrots and other veggies, spreads, cilantro, jalapeno (sometimes) and traditionally some type of pork. They're typically cheap and addictive.

Like any other type of sandwich, banh mi benefit hugely from being made fresh in front of you. You can frequently get banh mi at Vietnamese groceries and some restaurants as a grab-and-go, wrapped in cellophane, and they just are no where near as good as a fresh sandwich.

Bread makes a difference too—if you can find a place that bakes the bread fresh, you can bet the banh mi is going to be good. And Binh Minh is a bakery as well as a banh mi shop.

Binh Minh is a phone booth of a place around the corner from the Pacific Super Market. They have a couple tables indoors that aren't really designed to be sat at for more than a couple American-sized people, and a couple tables outside. You go to the coolers and pick up your beverage, a gelatin dessert, shrimp flavored chips, etc, and then step over a step and order from the sign board on the wall.

Foodwise, I'm told it's pretty traditional. There are eight sandwiches, most $2.50: the Vietnamese sandwich (banh mi cha thit nguoi, $2), meat ball (banh mi xiu mai), barbeque pork (banh mi xa xiu), lemongrass chicken (banh mi thit ga nuong), Vietnamese pork (banh mi cha lua), fish (banh mi ca), pate (banh mi pate), and shredded pork (banh mi bi).

There are five soups and stews: fish soup (chao ca, tom, $5), Vietnamese rice noodle with pork (bahn cahn tom, xa xiu, $5), egg noodle with beef (mi bo kho, $5), beef stew with french bread (banh mi bo kho, $3.95), and french bread with round egg (banh mi op-la, $3.25). You can add extra meat or vegetables for 50 cents more.

I haven't tried any of the soups or stews, but I've had all of the sandwiches, and, wow, there's not a bad one in the bunch. I particularly enjoy the pate, but the lemongrass chicken is also great, and an option you don't always find elsewhere.

In addition, they always have some stuff in the hot case: steamed pork buns, and spring rolls for sure.

The sandwiches, let's face it, aren't huge: they're about the size of a skinny hoagy, so plan on getting two or supplementing it somehow.

The staff aren't terrifically friendly, but they know english well, and they're really speedy.

Stopping in to Binh Minh is always a treat—I think their banh mi are the ones to beat.

Cash only!

filled under Restaurants, storefronts, taquerias, and other eateries in NE Portland
October 5, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (2)


2715 NE Alberta
(503) 493-4430

Micha writes (10/2001),

Limited ale selection although they pour Fat Tire Amber Ale which sits well with me. Their Indian chicken tandoori pizza is really tasty, although they use some weird pre-packaged crust. Also good salad with "African herb" dressing - that's what the waitperson called it. No idea what's in it. Lemon and then a lot of things which are not lemon.

Mirfy adds:

Andrea does a great job of having a good red wine available by the glass!

For many of my friends, the allure of the place is the garage door. Binks is about as big as a gas station, but it's certainly an enjoyable hangout spot, with good salads, and pizza made to order. And, they have one of the best jukeboxes in Portland!

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August 24, 2005 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Blue Moose Cafe

4936 NE Fremont

filled under Restaurants in NE Portland
April 6, 2007 | Permalink

Blue Nile

2225 NE Broadway
(503) 284-4653
Ethiopian cafe
Breakfast, lunch, and dinner

Since Broadway has even more East African restaurants than MLK, we started there, and ducked into the Blue Nile. We weren't disappointed. Meat dishes come in at $9.99, vegetarian options start at $5.99, and our food was incredible. A paste accompanied my kitfo which was easily the hottest thing I have ever eaten. My one complaint is that the quantity of food varies a lot from item to item, and from time to time. My sweetie's Doro Wat was just a chicken leg in sauce, whereas my entree took up fully half of our shared tray of food. But that said, we both brought some home with us -- so it can grow hotter in the fridge!

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August 24, 2005 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Bogarts Restaurant


701 NE 7th Ave
(503) 234-3465
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filled under restaurants near the OCC, NE Portland restaurants, burgers, bars
July 24, 2006 | Permalink

Bonita Taqueria, La

2839 NE Alberta St
(503) 281-3662
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Open 10-10 seven days a week

La Bonita
the menu board and where you order
La Bonita, the mural and interior
The other day, Ayleen told me that her favorite breakfast spot was on Alberta, but it was cheap, good and there was never a line. I made a few guesses, but never guessed La Bonita—until she told me. Damn!

Of course, she wasn't kidding. La Bonita is great for breakfast.

You basically have 5 options: 4 entrees for $6, and a breakfast burrito for $4.50. But what options these are! The egg dishes are heuvos rancheros, heuvos con chorizo, and heuvos a la mexicana, served with beans, rice, and warm tortillas. Chilaquiles round out the entrees, the luscious stale tortilla chips cooked in sauce, yum, yum, yum.

But for me, the breakfast burrito, while being atraditional, is the highlight. You have a large burrito filled with eggs, beans, hashbrowns and cheese. Add chorizo for a buck if you're a meat eater—you'll be glad you did. Talk about good. Add a little red or green salsa, and you have a tasty, filling meal.

But of course, La Bonita is not a slouch when it comes to other meals, either. If you haven't been there in a while, the interior has been updated with custom wooden booths and tables. Big upgrade from the orange fastfood booths! And as you might expect from Alberta St., they have bilingual staff cashiering.

They have menudo and pozole ($5-$7) every day!

Tacos are either $1.50 or $1.95 depending on the choice of meat (chicken, beef and pork carnitas are cheap; carne asada, tongue, fish, shrimp, machaca and al pastor are more pricey).

Of course, there are also quesadillas ($4-$6 depending on the filling), tostada ($3-$5), tortas ($5-$6), chimichangas (?)($6-$7), and tamales ($2: pollo, vegan, carnitas, and chile verde).

Meat burritos are $4.50 or $5 (with a chile relleno & meat sneaking in at $5 and fajita burrito sneaking in at $6), and meatless burritos ranging from $2.50-$5 for bean & cheese, bean & cheese & rice, chile relleno, veggie and fajita veggie. Get it enchilado (or a La Bonita) for another $2.

Platters include the three taco ($8 or $9), tamales ($8 or$9), carne asada ($10), chile relleno ($8), Mole (Friday-Sunday, $9 or $11), enchiladas ($8 or $9), and finally, a sampler with enchilada, chile relleno, and a tamale ($11).

Did I mention breakfast is all day?

I need to eat something other than breakfast there, but damn, I do love their breakfasts.

filled under Restaurants in NE Portland
July 26, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Breakfast at IKEA

10280 NE Cascades Parkway
(503) 282-IKEA (4532)
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Breakfast Hours: 9:30 a.m. - 11:30 a.m., 7 days a week

Welcome to IKEAFOOD

regular breakfastWe decided, in the name of science, to order all the possible non-dessert items that you could have for breakfast. That with a cup of coffee rang in for less than $6.

There are, of course, multiple options. A small and regular breakfast. Swedish pancakes. And a cinnamon roll.

The small and regular breakfasts are exactly the same, except the regular breakfast has these french toast dipping sticks. The dipping sticks, of course, are deep-fried, but surprisingly french-toast-like. The little potato chunks are also deep-fried, and also surprisingly delicious, even cold. The eggs are perfectly scrambled, not dried out at all from the steam tray, and seasoned. The bacon was the only disappointment, being smoked and just okay.

The buckwheat pancakes are folded into wedges and served with whipped cream and lingonberries on the side. These are good, but the steam table is not as kind to them as it is the breakfast -- I'm certain they're better right off the griddle.

And then there is the cinnamon bun. It's not as gooey and luscious as some, but it's still sweet and a bit sticky and perfectly okay with coffee.

I love the fact that your food comes on porcelain plates, your coffee in a porcelain cup, your flatware made of some sort of real metal. And the bargain hunter in me loves the fact that you can get a perfectly decent breakfast, quite possibly better than your neighborhood place, for $2.

filled under IKEA, Restaurants in NE Portland
November 15, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (4)

Bridges Cafe

2716 NE M L King Blvd at Russell
(503) 288-4169
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breakfast until 3pm on weekends, lunch
artsy deli

I hate to damn Bridges with faint praise, but it's a neighborhood joint. Mind you, they're reasonably friendly, generous with the food, relatively popular, so much so that there's frequently a wait, and their food is consistently not bad. It's just inconsistent about being great.

Bridges is a sunny little corner breakfast joint. There are a couple booths, and quite a few tables, but it's crowded enough that wheelchair access would be a hassle.

It's smoke-free inside, and they have an awning hanging over some picnic tables on the Russell Street side if you prefer the company of your dog, or want to people-watch the folks going in and out of the Nike Outlet store. There is some exposed bike parking, and a gravel parking lot behind for the motor vehicles.

The menu is split into Benedicts ($9.50-$10.25), Omelettes ($8-$9), and Specialties ($7.25-$9.25). There's a dazzling selection of food items: burritos, french toast, fruit plates. You can also get cocktails and mimosas ($4.50-$6.50), bottled beer ($2.75-$3.25, selection varies, though usually it's some Wolaver's Organic Pale, Deschutes ales, Fat Tire, and Henry's), and wine by the glass.

Most non-carboload dishes come with potatoes. These are garden variety roasted potatoes, and like most places in town that serve them, they're not very good. They tend towards mushy.

This morning, we ordered a classic Benedict, and the Eggs Fiesta. The latter seems like it should have an exclamation point—whadda name! But sadly, the Fiesta, while its individual components were okay, there was nothing about the combination to write home about.

The benedict was fine. No complaints. Local canadian bacon, nice sauce, eggs just right. If only the potatoes were better.

filled under hair of the dog, breakfast, brekkie, benedict, omelette, omellette, omelet, Bridges, Eliot
June 7, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Broadway Grill & Brewery

1700 NE Broadway
(503) 284-4460
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You know, there are some addresses where you just think, oh g-d, what rubbish is here now? You know, addresses that are cursed? The former location of Epicure, La Prima Pizzeria, Irvington Corner Table, Rustica, and probably a half-dozen other places whose names I've blocked out because it was such an underwhelming experience, is now the locale for an underwhelming brewpub. Or it will be a brewpub once they get the brewery properly licensed.

If you are familiar with Old Market Pub, and/or like their beer and food, well, there you go. I'm told that the menu is the same at Broadway. I'm not surprised at all that places like Old Market Pub survive on the west side; the west side is so underserved for any type of edible inexpensive food that places that have no excuse for surviving hang on for years.

The space is dotted by big screen TVs and has the ambiance of a bus station; except in this bus station, there's lots of unfinished wood.

Let us begin with the menu. Appetizers and the beer list make up the front page. There is an artichoke-spinach-cheese dip, onion rings, 2 types of fries, 3 quesadillas, hot wings, and nachos. Prices range from $3.95 to $9.95, with most things, including the corn chips and salsa, ringing in at $6.95-$7.95.

We didn't order the $6.95 corn chips and salsa. There's TOFTT and then there's sheer stupidity.

Soups & Salads range from $3.95-$9.95, that lowest price being a cup of pub-made soup, the latter being an entree caesar with a 1/4 pound of shrimp. Are they cocktail style or deepfried, prawns or bay shrimp? Who knows?

Entrees vary widely. There's a pasta ($12.95-$13.95), gyros ($8.95-$10.95), chicken fingers ($9.50), 10 inch pizzas ($9.95), fish-n-chips ($9.95-$12.95), burgers ($6.95-$9.45), and sandwiches ($8.60-$9.90. Vegetarian options (a garden burger, 3 veggie pizzas, and the gyros) are few and far between. Just about everything comes with potato chips, and there are up-charges galore: to sub in fries, to get dipping sauce, to add salsa (!) to your nachos.

Broadway Grill has about a dozen taps of Old Market Pub beers. We asked our teenage waitress for her recommendation, and that worked about as well as you might expect. We ended up with a couple of lackluster beers. Then we ordered food.

Now, honestly, I hadn't heard anything good about this place, but I was hoping in the way that I always do, that this would be a good place to get dinner. So with that inherent, unproven optimistism...

I had the "1/2-pound beer-battered fish & chips", halibut with the shoestring fries. The fries were okay, but the fish, yikes. It was an awful grade of halibut, if it was halibut; it had no taste, and a distinctly wrong texture. Halibut is a firm white meat fish with a fine texture. It should flake into chunks when you cut it, or put it in your mouth, and it should have a sweet mild flavor. The deep-frying and beer batter were adequate. Wait a minute, scratch that. At 12.95 for a half-pound, what a rip off!

My companion got a "big corned beef reuben" ($8.95), which he described as the worst reuben he had ever had. For one thing, it wasn't big. The sandwich had too little corned beef, and what little corned beef it had wasn't very good. It wasn't bad, it was just something you'd expect in a Denny's reuben, if they served reubens (do they? I have no idea). The overall sandwich was greasy. Well, at least we had our fries.

What I don't get is that when we were there, the joint was jumping. Lots of folks there, eating and drinking. Is NE Broadway this starved for pub grub? I guess so.

filled under restaurants in NE Portland, Brewpubs
December 29, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (6)


82nd & NE Sandy

Jim writes,

The Cameo is one of the better breakfast places in town -- pancakes by the "acre," and really good omelettes. Be sure to get an order of "strong bread" toast with your breakfast. It's great. The prices are reasonable, and the portions are generous and tasty. Avoid the house 'specialty' called (something like) 'Pandetuk' -- but the basic breakfast fare is of the best in town.

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August 24, 2005 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Carboni's (formerly Wildfire Wood fired pizza and BBQ)

CLOSED: now Ned Ludd
3925 NE Martin Luther King Blvd
(503) 546-3111
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filled under Restaurants in NE Portland
January 22, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (4)

Catalina's Mexican Restaurant

517 NE Killingsworth St
503) 288-5911
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tex-mex mariscos joint
lunch, dinner, 7 days

Catalina's RestaurantThere is a Catalina, Virginia, and she, with her son, Eddie, oversee the goings on at Catalina's. Come in a couple times, and even if you speak lousy spanish, you'll be part of the extended family. When the Catalina's cooks are on, this is some of the best homestyle tex-mex in town. Other times, you feel like you're eating right in some one's kitchen. What they serve is solid tex-mex, with an emphasis on seafood. The pollo and carne asada are both strong, but if you really want good, go for shrimp. The prices are reasonable -- $6-9 for the non-seafood entries, $9-11 for seafood; portions are generous, and most important, everything is good.

The prices are similar to those at La Sirenita, but Catalina's offers table service, chips and (piquant, homemade, cilantro-y, not onion-y,) salsa, beer, and mixed drinks. Oh, and it's clean. A covered porch offers a nice place to eat in good weather and the takeaway window features $1.50 tacos, $5 tortas, and tamales, which aren't on the menu but are worth a visit. Which is enough to sway me. On the downside, there's video crack, which can make the parade of the poker-addicted an interesting feature of dining there.

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February 14, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Cha! Cha! Cha! Fremont

4727 NE Fremont St
(503) 358-0677
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Cha! Cha! Cha!A friend mentioned Cha! Cha! Cha! the other day, that she and her vegetarian husband loved it. I hadn't gone because I just haven't been that excited about Cha! Cha! Cha! in the past, but I decided I needed to see for myself.

And after going there, I'm still not very excited. The Fremont store has table service, and it's quite pleasant inside, in spite of a lot of 2-top tables that are very close together and easily tip, and fiesta-colored plastic chairs that are very uncomfortable, and the very loud music. Okay, so maybe it wasn't that pleasant. The menu seemed promising: not much over $10, beer, wine and margaritas, and the place seemed good for both young families and grumpy DINKs.

I was there with my pal who can't bear sour cream. The menu mentioned sour cream only briefly, so we ordered taquitos with mashed potatoes, mama (an enchilada), tamales, and two tacos. I ordered mine without onions or pico de gallo, he mentioned that any sour cream should be on the side.

So, I'm drinking my excellent margarita, feeling very optimistic when the taquitos arrive... covered with raw onions and sour cream. My companion makes the best of it. I make the best of it. They're taquitos, dang it!

Our entrees come covered in a salsa verde, topped with sour cream and raw onions. So we sent them back. And they come back to us, obviously scraped. That's fine, I don't care, until I realized that no one had bothered to scrape the raw onions off the bottom of mine. Sigh!

Our tacos ($1.50 each) are good. The pastor is sweet, maybe a little too sweet, but tasty. The chorizo is full of onions, but the meat is good, spicy, not greasy. There was a lot of meat in those tacos.

I had ordered the mama, a tortilla covered with chopped carne asada and mexican rice. This was topped enchilada style with the salsa verde, which didn't have any strong flavor, but was very rich. The mama was fine, particularly for $5.50. The tamales were okay too. Nothing to write home about necessarily, just okay.

Service, however, was awful. I'm not sure about the whole onion or sour cream thing: was there a language issue? The ticket was written in english. But why didn't our server check for these things, before she brought them to the table? A request to turn down the music brought a similar rolling of the eyes, like she just didn't want to deal with it. But you know, I didn't want to deal with acoustic guitar that was so loud that I'd have to shout at my companion.

Within ten minutes of leaving the restaurant, both my companion and I had some fierce heartburn. I can only blame the salsa verde which (like it was made with a lot of cream or pepitas) had flowed around all of the food save the tacos that we had eaten.

So. It is really cheap, and if you don't need to make any special requests, you'll probably be fine. But if you're expecting any level of service, or you do need to make a special request, forget it.

filled under Restaurants in NE Portland
June 20, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (4)

Chez Jose

2200 NE Broadway St
(503) 280-9888

Chez Jose East
I understand why people eat here. It's hard to find a place that accomodates children, offers food that isn't challenging, and pours stiff drinks. However, the food here is on the pricier side, and really rather underwhelming. It's also not the greatest place to go if you're not up for being surrounded by people with their kids.

That said, I really liked their black bean soup.
very child-friendly cal-mexican

filled under Restaurants in NE Portland, Irvington, Restaurants near the Oregon Convention Center
May 20, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (0)


1473 NE Prescott St

filled under Restaurants in NE Portland
May 22, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (2)

Chin Yen

14 NE 28th

Lori says:

Best Chinese food in town. *MY* favorites: sizzling rice soup, General Tso's chicken, dry sauteed green beans, Szechwan Eggplant, and pot stickers.

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August 24, 2005 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Chino Sai-Gon

835 NE Broadway Street
(971) 230-1600
get there via trimet
find a bike route
Vietnamese, Thai & Chinese Cuisine
lunch & dinner, 7 days

charcoal chicken
Wonton egg noodle soup
Since I had such a lackluster experience at a Viet-Chinese restaurant the other day, I'm not sure what inspired me to want to go to another one. But we had just gotten home from a cartrip, and just wanted something quick and easy in the neighborhood.

Chino Sai-Gon was formerly Saigon Kitchen, and like the old inhabitant, Chino serves from a Chinese, Vietnamese, and Thai menu. When we were there, the place was fairly quiet: a couple of families, us, a latina who ordered five or six entrees (they looked good, too), a parking garage attendent eating white rice and drinking hot water.

We ordered pot stickers (6 for $4.95), charcoal chicken ($7.50), a bowl of wonton soup (large, $5.95) and wonton egg noodle soup ($5.95).

The charcoal chicken came first. It's a classic play-with-your-food handroll experience, and one of my favorite things from the old Saigon Kitchen menu. This included a large oval plate of sweet and spicy grilled chicken covered in sesame seeds, a large salad plate with lettuce, cilantro, diced carrot & daikon, mung bean sprouts, and thin rice noodles, and of course, the rice paper circles to wrap everything in.

While some places (Pho Van pops to mind) have elegant hot water sleeves to soften your rice paper, Chino gives you a giant plastic bowl of steaming water. It works fine, it just takes up a lot of space... especially when you consider that the handrolls take up the whole table by itself.

So, you dip the rice paper until it's pliable, you fill it with stuff, and then roll it up like a salad roll (or a burrito), and dip it in the accompanying peanut sauce. Yum. If you like playing with your food, I definitely recommend this: it's generous and tasty.

Pot stickers were another big success. These came straight from the pan, toasty brown on several sides, and really rather big, stuffed full of some unidentified meat, probably pork. They were the best pot stickers I've had in recent memory.

So, of course, we hadn't even finished our appetizers and the soup comes, and at this point, I'm almost full. Our table is completely full of dishes.

Now you might be wondering, what is the difference between wonton soup and wonton egg noodle soup? Well, the former has a spicier broth, and a lot of iceberg lettuce. Both have the wonton and the bbq pork and the occasional shrimp. The wonton egg noodle had a nice chickeny broth and thin egg noodles, and it came with its own small salad plate of cilantro, leaf lettuce, sliced jalapeno and quartered lime.

The soup in the end was fine, just nothing to write home about. It really could be a meal in itself.

So. The menu is huge, with over 150 items on the Chinese-Vietnamese menu, with just about everything under $10. The thai menu has an additional 17 items. Menu items are in English, overwhelmingly, so don't bother looking for pho or bun, look for beef noodle soup or vermicelli noodles. Still, some things are unclear: hot & sour soup: Vietnamese or Chinese?

We will definitely return, especially for those potstickers and charcoal chicken. But the rest of the menu is a crap shoot. I'll update this entry as we try new things.

filled under Food in NE Portland, food near the convention center
November 27, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (2)

County Cork

1234 NE Fremont
faux Irish meets sports meets ?
7 days a week, 13 taps, No smoking

Once upon a time, County Cork was great. The food was great, the beer was great. Now, not so much. And it's overrun by neighborhood parents desperate for a beer with their wailing offspring. No one will mistake it for Laurelwood.... there are more kids, and the food and beer are better there.

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August 24, 2005 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Cup & Saucer NE

3000 NE Killingsworth
(503) 287-4427

Breakfast all day. Same day service. Breakfast, lunch, dinner, beer and bar. I'm trying to get excited about this, honest. We went in for dinner, and the best part was the fresh draught beer. We ordered a couple burgers, one with a side of chili, the other with a side salad, and an order of cheese fries. The burgers were nothing to write home about. Chili, thick and unspectacular. Side salad, almost inedible. Cheese fries were pricy, soggy, unseasoned and thoroughly underwhelming.

A lot of people love C&S for breakfast.

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April 7, 2005 | Permalink | Comments (2)

Dog House

29th & Burnside (in the Wild Oats' parking lot)
(503) 239-DOGS
haute dog stand

So, this place is no Superdog or Zack's. This is not going to be a culinary experience you will swoon over. But, if you're hungry for a dog or sausage, served as you wish, but without fanfare and having to find parking, and at great speed, The Dog House may be for you. It's literally a stand -- there are some tables out on the deck, but that's all she wrote. Realistically, on a beautiful day, what else do you need?

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August 24, 2005 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Du's Grill

5365 NE Sandy Blvd
(503) 284-1773
get there via trimet
find a bike route
Monday-Friday 11-9

I mention to the barber that I'm hungry, and immediately, Du's is mentioned. Have I been to Du's? OMG, Du's is so good, blah blah blah. And I admit that I've smelled Du's when I've ridden my bicycle by. The aroma of grilled meats coming out of that place is incredible, the sort to make you hungry again when you've just eaten. And suddenly, Du's sounds like the best idea EVAR.

They claim they have the best grilled teriyaki in town. They may just be right. They have 9 menu items, not counting sides or drinks, each between $5.50 and $8. Mostly, it's chicken, beef or pork teriyaki, though they also have a tofu bowl and yakisoba. I didn't see anyone order the tofu bowl or the chicken teriyaki salad; the resounding favorite was the chicken & beef teriyaki.

In no time flat, and I mean, less than five minutes, I had a groaning container of salad, rice, and teriyaki. The salad is dressed with a poppyseed dressing that I had been warned about— it's good, though all iceberg lettuce. The rice was rice, and the teriyaki was steaming hot grilled meat, a little dry but really tasty with the rice and a bit of teriyaki sauce. You can also get hot sauce, or a side of kim chee ($2.25).

The dining room has nothing going aesthetically, but hey, do you need that really? Especially since it appears they stuff even more food on the plates, and two people can eat and drink pop for under $20? No beer, but hey, you don't come here to hang out. You come here to eat teriyaki.

A little girl glued herself to the counter, watching a woman cleaver chop up pieces of chicken with big eyes. "I've been coming here since before you were born", a business man said to her, obviously just having pulled himself away from work at 8 o'clock at night. And even at 8, there were a steady stream of customers.

filled under Restaurants in Northeast Portland
September 13, 2006 | Permalink

Echo Restaurant

2225 NE M L King Blvd
(503) 460-3246
get there via trimet
find a bike route

the Echo patio
more photos of Echo
You know, there are places that are charming, where the folks are nice, and the prices are okay, and then you eat the food and it's a deep disappointment. Sadly, for brunch, Echo is one of these places.

Let's start with the restaurant itself: with brick walls and an insanely high ceiling, a beautiful wood bar, and some nice wood accents. Wood booths line the floor to ceiling windows. The atmosphere is cozy. The outside eating area is in a space between two buildings, with bamboo at the end that faces MLK, heaters, and homemade lanterns and a fountain. It manages to be shady and breezy and thoroughly pleasant.

When we went for brunch, there were two folks working the front of the house: the bartender, and a waiter. This was fine initially, but as the patrons started streaming in, they were in the weeds.

The menu is varied and inexpensive: biscuits and gravy, french toast, pancakes, eggs & meat, frittata, as well as small plates, salads and sandwiches, most in the $5.50-$8 range. Some of these things seemed to be different just to be different, like the french toast, made from zucchini-carrot bread in an orange juice-rum batter. We ordered a cup of coffee (a bad idea: stick with espresso or alcohol), the dos heuvos (2 eggs, bacon, potatoes or grits and biscuit or bagel) with grits and biscuit, and the frittata with salad.

While we waited for food, the staff kept our coffee and water glasses full. The water carafes have slices of cucumber floating in the water—nice.

About a half hour later, out came the food. The frittata was overdone, browned, on the outside, and too thin. The crab filling tasted fishy, and the hollandaise that topped it was gelatinous and had a muddy flavor. The accompanying salad was almost dry, with very little sign of a dressing, nonetheless balsalmic vinagrette.

The dos heuvos were good, cooked to order, though the biscuit was drier than dry and didn't really taste like anything. I opted for grits, which were made with a white sharp cheddar and thyme: my dining partner thought they tasted weird, but for me, they were the highlight of the meal, and some of the best grits I've had in Portland.

In the end, I think the recommendation that I've heard for dinner at Echo also applies to brunch: keep it simple and you're likely to be happy.

filled under food in NE Portland
August 17, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Got Pho?

3634 NE Sandy
(503) 232-4888
get there via trimet

banh khoai tom
Brock writes

Has really decent food as well, and nice atmosphere. I think they're even doing some sort of breakfast now.

This strip mall location means there's always parking. While it looks like an Asian Sheri's inside, and there is the unfortunate name, this is a very decent neighborhood viet-chinese restaurant.

The menu here is very extensive. Lots of appetizers, variants of pho, and other soups, as well as bun (noodle dishes with protein). They also serve beer, and bahn mi (vietnamese sandwiches) all day. Breakfast is definitely of the vietnamese variety. It's bright and cheery too.

This is the only place I've seen on the menu that they will switch out fish sauce for soy sauce if you ask. Still, I don't know that this is a great vegetarian restaurant unless you're willing to not ask any questions.

We tend to get pho, with its rich fragrant broth and lovely fresh salad plate (avoid the brisket—they ain't kidding about the fat). But if you're up for an adventure and you have a bit of time, try out the specialty dishes. Last night we tried the Banh Khoai Tom, special crispy fried sweet potato & shrimp. It was excellent—though it would have been nice if the owner had mentioned that it would take a half hour.

This is not a date place though. It tends to sound like a bus station even when there are only a couple of tables, and when the busser rolls around her huge rubbermaid bussing cart, people in the Pizza Hut next door probably know it. Still, a bowl of pho soothes a lot of woes...

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December 16, 2005 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBacks (0)

Grand Central Bakery & Cafe

1444 NE Weidler St
(503) 288-1614
get there via trimet
find a bike route

Grand Central CafeThey serve Stumptown coffee. They have excellent baked goods. They have the best breakfast sandwich in town, and some really yummy soups and sandwiches. Oh, and they even have salads.

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May 31, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Hama Sushi

4232 NE Sandy Blvd.
(503) 249-1021
get there via trimet

Excellent Japanese style sushi and meals in a quiet serene setting. The prices are right too. With no nigiri above $5 (most is $2.95), and no rolls above $9 (with most under $5), it's easy to have a meal without taking out a second mortgage. They offer lunch as well as dinner, Tuesday-Saturday. Excellent, reasonable bento boxes, too.

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November 21, 2005 | Permalink | Comments (0)


1538 NE Alberta St
(503) 281-1477

Helser's appears to be about to implode due to its popularity. But it's popular for a good reason: a good breakfast at a fairly reasonable price. Cheap eaters will want to get there before 9 (probably, quite a bit before nine, as it seems to fill fairly early), and order off their early bird menu. The scotch eggs are insanely good, as are the occasionally offered potato pancake sandwiches. And while I'm still waiting to find a place that does french toast as good as my own, this is the best I've found in a while. Decent coffee, and the opportunity to start the day with alcohol are other bonuses. On nice days, there are tables outside as well.

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September 26, 2005 | Permalink

Hollywood Burger Bar

4211 NE Sandy
(503) 288-8965
breakfast and lunch
Americana short-order

Diane writes:

Good burgers and fries in historic old trolley stop. And cheap!

It's true. Everything here is cheap and good and unpretentious. This is one of my favorite joints for a fast diner breakfast.

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August 24, 2005 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Horn of Africa

5237 NE MLK (in Vanport Square Plaza)
(503) 331-9844
Ethiopian/East African

So, in spite of my claims of the past, Horn of Africa is Ethiopian. It's just not like any other Ethiopian in town. Sure, it's spicy, eaten with teff-flour bread, and there are some similar flavors. But different names because it's a different language. And the flavoring leans more towards the Indian subcontinent than any of the other Ethiopian/Eritrean restaurants. A recent dinner there featured more food than I have ever seen at an African restaurant, with the entrees being huge, and the owner devoted to seeing no one leave hungry. Check them out for their lunchtime buffet. Yum. Good, and cheap. Limited menu, and not as firey as Jarra's, but yum. Mmm.

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Kennedy School's Courtyard Restaurant

5736 NE 33rd Ave.
(503) 249-3983
get there via trimet
find a bike route

The Courtyard Restaurant
Heuvos Rancheros
more photos
I have mixed feelings about the McMenamins chain. They restore these cool old buildings, and give people the chance to stay somewhere that is about 180 degrees from a cookie-cutter chain. Yet they make inconsistent beer, and the food seems to be an expensive afterthought. They're where a lot of us who grew up drinking industrial swill learned about craftbrews: they enabled the Portland/NW microbrew revolution. And yet the places have such hippyish decor, and the staff so stoned that I'm a little embarrassed.

Still, when I noticed the Kennedy School does breakfast, I knew I'd be heading over there sooner rather than later.

Kennedy School is a former school, built in 1915, retired in 1975. Its one-story modular design was a model to others and got national recognition. In 1997, the McMenamin Brothers worked their magic, transforming the school into guestrooms, bars, a theatre, brewery and restaurant, all with a smirking reference to the school it once was.

And note the year: 1997. Before Alberta was happening, before New Seasons even existed. Before Nature's Northwest went bad. The McMenamin Brothers took a big chance on a property in an area that a lot of folks saw as a bad neighborhood. Good or bad, the Kennedy School project was a huge force in the area's gentrification.

The Courtyard Restaurant is the former cafeteria, right on a courtyard, and I was surprised as we walked in the room how I wanted to linger. The room is full of mismatched light fixtures, huge wood booths, a gorgeous bar, and of course, a whole wall of windows onto the courtyard which is gorgeous: lots of tables, chairs, benches and small pews surround beautiful plantings, and a huge fireplace.

In a word, the place is beautiful, and comfortable, eccentric but in a thoroughly pleasant way. It's so thoroughly Portland, and the acid-trip stuff that makes me gag about McMenamins (men wearing overalls with a hammer for their head, women who look like some SCA witch, stars and moons, so many stars and moons) is so very subtle if it's there at all. I love this room.

We had coffee that they roast themselves: not bad at all. The breakfast menu ranges from $4.15-$9.40, from eggs to flapjacks to biscuits & country gravy to cereal. The waitron recommended the benedict, which is significantly more expensive than everything else. So we ordered heuvos rancheros and biscuits and gravy, along with a side of sausage.

The menu is tremendously vegetarian friendly, just as Kennedy School is tremendously wheelchair friendly.

Anyways, the food: bland. There was plenty of it, but nothing had much of any flavor.

The biscuits were like mutant dumplings, absolutely huge, covered in a white sauce. There was plenty of gravy, but it tasted really more like a white sauce than a sausage gravy. Mmmm, white sauce over giant biscuits...

The heuvos rancheros, of course, did not have anything resembling ranchero sauce, just warmed corn tortillas, bland black beans, unmelted shredded cheddar cheese, poached eggs, a bland salsa, and sour cream. Even the sausage didn't taste like much of anything.

This bummed me out so much. By the time we had gotten our coffee, I had decided that I wanted to spend as much time as possible in this room, or once it stops raining, in that courtyard.

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June 5, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (1)

Lanvin French Bakery

8211 NE Brazee St (on the back side of Pho Oregon)
(503) 252-0155
get there via trimet
find a bike route

Lanvin French Bakery

I am tremendously charmed by Lanvin. First of all, it's tiny -- the floor space is about a third of the tiny NE Binh Minh's, and it really is primarily a bakery of all sorts of yummy french-viet sweets. The front area is full of bakery cases of cream-filled goodies.

We were coming to Lanvin for the banh mi, vietnamese sandwiches. These are generally your choice of meat, pickled carrot & daikon (and jalapeno, though you may have to ask for it) on a hoagie-sized french roll, with a texture that is very similar to a baguette.

Lanvin has (apparently) six types of banh mi: Vietnamese ($2.50), BBQ Pork ($2.50), Meatball ($2.50), Fish ($3.50), Special (the Vietnamese with extra meat, $3.50), and G/LL Pork ($3.50 -- I have no idea what that is). While we were deciding, one of the many ladies behind the counter started offering us tastes: of the bread, and then of the banana bread. Yum!

Once we got our sandwiches, the place cleared out, so we sat at the one tiny table, and one of the counter ladies brought us an extra stool -- so sweet!

Sandwich-wise, it really wasn't a bad sandwich, but still not as superlative as Binh Minh's. The sandwiches featured long thin slices of cucumber along with the pickled daikon & carrot, which gave a nice contrast. But we had just had the same sandwich at Binh Minh, and it really won out. But one of our party loved the bread and thought it was superior to Binh Minh's.

They do supply their bread to other banh mi shops, and it is solid. I loved the meatball sandwich there, and I can easily see myself having pho at Pho Oregon, and then saving a little room for a meatball banh mi at Lanvin.

filled under Restaurants in NE Portland
January 8, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBacks (0)

Mash Tun Brewpub

2204 NE Alberta (entrance on 22nd Ave)
(503) 548-4491
get there via trimet
find a bike route
Monday-Friday, 4-midnight
Weekends, noon - midnight

Mash Tun is just a little brewpub, just a little off Alberta, behind Office. It has a nice little bar, a small room, and a nice covered patio which easily doubles the space. In addition to brewing a few house beers, they have a nice, concise selection of craft beers and imports, and they offer food: not the best food, but the sort of stuff that can prolong your drinking.

Now, brewpubs or taverns that offer undistinguished, inconsistent food isn't that unusual, of course—it sadly seems to be the law (with exceptions like Widmer). But how many of them offer vegan options next to their more meaty third-cousins? I can think of only a handful of places, but Mash Tun is one.

On tap, they have 2 house beers, 3 imports, and 7 craft beers. They also have a handful of things in bottles and cans (brother, clap your hands). None of this is terribly cheap: for imperial pints, the house ales are $4, craft beers are $4.25, and imports are $4.50, with non-tap options ranging from $2.25-$4.50.

I haven't been so crazy about their house beers, but they are very drinkable. The tap selections rotate, so there is always something good on. Last night, for example, there were 4 or 5 different craft beers that I would be very happy to drink. Nice!

In recent times, the place has changed up a little bit. You can still smoke at the bar, or outside, but you have to vacate outside by 10. The jukebox is still there. But the pool table has been replaced by table-tables. I don't know about the wi-fi, but I hope it's still there. We got there shortly before 6, and the place was pretty full.

The new food menu is about a month old, and made up of appetizers, a small collections of soups and salads, and pub grub (which means sandwiches). No more of their wildly erratic fish and chips. Appetizers range from $2.75-$7, with all of the usual deep fried subjects. Tots and fries can come cheesy if you like. There's also vegan red lentil puree & tempeh things, and nachos.

They offer house, caesar, spinach, and a roasted beet salad, a soup de jour, and a chili con carne, $2.95-$7. And for sandwiches ($7.50-$10), they have a burger, and a variety of other things that are served on rolls. Vegan options include a vegan burger & a BLATO (fakin-lettuce-avocado-tomato-onion with veganaise), and there's falafel and roasted eggplant for veggies.

We tried to order cheesy tots, but alas, no tots this evening. So we ordered a cheesesteak and a meatball sandwich, both with their hand-cut skinny fries. And both sandwiches were very edible. The cheesesteak had a nice balance of cheese to meat to cooked yellow onion, and came with a side of good, but not great marinara. The meatball sandwich was dosed in both marinara and melted cheese, but the meatballs were plentiful, tender and tasty. Unfortunately, neither of the rolls the sandwiches came on had been toasted, and the fries are soggy and greasy. Why do some taverns insist on hand-cut fries?

So. Nice patio, nice ever-changing selection of beers, and deep-fried appetizers rock... unless they're fries.

filled under Restaurants in NE Portland, Portland, Oregon Brewpubs
January 5, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (0)

My Canh

1801 NE 39th
(503) 281-0594
Lunch, Monday-Saturday
Dinner, 7 days

A sweet Vietnamese neighborhood place with an extensive and very reasonable menu. Most dishes are around $7-$8, with the most expensive entrees (seafood and specialities) at $9. Vegetarians, meat lovers, and phoaphiles can eat together. Your favorite Asian coffee, juice, exotic smoothie or beer can be had as well. In fact, microbrews are a mere $2.

A recent meal was $24 including tip, for two beers, salad rolls, pho and bun. Nothing knocked us off our feet (both the pho and bun were fairly subtly flavored), but everything was good honest food, great service, decent atmosphere.

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March 29, 2005 | Permalink | Comments (0)

New Seasons Market Deli

all over town

At the New Seasons Deli

This may be the best cheap lunch or dinner in town.

Of course you can buy groceries at New Seasons. But at their deli, you can also get hot food. Yay!!

We've been long time fans of the New Seasons deli, ever since we figured out that eating before shopping means we spend a lot less. But really, the food prices here can't be beat.

For example, tonight we tried the hot wok ($6.95 and up). Yum! You get a metal bowl and fill it as high as you can with goodies: noodles, rice, garlic, ginger, tofu and veggies. You can also add chicken, beef or shrimp, or white or brown rice to your wok bowl for a little extra. Now, choose from the 8 different sauces: most are vegan, a good number are gluten-free, so you have options. You can also get them to ratchet up the heat. Just a few minutes later, you have a huge hot meal on a plate. Grab a drink from the cooler, stop at the cashier, and then make your way to the dining area, stocked with condiments and magazines and lots of tables.

You can get a huge salad for $6.99 from their salad bar. Or if you prefer, they can make a caesar for you ($3.95 and up). They have 2 pastas each day, one veggie, one meat for $4.95 (and up). And two soups a day, one veggie, one meat.

You can get a bagel with lox, or cream cheese, or whitefish spread, or tofu paté (warning, not vegan!), or hummus, and veggies. You can even get your bagel toasted!

And then there are sandwiches. You can build your own from coldcuts, or tuna or chicken salad, or even grilled veggies. They have hamburgers, turkey burgers, veggie burgers, chickenwiches, even groovy hot dogs. And there's some specialty sandwiches as well.

If this isn't enough, there's always rotisserie chicken and chicken quarters, always pizza, always some type of roasted potatoes, and always some other yummy stuff. Chips and sweets are close at hand.

While the chicken and pizza leave me cold, the hot wok, salad bar, and sandwiches are consistently great, as good as you'd get in a restaurant -- but cheaper.

The only drawback is, if you're hungry and you're having them make you a sandwich or some other type of non-instant gratification, waiting may make you crazy. But no crazier than shopping with an empty stomach.

filled under Eating in Portland
April 6, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (2)

Orient (the) Chinese Restaurant & Lounge

1025 NE Broadway (at 11th)
(503) 282-5811
get there via trimet

The OrientSickie food in my household is amerochinese, the unchallenging chinese food of our youth. But, the things you really want when you're sick: hot & sour soup, eggrolls, maybe some kung pao chicken—well, why is it so difficult to find decent food close to home?

The Orient is not the sort of place I'd recommend you eat at. It's odd. The bar is bright and undistinguished, and the dining room is essentially a long hall with booths on both sides. And rails in front of the booths, just, I guess, so customers don't get out of line. Or something.

Take-out is a mixed bag. Hot & sour soup is actually spicy, and while no one will confuse it with Wong's King Seafood's or Sungari, it's not bad (and the best, sigh, I've had from NE). They show a bit of care with their foodstuffs: a garlicky dipping sauce for potstickers, crab puffs actually taste a little like crab and contain scallions, and deep fried items are separated from their sauces (dude, so they're crispy still!). Still, the entries were no great shakes and may well have come from Panda Compress for all I know.

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December 1, 2005 | Permalink | Comments (1)

Original Halibut's

2525 NE Alberta St
(503) 808-9600
get there via trimet
find a bike route
7 days

halibut and chips

The Original Halibut's has two doors to two rooms: a comfie tiny bar which is host to live blues music at times, and a walkup counter with some tables. The bar has table service, so if you'd like a beer or a drink with your foot, begin and end there. Anymore, it seems like almost every bar has TV screens everywhere you look; here, they have two, one with sports, and usually, the other with the cable blues music channel on. Whereas, if you're getting take out or with kids, go to the walkup counter side.

There are also some pleasant tables out on the sidewalk.

The menu continues to grow: giant tiger prawns, and halibut are our favorites, but there's also Copper River salmon, true cod, catfish, and chicken tenderloins, ahi, dungeness crab cakes, and get this: lobster tails with sweet potato fries! If this all seems a bit, um, deepfried, they also offer an unfried combo, chowder, corn on the cob, bay shrimp or giant prawn cocktail, and key lime pie.

Vegetarians: sorry, the only things here for you are the seasonal corn on the cob and the pineappley cole slaw (creamy, and pineapply - I love it).

All of the entrees come with skin-on fries, and all come as a half or full order.

I've finally come to the realization that while it seems like a half order should be enough, it's not. Maybe a half works for you, but I find myself cursing myself for being cheap. Though the menu still doesn't give you much of an idea of the size differences between the half and the full.

Half baskets range from $5-$10, while full baskets are $3-$5 more. $6 will get you a very small bowl of very good clam chowder (though, at that price, it ought to be).

We've had the halibut, the prawns, and the true cod. All very good. The fish and shrimp taste fresh and well handled. The beer batter is tasty, and the result isn't greasy, generally. I've noticed that the batter does tend to fall off the shrimp, which is an effect of steam. But overall, it's not soggy. A full basket of halibut has four pieces; a full basket of prawns, 8. This might be the best fish and chips in town.

Or it might not be. There are complaints of inconsistency on the batter. But I go there maybe once every two or three months, and I have yet to complain about anything (but the owner).

Some folks are charmed by the owner. I find him obnoxious. But the last couple times I've been there, he hasn't, and it's been a pleasure.

They have some beer on tap, Anchor Steam, Fish Organic IPA, PBR, and Widmer Hefeweizen as well as a full bar.

entree range: $6-20
median entree price: $10
vegetarian options: corn on the cob ($1.50), coleslaw ($1.50)

filled under Restaurants, storefronts, taquerias, and other eateries in NE Portland
November 6, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (9) | TrackBacks (0)

Pho Vinh

7330 NE Fremont St
(503) 284-8355
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Pho Vinh
This was a Pho Hung until about a year ago when it changed hands.

When we went by on a Sunday afternoon, the lot was full. After we found a parking spot down the block (the neighbors must love them), we came into the restaurant and were greeted by the host/traffic director who authoritatively directed us to a table.

About half the restaurant was full, with about half Asian families, the other half speaking Russian, Spanish and English. That's a good sign.

The restaurant looks completely unchanged from when it was Pho Hung. It's a respectable, but not fancy, pho joint. The menu is similar to Pho Hung's as well: pho, noodle soups, bun, and rice plates, except it's all doublespaced and in large print. We ordered our usuals: salad rolls, 2 small pho with meatballs and eye of round (one children's style), and 2 iced coffees.

Immediately, the salad plate arrives. It's basil, sprouts, sliced jalapeno, and some lime quarters, and the basil and sprouts looked a smidge past their prime. No cilantro, no sawleaf. Almost as quickly, the salad rolls appear, with no side plates. We divvy up napkins. The salad rolls are okay, not great, again seeming a little tired.

We've just solved the napkin problem when the coffees arrive, old style: two glasses with ice and spoons, two cups with vietnamese drip filters. I'm not sure why, but both cups are covered with coffee grounds.

And then, the pho arrives. The entire process, from ordering to pho coming, probably took five minutes -- pretty normal. To my great pleasure, my pho did come without onions (children's style), but it was also without the eye of round.

The broth was the highlight. It's not the best in town to be certain, but it's certainly tasty enough. The small size is a pretty healthy serving, with a brick of rice noodles on the bottom, waiting to be teased out with your chopsticks.

In the end, for this speedy, filling meal, it was under $20. Then again, as I look at the receipts, I paid the wrong bill, so maybe... uh, who knows.

filled under Restaurants in NE Portland
January 9, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Podnahs Pit Barbecue

1469 NE Prescott St
(503) 281-3700
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Tuesday-Sunday 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Brisket sandwich with cornbread
Pulled Pork
So, I haven't taken the copious sorts of notes I frequently take when I'm trying out a new place. But I've been in a couple of times and I wanted to give a preliminary report. And, yes, I know the owner socially.

Rodney Muirhead, of LOW BBQ fame, is back. You better believe it. In this tiny storefront next to a taqueria, a subtle, unpretentious and sometimes chilly dining room awaits. So, okay, wear long underwear. Or get your meal to go. It should be fixed soon, if not already.

The menu, these days, is pretty simple. Openers include their wedge salad and Texas style chili. The wedge is just that: a wedge of iceberg lettuce dressed in homemade bleu cheese dressing and scallions. Simple and so very delicious. The chili reminds me most of red pozole, made without hominy, and with lots of brisket. Delicious, and very spicy. My one complaint is that it comes in a very small cup.

The entrees are what you might expect: brisket, pork ribs, beef sausage, pulled pork, and more, with two sides. The sides are cornbread, coleslaw, beans, and potato salad.

The meats, for the most part, are exquisite. Okay, so the sausage is not as good as you'd hope, but the brisket and pulled pork are really scrumptious, with a little bark and very tender. The sides are a work in progress: on two different visits, we had different styles of cornbread and beans, so maybe I shouldn't comment on them? The initial beans were borracho style, in a decious meaty broth, and the second time, they were more like baked beans.

Lunch has some sandwiches: whatever meats were smoked the day before: probably pulled pork, brisket, smoked turkey, plus ribs and the wedge salad. For $8, you can get a sandwich, a side, and a pop.

The lunch—well, there's nothing not to love. The sandwiches are piled high with slow roasted meats, and they come plain, with a side of pickled carrots, jalapenos and onions, and another side of sauce. And they are really good enough to eat without sauce.

You can wash all of this down with some pop, some fancy soda, or beer. They do have some on tap. And follow up with some pecan pie.

So... great BBQ or greatest BBQ? Arguably, the sides are better at Ken's Place-LOW BBQ. The issue of meat is going to require some investigation. But of places that serve BBQ more than one night a week, Podnahs is above and beyond anybody else in town.

filled under Restaurants in NE Portland, barbecue in Portland
December 7, 2006 | Permalink

Podnahs Pit Barbecue (for breakfast!)

1469 NE Prescott St
(503) 281-3700
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NEW HOURS: Saturday & Sunday, 9-12

There have been some changes recently, so it's time to revisit this review once again.

First of all, the hours for breakfast have changed: they are now 9-12 Saturday & Sunday.

The menu is still short, but there is a new entry: a breakfast burrito with salsa. It's $5 for the potato, egg and cheese version, $8 for the potato, egg, cheese and sausage version. The burrito comes in the form of two thick cylinders that Austinites, Houstonians, and Taco Cabana fans will recognize as giant breakfast tacos. As is traditional, the potatoes are in tender chunklets, ready to absorb all the deliciousness from the sliced jalapenos, sliced green onions, and other ingredients. These "burritos" are luscious on their own, but add Podnah's kick-ass, habit-forming salsa for a real treat.

Kolaches are still on the menu as well -- they just weren't this weekend because of a number of mechanical mishaps that happened last week.

Here's the menu (current 10/5/2007):

Biscuits & Gravy $5.50, with 2 eggs $7
Smoked Trout Hash $7.50, with 2 eggs $9
Ham, Grits & Eggs $8
Kolaches $2 each
Coffee $2
Fresh OJ $3
Mimosa $4.50

Both biscuits & gravy and grits are foods that are often really fantastic at home, and really underwhelming in restaurants. There are really very few restaurants in town that do either well. But if anyone can do these well, I think it would be Podnahs. And they do.

We ordered the Biscuits & Gravy, and Ham, Grits and Eggs, and each of them were excellent. The biscuits and gravy were your classic country gravy, studded with big pieces of breakfast sausage. The gravy was excellently seasoned, and honestly, it's the best gravy I've had outside my own. The biscuits were simultaneously crisp and flaky. As well as golden brown and delicious. Yum.

The Ham, Grits and Eggs, were a big slice of really decent ham, with really wonderfully creamy grits, and eggs any style. I ordered them soft scrambled, and they were quite creamy too. The grits were just plain great -- rich, and humble and wonderful -- one of the better grits I've had in a restaurant.

We sat next to someone who was having the Trout Hash, who said that he just couldn't order anything but the Trout Hash because it was so good. I would have asked to have a bite, but I think that he might have assaulted me.

And, I do know Rodney because of the frequency of my visits to Podnah's, but really -- the breakfast here is one of the best in town. And if you're looking for breakfast tacos, biscuits & sausage gravy, trout hash, or grits, you really can't go wrong here.

filled under Restaurants in NE Portland
November 19, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (2)

Poor Richards Restaurant

3907 NE Broadway St (at Sandy & 39th)
(503) 288-5285
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poor richard's
top sirloin at Poor Richards
There are two words you need to remember when you think about Poor Richard's: family restaurant.

I didn't come up with this definition, but when you hear family restaurant, you need to abandon hope that the food will be anything better than edible.

When I first moved to Portland, my ex used to drag me to Poor Richard's in Hollywood. We'd sit in the bar, order a stiff drink and a steak, and each time I'd realize that I had blocked out the previous visits and how awful it was.

Similarly, recently, I was thinking that it wasn't all that bad. Sadly, I was wrong.

Poor Richard's has a dining room and a lounge. The dining room is shabbily colonial, with tables here and there of large family gatherings and elderly folks. We didn't visit the lounge, but I'm sure it was probably a little less comatose.

The claim-to-fame for Poor Richard's is their two-fers: order two of the same thing for one low price! You have a choice of tenderloin ($21.95-$32.95), top sirloin ($20.45-$27.45), cod fish & chips ($21.95), pork loin ($19.95), and three different styles of chicken ($19.95). Admittedly, you save a buck or two off the menu price, but realistically, these aren't incredibly cheap prices. Even the single menu prices aren't cheap.

We ordered a couple beers (the hefeweizen was fine, but less popular beers weren't quite right), an appetizer of Teriyaki Grilled Chicken Strips ($5.95), and the 8oz top sirloin. The chicken strips were speedy and quite tasty.

Dinners include your choice of

cole slaw, tossed salad or soup of the day, garlic bread, choice of baked potato (after 4:00pm), seasoned french fries or rice pilaf, coffee and tea and soft vanilla ice cream. All dinner items are cooked to order.

We were quite hungry and our waitron quite accommodating—we consumed multiple small baskets of garlic bread. The cole slaw arrived, a perfectly round scoop with a big round slice of pickled beet laid against it. The cabbage was cut into tiny tiny pieces and the dressing was too sweet.

Not long afterwards came our steaks. I ordered a loaded baked potato and they took me at my word—it was the highlight of the meal for me. The steaks—eh? Tough, gristly, overcooked. Admittedly, when a steak costs $15, I'm not expecting much, but there are plenty of great steaks at the $20 mark, and good steaks at $15. Just not here.

I'm usually a good eater, but the potato was all I could finish.

With tip, it was over $50, which is straying into special-occasion territory. And while the people watching is excellent, I can't recommend this for a special occasion.

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May 10, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (1)

Queen of Sheba

2413 NE MLK
(503) 287-6302
Ethiopian storefront

Sara writes,

it has that great restaurant/community center/dive kind of feel. You can buy the Ethiopian Review there, plus some music, or ethiopian spices if you're of a mind. And dinner for two, with six different dishes altogether (we asked them to make up a platter), was $13.90. Wow.

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June 21, 2002 | Permalink | Comments (1)

Rose's Homemade Ice Cream

5011 NE 42nd
(503) 256-3333
Winter hours: Mon-Sat: 11-9
Sunday: noon-9
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Rose's Homemade Ice Cream
So, we went to Rose's last night for burgers.

Rose's is an ice cream parlor that has been in the same family for the last 35 years or so. They used to have a shop on NE Fremont, right about where Fife is now. They make their own ice cream, and what's not to love about that? I knew they had burgers on the menu, and I knew they had applied for an OLCC license, so we headed on down.

They are in where Chan's Palace used to be, and I was surprised to see both neon and a banner for video crack. You walk in and order at the counter. Or in our case, we waited at the counter until an adult came up to operate the cash register.

The menu is simple. Burgers, sandwiches, baskets, with the vast majority comprising of at least one deepfried element. We ordered the bacon cheese burger basket ($6.25 on the menu, we were charged $7.50), a side of mini corn dogs (7 in the order, $2.25, or about 32 cents each), and a fish sandwich basket ($5.75), as well as a chocolate malt ($4.25) and a Mirror Pond (beer and wine prices not posted). The bill was $23.

Now, I think this is as far as I have to go. The food was on par with Dairy Queen, or maybe a little worse. The square fish in the fishwich reminded me of my high school cafeteria.

But ice cream is really what shines here. The malt was great -- not as good as Little Red Bicycle's malted, but really a very good malt, an excellent example of the style.

I won't be going back for dinner any time soon unless I'm really broke. But for ice cream, sure thing. They have about 2 dozen flavors, most made with 6% milkfat, but about a half dozen of them are extra rich, at 14% butterfat.

entree range: $3.50-8.05
median entree cost: $5.75
vegetarian options: grilled cheese basket ($4)

filled under Restaurants in NE Portland
October 29, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBacks (0)

Russell Street Bar-B-Que

325 NE Russell St
(503) 528-8224
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Russell St BBQI'll admit, I've been a little, um, reluctant to try Russell Street BBQ, the barbecue joint where Doris Cafe was. I have all sorts of wonderful memories of meals at Doris, back in the olden days when Doris was good, and children respected their parents... My friends assured me that there was good fries, and a fried chocolate pie, and Citysearch assured me that the mac and cheese was good. So what was I waiting for?

Russell Street is all about the groovy ingredients and a dining room that's kinda kitchy-generic. Many smiling pigs. Rubbed, smoked, grilled tofu. They have Laurelwood beers on tap, as well as a decent list of bottled/canned beers. So we ordered our beer and an appetizer of hush puppies.

This is when I should have known that this was not going to be a good meal. Our waiter forgot one of the beer orders on the way from our table, right next to the kitchen, to the kitchen. Sweet tea, however, was refilled on a hourly basis.

We each ordered the meatapalooza, a selection of three meats and two sides. Between the three of us, we covered a bunch of the bases: pulled pork, pork ribs, brisket, beef ribs, and smoked sausage; macaroni & cheese, cole slaw, greens, fries and potato salad. In spite of asking for one plate saucefree, they all came doused in sauce when they came some 40 minutes after ordering. Maybe 20 minutes after ordering, our waiter came back and—wait for it!—asked what one of us had ordered. Which makes me think that perhaps he had forgotten to turn in our order.

While they gave us lots of food, this was nothing to write home about. The brisket came chopped—what is that about? The smoked sausage, a quarter pound link from Yoakum, Texas, tasted like a giant hot dog. I like hot dogs, but, umm.... The ribs, unexceptional. The sauce, eh. The fries were good, but not the best in the neighborhood. The mac & cheese was nothing to write home about. The greens were salty and had a bitter edge, almost an off flavor. The cornbread was southern style, and cakey. And where was the white bread?

I asked for a box, so the waiter boxed my food, then dropped the boxes on the floor, and asked if I still wanted them. I don't know why that bothered me so much. I ordered the fried chocolate pie. Yes, it's deepfried, so it ought to be good. And it's filled with bittersweet chocolate ganache. And it was deepfried, and it was filled, though it seemed filled with Hershey's syrup. I'm sure it was more than that, but that's what I tasted.

So. Food, okay though underwhelming. Service, laughably bad. Will I go back—nah.

filled under BBQ, southern, non-smoking, NE Russell, MLK Jr
March 13, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (3)

Sirenita, La

2817 NE Alberta
(503) 335-8283
Lunch, dinner
Mexican taqueria

This used to be a favorite taqueria for east-siders. However, now that it's no longer the only taqueria on Alberta, but also not the only taqueria on the inner eastside, give it a miss. The food is unexceptional, the service is awful, and the place is filthy! You'll do much better for the same money at La Bonita or Don Pancho.

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April 29, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (2)

Tabla Mediterranean Bistro

200 NE 28th Avenue
(503) 238-3777
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TablaTabla does a really nice special occasion dinner. Or a really nice splurge. The room is modern and lovely (though noisy when it's full), with a view of the open kitchen and the food is delicious and pleasantly surprises you. Reservations are a really good idea on the weekends.

I've been several times now. Once, for a biggish birthday dinner in their private dining room—sweet! And then, last night. While they offer an amazing prix fixe for $29 (an appetizer, a half-sized pasta, and an entree), most folks will find that an app and a fullsized pasta or an entree also makes a full meal ($23 to $33).

But wait, there's more! It's also a great place for omnivores and vegetarians to eat together. Two of the non-rotating pastas are vegetarian (and incredible).

Now, to the details. They are currently doing regional specials, and the current one is Valencia, so they offered a special app, pasta, and entree: chick pea salad ($9) with anaheim & bell peppers, sweet paprika, lime juice and serrano ham; empanadas ($9/17) filled with milk braised local pork, piquillo peppers in a tomato sherry sauce with marcona almonds; and paella made with bomba rice, chorizo, calamari and clams.

We decided to do the prix fixe, and we ordered the chick pea salad and radicchio salads to begin. Before they came, our server brought us an amuse bouche of bruschetta with feta and pepperonchini and who knows what else—it was very good.

The radicchio salad ($8) had toasted parsnips and pears with a caramel vinaigrette, pistachios and aged goat cheese, and it was just a luscious contrast of sweet and bitter, crunchy and melty. The Steamer Clams ($9) steamed in saffron, fennel, chilis and thyme are also pretty spectacular.

Once we moved out of appetizers, agonizingly hard decisions must be made. There's the empanadas -- what's not to love, right? There's the tajarin ($9/17), one of Tabla's handmade pastas dressed in truffle butter or sage butter. There's the iconic Tabla Ravioli ($9/16), a brilliant dish filled with chard, ricotta and a perfectly poached egg, dressed in poppy seed butter. There's the luscious Rabbit Ragu ($10/19), etc, etc.

And then there are the meat dishes: the paella, the sole, the duck confit, the steak, the pork tenderloin, the polpettone (Italian meatloaf) ($21-24). Reading the descriptions would make you hungry if you weren't already.

And thus, we ordered empanadas and Rabbit Ragu, and two paellas. The half serving of empanadas was two empanadas, crispy against the creamy pepper-tomato-sherry sauce. The bunny pasta was a small serving of eyerollingly rich pasta and ragu, with nice shreds of rabbit meat. And the paella—whoa! We each got a shallow paella pan of rice, clams, squid, and hidden spanish chorizo. The calamari was perfectly cooked—how often does that happen? and the rice was fragrant and luscious. The highlight for me were the slices of chorizo—smokey, spicy, firm.

People freak out that they charge for bread ($2). I didn't get to look at the bill, so I don't know if we were charged, but we got a nice sized serving of Pearl Bakery bread with a big dollop of room-temp, ready to spread butter. I didn't feel cheated. And there were all these luscious sauces to mop up.

So, in the end, we had small plates, we walked out stuffed, and the bill for 2 prix fixes and 2 draft beers was $66. Not bad for a splurge.

filled under Northeast Portland Restaurants
February 8, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (2)

Taqueria Delicias Mexicanas

5800 NE Lombard Blvd (aka Portland Hwy)
(503) 493-0075
Mexican diner
7 days, 8am-10pm
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Taqueria Delicias Mexicanas
Taqueria Delicias Mexicanas
I learned about this little Mexican diner in Cully from Taquerias Portlandesas. Other than its sign, you might never notice it, tucked in just before the 60th Avenue exit on the south side of Portland Highway. Its windows are full of ads for phone cards, but be not afraid: the food is good, and the prices are right.

We were especially interested because they had Desayunos, Mexican breakfasts. All the breakfasts are $3.99. They have heuvos a la mexicana, heuvos con jamon, heuvos rancheros, vegetarian omelette, and my fav, chilaquiles con heuvos. All of these, save the latter, come with rice and beans, and most come also with tortillas.

As soon as we seat ourselves, our waitress brings chips and salsa. Nice table salsa, slightly stale chips. The restaurant is a typical restaurant diner, anonymous, with the bonus of several TVs showing Mexican boxing.

We order a metric ton of food. Heuvos rancheros, chilaquiles, and a couple tacos, one chorizo, one carne asada, along with horchata ($1.75, $2.25). The horchata was standard issue, which is to say, fine. Next, out come the squirt bottles full of green and red salsa. The green was made from tomatillo; the red might be an arbol salsa, but all I could really taste was scorching heat.

Next come the tacos: generously filled, in a warmed double layer of tortillas. Both were tasty, not greasy, a luscious little snack. At $1.25-$1.50 each , you could have a couple.

Everyone seems to have their own interpretation of heuvos rancheros, and Delicias is no different. It appears that they cut a hole in their corn tortilla, put it in a pan, crack an egg on top of it, and gently fry it. The tortilla becomes both crispy and soft, and the egg cooks both on top and on the bottom. It's covered with the typical Mexicana sauce flavorful with chunks of tomato & peppers in it, with lardy beans and rice on the side. We liked the heuvos, and the beans were okay.

Chilaquiles is, like so many things, a way to use up leftovers. Take some tortillas or some chips, cook them slow with some leftover sauce, add some onions, and top it with cheese and crema. Delicias' version uses the tomatillo salsa, which was a nice change. I would have been as happy without the onions, shredded white cheese and sour cream. It came with scrambled eggs.

The menu, of course, is more extensive than just tacos and desayunos; they have mariscos ($5.50-$12.99), fajitas ($7.50), tortas ($3.75), sopes ($2.00), burritos ($3-$6.25), platters ($7-$7.75), salads ($4-$7), and tostadas ($3.75-$5), beer, wine, and the full range of Mexican sodas. They also accept credit cards.

They welcome to-go orders, and they'll even deliver within 5 minutes of the restaurant with a minimum $25 order. That's better than chinese delivery!

No one will compare this to the brunch at Autentica, but then, the prices are half what they are at Delicias. While I'm not scheming how to eat my next meal there, we'll definitely be back.

filled under Restaurants in NE Portland
April 16, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Taqueria Nueve

28 NE 28th
(503) 236-6195
Neo-hipster tacqueria

This place is very popular, and for good reason. Try something different—like boar—or something familiar like carne asada. They also have a full bar, and Hales on tap.

Strengths include some of the best ceviche in town. Weaknesses include being popular, small portion size, and store bought tortillas.

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April 29, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thai Noon Restaurant

2635 NE Alberta St
(503) 282-2021
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Thai diner
7 days a week, lunch and dinner

Thai Noon Restaurant and My Thai LoungeThai Noon is the oldest Thai restaurant on Alberta Street. When you consider that Alberta was all but deserted a dozen years ago, you know it hasn't been there so long. But it appears to be holding its own against Thai newcomers like fancy Siam Society, and newbies Halo Thai and Monsoon.

They don't have the hugest menu, and like a lot of Thai food in Portland, it's sweet without the balance of heat. However, they're fast, generous, and consistent, and just about everything on the menu can be ordered vegetarian.

Tonight we ordered chicken salad rolls ($2 for $3.75), which came immediately. They were premade, but not old, and they actually did have a bit of spice to them.

We had barely finished these when our noodles came. Their pad thai may not be the best in town, but it's sure not bad—a generous portion dotted with protein. Pad Kee Mao was also large, and yummy even if it wasn't hot and spicy enough.

You can get a cocktail ($4.50-$8) from the connected My Thai (groan!) Lounge, most with super cheezy names. There is also beer on tap: Widmer Hefeweizen, PBR, Bridgeport IPA, and Black Butte Porter.

There is a special Specials sheet that comes, along with the menu, which also has specials. Seven appetizers range from $3.50-$7, two soups (tom yum and tom kha—$7.50-$9), and three salads for $6.25.

Entrees include a dozen curries and stir-fries, three noodles, and two fried rices, for $7.50 vegetarian, $8 with chicken, beef or pork, and $9 with shrimp. You can swap in organic rice for $2 more. And the eight menu specials include a couple salmon dishes ($7.50-$12).

Finally, there are lunch specials (M-F 11:30-3) too—10 different entrees served with chicken or tofu for $5.50.

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May 3, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tin Shed Cafe

1438 NE Alberta St
(503) 288-6966
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breakfast, lunch weekdays, dinner and late night

Tin Shed
Tin Shed porch
The Tin Shed has long been one of my favorites for breakfast. However, it's so damn popular that I don't even bother trying to go to breakfast there unless it's before 8:30am. Not surprisingly, I don't get there so often.

But I've been motivated to get over there lately, now that I am completely infatuated with grits, and I know Tin Shed's got 'em. Unfortunately, I was a little undercaffeinated, so I didn't take a lot of notes.

The inside is a nice, but small and crowded space. The outside, under a giant roof, and backed by a giant fireplace, is almost twice the size of the interior, and really pleasant on a nice day. That patio is a great place to dogwatch, as many folks bring theirs with them. Inside or out, you serve yourself coffee and water.

They have a big new breakfast menu that debuted 4/29/2006. We ordered Huevos Ranchitos, Roll Over, and two sides of cheese grits.

Now, we habitually order the You Gotta Have it, which is eggs any style, meat, toast or homemade biscuit, and potato pancakes or grits. I love potato pancakes (really, I just love carbs), so that's what I always end up ordering. It's good, solid, great biscuits—what's not to love?

Huevos Ranchitos is just like the ranchero version, except there is no ranchero sauce, there are 2 layers of tortilla, as well as jalapeno-stewed black beans and rice, scrambled eggs, homemade salsa, sour cream, and green onion (they own stock in green onion). It was tasty but it would have been better if everything if the things that should be hot: like beans, rice, and eggs, actually were. The rice was all clumped as if it had come out of the cardboard carton in your fridge. The beans were not spicy at all, but they did have a nice cumin flavor.

The Roll Over starts with a layer of potato pancakes, then a layer of scrambled eggs & sausage, then a layer of bacon gravy. I expected this to be a conflict of interest, what with the sausage and bacon, but it tasted great. However, nothing on my plate was consistently hot either. The gravy was the warmest element, but it had hot and cold spots (ooogh).

The grits were most disappointing. They're plain grits with grated cheese added almost as an afterthought, and the grits were so not hot that the cheese wasn't melting. Butter, also not melting. I finally sent them back to be nuked.

To their credit, we complained, and they comped us for one meal. We saw some other plates going back to the kitchen, so maybe someone was having a bad bad day?

Unfortunately, we had a really lackluster dinner there recently as well.

Other reviews

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May 4, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (1)

Toro Bravo

120 NE Russell St.
(503) 281-4464
get there via trimet
find a bike route

Toro BravoOkay, we just had the most incredible meal at Toro Bravo. It's a tapas joint on NE Russell. Honestly, I know nada about tapas except that the plates are small, and it's expensive.

One of my first nice meals out in Portland was at Tapeo. We didn't eat terribly much, and it was $50 a person at a point where $50 was my allowance for eating out for the month. The food had been good, but the sticker shock was so much that for years afterwards, when I thought tapas, I thought exorbitant.

Tapas is still an expensive proposition, though luckly Toro Bravo is not that expensive. Let's just say, for the likes of me, this is special occasion food.

But what a special ocasion! I started with a Casa-rita, a margarita made with cointreau and fresh lime juice ($8). Yum! They also have a couple of bottled beers, though the drinks list is heavy with sangria (white or red, supposably quite good) and wines.

We asked our waiter about how many plates we should order. He told us that the pinchos were essentially just tastes of something, and the tapas might be smaller or larger, but generally two folks will do well by ordering about 6 tapas. Okay!

The menu changes just about every day and about a third of it is vegetarian, with a heavy lacto-ovo focus.

So we ordered the bread plate ($1), singing pig greens with grilled asparagus, chopped eggs and hazelnuts ($8), tortilla espanola ($5), sauteed spinach with sunny side up egg ($4), jamon and basque queso terrine with pickled beets ($9), meatballs with tomato-almond sauce and english peas($7), crab & pork croquettes with salsa verde & roja ($7), and moroccan chicken cooked under a brick ($12).

The bread plate has two pieces of Grand Central como, halved, and served with butter and olive oil. Tasty, and oh so handy to sop up extra sauce.

The greens come in a good sized bowl (maybe a cup and a half or two cups of salad greens), dressed lightly in a cabernet sauvignon vinegar and olive oil. The asparagus is cold but it was oh so incredibly tasty. I'm not a huge hard-boiled egg fan, but the colors and textures were a nice contrast to the greens. The salad is just lovely and satisfying all on its own.

The tortilla is a thick spanish frittata with potaoes in it. It's topped with aioli and romesco (a garlicky chili sauce). I'm not crazy about frittatas, but I did really like this. Exciting, it wasn't, especially compared to some of the other things we tried, but it was still tasty.

The sauteed spinach is a fairly small serving... well, it's exactly prepared as it's written on the menu. The runny yolk combined with the spinach is just luscious.

The ham and cheese terrine was really tasty. The terrine was crispy and slightly sharp, and the combination of that with the sweet pickled beets and the lightly dressed greens was really nice - yum!

There were five golf-ball-sized meatballs that were so luscious and between that and the sauce, we practically licked the plate.

The croquettes were three ping-pong-sized deep-fried balls of joy.

And the moroccan chicken was white meat with a little bit of bone in, slightly spicey, and with a hint of moroccan spicing, with beets.

For dessert, I had the molten chocolate cake with vanilla ice cream. I make a better one at home, but this was the best I've had in a restaurant: chocolatey and oozing.

The space is lovely though a bit noisy at dinner rush. We sat at the counter looking into the kitchen, and chatted with the cooks. We had okay service, though not as good as I had hoped, but we were there at the height of dinner rush. Still, it was okay for the amount of money we were spending.

In the end, we spent $60 before tip. That's not something I can afford to do everyday, but I feel like it was worth every penny.

filled under Restaurants in NE Portland, Albina, Eliot
June 15, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (2)

UFO Pizza

60xx NE Glisan

UFO PizzaSarah writes:

Just thought that I might recommend UFO Pizza as an excellent and affordable hole in the wall pizza joint on NE Glisan and 60th. An epic 19" large that could easily serve four people is hand tossed and topped with four cheeses for a mere $11. This really is some of the best pizza you can get for the money.

More recently AJ wrote in:
my favorite 'cheap' restaurant of all time... UFO Pizza.

Given that Biddy's is less than a block away, how can you go wrong?

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August 29, 2005 | Permalink

Vita Cafe

3024 NE Alberta
(503) 335-8233
get there via trimet
find a bike route
vegan & carnivore neo-diner

Vita CafeVita Cafe is all about groovy for breakfast and lunch. The cover of the menu expresses their earnestness forthrightly: common meals, fair price, organic and local, free range, hormone free, dairy-, egg- and wheat-free.

Vita was the sister cafe to SE Belmont's Paradox Palace Cafe. Now they both have new owners and it will be interesting to see what the future brings.

The Vita is back, and you'd never know they were ever gone. We went in early on Sunday afternoon and the place was packed. Folks were even sitting outside in the sprinkles.

Vita has made its name for being vegan & carnivore friendly. You can get any number of animal-free dishes, or you can get a groovy hamburger. Breakfast can consist of eggs and potatoes, or tofu & rice, or really anything in between. Vegans and vegetarians love it: the food is plentiful and cheap, and you can have it with beer, wine or liquor.

Breakfasts range from $3-$9, and include corn cakes, scrambles, french toast, heuvos rancheros, & biscuits and gravy. 15 of the 24 breakfast items can be made gluten-free.

We ordered a couple old favorites: biscuits & gravy, heuvos rancheros, and NW corn cakes, plus a cup of black bean soup with homemade herb and onion bread.

The black bean soup was excellent and flavorful: a basic rendition, but a very nice one. The bread was a hit, with its slightly sweet crust and herby-oniony filling.

The heuvos rancheros were particularly creative. Fried tortillas curl up on the plate, covered by what tasted like vegan chili, eggs (or tofu), salsa, guac, and a cilantro-y vegan creme. If you were looking for something closer to authentic, well, you'll be disappointed, but the contrasts between the smooth and crunchy, the spicy and the bland, was very nice.

Biscuits with almond gravy has always been a favorite, and they just didn't taste as wonderful as I remembered. Maybe my tastes have changed? If I wasn't working from sentimentality, they probably would be fine, though the biscuit was a little heavy.

But the NW Corn Cakes do stand up to memory. Corn cakes, as big as a pancake, covered with toasted hazelnuts, and served with organic maple syrup. Yum.

Most folks around us were having lunch, and that looked good too. The fishwich, a deep fried square of tofu with lettuce, pickles and vegan tartar sauce, was very popular, as was the free range, hormone-free beef burgers and fries. Mac and cheese, made with vegan cheese, also appeared to be a big hit. Lunch prices top at $8, and dinner at $12 (with most entrees ringing in under $10), and nicely, the full up-to-date menu is online.

They have four beers on tap. And they have a Wednesday special, 5pm-close: $2 well drinks, $2 drafts, $5 cocktails, and $5 food specials on the fishwich, mac & cheese, grilled cheese, tofurky sandwich, or thai pasta. And, from 5-7pm, they have a $1 kids menu.

Definitely recommended for vegetarians and vegans.

filled under Restaurants in NE Portland
June 11, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (0)


2236 NE Alberta
(503) 284-1168
get there via trimet
7 nights a week
iraqi-lebanese noshes
kitchen upon until midnightish

Zaytoons has got to be the cheapest food in the neighborhood between 5-7. While the happy hour doesn't have any drink specials, the drinks are already reasonable, and the already reasonable food prices get insanely good. The majority of appetizers are less than $4.50, and during HH, $3.50. Entrees run $6.50-$10, and during HH, $2 less. We had an appetizer, two entrees, and two beers, and our bill came in less than $20.

I like this place a lot. Comfortable chairs, pleasant space. Four taps, many bottles, lots of liquor. The downstairs is non-smoking, the upstairs, smoking, and downstairs, you'd never even know that there's a smoking section. Upstairs also has a tiny pool table. The wide-open downstairs affords lots of people watching. I'm told it gets loud when it's full, but I have yet to see it full.

The food is very good, though some of the flavorings are not conventionally Levantine. My one complaint was this evening's shorba, my favorite, a red lentil soup redolent of cumin and lemon, was also newly redolent of onions. Sigh. Our hummus was heavily tahini-ed, and for those spoiled by Karam and YaHala and Nicolas, the pita is not fresh and pillowy and full of hot air. That didn't stop us from inhaling it, natch. But the entrees are pure pleasure, with all the sandwiches coming on a Bosnian roll called lepina. Baba's burger is a painted hills patty with feta and my new favorite thing, lemon aioli—the combination of beef, garlic, salty feta and lemon is so nice. Chicken jemila is a chicken breast marinated in sumac, encrusted in zaatar, and nestled in the lepina—yum. Timman u Marag, a chickpea stew, with a side of laban (youghurt and cucumber)—yum. It's clear that they are taking care on some of the details: the tomatoes served were romas, gorgeous, and with some tomatoey flavor. All in all, good food and a tremendous value in or out of happy hour.

filled under food in NE Portland, Portland bars
January 26, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (1)



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