Unfortunately, the tip sheet won’t be updated until this summer. But as throngs of celebrity chefs, food geeks, and other culinary professionals descend on Portland, here’s my offering as how to organize caloric intake. All of the primary recommendations are less than 10 minutes by taxi from downtown, many within walking distance of conference sites and downtown hotels.
DINNERLe Pigeon: French classics re-envisioned for an aggressive palate with a nod to local, seasonal ingredients and a special love of offal. The beef cheek bourgignon, pig’s foot with foie gras, and apricot cornbread with bacon and maple ice cream are all speak to what Le Pigeon is about and the tastes of the young, Portland fooderati. 738 SE Burnside, 503.546.8796, lepigeon.com. Open every night. Reservations recommended. Entrees under $30.
Metrovino: As if 60 wines by the glass or by the taste isn’t enough reason to visit, there are the fabulous starters like the Ken’s Artisan bread served with grilled leeks in olive oil, the ever-changing house-made charcuterie, and the grilled broccolini with crispy poached egg and anchovy brown butter. 1139 NW 11th Ave, 503.517.7778, metrovinopdx.com. Open every night. Reservations recommended. Entrees under $30.
Toro Bravo: Serving more chef-driven than tradition-driven Spanish tapas, Toro Bravo is probably the favorite restaurant among 90% of local food lovers. At only $25 per person, the tasting menu is your best bet, though supplementing it with marinated sheep’s cheese in rose petal harissa won’t leave you over-stuffed. 120 NE Russell St, 503.261.4464, torobravopdx.com. Open every night. No reservations under most circumstances, though waits can be long. Larger plates under $20.Clyde Common: Portland’s favorite upscale hipster dining destination with one of its best bars. The meat board with a shot of liquor is always a good choice as are grilled whole fish dishes. The simple, rustic desserts outperform their descriptions. 1014 SW Stark St, 503.228.3333, clydecommon.com. Open every night. No reservations. Entrees under $25.
Wildwood: One the restaurants that led Portland into the new Millenium with (still) one of the most persistent and successful commitments to local, seasonal ingredients. Menu changes often, so focus on what accompanies the main ingredient. Look for things like nettles, rhubarb, rapini, arugula and other greens this time of year. Order dessert. 1331 NW 21st Ave, 503.248.9663, wildwoodrestaurant.com. Dinner every night. No lunch Sunday. Reservations recommended. Entrees under $30.
For Hardcore Food Geeks
Apizza Scholls: The pizzeria that started the hot oven revolution in Portland — and they still haven’t been surpassed. As good as anywhere in the country. The ‘margo’rita is near perfect and the bacon bianca, a white pie with with house-cured bacon is only improved on when littlneck clams are available for the Clams Casino. 4741 SE Hawthorne Blvd, 503.233.1286, apizzascholls.com. Dinner every night. No reservations. 18″ pizzas under $25.
Podnah’s: The only brisket that’s better is found in Lockhart, Texas. But the sides, ribs, pulled pork, and sauce are better here. (They also have one of the best breakfasts in Portland.) 1469 NE Prescott St, 503.281.3700, podnahspit.com. Open lunch and dinner, but closed Monday. Breakfast weekends. Will be closed through April 22nd. No reservations. Entrees under $17.
Tanuki: The bold flavors of Korean food with Japanese attention to detail at this Okinawa-inspired dive-izakaya from a Charlie Trotter-trained chef. Menu changes too often, so just ask for the omakase and offer $25 per person and you’ll leave stuffed. 413 NW 21st Ave, 503.241.7667, tanukipdx.com. No reservations. Open for dinner Tuesday through Saturday. Larger plates under $12.
Bunk: Sandwiches that fuse messy, soulful style with top-notch ingredients for a discriminating, iPhone-wielding hipster class. Try the pork belly cuban, grinder with mama lil peppers, or meatball hero. 621 SE Morrison St, 503.477.9515, bunksandwiches.com. Open breakfast and lunch Monday through Saturday. No reservations. Sandwiches under $9.
Nostrana: Fantastic wood oven pizzas and rustic Italian cooking make this a worthwhile destination for lunch or dinner. The margherita with arugula and prosciutto added or the diavola with sausage, house-made mozzarella, and mama lil peppers make for a lunch any dinner will have to work hard to live up to. 1401 SE Morrison St, 503.234.2427, nostrana.com. Lunch Monday through Friday. Dinner every night. Reservations unnecessary for lunch. 12″ pizza and lunch plates under $16.Olympic Provisions: Sister-restaurant to Clyde Common, the heart of their operation is their charcuterie program. Order the charcuterie, of course, the smoked pork sausage, and any sandwich heavy on meat. 107 SE Washington St, 503.954.3663, olympicprovisions.com. Open lunch and dinner Monday through Saturday. Reservations available. Sandwiches under $9. Dinner plates and charcuterie under $13.
Pok Pok: No pad thai. No rainbow of curries. Just traditional northern Thai dishes made with quality ingredients. Khanom jiin, boat noodles, roast game hen, and khao man som tum will transport you to the land of smiles (without the political upheaval). 3226 SE Division St, 503.232.1287, pokpokpdx.com. Open for lunch Monday through Friday and dinner every night. Limited reservations. Lunch items under $13.
Taste of Jakarta: Authentic Javanese street food indoors from two of the nicest restaurant owners in Portland. Try the ayam goreng, chicken stewed in curry and then fried crisp, beef rendang, or either of the jackfruit curries. 1239 SW Jefferson St, 503.222.5136, tasteofjakarta.com. Open Monday through Saturday for lunch and dinner. No reservations. Entrees under $8.
For Hardcore Food GeeksBora Bora: Taco truck on the edge of east Portland specializing in unique street foods from Sinaloa and excellent grilled chickens. If chickens are fresh off the grill, get one, otherwise at least get a taco with the leftover meat. Otherwise, try the la llorana, the guacamole tequila, frijoles pa’ charritos, and the ceviche. SE 122nd & Powell. Open most days for lunch and dinner. Most items under $7.
Ngoc Han Bun Bo Hue: One of three Portland specialists in the spicy pork soup of central Vietnam. Beyond the bun bo hue, soups such as the bun nuoc leo with crispy pork are quite good, as are noodle bowls, such as the bun thit nuong. 8230 SE Harrison St #315, 503.774.2761. Open daily for lunch and dinner. No reservations. Most items under $10.
Nong’s Khao Man Gai: A one-dish wonder, this cart serves only the fabled Hainanese chicken rice Thai-style and does it well. SW 10th & Alder, 971.255.3480, khaomangai.com. Open for lunch Monday through Saturday. Prices under $10.
Kenny & Zuke’s Delicatessen: Yeah, I’m Zuke, so take this recommendation with a grain of salt, but if you want to visit us, breakfast is a good bet for avoiding a wait and still getting to taste the house-made pastrami and bagels. 1038 SW Stark St, 503.222.3354, kennyandzukes.com. Open every day for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Limited reservations. Items under $16.
Mother’s Bistro: Midscale American comfort foods that are better than what your mom made. 212 SW Stark St, 503.464.1122, mothersbistro.com. Open Tuesday through Sunday for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Reservations recommended. Items under $15.
Pambiche: Tiny Cuban restaurant with delicious tropical desserts, which translates into delicious breakfast pastries to go with the egg dishes, beans, and plantains. Open every day for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. No reservations. Items under $13.
Spella Caffe: If you just want a cup of coffee or a cappucino, this truly micro micro-roaster with two downtown locations, one a cart, should be your first choice. SW 9th & Alder St, 503.752.0428; 520 SW 5th, 503.752.0264, spellacaffe.com. Open Monday through Friday morning through afternoon.
Tasty n Sons: Only spot on the list I haven’t been yet, but given their pedigree (sister-restaurant to Toro Bravo) and the reports of those I trust, this has to be among a breakfast-lover’s destinations. 3808 N. Williams #C, 503.621.1400, tastynsons.com. Open daily for breakfast and lunch. No reservations. Items $10 and under.
For Hardcore Food Geeks
Autentica: Chilaquiles, menudo, huevo con chorizo and other very authentic Mexican breakfasts done with the care and quality ingredients of an upscale restaurant. 5507 NE 30th Ave, 503.287.7555, autenticaportland.com. Open for breakfast Saturday & Sunday. Open for dinner Tuesday through Sunday. Items under $13.
HA&VL: A different Vietnamese soup for breakfast each day. Get there early because by lunch they sell out. They’re that good. 2738 SE 82nd Ave, 503.772.0103. Open Tuesday through Sunday for breakfast and lunch. Items under $10.
Pine State Biscuits: Biscuits with gravy, biscuits with egg, biscuits with fried chicken, bacon, cheese, gravy, and egg. Yeah, seriously. 3640 SE Belmont St, 503.236.3346, pinestatebiscuits.com. Open every day for breakfast and lunch. Also available at the downtown Portland Farmers Market on Saturdays. Items under $8.
SNACKS & TREATS
Alma Chocolates: One of Portland’s several world-class chocolatiers, their forte is interesting flavor combinations like their Thai peanut butter cup and their ginger-almond toffee. 140 NE 28th Ave, 503.517.0262, almachocolate.com.
Cacao: Excellent drinking chocolates a large collection of only the very best chocolate bars. They also sell several pieces from several local chocolatiers, including Xocolatl de David and Cocanu, which shouldn’t be missed. 414 SW 13th Ave, 503.241.0656, cacaodrinkchocolate.com. Second, more-limited, location in The Heathman Hotel.
Cartopoia: Portland’s best food cart pod, a hipster party spot (and sobering up spot) into the wee hours, especially on the weekends. Each cart is very good at what they do, especially Potato Champion for Belgian-style frites and poutine, Whiffies for empanada-style fried sweet and savory pies, Perriera for crepes, and Pyro Pizza for wood-oven pizza (from a cart!). SE 12th & Hawthorne Blvd.
Cheese Bar: If you’ve read about Steve’s Cheese, this is where Steve has moved, bringing his carefully selected cheeses, many from the Northwest, with him. Don’t miss cheeses from Black Sheep, La Estrella, and Ancient Heritage. 6031 SE Belmont Ave, 503.222.6014, cheese-bar.com.
City Market NW: Small co-op with one of Portland’s best sources of meat and charcuterie, Chop, one of Portland’s best sources of fish, Newman’s, and one of Portland’s best sources of salumi, cheese, produce, and other gourmet foods, Pastaworks. 735 NW 21st Ave, 503.221.3007.Cool Moon Ice Cream: Not gelato. Ice cream. Artisan ice cream made with local dairy and house-made, all-natural flavorings. And it’s damn good. Look for the hibiscus sorbet, kulfi ice cream, and Mexican chocolate ice cream. 1105 NW Johnson St, 503.224.2021, coolmoonicecream.com.
Little T American Baker: Award-winning baker, Tim Healea, finally opened his own place where everything from cookies to pretzel bread to baguettes are made with the same love and skill. 2600 SE Division St, 503.228.3458, littletbaker.com.
Pix Patisserie: Classic ornate French pastries with an irreverent twist and clever ice cream flavor combinations. Pretty good chocolates, too. And they’re open late and serve alcohol. 3901 N Williams Ave, 503.282.6539; 3402 SE Division St, 503.232.4407, pixpatisserie.com.
Portland Farmers Market: One of the best farmers markets in the country. Missing it would be a huge mistake, even with the limited offerings this time of year. Make sure to see my report on opening day, too. SW Hall & SW Montgomery, portlandfarmersmarket.org.
Sahagun Chocolates: Excellent hot chocolate (made with a different high-end chocolate each month) and possibly Portland’s best truffles (in a town with a lot of good chocolatiers). 10 NW 16th Ave, 503.274.7065, sahagunchocolates.com.