Favorite Restaurants

I love a good restaurant, and love to trade tips on amazing finds.  Recently a restaurant of which I was fond (it served Filipino cuisine, always worth a drive), closed under very dramatic circumstances, and I was reminded that restaurants are a labor of love and a risky enterprise in the best of times.  Good ones deserve to be celebrated and supported.  I unfortunately don't have anything like the budget to visit them as often as I'd like, or to investigate all the ones I'd like to.  But these are some gems!  Many of which can be used to really generate enthusiasm for  geography lessons...

Best Baguette, 8303 SE Powell Blvd., Portland, 503-788-3098, and 3635 SW Hall Blvd, Beaverton, 503- 626-2288.  I love Best Baguette because their Vietnamese Banh Mi grilled pork sandwiches are crave-worthy and only $2.95, and both locations are convenient to lots of things.  Also  I recently got a bubble tea there, on the top was a cartoon of a little boy in a lion costume floating in front of fried eggs!  They are obviously secret surrealists.   http://bestbaguettesandwiches.com/

Cedo's Felafel and Gyros, 3901 NE MLK Blvd., Pdx.  503-719-7344.  Their felafel is perfect.

Chennai Masala, 2088 NW Stucki Ave., Hillsboro, 503-531-9500.  A mixture of North and South Indian cuisine, meat and vegetarian.  Their lunch buffets are amazing. And the service could not be more gracious. http://chennaimasala.net/

Curry Leaf, 15325 NW Central Drive, Portland, 503-645-6113.  Completely South Indian vegetarian cuisine that will knock your socks off.  If you've only had North Indian food, you will be surprised to discover a totally different world.  One side of the restaurant has been turned into a grocery store with all the staples.  It's especially great to get your groceries from people who can give expert advice on how to cook with them.   http://www.curryleafpdx.com/  

Cruise In Country Diner, 9785 SW River Road, Hillsboro, 503-628-0500.  Closer to the Smith Berry Barn pick your own extravaganza than just about anything else, they serve only food that is natural, organic, and local whenever a local source is available.  You can really taste the difference.  Also they refill your french fries whenever you ask.  How about that?  (Did you move here from In'N'Out Burger territory and cry when you found out Oregon is out of bounds?  Treat yourself here.)  http://www.cruiseincountry.com/

Donuts!  When I moved here, I quickly became confused as to why Portland isn't as well known for its donuts as, say, New York is for its bagels, or Cleveland is for its pierogies.  My theory is that if this were well known, the Portland area would quickly attract the best law enforcement in the nation.  Let's spread the word!  My favorite places to snag them are Every Day Is Donut Day, so appropriately named, at 18295 SW TV Highway, Aloha, 503-356-1089,  and Joe's Donut Shop, 39230 Pioneer Blvd., Sandy, 503-668-7215.

Dwaraka, Indian, 3962 SE Hawthorne Blvd., Pdx.  503-230-1120.  Not on the west side and yet has great Indian food!  How can that be? http://www.dwarakapdx.com/

Du Kuh Bee, Korean, 12590 SW First St., Beaverton, 503-643-5388.  A dinner only restaurant in downtown Beaverton that's open really late.  The star of the show here are the hand-drawn noodles that you can watch the chef make.   They are quite scrumptious.

E'Njoni Cafe, Ethiopian and Eritrean, 910 N. Killingsworth St., Portland, 503-286-1401.  Ask about their lunch buffets, which are amazing.  They are always especially kind to Jasper. It's in a neighborhood with several African markets.  http://www.enjonicafe.com/

El Inka, Peruvian, 48 NE Division St., Gresham.  503-491-0323.  They make wonderful rotisserie chicken here, and delicious chicken stews, and my favorite, sweet fried plantains. They expanded their menu to include lots of beef, seafood and vegetarian dishes, so there are many more delicious and unusual things to eat. And they do it for bargain prices.  http://www.elinkarestaurant.com/

Food Carts!  The food cart scene here just has to be the best in the nation. with a greater diversity of cuisines than can be found in conventional restaurants.  All the tips  you could possibly need can be found here on this amazing blog:  :  http://www.foodcartsportland.com/  Here's a post on some of the best places to eat your cart food indoors in bad weather:  http://www.foodcartsportland.com/2013/09/30/indoor-eating-when-the-weather-is-wet/

Gyro House, 530 SW 205th Ave., Beaverton, OR.  503-690-1700.  Best gyros in the Portland area.  Baba ghanouj to die for.  Great prices.  Save money on groceries, eat all your meals here.  http://thegyrohouse.com/

Kabob House, 11795 SW Beaverton-Hillsdale Hwy., Pdx.  503-672-9229. Persian. They do have the kabobs that you'd find at many Middle Eastern restaurants, though maybe not done so well. But they also have many uniquely Persian touches that make this one of our favorite cuisines.  This is the best by far of the Persian restaurants we've found in the area. It doesn't hurt that it's next to a Moonstruck Chocolate Co., with truly heavenly chocolate drinks.  http://beavertontownsquare.com/kabob.htm

Mekong Bistro, 8200 NE Siskiyou St., Pdx, 503-265-8972.  Cambodian. They do have food from other nationalities on their menu, but we have stuck to the Cambodian dishes because they are hard to find and done superbly.  http://mekongbistro.com/

Mike's Drive-In, 905 7th St., Oregon City.  503-656-5588.  Standard diner fare with some really nice surprises- superior quality, much more variety than you'd expect, crave-worthy shakes, and deep-fried mushrooms! http://www.mikesdrivein.com/

Mirage, 880 NE 25th Ave (near Albertson's), Hillsboro. 503-603-9399.  Lebanese.  Portland has many wonderful Lebanese restaurants, so you should never have to live with average Middle Eastern cuisine.  Mirage is one of the very best.  (Our other favorite is Ya Halla, on the east side).  http://www.miragemediterraneangrill.com/Main.html

Ohana Hawaiian Cafe, 6320 NE Sandy Blvd, Portland, 503-335-5800, and also at 10608 SE Main Street, Milwaukie, 503- 305-8170.  There is nothing that is not delicious here.   They have especially wonderful desserts, including shave ice, but also many crave-worthy pies and cakes.   http://ohanahawaiiancafe.com/

Restaurant Uzbekistan, 18488 E. Burnside St., Portland, 503-328-6057. Familiar ingredients made into delish new dishes!  Give it a try, you'll like it! Definitely do call ahead; they have a strange tenancy to be closed when you think they'll be open.  http://uzbekgrill.com/

Swiss Hibiscus, 4950 NE 14th Ave., Pdx.  (at Alberta).  503-477-9224.  Divine Swiss food that will make you yodel!  The food is very upscale and the prices are not.  The cafe is co-owned by a lovely woman with Swiss and Hawaiian parents, and although the food is decidedly Swiss, the cafe is decorated with photos she's taken in both places. http://www.martinsswissdressing.com/cafe.html

Tambayan, Filipino, 6014 SE Foster Rd., Portland, 503-777-4217.  A cuisine that really deserves to be better known, and at Tambayan, they do it right.  In the Philippines, they know their pork.  Tambayan's pork adobo is especially good, as is their halo halo, a dessert made with layers of crushed ice, tropical fruits, little cubes of jello, and delicious sweetened beans, topped with exotic ice cream.  https://www.facebook.com/pages/Tambayan-Restaurant/117026835012435

Taquerias!  This area is genuinely blessed with well above average and rock bottom priced Mexican food.  I have a particular love for huaraches, which are masa dough shaped like a sandal, fried, and generally topped with a thin layer of refried beans, crumbly Mexican cheese, and other assorted toppings.  Three places to get them also happen to rise above the crowd in other ways as well.  They are  Tienda Santa Cruz,  8630 N. Lombard St, Portland, 503-285-8222, (a Mexican grocery with a taqueria hidden in the back which is normally crowded for a reason),  Taqueria Portland, 7007 N. Fessenden St., 503-285-0304 (convenient to Smith and Bybee Lakes and the Portland Expo Center) and Ochoa's, with two locations at 943 SE Oak St., Hillsboro, 503-640-4755, and 221 SE Baseline St., Hillsboro, 503-844-7288.  The two Ochoa's are blocks from each other, so if you ever find one of them particularly crowded, you can always head to the other.  And yes, the demand justifies this.

Two Brothers Cafe, 829 SE 39th Ave., Pdx.  503-232-3424. Bosnian. What is Bosnian cuisine, you ask?  You won't find many unfamiliar ingredients here, but you will find them combined in surprisingly delicious new ways.  We often crave their chevapi (beef sausages) and their fluffy made-to-order flatbread.  They are also very close to Laurelhurst Park! https://www.facebook.com/twobrothersportland

Ya Halla, 8005 SE Stark St., Pdx. 503-256-4484. Lebanese.  This lovely Montavilla spot is where we've over and over celebrated birthdays and brought out of town guests.  Their take on Lebanese cuisine is superb, and their atmosphere is lovely.  Montavilla is a nice walkable neighborhood, and next door is International Food Supply, their extensive Middle Eastern grocery. http://www.yahalarestaurant.com/

When we are in Lincoln City, we love to visit Nepali Kitchen, 1816 NE Highway 101. 541-884-3067, for Nepali food of course!  We always seem to be there for lunch and find the owner doing everything himself, so it can take a while to get your food.  But it is very, very worth the wait.

There are actually fairly high standards for the restaurants in Newport, but one of our favorite spots is Ocean Bleu at Gino's, 808 SW Bay Blvd, 541-265-2424 for beautiful seafood in an unpretentious atmosphere. http://www.oceanbleuseafoods.com/index.php  Another is the Noodle Cafe, 837 SW Bay Blvd. 541-574-6668.  I must admit I was skeptical of a Pan-Asian restaurant, because many of the cuisines of Asia don't have that much in common.  I was very pleasantly surprised to find they pull it off with pizzazz! http://www.noodlecafenewport.com/