Our Seven Favorite Portland Dinner Places

Here’s the third in our series on Portland, Oregon’s great places to eat in or close to downtown.

#1 Andina (http://www.andinarestaurant.com)

This Peruvian powerhouse is owned by Peter de Platt and his wife Doris Rodiguez de Platt – and Doris makes a point of coming around to visit her guests and make them feel comfortable. Andina has a warm, almost fiery decor that suits its cuisine – flavorful, colorful and always top-notch.

This trip, we started with some bread and three sauces – one was mild and peanut-based, one had a little kick and was a mango-based, lick your plate clean salsa, and the last was something green that was hot enough to strip the skin off your tongue. We followed that up with the cheese plate, with a blue cheese, a soft goats milk cheese, and a hard, parmesan-style cheese, surrounded by homemade cornnuts. The main course was an amazing petit filet, served with fresh veggies and an amazing corn masa – like a tamale but flavored more like a delicate cornbread, but with a pepper kick in the middle.

At the end of the meal, Doris sent over a little desert – two powdered-sugar-covered cookies with a sweet caramel center. One note about Andina – they are always packed, so they can be a bit strict about putting you at a smaller two person table if you’re a couple. If you have a friend or two in town, take them and get there early – you’ll be much more likely to snag a nice booth for four by the window, anbd your friends will thank you for bringing them.

#2 Oba! (http://www.obarestaurant.com)

A spanish tapas place with a warm, friendly atmosphere and staff. Funny story – we wanted to try Piazza Antica just up the street, but when we walked in, we were ignored for ten minutes, and finally offered a lousy table that’s given to people who don’t make reservations. We were literally told that by the rude host. So we left, and went to Oba!, where they found us a wonderful corner table by the window,and served us some fantastic beef skewers and a wonderful tortilla soup. Everything was fantastic.

#3 Tasty and Alder (http://tastyntasty.com/alder/)

This is one of our favorite new restaurants on the Portland scene – Sandwiched between Downtown and Goose Hollow – the perfect place for dinner before a show at the Artists Reparatory Theatre. This cute little restaurant has a nice modern, with open pipes and distressed wood lending it an industrial vibe. Fifties music played over the restaurant speakers.

We really liked the cheese tray here, filled out with candied walnuts, figs and cherry jam (really good, by the way), and a wonderfully crisp salad in a frosty bowl. For our main course, we had a divine potato dumpling dish in a tomato sauce. Everything was beautiful and (as promised) tasty. We also noticed a number of other gay couples here.

On beautiful summer nights, they open up the windows to the street, and you can people watch and enjoy the beautiful stone church across the street – spoiler alert – it lights up at night.

Speaking of the Artists Reparatory Theatre, it’s a beautiful new community theatre – we saw the play “The Big Meal” there, a frenetic family drama set in a restaurant with a cast of six playing a huge batch of characters. And, surprise, Queer as Folk’s Scott Lowell (Teddy) plaid one of the main roles.

#4 Serratto (http://www.serratto.com)

This restaurant, just up 21st from Cinema 21, is one of our favorite finds. It’s a large restaurant on a corner, with a warm and welcoming decor.

We started here with a beautiful charcuterie and cheese tray, with choriso prosciuto, salsmi, soft cheese, almonds, pickled onions mustard and mustard seeds – I don’t even like mustard, but the mustard seeds were delicious.

The bread served with the meal was divine – a soft, holey bread with a nice, crispy crust. For my main meal, I had the scallops with quinoa pasta, cherry tomatoes, asparagus, and basil pesto. mark ordered the empanadas with manchego cheese and cilantro. We both paired fries with our meals – fries go with everything. The black tea is also really good here.

The restaurant offers a mixed mediterranean menu in a warm, airy dining room with a bar sandwiched in-between the two main wings.

#5 Cha Taqueria (http://chapdx.com)

A new favorite over on 21st, just three blocks from the Cinema 21 movie theater, where they host the annual Portland Lesbian and Gay Film Festival. This place has a great covered patio on the corner, as well as indoor dining. They were very friendly, and the atmosphere is casual and fun.

We shared the steak and chicken fajitas – they were really good, and one plate was enough for two, unless you’re really hungry. The fajitas are served on a skillet with bell peppers, onions, guacamole, salsa and sour cream, along with corn tortillas (flour also available). The guacamole and chips were good, too, and the prices very reasonable.

#6 Pastini Pastaria (http://www.pastini.com)

Just a couple blocks west of Pioneer Courthouse Square, this place offers an engaging atmosphere, some great parmesan bread with a killer marinara dipping sauce, and some really good cheese-filled pasta shells.

#7 Pink Rose (http://www.pinkrosepdx.com)

Located on the north end of The Pearl, this restaurant has two parts – an upstairs deck open when the weather is good, and a downstairs basement space that feels like a jazz lounge. We had the baked brie here, which was served in a small skillet with thick slices of buttered, toasted bread and grilled vegetables – delicious. Then we split the chicken and basil sandwich – with grilled Draper Valley Chicken,a basil vinaigrette, pickled red onions, mixed greens, bacon and swiss cheese. The food here was good, but it was cold out so we ended up downstairs – I’d rather come back on a sunny day when we could sit outside.
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Published on: November 20, 2013

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