Review: Mellow Mushroom (Pearl District)

Mellow Mushroom
1411 NW Flanders Street
Portland, Oregon 97209
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Ph: 503-224-9019
Hours: Su-Th: 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.; F, Sa: 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.
Website | Menu | Twitter | Facebook
Lunch Money: $$-$$$
Rating: ★★★★☆

I’ve been meaning to write this review FOREVER…or maybe it just seems that way since Portland’s Mellow Mushroom has been open since October 2011, and it’s become the one of my regular pizza destinations in the Pearl District.

I really like the mellow-groovy vibe of the place. It’s sort of a ‘60s-hippie-meets-Portland-hipster attitude. I’ve been to MM for lunch, happy hour and dinner, and I’ve never been disappointed. Great service, friendly bartenders and, of course, lots of yummy, cheesy options to pick from!

Fair warning: The portions are large. Even the smallest pizza size can probably feed two people at lunchtime, especially if you’re starting with a salad or an appetizer. Likewise for their sandwiches and calzones. Come REALLY hungry, share or expect to have leftovers to take home.

On my visits I’ve typically stuck with the pizza menu (well…and the appetizer, beer and wine menus, too).

During lunch hours (usually from open to 2 p.m.) you can order pizza by the slice. You start with a basic cheese slice and can choose the toppings of your choice. I like this because it means your slice is made-to-order, fresh and hasn’t been sitting under a heat lamp all day.

While you can go with a build-your-own pizza (with tons of topping options), the specialty pizzas are probably my main draw to MM. Sure, there are your standard combo pies (the Hawaiian, the Mighty Meaty, the Mega Veggie types), but they also have some very creative options. The Caesar is actually topped with a Caesar salad. The Red Skin Potato Pie is like a deluxe baked potato on crust.

Speaking of the crust, the pizza crust at MM is pretty close to what I would call perfection. I’m not into deep-dish or anything too doughy, so the crunchy, crispy, yet still soft and chewy, crust is delightful. (Proof: I almost never eat the outer edge of my pizza crust, but MM’s is so good I devour the entire slice!)

MM is also well known for their massive beer selection—they offer more than 100 options! Seriously, I think any beer aficionado would be more than satisfied here. Of course, if the enormous beer menu is a wee overwhelming, just ask your server…they know their stuff. Definitely don’t be shy to ask for recommendations.

Some of my personal favorite things about MM are the appetizers, which are commonly discounted during happy hour.

The cheese bread is almost too good to be true—and huge! It’s a loaf of French bread smothered in cheese and served with a pot of marinara to dip in. Ermahgerd!!! So good.

My friends and I have also tried the fresh baked pretzels, which our server warned us would take a little longer than the typical app, but—let me tell ya—they’re well worth the wait. There are sweet or savory flavors to choose from (I personally love the garlic butter and Parmesan).

Overall, MM is a funky-fun place to grab a pizza and a brewski (especially in the pricey oasis that is the Pearl District). It’s great for groups and families, and on nice days there are a few outside tables—perfect for summertime people-watching!

PROS:
– Good pizza with excellent crust
– HUGE beer selection
– Gluten-free, vegetarian and vegan options available
– Some outside seating in good weather
– Awesome cheesy bread!

CONS:
– They only offer pizza by the slice at lunchtime
– No delivery service…yet
– As always, the parking situation in the Pearl District sucks (but the streetcar is close-by)

Mellow Mushroom on Urbanspoon

Review: Boke Bowl (SE Industrial District)

Boke Bowl
1028 SE Water Avenue
Portland, OR 97214
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Website | Twitter | Facebook | Menu
Lunch money: $$-$$$
Rating: ★★★★½

Portland has a lot of noodle options. Like, A LOT of noodle options. So when the buzz-a-thon about Boke Bowl opening their first permanent location began to spread via Twitter, I knew I was going to have to check it out…stat.

If you’re unfamiliar, the Boke Bowl craze actually dates back to September 2010 when the owners launched their first pop-up dinner, and since that first special event Boke Bowl has won the attention and affection of many a foodie and non-foodie alike.

I really didn’t know what to expect for my first lunchtime visit to their new SE Water Avenue location (just across from clarklewis and next door to Bunk Bar), but I did expect it to be crowded. And it was. We arrived just before noon on a Tuesday and the line stretched the length of the front windows…but luckily there is a good amount of standing room inside (otherwise that’s a big dealbreaker on rainy PDX days).

You order and pay at the counter and then (hopefully) find a seat. There’s a massive menu displayed on the wall and the ordering process is straightforward. Pick a dashi (Japanese-style stock) flavor, choose anything you would like to add on and you’re done!

Boke Bowl also offers a couple side dishes (kimchi, assorted pickles, etc.), steamed buns and desserts just in case that oversized bowl of noodles, veggies and deliciousness wasn’t quite filling enough.

I went with the pork and chicken dashi, which includes smoked pulled pork ($9) and my lunch pal went for the seafood miso dashi with shrimp ($10). We also indulged our sweet tooths and opted to get the chocolate with coconut cream Boke twinkie.

We were lucky enough on that visit to find a place to sit right away. There are several single tables, but the most common seating option is the communal long tables. While the communal style might seem a little awkward at first, you never really feel that your dining neighbors are too close for comfort. Continue reading Review: Boke Bowl (SE Industrial District)

Review: Mercato

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Mercato
904 NW Couch Street
Portland, OR
503-219-9966
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Rating: ★★★★½

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UPDATE: Mercato is now closed.

Wow, I think the Lunch Lady has a new favorite lunch spot in the Pearl. From the big screen TVs behind the counter (when we were there three were displaying the menu and the other was tuned to CNN) to the incredibly friendly waitstaff to the bright and open dining area to the display cases of yummy gelato, paninis, desserts and bottled drink offerings, Mercato is certainly off to a good (and tasty) start! Mercato opened just over a week ago, but they should definitely be on your lunch list.

If there is anything on the downside, it’s the prices. Though the prices are comparable to other Pearl lunch establishments, it’s still on the high side of the StumptownLunch budget. Salads start at $7, paninis go for $9 (including a small mixed greens salad), pizzas start at $10 (these are big, but not really big enough to share if that’s all you’re ordering) and pasta dishes start at $11.  They also offer a wide array of beverages, including espresso, beer and wine. Continue reading Review: Mercato

HH Review: The Sapphire Hotel

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Sapphire Hotel
5008 SE Hawthorne Boulevard
Portland, OR
503-232-6333
**Opens at 4 p.m.
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Rating: ★★★★★

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Dark, candlelit and romantic, Sapphire Hotel is both a terrific place for a date or gathering with friends for happy hour. It’s an especially nice place to duck into on one of those long, rainy Stumptown winter afternoons, when you have some free time and you’re looking for a hearty snack and a good drink.

Tucked away on the east end of SE Hawthorne, Sapphire isn’t open for lunch (they SO should be!), but the happy hour is worth taking a late lunch and calling it an early workday. Happy hour runs everyday of the week from 4 to 6 p.m., and then picks up again from 10 p.m. to midnight (Sunday thru Thursday). Continue reading HH Review: The Sapphire Hotel

Review: Todai Sushi and Seafood Buffet CLOSED

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Todai Sushi and Seafood Buffet
(Inside Pioneer Place)
340 SW Morrison Street, 4th Floor
Portland, OR 97204
503-294-0007
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Rating: ★★★★☆

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It’s not everyday I get to enjoy endless sushi, salads, noodles, teriyaki chicken, multiple desserts and more all in one place! So I was extremely excited to try Todai—I actually skipped dinner the night before just so I could get my fill at the massive buffet.

Yes, Todai is an oasis of seafood delights. All over the bright and clean dining area, patrons roam, their oversized plates piled with tasty treats. One person might have piles and piles of sushi, while another might be enjoying a bowl of udon and yet another could be snacking on shrimp.

Ahhhh…. It was a feast for my sushi-and-seafood-loving eyes from the very moment I stepped inside. Continue reading Review: Todai Sushi and Seafood Buffet CLOSED

Review: The Cheesecake Factory


The Cheesecake Factory
(At Washington Square)
9309 SW Washington Square Road
Portland, OR
503-620-1100
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Rating: ★★★★½

OK, the moniker The Cheesecake Factory is a little misleading, because this place serves WAY more than just cheesecake. In fact, for a chain restaurant, it’s some of the best food in the burbs!

I try to avoid reviewing chain restaurants, but this is the one and only Cheesecake Factory in town, and if Portland ever gets an In-N-Out, Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf or Pinkberry, you can bet your life I’m reviewing those places (sometimes I miss L.A. for more reasons than just the constant sunshine).

But back to the Cheesecake Factory, it’s pretty darn impressive. I’ve been there for lunch more times than my waistline likes to remember. The menu is, literally, heavy, and probably 20 pages long! Continue reading Review: The Cheesecake Factory

Review: Thai Peacock

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Thai Peacock
219 SW 9th Avenue
Portland, OR
503-228-2310
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Rating: ★★★★★

If you like Thai food and you haven’t been to Thai Peacock you are really missing out. Located down the block from Jackpot Records on SW Ninth, it’s an easy walk from most downtown workplaces—and it’s worth that walk! It’s like I died and went to peanut sauce heaven (so if you are allergic to the legume, I’ll forgive you for skipping the place).

The intimate dining room is perfect for small groups or even a lunch date, but they also offer take-out if you are on the go. Thai Peacock’s menu is extensive and they offer all of my favorite Thai dishes and many more that I hope to try in the future. Continue reading Review: Thai Peacock