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: Sushi Train (Tualatin)

Sushi Train
19239 SW Martinazzi Avenue
Tualatin, OR 97062
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Ph: 503-885-2545
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Lunch money: $$-$$$
Rating: ★★★★★

[Note: I originally reviewed Sushi Train more than three years ago (where does the time go?), so I felt I should update everyone on one of my fave “secret” sushi spots.]

I honestly have no idea how I discovered Sushi Train a few years ago, but it has become a favorite destination with a special place in my stomach (and the stomachs of several of my closest friends). You see, Sushi Train is a tiny place in the middle of a strip mall in Tualatin…yes, you read that right, Tualatin. As in the ‘burbs Tualatin. Yet, anytime I’m craving good, quick sushi, this is my go-to place.

Sure it’s quite the hike for many of us PDX urbanites who both live and work in town, but—trust me on this—it’s well worth the almost 30-mile round trip trek! If you already live or work in the Tualatin area then you are just a tad bit luckier than the rest of us sushi lovers.

As the name infers, Sushi Train is a conveyor belt sushi spot. The dining area is a mix of counter seating and tables, but even with a group I prefer counter seating…it’s just more fun!

The sushi at Sushi Train is not only very fresh and tasty, but some of the plates could almost be considered edible pieces of art. One thing that I especially like about Sushi Train is that there is typically lots of variety on the “train” to pick from. Of course, if you don’t see what you want on the conveyor belt, just ask one of the many chefs and they will quickly whip up whatever you’re hungry for.

While there isn’t much explanation as to what the plated items are (and that can be a little confusing if you don’t have sushi a lot), you can usually identify what’s on a plate by matching the plate’s color on the menu charts. Or start by perusing the sushi menu then look for matching item on the belt. This is especially fun if you are in the mood to try something new.

Plates range from $1 to $4, so it’s easy to fill up without spending tons of cash. I can usually get out of there completely satiated for less than $10. Even if you have a huge appetite and your finished plate stack goes sky high, you’ll probably be surprised how reasonable the prices are. Continue reading Review: Sushi Train (Tualatin)

Review: Kornblatt’s Deli (NW Portland)

Kornblatt’s Deli
628 NW 23rd Avenue
Portland, Oregon 97210
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503-242-1027 | Fax: 503-242-1027
Hours: M-F: 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sat & Sun: 7:30 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Lunch money: $$-$$$
Rating: ★★★★½

Oh, the New York City-style deli dilemma…. It’s seems to be a rather important argument here in Portland. Yep, we’ve got Kenny & Zuke’s and their offshoot SandwichWorks, we sorta still have Rose’s…then…ummmmm?

So while we were walking around doing some sunny afternoon shopping on NW 23rd we happened upon Kornblatt’s Deli and promptly decided to give it a try. Having firsthand knowledge of the delicious true NYC deli experience and having visited Kenny & Zuke’s on a number of occasions, with only so-so results, we weren’t going to hold our breathe about Kornblatt’s. It could easily be hit or miss.

The first thing we noticed at Kornblatt’s was the massive number of menu offering on the equally massive-sized menu. Not just your usual corned beef, pastrami and bagels with cream cheese and lox, Kornblatt’s offers a wide arrange of breakfast, lunch and dinner options—and the full menu is available all day! Score one for Kornblatt’s!

Our lunchtime pal warned us that the popular Empire State Sandwiches were “bigger than your mouth can handle” (and the menu warns “no wimpy appetites allowed”), so we decided to try something a tad lighter.

Since the bagel options take up an entire page of the menu, we decided that would be the more reasonable route we’d go for. We decided on the Salami Tires (salami, deli mustard and provolone) on a garlic bagel. This is one of Kornblatt’s Hot Top bagel sandwiches, served open-faced and with the melt-y cheese broiled to perfection. It turned out to be the perfect sandwich size for lunch. The bagel was garlicky and chewy, the salami was tangy, the provolone was smoky and the deli mustard was spicy and seedy. The side dish we opted for, the coleslaw, was fresh and crunchy, but a little on the mild, watery side.

Verdict: delish! Continue reading Review: Kornblatt’s Deli (NW Portland)

Review: Hawaiian Time (Pearl District)

Hawaiian Time
505 NW 14th Ave.
Portland, OR 97209
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503-459-4040 ‎
Hours: Sun-Th 11 a.m. to 9 p.m./F-Sat 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Facebook Page | Menu (PDF) | Lunch Money: $$
Rating: ★★★★½

Aloha my lovely Stumptown Lunch brahs! Are you ready to grind into some epic “plate lunch” awesomeness?

Plate Lunch: A combo menu item that is a traditional part of Hawaiian cuisine. While some options will vary, the standard plate lunch consists of a main entrée, two scoops of rice and a scoop of macaroni salad.

We’d been hearing about the Hawaiian Time location in the Pearl District almost constantly since we arrived back in PDX last month. This is mainly because our best bud, Matt W., is a regular and he’s constantly bragging about having just eaten there on the way over to Stumptown Lunch HQs. (BTW, yeah, thanks for NOT bringing us some all those times, Matt!)

So, after a recent visit to Powell’s, we decided to hoof it a few blocks to try some of the Polynesian meat treats for ourselves.

The verdict is in: What the heck were we waiting for?!?!

To say it was good would be an understatement. To say it was delicious would still be an understatement. To say that we could eat at Hawaiian Time every single day would be absolutely accurate. Seriously. It’s that good!

Walking into the former-gas-station-turned-tiny-restaurant-joint, we were surprised by how simple and straightforward the menu was. Meat, more meat, side of meat, marinated meat, grilled meat, seasoned meat…oh, and steamed rice and that notorious mac salad. Yes, there are one or two vegetarian options, but serious veggie-only types won’t have much to pick from here.

If you are going for one of the plate lunches you’ll have three sizes to choose from. The regular size has one generous portion of your choice of meat, two scoops of rice and a scoop of mac salad. The smaller “dakine” portion contains a little less meat (but not by much) and one scoop each of rice and mac salad. If you are really hungry (and I mean REALLY hungry) there’s the “alii” portion, which includes a whopping 11.5 ounces of meat, three scoops of rice and two scoops of mac salad. Best be off-the-Richter hungry, son! Continue reading Review: Hawaiian Time (Pearl District)

Review: California Pizza Kitchen (Bridgeport)

California Pizza Kitchen (Bridgeport Village)
7315 SW Bridgeport Road
Tigard, OR 97224
(Next to Regal Cinemas)
Map It!
503-968-0504
Hours: M-Th 11 a.m.-10 p.m., F-Sat 11 a.m.-10:30 p.m., Sun 11 a.m.-9 p.m.
Website | Twitter: @calpizzakitchen | Lunch Money: $$$
Rating: ★★★★☆

Pizza. It’s a fave food for people from one to 101 (well, if they have their teeth), and since 1985 California Pizza Kitchen—also branded CPK—has offered up a twist on the traditional Italian pie. You can still find your standard slices with pepperoni and Italian sausage topped with ooey-gooey mozzarella, but CPK is best known for their “creative” topping options.

Where was the first place we tried a Thai chicken pizza? The now closed CPK that was on Connecticut Avenue in Washington, DC. During college, where did we dig into our first Original BBQ chicken pizza? The Stanford Shopping Center in Palo Alto.

These days CPK’s menu is expansive, with pizzas like the vegetarian with Japanese eggplant, the pear and Gorgonzola, the California Club, the tostada and even the new habaneros carnitas pizza. But they’ve also moved beyond just the ‘za and added a variety of yummy appetizers and entrees that you won’t find at most pizza joints.

One of our favorite new things at CPK is the Small Cravings menu, which offers smaller-portioned appetizers at very reasonable prices (currently about $4-$6). It’s a perfect sized sampler—without going overboard—while you wait for your main meal. When we visited the Small Cravings menu offered everything from a Tuscan panzanella salad to a spicy chicken quesadilla.

Of course, if you aren’t in the mood for pizza, CPK also offers salad, pasta and sandwich entrees.

We started with the Korean BBQ steak tacos from the Small Cravings menu (two for $5.99) and they were delicious. Perfectly juicy and spicy, they were just right to tide our appetite until pizza time! Continue reading Review: California Pizza Kitchen (Bridgeport)

Review: Greek Cusina (Tualatin) CLOSED

Greek Cusina (Tualatin location)
7017 SW Nyberg Street
(At Nyberg Woods Shopping Center)
Tualatin, Oregon 97062
503-783-2469
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Web site: Greek Cusina

Rating: ★★★½☆

When most Portlanders hear the name Greek Cusina, they’ll likely conjure up images of the cavernous landmark restaurant and nightclub which has served downtown since 1975.

Over a year ago the Greek Cusina team opened a new location, a suburban “express” version of their famous downtown eatery. Tucked away in the quiet corner of a Tualatin shopping center, this Greek Cusina is the same and very different from the original.

The food is just as delicious in Tualatin, but before you visit the suburban version of Greek Cusina, know it’s not the same as the original version.

First of all, the menu is limited compared to the huge menu at the downtown location, but they still have all the favorites. Second, you have to order at the counter and they will bring your food to your self-seating table. This seems to confuse some diners, who I’ve seen standing at the door waiting to be seated. They might need to add a sign or something to clarify this. Third, don’t come expecting any plate-breaking or ouzo-fueled “Oopa!” cheers—those things are still reserved for the original location.

But, on the flip side, the food is very reasonably priced and they offer a daily lunch special for less than $6. The service is very fast. In fact, I’ve walked in to order take-out many times and haven’t had to wait more than a few minutes.

I always, always, always get the Mediterranean dip sampler ($6.50), which comes with three dips (there are eight to choose from, but my faves are the scordalia, the Feta dip and the tzatziki) and tons of pita. It’s practically a meal in itself! My other favorites are the Greek pizzas, the kebab gyros and the Mad Panini. Continue reading Review: Greek Cusina (Tualatin) CLOSED

Review: Rose’s (Lloyd location)

Rose’s Restaurant and Bakery
(Lloyd Center location)
1200 NE Broadway
Portland, Oregon 97232
503-954-2758
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Rating: ★★★★½

On a recent rainy, dreary Portland day, my lunch partner and I were looking for some hearty comfort food to get us through the bleakness that is fall in the Pacific Northwest. We took off toward Lloyd Center hoping to find something new and, hopefully, really tasty.

Rose’s isn’t exactly a new name in the Portland restaurant scene. The original Rose’s deli and bakery opened in 1956 over on NW 23rd Avenue. Since that time the restaurant has grown to six locations across the metro area. The Lloyd Center location is the newest, which opened in July 2008.

The reason Rose’s has been able to flourish over the past 50 years is simple: the food is great and the service is outstanding. The menu is packed with deli goodness, like Rose’s Famous Reubens, half-pound burgers, specialty sandwiches, pasta dishes, a plethora of salads and tummy-warming soups (including the popular Matzo Ball). And don’t forget the meat-friendly house specialties like pot roast, baby back ribs, meatloaf and pork chops.

When we arrived the restaurant was pretty dead, so we were seated quickly at one of the large booths. The walls of this Rose’s location are lined with flat-screen TVs and there are two quirky Portland-themed murals, which add to the bright and light atmosphere. Continue reading Review: Rose’s (Lloyd location)

Review: Billy Heartbeats

Billy Heartbeats
(Lloyd Center Mall)
2039 Lloyd Center
Portland, OR 97204
503-288-6010
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Rating: ★★★½☆

The conversation usually starts like this: “I want to get a malt,” he says.

Lunch Lady: Rolling my eyes because I know where this is going.

Him: “Let’s go to that diner place at Lloyd Center.”

LL: “You always say you want to go there to get a malt and then you never order one.”

Him: “But they also have real cherry Coke.”

LL: “Fine, whatever. Let’s go then.”

Yes, that is exactly how I end up a Billy Heartbeats every single time. It’s not that I have anything against the Johnny Rocket’s knock-off, but I feel like I get tricked into going.

To be honest, Billy Heartbeats isn’t bad at all, and it’s certainly better than most of the other greasy, bland food court options at Lloyd Center, although I am always tempted by Hot Dog on a Stick.

I typically indulge in the cheeseburger delux, which is what you’d expect—a hearty cheeseburger with fresh toppings, toasty bun and a mountain of very fried fries. Continue reading Review: Billy Heartbeats

HH Review: Dragonfish Asian Café

Dragonfish Asian Café
909 SW Park Avenue
Portland, Oregon 97205
503-243-5991
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Rating: ★★★★½

It’s rare that I go to sushi places where you order off the menu, as I’m a diehard sushi train fan. But the Sushi Hour at the upscale Dragonfish Asian Café is absolutely worth a visit.

Sushi Hour is their version of happy hour (4 to 6 p.m. and 10 p.m. to close daily), and it’s a terrific way to sample the restaurant’s upscale fare without breaking your budget. Located in the lobby of the Paramount Hotel, the restaurant on one side and the lounge, where Sushi Hour is offered, on the other.

The best part of Sushi Hour is that you can enjoy an array of the selected nigiri, sushi rolls and small plates for possibly less than a single entrée over in the restaurant. There is a minimum drink purchase requirement, but the specialty cocktails, beer selections and the sake and wine lists should easily cover that.

On our recent visit, my HH friend and I were pretty hungry and ordered four out of the five sushi roll options, a couple pieces of nigiri, two orders of pot stickers and a plate of the caramel ginger chicken. If that sounds like a lot of food, it was! But the food was so good we ignored our filling bellies and chowed down. Continue reading HH Review: Dragonfish Asian Café

HH Review: Henry’s 12 Street Tavern

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Henry’s 12th Street Tavern
10 NW 12th Street
Portland, OR
503-227-5320
* Happy hour runs daily from 3 to 6 pm
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Rating: ★★★☆☆

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OK, Henry’s has a great happy hour menu, but it’s almost too much trouble finding a seat to even bother going! I can understand the mad rush at Portland City Grill (which is also owned by Pacific Coast Restaurants), but I get so sick and tired of walking that endless circle around the bar at Henry’s looking for a free table or an even less comfortable place at the bar.

Honestly, my friends and I have left without waiting numerous times, because, like PCG, they don’t have any organized way of getting paying customers a table as people leave. Yes, I understand first come, first serve, but this is just chaos without the great view or the ambiance of PCG. Continue reading HH Review: Henry’s 12 Street Tavern

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

Review: Buffalo Wild Wings

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Buffalo Wild Wings Grill and Bar (Downtown location)
327 SW Morrison Street
Portland, OR
503-224-1309
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Rating: ★★★★☆

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I waited patiently for months for Buffalo Wild Wings to open up on SW Morrison. Sure, I could have visited their other location out in Hillsboro, but who really wants to drive that far when there are so many tasty lunch spots closer in? So the very first week they were open, I got my taste buds prepared for the heat and headed in. I mean, who doesn’t love a meal where finger licking is practically required?

At first sight I was a little overwhelmed, the space is huge, the televisions are everywhere and it’s a little bright and loud for my taste (it’s a sports bar, after all), but from the second I stepped through the door the service was impeccable. Continue reading Review: Buffalo Wild Wings