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: California Pizza Kitchen (Bridgeport)

California Pizza Kitchen (Bridgeport Village)
7315 SW Bridgeport Road
Tigard, OR 97224
(Next to Regal Cinemas)
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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: 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: Pastini Pastaria

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Pastini Pastaria
(Six locations in the Portland area)
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Rating: ★★★½☆

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Pastini Pastaria is pretty much my go-to spot for any sort of family or friend function that entails a large group going out to a restaurant. Sure, some people might consider it Portland’s local version of Olive Garden, but the food is consistently good (even if it is a little on the bland side) and there is something on the menu for everyone-even those picky eaters and vegetarians.

What I love about Pastini is that they offer an excellent variety of pasta, from capellini to ziti and everything in between! They even offer whole wheat pasta, which is typically what I order. They have just about every combination of delectable pasta dishes, from the simple spaghetti agli e olio (the classic with sautéed garlic, olive oil, basil and parmesan) to the more decedent baked manicotti (filled with beef, pork, ricotta and spinach, then baked with alfredo sauce and marinara). All pasta dishes are served with the equally delicious ciabatta bread from Pearl Bakery. Continue reading Review: Pastini Pastaria

Valentine’s Day Lunch Pick: R Palate

We have been trying to get an R Palate review up, but the Lunch Lady has been busy! But this is one of our VERY FAVORITE places to eat in Portland. The food is wonderful, the prices are reasonable, the waitstaff is super friendly and helpful and it’s such a great new find! So if you are still looking for a Valentine’s Day lunch (or dinner) spot, give them a call. It’s a meal you won’t forget!

R Palate
219 SW Sixth Avenue
Portland, OR
503-227-8875
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Review: E-San Thai Cuisine

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E-San Thai Cuisine
133 SW Second Avenue
Portland, OR
503-223-4090
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Rating: ★★★★½

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As Rachael Ray would say, Yum-o! When I stopped by E-San Thai Cuisine I was starving, so I probably would have devoured anything they put in front of me. However, the food was outstanding–so I pretty much ate until my stomach could not hold another bean sprout!

First of all, I was pretty overwhelmed by the menu. They offer more than 70 dishes! Wow! But don’t be scared off by all the options, each dish is carefully detailed for those who aren’t completely familiar with all the Thai delicacies they offer.

My lunch companion and I started with the appetizer combination plate, which for $8 is a pretty good deal if you are sharing a meal. It includes three dipping sauces (peanut sauce, cucumber sauce and sweet and sour sauce) for the deep-fried egg rolls, the fried tofu, satay (choice of chicken, beef or pork) and the fried wontons. Continue reading Review: E-San Thai Cuisine

HH Review: Portland City Grill

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Portland City Grill
111 SW Fifth Avenue, 30th Floor
Portland, OR
503-450-0030
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Rating: ★★★★½

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This is THE happy hour experience you must do at least once if you are in Stumptown. That is, if you can get a table! My best advice: come early.

The lunch menu at Portland City Grill is certainly on the splurge side of the StumptownLunch.com budget, but if you want to taste the amazing food, gaze at the eagle-eye view and save a lot of cash, go for happy hour. Happy hour runs from 4:30 to 6:30 pm Monday through Saturday, 10 pm to midnight Monday through Thursday and (get this) from 4 pm to close on Sunday! There is beverage minimum of $2.75 per person, but that’s easy to fulfill with a nice chilled beer or one of their delicious cocktails. Sure, the drinks are on the pricey side, but the experience is worth it. Continue reading HH Review: Portland City Grill

Review: Ford’s on Fifth (now Theo’s)

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Ford’s on Fifth (renamed Theo’s)
121 NW Fifth Avenue
Portland, OR
503-226-2828
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Rating: ★★★★☆

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To be honest, I discovered the deliciousness that is Ford’s on Fifth very late one night when several friends and I were in great need of some greasy grub before calling it a night. But I was happily surprised to discover Ford’s is also a great place to grab lunch during the week.

Ford’s specializes in meat—burgers and steak sandwiches dominate the menu—but they do offer salads (yes, they offer a Caprese salad!), a veggie burger and a veggie melt if you are dining with someone who, ya know, doesn’t eat animals. Continue reading Review: Ford’s on Fifth (now Theo’s)

Review: Whole Foods

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Whole Foods (The Pearl location)
1210 NW Couch Street
Portland, OR
503-525-4343
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Rating: ★★☆☆☆

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OK, I’m all for healthy eating and stuff, but I do have some standards: I won’t eat it if it doesn’t taste good. I think I know what tastes good, healthy and not-so-healthy.

Yes, Whole Foods is a supermarket chain, but I just had to write this review. In the Pearl, the Whole Foods supermarket seems to be a popular lunch place-the tables and lunch bar always seem to be full, but, after several tries, I have no idea why.

Sure, they have an extensive array of ready-to-eat options, including pizza, a salad bar and sandwiches, etc. But, here’s my short review: unless you are in a huge hurry, skip it! Continue reading Review: Whole Foods

Review: IKEA Cafe

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IKEA Café
10280 NE Cascades Parkway
Portland, OR
503-282-4532
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Rating: ★★★★☆

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Welcome to the world of IKEA. Yeah, Stumptown finally has our very own mega-shopping paradise, and along with that comes the meaty-goodness that are IKEA’s Swedish meatballs!

But there is more to the IKEA café than just the meatballs. The selections include baked salmon, daily entrée specials, a variety of sandwiches, a salad bar and an array of desserts—my favorite is the Daim torte. They also offer kid-sized portions of the meatballs as well the not-quite-Swedish mac and cheese. Continue reading Review: IKEA Cafe

Review: Muu-Muu’s

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Muu-Muu’s
612 NW 21st Avenue
Portland, OR
503-223-8169
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Rating: ★★★½☆

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I had heard many good things about the food at Muu-Muu’s, so I decided to check it out for myself. Earlier this week I met up with a galpal for lunch there, and I have to say that while it was decent, I don’t think it lived up to the hype I’d been hearing.

The service was good, though I was unsure when I walked in if I should just grab a table or wait to be seated—it’s seat yourself (at least I think it is, the waiter/bartender seemed too busy talking to girls at the bar to acknowledge me). I did make the mistake of selecting a booth near the door, just opposite the bar. Being one of the coldest days in Stumptown in a long time, I got a chilly blast each and every time the door opened. Brrrr! Continue reading Review: Muu-Muu’s

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