Review: Skyline Restaurant

Skyline Restaurant
1313 NW Skyline Boulevard
Portland, OR 97229
503-292-6727
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Rating: ★★★★½

Foodies around the world know the name James Beard, one of the most acclaimed American chefs of all time, so it’s a little odd to see a browned-with-age newspaper clipping framed on the wall at Skyline touting Beard’s professed devotion for this tiny retro diner’s burgers.

I happen to share Beard’s devotion to Skyline, and I have been visiting for more than two decades. Even though I don’t live as close as I did growing up, the food and atmosphere keep calling me back and Skyline never fails to satisfy.

Established in 1935, you would guess by looking at the former drive-in that very little has probably changed since the days when teenagers cruised up through the West Hills to enjoy some late-night hamburgers and milkshakes.

The drive-in service is gone, but the burgers and shakes survive. The dining area is a smattering of cozy booths and a handful of stools at the counter, all of which tend to fill up quickly during peak hours. The wood paneled walls are covered with children’s crayon drawings, mementos collected over their years in business and lots and lots of business cards (some pinned to the wall four or five deep). All of which add to the charm of this bygone-era establishment, but also take into account that their bygone-era approach means this is a cash only restaurant. (They do have an on-site ATM.)

The menu is plentiful and retains a definite diner feel with some modern upgrades (like the vegan black bean burger), but the main draw to Skyline is the burgers with their toasted, buttery buns. Continue reading Review: Skyline Restaurant

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: La Vang Restaurant

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La Vang Restaurant
17790 SW Pilkington Road
Lake Oswego, Oregon 97035
503-697-6253
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Rating: ★★★★☆

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It might be tucked away on a quiet Lake Oswego side street, but if you are craving good Vietnamese food then La Vang Restaurant is definitely worth the trip. And don’t let the strip mall location fool you; the food is darn delicious!

The menu offers something for everyone, from pho to vermicelli noodle dishes to rice dishes to stir fried dishes. They also offer a good number of appetizers to start off your meals.

Typically, I start off with an order of the massive salad rolls served with homemade peanut sauce. The salad rolls are a perfect combination of soft vermicelli noodles, crisp mint and cilantro, and tasty shrimp and minced pork—all wrapped up in rice paper. One of my favorite things about La Vang has to be the peanut sauce, it is practically peanut butter and I could easily eat it all day long! Continue reading Review: La Vang Restaurant

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: 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: 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: 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

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

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: 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