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WWeek Cheap Eats 2012


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#1 Jill-O

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Posted 08 March 2012 - 08:30 AM

Ben posted the Portland Restaurant Generator in another thread separately (and I agree, it needs its own thread! ;o), it was actually a part of the WWeek Cheap Eats feature.

Tha whole feature is here: http://www.wweek.com..._eats_2012.html

Aside from "The List" (alphabetically, by neighborhood, and by cuisine) there are added features such as "Even Cheaper Eats" and "25 Things To Put In Your Mouth $7 Or Less"


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#2 ExtraMSG

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Posted 08 March 2012 - 11:45 AM

I suggest breaking them down into three categories for criticism: the good, the bad, and the missing.

The good: places that you're happy to see get some notice.
The bad: places that don't deserve to be there.
The missing: places that should be there but aren't.

The greatest service chemistry has rendered to alimentary science, is the discovery of osmazome, or rather the determination of what it was. ~Brillat-Savarin

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#3 Flynn

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Posted 08 March 2012 - 01:46 PM

Westside Burbs Edition:

Good: Tan Tan Cafe, Sabor Salvadoreņo
Bad: N/A (although I'm not a huge fan of Taste of Sichuan).
Missing: Kim Sat Got, Taqueria Hermanos Ochoa, La Guanaquita, Pho Nguyen, Spring, Jin Wah for dim sum

I'd vote Chennai Masala in for the excellent lunch buffet (not as good as dinner, but still better than 98% of Indian food in town).

#4 Jill-O

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Posted 08 March 2012 - 01:58 PM

The Good:

Mi Mero Mole - good on ya Nick, you deserve it. I don't eat there twice a week or so because you're my friend, I eat there because the food and drinks are great, inexpensive, and close by. You hit the trifecta with us!

Sunshine Tavern - I wish there were more veggies on menu, but this is really about comfort food. Lots of great food here, good drinks and a good brunch too. Some dishes might not be called cheap (though for the quality and quantity the $15 steak and fries plate is a killer value), though.

Du's Grill - truly cheap eats and a guilty pleasureof mine. Yes, when I want carbs I do want a football-shaped large serving of rice.


The Bad:

Steppin Stone - ate there for the first time recently...big food does not equal good food. And when you get cheese in an omelet, it really should be melted. Worst biscuit I think I have ever had.

SKD Korean - I like it, but it never seems all that cheap to me.

PaaDee - I didn't find it all that cheap or all that great.


The Missing:

Bar Carlo - sure as hell a better breakfast than Stepping Stone, their pancakes are good, not ginormous. I like being able to build a scramble with the things I like and pick the sides I want without having to ask for special orders.

Pambiche - can't imagine why it isn't listed under Cuban. Love the tostones, empanadas and even the garlic shrimp (which aren't cheap eats, admittedly). Some things on the menu, like the shrimp are over $15, but then so are things at Sunshine Tavern.

Basta's - at least for their bar menu - the $5 meatballs and spaghetti and $5 caesar and many other things under $10 are both cheap and good

I am sure there are others I am not thinking of...




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#5 goodbyeohio

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Posted 08 March 2012 - 02:39 PM

this has made me want to go try those noodles at chinese delicacy as well as hit grandpas cafe (which i never even knew existed)
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#6 Wavy Navy

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Posted 08 March 2012 - 07:45 PM

One of my favorite lists of the year..

The good -

Shandong: One of my favorite chinese places. I've never liked Hot and Sour soup until I had theirs. Spicy dry fried chicken, kung pao and shandong chicken - its always a hard decision.

Taste Unique: Yes! Open a spot on the west side and I'd fund their retirement. Love this place.


The bad -

Slabtown Ribs: I've been more than once because a friend loves the place but I've not had a great plate of bbq there. Cheap - yeah. Good - nope.

Foster Burger: I have friends in Orlando who are dying to have a Foster Burger - I don't get the hype. Not the best burger I've ever eaten.


The missing -

Canyon Grill: To my taste, they make about the best burger and fries in Portland.

2nd Story: Would like to see this place take off - great food & cocktails and a terrific value.

#7 StMaximo

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Posted 08 March 2012 - 08:44 PM

The Good - HA & VL & Eastmoreland Market - I've never been disappointed at either place. I'd be at Eastmoreland so much more if it were closer.

The Bad - Shandong & Foster Burger - two tries at both places - neither one gets a third strike

The Missing - Slingshot Lounge - why have I wasted two trips to the neighborhood (Foster Burger) when I could have eaten & imbibed here.

WTF? - Fryer Tuck

#8 StMaximo

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Posted 08 March 2012 - 09:38 PM

this has made me want to go try those noodles at chinese delicacy as well as hit grandpas cafe (which i never even knew existed)


If you hit Chinese Delicacy, be sure and order the Kim Chi - It's the main reason I go there.

#9 Calabrese

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Posted 08 March 2012 - 10:31 PM

Beaverton area:

The good -

Best Baguette on Hall (was there for lunch today and the menu has been expanded beyond baked goods)

Tan Tan Cafe


Missing -

Fresh Thyme Soup Company (Cornell near 160th)

India Sweets and Spices (Bethany area)

Sushi Land (across the street from Beaverton Town Square)

Boba Licious (Cornell near 135th)

Ochoa's Truck on Beaverton-Hillsdale near 95th

Pork Chop City truck on Beaverton-Hillsdale near 95th

#10 ExtraMSG

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Posted 09 March 2012 - 02:08 PM


this has made me want to go try those noodles at chinese delicacy as well as hit grandpas cafe (which i never even knew existed)


If you hit Chinese Delicacy, be sure and order the Kim Chi - It's the main reason I go there.


I counter with the meatballs and pan-fried dumplings.

The greatest service chemistry has rendered to alimentary science, is the discovery of osmazome, or rather the determination of what it was. ~Brillat-Savarin

Nick Zukin, Mi Mero Mole

Co-Author, Artisan Jewish Deli at Home

Formerly, Kenny & Zuke's


#11 ExtraMSG

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Posted 09 March 2012 - 02:16 PM

WTF? - Fryer Tuck


About a year or two ago I was working on a project that I didn't end up having the time to publish, a "cheap fried chicken" survey. Fryer Tuck was the clear winner, imo. I compared all the places doing broaster chicken, like Reel Em Inn, Pink Feather, Chicken Little, and Fryer Tuck, plus places like Popeye's, Church's (there's one in Vancouver) and even KFC. It's changed hands from several years ago and what they do now is quite tasty, crisp with lots of seasoning. And their jo-jos are far and away the best in town, imo.

The greatest service chemistry has rendered to alimentary science, is the discovery of osmazome, or rather the determination of what it was. ~Brillat-Savarin

Nick Zukin, Mi Mero Mole

Co-Author, Artisan Jewish Deli at Home

Formerly, Kenny & Zuke's


#12 Adam

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Posted 09 March 2012 - 02:32 PM

GOOD
  • Happy Sparrow
  • Laurelhurst Cafe
  • Pizza Depokos
  • El Inka
BAD
  • Dick's Kitchen - Some of the worst burgers in Portland. How can anyone endorse this place?
  • Slabtown Ribs - Gotta agree with Wavy Navy here. Pretty poor barbecue.
MIXED FEELINGS
  • Foster Burger is questionable. Last burger I had there was awful; I need to go back to see if it's become their norm.
  • Also a little dubious about Bunk Sandwiches. Their prices seem to be climbing ever higher while the quality drops ever lower.
MISSING
  • La Cocina de Chepe - Maybe they were just too under the radar this year?
  • Tortilleria de Leon

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#13 Flynn

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Posted 09 March 2012 - 02:52 PM

Yeah, Friar Tuck's is pretty good. I eat chicken there every couple of weeks or so. There's an occasional underseasoned/overseasoned batch, but it's pretty consistent.

Vivo is also too new, and will probably end up on a list if they stay in the game. And it's central eastside, which immediately makes it more important to our media overlords than anything outside the Unicycle District.

#14 ExtraMSG

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Posted 09 March 2012 - 04:09 PM

THE GOOD

I'm really glad to see El Inka solidified in Portland "best of" lists.

If I was going to pick one Mexican truck to recommend, it probably would be Bora Bora, so I'm glad they're there, even if the other choices seem more a matter of diversification than quality. This site (Amanda) can take credit for Puerto Marquez being there as well.

I think it was Mike Thelin who first gave Eastmoreland Market its due, plus a little (possibly) shilling on this site. I think they make the best sandwiches overall in town.

Even if Sabor Salvadoreno is the third best Salvadoran restaurant in town, it still deserves to be on the list and it's almost miraculous when the WW includes something out that far.

Cool Moon has been left off a couple lists lately. And that would be a shame. Glad to see it's here.

There are probably more Thai places listed than should be and you could easily exchange some of those for others, but it's nice to see that Chiang Mai and Red Onion are both there.

The Vietnamese list is filled out nicely. HA&VL is now at the point it will make every list. Good for them. Pho An needs to get there as well.

THE BAD

I don't think Slabtown is any better than several other BBQ joints in town. It's fine enough, in my several visits, but nothing special. It is close to WW HQ, though, so they probably eat it a lot and have a lot of people on staff who eat there. But I could rattle off a dozen BBQ places every bit as good or better around town. (Just because you like one of the few places in a category you've been doesn't mean it should be on the list. Notably, both Briskets and Smokehouse 21 are close to WW HQ as well. I haven't been to either, so I can't comment on their quality, just on WW's limited gaze.)

Indian choices are just sad. More on that in the "Missing", but it can't be helped much. I'm skeptical at this point of Bollywood Theater, but interested. Obviously we need the Indian and Pakistani people to stop pushing their kids into careers as doctors, lawyers, and computer programmers.

Hopefully the Korean section is a case of places being saved for the main restaurant guide, because these options be sad. (Not that they're bad, just that there's better.) And SKD isn't any cheaper than all the better places in Beaverton.

Casa de Tamales is not good. I don't care if they fry up asparagus fritters at the farmers markets, their Mexican food is not good.

Robo Taco. It's not an awful choice -- the tacos are decent, though on two occasions have been carbony to the point of tasting bitter --, but the tacos are TINY, more expensive than the taco trucks, and not any better than most and worse than the best, in my experience. I don't know how you justify this and miss so many other options.

King Burrito? Are you fucking kidding me. They're entirely average in this town. I don't even think Santa Cruz is especially good, but at least if you're going to choose something for N Lombard, that's the way to go. Or La Superior (which doesn't make the list).

PQN is a mixed bag, but it's an unstoppable force at this point.

Happy to have Mi Mero Mole in there, of course, but thought it was weird that 1) the rajas con crema, roasted chiles in a sour cream and parmesan sauce, were described as dessert-like, and 2) that being open for Dinner 6 days a week and open for lunch 2 days a week was described as very limited hours.

Las Primas. Two visits. Meh.

I think we've progressed enough in pizza in this town at this point we can drop Escape from NY from "Best of" lists. I'd put Flying Pie on that list first. Probably before a few of those other thick & cheesy pizza options, too.

There are too many good sandwiches places to include Shut Up & Eat. The cheesesteak is better than their other sandwiches, but they're a B- sandwich joint in a town with a lot of good sandwich joints. Then again, I think all the sandwich carts get more praise than they deserve.

Pupuseria Buen Gusto
is just okay. Several better places. At least Palenque isn't on these lists anymore.

THE MISSING

Podnah's. No BBQ joints are cheap because their product isn't cheap. Podnah's isn't significantly more expensive than any of the others.

Zach's Shack. The best of what I've tried, though I haven't been to Bird Dog.

Shen Zhen. I'd put it above a few of the Chinese places listed, but it's a tough call because all of the Chinese places are so inconsistent across the menu.

Lucky Strike
. For that matter.

Chennai Masala. The Indian section is just sad. Sad. And even if Tandoor is a shadow of its previous self, it's still better than India Oven or even Bombay Chaat House. I haven't been to Dwaraka.

No Justa Pasta?

Mitzil should be on the Mexican section waaaaaaay before Casa de Tamales for something in deep SE.

Ochoa, de Leon, La Bonita, La Catrina, etc
.... If you're going to put PQN and Robo Taco on there and not these, I start to question if there's a marketing advantage in being a gringo or just having a place in a hip neighborhood. I could go through perhaps two dozen more taquerias and taco trucks that are better than either of these, though I realize more goes into choosing a place than just the quality of the food. But still. At least include all the standouts.

La Guanaquita is better than Sabor Salvadoreno, though both are quite good. Chepe does deserve to be there as well.

Pho Oregon should be on the list. There is a lot of Vietnamese listed, but several of those should drop off before Pho Oregon, which is one of the top few places in town.

The greatest service chemistry has rendered to alimentary science, is the discovery of osmazome, or rather the determination of what it was. ~Brillat-Savarin

Nick Zukin, Mi Mero Mole

Co-Author, Artisan Jewish Deli at Home

Formerly, Kenny & Zuke's


#15 Catastrophysicist

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Posted 09 March 2012 - 07:29 PM

Podnah's. No BBQ joints are cheap because their product isn't cheap. Podnah's isn't significantly more expensive than any of the others.

The justification for this is probably that they were named RoftheY in the last guide, but I totally agree with this point. We went last Tuesday aka 'Rib Day', and got a whole rack of some of the best ribs in the country imo, with 2 sides for $26, that simply can not be fucked with by any other place in the Pacific NW from what I can tell.

#16 EvaB

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Posted 09 March 2012 - 08:00 PM

We are, of course, very pleased to appear on their list, but were a little mystified as to where the $5.00 price for a "double scoop" came from. We have two options for a two scoop serving: the two flavor "regular" which is 3.95 with card or 3.70 with the cash discount, and the "large" which is 4.90 credit (close) or 4.65 with the cash discount. Not a huge issue, but in today's economic market...

I would also like to extend a personal invitation to the reviewer to come visit us in late July to see why the "boomerang" shaped bar in our space is not entirely unnecessary! ;)
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I run COOL MOON ICE CREAM STORE,
there are flavors in my freezer you have never seen before,
twenty-eight divine creations too delicious to resist,
why not do yourself a favor, try the flavors on my list...


#17 Calabrese

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Posted 09 March 2012 - 08:01 PM

THE MISSING

No Justa Pasta?


You have got to be kidding, right?

#18 ricechaz

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Posted 10 March 2012 - 07:12 AM

Yep, kind of weird to mention dessert and rajas con crema in the same blurb.

Missing: Eurotrash. In my opinion, they don't get enough love. They do tasty food that isn't just a carted down version of some better restaurants. The fish chips are a gateway food item to anchovy eating. Had several people that supposedly hated anchovies who converted after eating these.
Yes, I know that in cheap eats, they go by total bill but I'd push for more of a value meal version of cheap eats. Been plenty of cheap meals that I've had that seem like I overpaid. Contrary to that, I put Tanuki on that type of list. Where else can you get a $25 omakase that will be a seafood dominant meal where you walk away stuffed? To be honest, factoring in gas cost to drive from the Gorge, it's still a great value.
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#19 Quo Vadis

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Posted 10 March 2012 - 12:01 PM

Tanuki is so last week. And I hear the owner is a jerk.
Methinks I am like a man, who having struck on many shoals, and having narrowly escap'd shipwreck in passing a small frith, has yet the temerity to put out to sea in the same leaky weather-beaten vessel, and even carries his ambition so far as to think of compassing the globe under these disadvantageous circumstances-Hume

#20 Calabrese

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Posted 10 March 2012 - 12:24 PM

Tanuki is so last week. And I hear the owner is a jerk.


Can the owner come by and clean-up the coffee on my monitor?