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jam

2239 SE Hawthorne Blvd

Jam on Hawthorne on Urbanspoon

Date of visit: January 13, 2010

Price for 2 (with tip) $18.50

Jam on Hawthorne is a pretty typical Portland breakfast joint, and if you know any thing about Portland, that’s a good thing, at least foodwise. Ample portions, lots of variety and a full bar with all sorts of specialty cocktails are a must for any go-to breakfast spot in this town. But of course, there is a dark side to almost all of the good ones: the are small and usually crowded, and unfortunately, this much is also true for Jam.

We managed to arrive at prime lunch time, and had to put our names on the list and wait a good 10-15 minutes for a table. On a Wednesday. So accordingly if you try to hit up Jam on a weekend between 10-1, plan on standing out in the rain.

The menu boasts more breakfast options than lunch, but solid choices for either. Jared went lunch, with a grilled cheese and tomato with hash browns, and I went breakfast, with “The Bizness.” Not only did this corned beef, egg and onion sandwich have an awesome name, but I felt “blog-ligated” to get it. Yes, I just made that word up, but as the menu had an entire corned beef section, with the words “house-made” and “slow-roasted” in the description, it seemed like something I needed to try to get the true Jam experience.

My sandwich was giant. Like giant to the point that I looked at it for a few minutes trying to figure out how to get it down, and when I finished half of it, I rewarded myself with a pat on the back. As for the quality of the corned beef, well, as I realized shortly after ordering, I am in no way qualified to review corned beef. Aside from the occasional St. Patty’s Day dinner, I never really eat the stuff. But given my unsophisticated palate, I’d say it was pretty damn good, and definitely tender. The whole thing was quite tasty– soft rye bread and sweet and tangy long island dressing. Next time I would definitely opt to split it with someone else though, eating as much as I did mostly succeeded in making me need a nap.

We were both happy with our meals, but I am not sure that the food at Jam is worth the wait. I mean, it’s good, but like I said before, if you’re going to serve breakfast in Portland, it better be good! There was no shortage of variety and the hash browns were nice and crispy (I like to think of them as healthy french fries!) but I don’t think you’ll be seeing me sitting outside in the rain waiting for a table next Saturday.

Veggie options: tons, basically everything except the corned beef can be ordered vegetarian

Speed: Aside from waiting for a table it was respectable

Grilled cheese and tomato

Grilled cheese and tomato

The Bizness

The Bizness

thanthoa

4005 SE Hawthorne Blvd

Thanh Thao on Urbanspoon

Date of Visit: October 29, 2009

Price for 2 (with tip) $16

Though there was nothing particularly Vietnamese or Thai (as the sign implies) about the lunch I ate at Thanh Thao, it definitely is in the running for my favorite new lunch spot on Hawthorne. Today’s visit was actually our second attempt to each there. The first was on Tuesday, the one day a week they are closed. That day, we ended up eating at No Fish, Go Fish right across the street instead, so it wasn’t all bad.

Thanh Thao is decent sized and was nearly full with diners, which is always a good sign. We were seated quickly and given the lunch menu, which includes a list of lunch specials as well as some classic dishes and tons of drinks. I resisted a cocktail and went with the Chicken with Mushrooms and Snow peas lunch special. All the lunches come with vegetarian hot and sour soup, a spring roll, fried or white rice and fried won tons. Jared also ordered off the lunch menu, getting sweet and sour tofu. Like I said before, both of these dishes seemed more “generic Asian” than what I’ve come to expect at Thai or Vietnamese places, but that’s not to say they weren’t good. In fact, my dish was super flavorful, no added soy sauce needed. At first I was a little bummed that the spring roll didn’t come with any dipping sauce, but then I just started sopping up the extra sauce from my entree with it and was perfectly happy. The best thing on the plate though honestly, was the friend won tons. They were so light and crispy and obviously right from the fryer.

Before we’d even finished eating, the waiter set down the check on the table. This place was winning on all accounts. That is, until I opened my fortune cookie and found NO FORTUNE! I made a little pouty face until Jared opened his and found it contained two fortunes, so I got one after all. And with that, Thanh Thao is a new favorite place for sure. 🙂

Speed: Really fast

Veggie options: It’s the lonest section of the lunch menu, plus all side dishes are vegetarian

Hot and sour soup

Hot and sour soup

sweet and sour tofu

sweet and sour tofu

Chicken with snow peas and mushrooms

Chicken with snow peas and mushrooms

veggiehouse

Today we cheated on Hawthorne Blvd and crossed the bridge to eat at an old favorite, Vegetarian House. One thing that I have noticed by eating at a bunch of new places is that most are not really that great for lunch. But rather than just complain that they aren’t, I figured I should explain exactly what I am looking for in a lunch spot.

1. Cheap. One of the things that is awesome about eating lunch out is lunch specials. The midday meal is often less expensive than eating out for dinner, or even breakfast, so ideally, the restaurants serving lunch should recognize that. To put a value on it, I want to pay less than $10 per person for everything (this is Portland!)

2. Fast. Obviously walk up and order type places are the best for grabbing a quick bite. Sit down restaurants are not out of the question, but we should be seated quickly, waited on quickly, and ideally have the bill dropped off before we finish eating.

3. Variety. An ideal lunch spot has different options. I love lunch buffets (such as Vegetarian House) for this very reason, and I am sorry to report Hawthorne is somewhat lacking in this department. The Indian buffet formerly on the corner of 39th moved to Belmont, and then stopped being a lunch buffet, and aside from that, I don’t know of any. If anyone has suggestions, please, let me know!

4. Quality. It should taste good. Obviously.

As you can see, I have simple needs. And sometimes I just want to go to the lunch buffet at Vegetarian House, the total package. Here’s the details.

veggiehousefront

http://www.vegetarianhouse.com/

22 NW 4th Ave

Vegetarian House on Urbanspoon

Date of Visit: October 16, 2009

Price for 2 (with tip) $16

Veggie Options: Um, it’s called Vegetarian House. The carnivore in me wishes they served meat, but you can enjoy looking at dead chickens hanging in the window of the place next door.

Speed: It’s a damn buffet so it’s up to you.

The selections on the buffet vary, but you can always expect spring rolls, mixed veggies, tempura veggies, low mein and friend rice. There are usually two more entrees (some are definitely better than others) and then a various soup of the day. My only real advice would be hit this earlier, rather than later, as the quality definitely deteriorates over time. It’s open for 11- 2:30 and costs $6.50 per person including tea.