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noahs

3541 Southeast Hawthorne

http://www.noahs.com/

Noah's on Urbanspoon

Date of visit: November 29, 2009

Cost for 2: $18

Noah’s bagels was one of those gray areas in this (lately somewhat neglected) blog project, which is probably why it’s taken me so long to get around to writing it up (that and I am lazy.) Since it’s technically a chain, it wasn’t really necessary for us to eat there to reach our goal, but on this random day, it seemed like a good idea. But since I’m obviously not overly inspired by a bagel chain I’ll keep this short.

Bagels in Portland, like pizza, aren’t great. So Noah’s NY-style bagels are about as good as you’re going to get. That said, as a lunch spot, their sandwiches and sides are not really that exciting. I always forget which side option I like less — on this trip I got cole slaw, and it was nothing special. Kinda mushy and totally bland. I’ve also tried the potato salad, which if I remember correctly includes potatoes cut way to big for my taste.

As for the sandwiches, Jared and I both got melts: him veggie and me roast beef and cheddar. Jared went with his standard review “It’s decent, spicy, but not too spicy,” but on mine I am going with medicore at best. Basically, the roast beef is sliced too thick and was sort of dried out, probably due to the toasting process.

Basically, Noah’s is ok, but if you’re after a good bagel sandwich in Portland, Kettleman’s on SE 11th has, way, way better options.

Speed: Pretty quick

Veggie options: A decent selection of Vegetables and shmears, any of which can be put on a bagel.

Roast beef

Roast beef and cheddar melt

Veggie melt

Veggie melt

wholebowl

4409 SE Hawthorne Blvd

www.thewholebowl.com

Whole Bowl SE on Urbanspoon

Date of Visit: December 17, 2009

Price for 2: $13

The first visit to the Whole Bowl is an interesting experience, because it’s definitely not your normal restaurant. After all, there is a grand total of one thing on the menu. Your choices include what size and an option to omit any of the standard ingredients. You can also choose to get chips (of the basic tortilla variety served up in an unimpressive ziplock bag) or not. And they have a variety of drinks including Hansen’s soda, which is always a plus. Personally, I really like one item on the menu, but Jared was not so much a fan. But it is what it is, and actually, the Hawthorne location is a big step up (in Jared’s ideals) from the other locations in Portland since it’s not a cart like the rest of them.

And on this, our second visit to the place together, he warmed slightly to the whole bowl. If you’re wondering, what they serve here is a bowl with beans, rice, cheese, salsa, sour cream, olives, cilantro, avocado and “tali sauce,” which is lemony and garlicky and makes it taste good. It’s the sort of thing that if you are in the right mood is really delicious. If you want say, a sandwich or a slice of pizza, not so much.

But I like this place for lunch because it’s cheap, fast, and simple, and the fact that there really are no decisions to be made is sort of nice, sometimes. In the summer it’s great because they open up all the windows and you get the outdoor eating experience on the east end of Hawthorne, but with the roof Jared desires in an eatery. Jared’s main complaint this time was that he wished the chips were “better,” so I told him next time we could bring our own, or better yet, get the bowls to go. Then you can eat them with whatever damn chips you want, right?

Veggie options: No meat on the menu. It’s gluten free as well.

Speed: No cooking required

wholebowl1

Rice Junkies

Posted by Brooke in Bento - (2 Comments)

ricejunkies

3535 SE Hawthorne blvd

Rice Junkies on Urbanspoon

Date of Visit: November 23, 2009

Price for 2: $16.50

The first time I went to Rice Junkies I had gotten a thai chicken wrap. I think it was an homage-order to the weird-hippie-burrito place we used to go to in Burlington, VT, because that’s what I always got there. And like the food at the weird-hippie-burrito place it wasn’t really that great. My main complaint people there was too much tortilla and it wasn’t heated up enough to be soft.

So on this visit, I figured I’d give one of the bento bowls a shot. They basically have the option of any sort of bento (basically meat and rice) you could ever want, including a Mexican-style one. After I got done being confused by that option in a very Asian-seeming place (there was even a bit of a language barrier with the ordering process), I went with the gyoza and yakisoba combo. It was hardly bento at all but it sounded delicious.

Jared got a kung pao tofu wrap, which came out a few minutes before my bowl (even though we ordered them on the same ticket.) Unfortunately, it was actually chicken, which they apologized for profusely and quickly re did. But the tables turned as I then got my food before him and quickly doused it in the plethora of sauces provided (yum, spicy peanut sauce.) Basically what I got was noodles with vegetables that provided a bed for 4 pieces of chicken gyoza. It was visually appealing and tasted damn good. No complaints from me.

Once Jared got his correct order he was also happy. The wrap (I kept calling it a burrito and he yelled at me because it was offensive to his deep Hispanic heritage apparently) was “spicy, but not too spicy” and very-Americanized, but overall good. We both left happy and full and the price was definitely right. After this trip I’ll give this place a stamp of approval.

Speed: Quick, but not timed well

Veggie options: Pretty much everything on the menu had a veggie option, except the gyoza

ricejunkies1

Kung Pao Tofu Wrap

Gyoza and Yakisoba combo

Gyoza and Yakisoba combo

taborhill

3766 SE Hawthorne Blvd

Tabor Hill Cafe on Urbanspoon

Date of Visit: November 19, 2009

Price for 2 (with tip): $19

Eating at Tabor Hill Cafe was sort of like eating at your grandmother’s house. Well, if your grandmother was a Chinese man, who cooked very basic American food, and also sold bamboo trinkets. Since it’s one of those places neither I, nor anyone I know would ever think to go to, I didn’t really know what to expect, and I definitely wasn’t let down. Perplexed is more like it.

The menu is full of your basic American fare, but for some reason is exceptionally thick. When I got to page 3 I realized why: there are Chinese-menu style pictures of everything on it. It was so amazing, I actually took a picture:

taborhill3

I will day though, that the pictures influenced my ordering decision. When I saw the monte cristo (bottom row, middle photo) I was like, damn that sounds amazing. (Note: it didn’t look amazing in the photo, as you’d expect.) Jared got a grilled cheese with tomato and we sat back and waited. And waited. The place was empty and super quiet, so I felt bad making jokes about the plethora of things to make jokes about there. Eventually the waiter (who I’m pretty sure was also the chef) came out and asked what kind of bread Jared wanted. After that the food came quickly, and when he set down my gigantic side order of coleslaw (for $1.50 extra it better be giant) he explained he just made it fresh.

Luckily for us, the food was actually really good. Super-basic, home-style stuff that on a gray and rainy Portland day was just what we wanted. The coleslaw was really good, just sweet enough, but not too sweet, crispy and good. My monte cristo was the total heart attack on a plate I was after. And Jared said, “Sometimes a good grilled cheese is just what you want.”

Will we make Tabor Hill a regular lunch stop? Yeah, probably not. But at least I can say I’ve been there and I was upset when I left. More confused than anything else.

Speed: Old person speed

Veggie options: veggie burgers, grilled cheese etc.

Monte Cristo

Monte Cristo

grilled cheese

grilled cheese

nicksconeyisland

3746 SE Hawthorne Blvd

www.nicksfamousconeys.com

Nick's Famous Coney Island on Urbanspoon

Date of Visit: November 17, 2009

Price for 2 (with tip): $23.25

We’d actually tried Nick’s shortly before embarking on this blog project, and being honest, our review then wasn’t good. I’d gotten a burger, because the A Frame outside says “Best Burgers in Town” explicitly and I felt obligated to test it out. Jared got a veggie coney and we both had the mac salad because that day the fryer happened to be broken. We both found ourselves incredible underwhelmed, and never planning to return.

But as we now make all lunch-related decisions by this blog, and Nick’s Famous Coney Island is one of those staple-type places on Hawthorne, it seemed we’d have to give it another shot. I had a great plan: I was going to get a Coney and Jared could get a veggie burger or something else since his in his first experience the veggie coney was more like a “mushy pile of fake meat” than he wanted. It was brilliant really.

On this visit, the fryer was definitely working, and you could smell it the second you walked in the door. Things were looking better already. But when we looked at the menu, poor Jared realized the veggie coney was actually the only veggie option on the menu, so he was stuck getting it again. We ended up with two coneys (one meaty, one not) and both subbed fries for the extra buck. This time the verdict was better, mostly because of the fries. They were awesome. Crispy and simple, just a light sprinkling of Lawry’s (or something similar.) As for the Coney, mine wasn’t bad, but it was definitely junk food (right down to the slice of American cheese.) The “coney” sauce was a little boring, and I ended up with a ton extra on my plate after I’d eaten away the bun and hot dog. Jared’s review was similar, but he agreed the fries made everything better.

I suppose if you are in the mood for a coney, Nick’s is your place. The NYC/baseball theme is cool if you are into that sort of thing and service and prices are reasonable. Personally, I think I’ll go back to Zach’s Shack next time I want a hot dog for lunch.

Speed: Pretty average

Veggie Options: Officially one choice (two if you count a plain veggie dog)

Veggie Coney

Veggie Coney

Single Coney

Single Coney

hotlips

2223 SE Hawthorne Blvd

www.hotlipspizza.com

Hot Lips Pizza on Urbanspoon

Date of Visit: November 16, 2009

Price for 2 (including tip and blogger discount) $10

People ask me all the time if I get free food because of this blog, or at least, if that’s the goal. The answer is no on both counts, I am simply doing this cause it’s a fun project. But on our trip to Hot Lips, blogging did pay off. It also helped that I knew the person working (through a friend), so I happened to bring up the fact I’d be blogging about our experience. When we were rung up, 3 slices, two drinks and a salad magically only cost $8.50. I am sharing this in the interest of full disclosure (take that FTC!), and so that I can stress this discount in no way is reflected on my review, which just happens to be favorable.

Hot Lips has been a go-to pizza place for us for awhile, mostly because it’s some of the best pizza in Portland. Add in reasonable prices (even without blogger discount) such as a $6.50 slice/salad/drink combo and house-made fruity soda Jared is especially fond of, and Hot Lips wins. One thing about this place is that every day the selections are different and I am definitely fonder of some special slices than others. The “taco-style” one I got once was just plain weird, but Monday’s special: sausage, red onions and greens, was damn good. I went with the salad combo, which includes choice of caeser or green salad. I got the green salad, which is lettuce and various root vegetables and grabbed ranch dressing for the dual purpose of dousing my slice in it.

Jared got two slices, a vegan foccacia and a plain old cheese. He really takes advantage of the sauce and pepper bar, which offers plenty of ways to spice up your slices. (God, I really just typed that.) But it’s just another thing that’s rad about Hot Lips. After trying out a bunch of the pizza places on Hawthorne (Oasis, Vincente’s, Rovente), I must say, Hot Lips would still be a favorite even if we didn’t get that discount.

Speed: Pretty quick, though they do reheat your slices

Veggie options: yep, even some vegan ones.

Vegan foccacia and cheese slice

Vegan foccacia and cheese slice

lunch combo with special slice

lunch combo with special slice

Thai Spoon

Posted by Brooke in Thai - (0 Comments)

thaispoon

1334 SE Hawthorne Blvd

Thai Spoon on Urbanspoon

Date of Visit: November 13, 3009

Price for 2 (with tip) $17

If there is one thing Portland does not have a shortage of it’s Thai restaurants. There are at least 5 I can think of off the top of my head on Hawthorne alone, and for that reason, we’d never tried Thai Spoon before. But whenever it’s my turn to drive (yes, we drive to lunch every day and we’ve both driven to the office so we always fight over who has to drive that day) I always pick a place that’s as close as possible. Don’t tell Jared about this, since when he drives we usually end up on places past 39th. Anyway, enough of that tangent, back to Thai Spoon.

The lunch menu looked pretty standard: curries, noodle dishes, stir-fried items. The menu specified all items came with a veggie egg roll, and the non-noodle dishes with white rice. Most items were $6.95, with a few costing $7.75. So far, so good. I went with the Pad Kee Mao, a.k.a Drunken Noodles a.k.a. Spicy Noodles. I don’t really understand why this dish has so many names, but I do know it tastes good. Jared got the red curry with tofu.

As we waited for our food to come, I tried to explain to Jared that normal people actually talk at lunch, instead of posting pictures on twitter and then telling the other person to check them out. We were both glued to our phones when a nice surprise showed up: a starter salad. Super basic — just iceberg lettuce, carrots and some crispy wontons with peanut dressing — it almost instantly won me over.

When our entrees came I remained pleased. The egg roll was super skinny and somewhat resembled a cigar, but perfectly crisp and a nice addition to my noodles. Both the curry and the noodles we’re appropriately spicy. I ordered mine mild and it still had a nice, but not overwhelming kick, and Jared, who is tougher than me, asked for more kick and got it, but said it wasn’t inedible at all. All the ingredients were good and in a decent ratio, and I honestly have no complaints about this place. They were even playing cheesy pop music (Ace of Base anyone?!)

Speed: good

Veggie options: standard Thai

house salad

house salad

Pad Kee Mao

Pad Kee Mao

Red Curry

Red Curry

barleymill

1629 SE Hawthorne Blvd

http://www.mcmenamins.com/index.php?loc=10&id=313

Barley Mill Pub on Urbanspoon

Date of Visit: November 12, 2009

Price for 2 (with tip): $22

The Barley Mill is the oldest McMenamins pub in Portland, and if you’ve been to one McMenamins, you pretty much know what to expect. Pub food and good beer served up in whatever kitschy theme that location happens to be dedicated to. The theme here is the Greatful Dead, and the walls and even ceiling are covered with brightly colored junk of that ilk, but I tried not to hold that against them. When you really start to pay attention, there are subtle differences in the menus and offerings at each location, and as it turns out, Barley Mill is actually very well catered towards the midday meal.

Missing from the menu are the heartier (and more expensive) pasta dishes, as well as pizza. Instead there is a plethora of sandwich, wrap and burger options not found at every other location. So basically, tons of lunch food, not so much for dinner. Another perk of this place, especially over the nearby by Bagdad, is the service. At least on our visits it has always been good. It seems more adequately staffed overall, and we literally had two servers doting on us the whole time, replacing our drinks without having to ask, etc.

I went with the Tequilla lime chicken sandwich, mostly because if you put avocado on a sandwich I am going to order it. I wasn’t disappointed: tender chicken, avocado, lettuce, tomato, tons of melted cheddar cheese and spicy mayo. They did load up the red onions, which I as usual, opted to pick off. It was a bit messy, but overall good, and they were kind enough to provide a sharp knife with all the burgers so you could cut them in half. Another point scored for Barley Mill.

Jared felt bad ordering his usual, a communication breakdown burger, since we already covered that, and went with a standard Beer Garden Burger instead. I just asked for his review, and he said, “It was a good veggie burger, better than just a plain garden burger. And the size was ample.” Profound really.

So there you have it. 20-plus years on the corner of 17th and Hawthorne, The Barley Mill must be doing something right and we were not let down.

Speed: Faster than the Bagdad

Veggie options: Several sandwiches and any burger can be made veggie

Tequilla lime chicken sandwich

Tequilla lime chicken sandwich

Beer garden burger

Beer garden burger

burgerville

1122 SE Hawthorne Blvd

Burgerville.com

Burgerville on Urbanspoon

Date of Visit: November 10, 2009

Price for 1: $7.59

Jared hates Burgerville. For that reason he made it a point that if we were going to do this blog project, we were not including chains, so we wouldn’t have to go there. I should note though, the reason Jared hates Burgerville is because you need a key to get into the bathroom and one time he tried to use the WiFi and it didn’t work. And I, on the other hand, really like the place.

Yes Burgerville is a fast food joint, but it’s so much better than your average fast food restaurant. The biggest reason being that they use local ingredients and the menu changes with the season. Since it’s almost Thanksgiving, a few items with cranberry, pumpkin and sweet potatoes are available. Personally, my favorite season at Burgerville is early summer because that’s when they have Strawberry Lemonade. I have literally slammed on to brakes and swerved across lanes of traffic when I noticed the sign for it.

Today I got to go to Burgerville because Jared decided to work from home. Since it has a drive thru, it’s a perfect option to grab something quick and bring it back to the office to eat, and that’s what I did. I figured I might as we branch out from my usual crispy chicken¬† basket and got the season special burger: a turkey burger with cranberry salsa. I’ll be honest, from the picture and description, I wasn’t really sure about it, but I figured what the hell.

When I took my first bite of this gourmet burger, I must say I was pleasantly surprised. The salsa was sweet with a little kick and I like how not-greasy the turkey burger was. The whole wheat bun really tied the whole the together. But as I kept eating it, I found it getting less appealing with every bite, and by halfway through I really wished I just went with a normal menu item. It seems like this is how it goes with all the season sandwiches, really. They are good, but a little much, and there’s something to be said for a classic burger. Luckily, Burgerville has those too. I’d like to say next time I’ll make a better choice, but I know I won’t. I’m a sucker for limited time items! Oh well.

Veggie options: Since they switched to the Harvest Burger patties a while back, the veggie burgers are actually not that good.

Speed: It’s a damn drive thru

Turkey burger with cranberry salsa basket

Turkey burger with cranberry salsa basket

grandcentral

2230 SE Hawthorne Blvd

http://www.grandcentralbakery.com/store_hawthorne.html

Grand Central Bakery & Cafe on Urbanspoon

Date of visit: November 6, 2009

Price for 2: $18.65

Before we started this blog project, we hit up Grand Central almost every week. The funny thing is, my only real issue with it was I thought it was a little on the spendy side. Now that I’ve tried tons of different places and seen what’s out there, I’m pretty sure that Grand Central Bakery is actually one of the best lunch options on Hawthorne, in terms of price and quality.

As the name implies, the star of the sandwiches here is the fresh-baked bread. Different sandwiches come on different breads, everything¬† from baguettes to como bread to calamata olive bread. From reading this blog you might notice that I am partial to tuna melts, and honestly, I usually get a tuna tosti, which is “Herb and caper tuna salad and sharp white cheddar cheese served hot on Sourdough.” But I stared feeling self concious that people might think I was some weird George Costanza-type, and today I got a special, the pulled pork sandwich. Unlike most things on the menu it came with a side of coleslaw in addition to the usual pickle and at $6.25 was definitely a good deal. The sandwich was awesome, super soft bread, tender pork and flavorful BBQ sauce. Super simple and on par with “authentic” pulled pork I’ve had in the south. It wasn’t particularly messy either, which was nice. As for the coleslaw, it wasn’t the best I’ve had in Portland (that is a tie between the Delta Cafe and Clay’s Smokehouse) but it did have a nice texture and decent flavor (I would have preferred it a little sweeter.)

The coleslaw was a definitely bonus. Usually, sandwiches don’t come with a side (just a pickle) and you have to opt for the “sack lunch” that adds $1.80 to the price. Jared always goes for this option, which includes chips and a cookie, and I usually just steal a few chips from him. (He’ll tell you, I always steal his food.) I guess this would be another gripe with this place though, I would way rather get a drink than a cookie with my meal deal. But that’s just me, I don’t really care for sweets.

Speed: Pretty average for fresh made sandwiches

Veggie options: Several sandwiches and usually at least one special

Mediterranian Tosti Sack Lunch

Mediterranean Tosti Sack Lunch

Pulled Pork Sandwich

Pulled Pork Sandwich