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Today we ventured into Northeast to dine at Pambiche, the somewhat offensively colored Cuban joint on 28th and Glisan. There’s definitely some drama surrounding this place, with the local hipsters mad that people park their cars on the side streets and that they can’t pass out drunk on that section of sidewalk or whatever, and today was no exception. Although the hipster in question was Jared, and he was concerned that Cuban cuisine is not very veggie friendly. True, but I had a serious hankering and I told him too damn bad.

I’ve only been to Pambiche one other time, and it was for Happy Hour (which lasts like 5 hours and has incredibly cheap food.) I wasn’t sure what to expect for lunch. Basically it’s the full menu, but I assume smaller portions since everything was about half the price of dinner. Not cheap (still $7-$10 per entree) but not too bad either. I got a chicken dish, Pollo Criollo, which came with rice, beans and little samples of both types of salad (beet and cabbage.) It was more than I could finish. The whiny vegetarian ordered a spinach and cheese empanada plate that came with tostones and salad. He ordered a side of rice, and didn’t finish everything. He made sure to whine that if he hadn’t ordered rice it wouldn’t have been sufficient but I told him to suck it up.

Perhaps the most interesting thing about lunch at Pambiche was the crowd. Most tables were drinking, even those with small children. I suppose that’s what the middle-upper class does at lunch. And of course it is Portland, so no one actually works anyway. But yeah, a few weird hippies, and some middle aged ladies (one of which who fell out of her chair in an especially amazing turn of events.) Strange over all.

But the food was good and prices were reasonable. Now if they only served tofu we’d be all set.

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I had been to Fire on the Mountain once before. Ben made me go there and buy him dinner once for some reason. But I’d never been to the one on 17th and E Burnside, nor been there for lunch. Figured what the hell? They even have “veggie wings.”

So I got a BBQ Chicken sandwich. It came with tater tots and was basically a chicken breast with lettuce, tomato and BBQ sauce on ciabatta bread. It was pretty good, but same price all day, so it was still $7.50. A bit much for lunch. Poor Jared ordered the veggie wings, which are not wings at all but veggie chicken  nuggets. They come out with a cup of sauce, not tossed in it like the real wings. It came with a couple pieces of celery and a cup of ranch and that’s it. Now this would be fine if 6 “wings” didn’t cost $5.95. It could have at least come with fries, but didn’t so i shared my tots. Anyway, it was yet another time I was glad I eat meat. Yay meat!

So everyday around 11:45 I realize I am starving and that can only mean one thing, it’s time for lunch. I try really hard not to get into a rut or going to the same few places everyday, since Portland is a veritable restaurant wonderland and I often finding myself googling where I should go. Sometimes I will type in “awesome lunch specials” or “best Portland lunch” and usually it recommends places on the other side of the bridge, which I really have to want to try to go to. Anyway, I end up at new places often, and it’s always interesting to see the difference in the lunch menu. Sometimes its just a few less thing than dinner, sometimes less expensive (sometimes not.) And of course since I share my office with a damn tree hugger, vegetarian options are always a concern. So in addition to writing about extreme things, I’ve now added a lunch category to my blog and I will proceed to post my reviews of everywhere we try.

To get started I am going to make a short list of pre approved places, which is really for my own personal benifit (sometimes it’s just too hard to think or be creative so I can always just check back here.)  So my favorites are:

 Thai Thai. Wins not only because of it’s close proximity (right up the street on 14th and SE Stark) but for its soup and $6.50 lunch special. I like the spicy noodles. The tofu is a little bit dry though, I usually opt for chicken.

Indian Chaat House. Even though this one is on the other side of the bridge (12th and SW Yamhill) the lunch special is worth it. More food than you can eat in one sitting, changes every day, and it’s only $5.50. Now I always complain that it justed to be $4.25, but that’s still cheap. Oh yeah, and it’s completely Jared-approved.

Pepinos. This is probably my favorite mexican joint, on 39th and Hawthorne. You can get a burrito or tacos with chips for under $6, they serve beer for those rough days, and it’s pretty quick. Veggiewise they have a lot of unique options, and there is a salsa bar.

Vegetarian House. So I like meat, like really, a lot. But the lunch buffet at Vegetarian House again makes it worth the trip across the bridge (it’s on 5th and W Burnside.) This one is $6.50, but for all you can eat and includes tea. They also play weird Chinese TV, so you sort of feel like you are getting cultured.

 Mio Sushi. There are a bunch of these, but I usually go to the one on 42nd and Halsey. They have a pretty decent lunch special menue (ranges from $6-$9), though I often just splurge and get rolls. The crunch roll is pretty much the best thing ever and as it turns out, sushi isn’t that expensive if you don’t get booze.