No, they don't accept reservations and yes, you're going to wait. But it ain't all bad with the help-yourself-to-coffee, we'll-give-you-a-call, can-I-get-you-a-drink-while-you wait? options taking the sting out of waiting, easing your impatience. At the following restaurants not only is the food worth waiting for, but they have system, making the wait not that bad.
Tin Shed is a Portland institution: they have a four season outdoor dining room, long lines on the weekend, and a special menu for your dog. The lines are long because it's worth it.
To avoid the often long wait at Helser's, arrive early--before nine--and enjoy a special, cheaper breakfast menu.
Even early on a Monday night, Toro Boro is brimming with chatty customers in low lighting, sampling the Paella Toro with chicken, clams, chorizo, shrimp, and mussels while the small kitchen clanks and bustles. Take someone you would like to impress--think a future mother-in-law, or a promising prospect from OKCupid.
While Asian food from all countries and cuisines runs rampant in Portland (why is every Thai restaurant title a pun?), Biwa's menu implores you to acknowledge that not every Japanese dish is sushi. Ask the waiter about everything on the menu and don't hesitate to try something new.
Tasty n Sons, with its high ceilings and open atmosphere, seasonally-inspired menu and dedication to quality, has become a real force on the Portland epicurean scene. Eat there often, as the menu is always changing.
Sometimes I miss the water taxis of Bangkok, or the monks drying their orange robes out their windows, or the monkeys inviting themselves to our card games. When I miss Thailand I cheer myself up a trip to Whiskey Soda Lounge to eat Muu Sawan and sip some Chang.
There's nothing on Luc Lac's menu that disappoints, that's for certain. Less certain is Luc Lac's Asian street food ordering system. After walking in, head straight to the register and order your drinks and food. You may or may not be seated right away. Don't worry. They'll give you a number and deliver your drinks. When a table opens up they'll find you and your food will arrive at the table moments after you do. If you're coming with a big group, bring cash to alleviate any frustration at the register.
John Gorham shoots from the hip with Tasty n Alder. Keeping Tasty n Sons favorites, including the Chocolate Potato Doughnut and the Potatoes Bravos, on the menu makes Tasty n Alder both expected and comforting.