Tag Archives: culture

Antoni’s Restaurant – Beaverton

I officially have a teenager at home now. I say officially because, all this time she was pretending to be a teenager (pre-teen). This is an exciting phase for me…don’t really know what to expect other than what I experienced myself as a teen and what teenagers from this generation face.

To celebrate her 13th birthday, she wanted to keep it simple (compare to her last few birthdays) and wanted to take her few friends to a restaurant. We had total 17 people with her friends and families. After contacting few places from Italian to Middle-Eastern, we finally settled on Antoni’s (and not the Italian place in Portland, called Antonio’s). I’ve dined here before and I loved their food and atmosphere.

Cheese on flame in Antoni's
Cheese on flame in Antoni’s

Antoni’s is a Greek/Mediterranean place in Beaverton area on Canyon Road. It was love at first sight for me with this restaurant. I loved their food and interior when my friend took me there last year. This is a great place to celebrate an occasion or just go for soul Greek food or just love having breakfast/brunch outside of your house once in a while. Their menu pretty much covers wide variety of breakfast items, appetizers, all types of mouth-watering Greek salads, more than 10 different types of burgers, gyros, souvlaki, mousaka, seafood, kid-friendly menu, and other traditional Greek dishes.

Lamb and chicken skewers at Antoni's
Lamb and chicken skewers at Antoni’s

First time I was at Antoni’s, I had gyro, which I absolutely loved. This time we decided to go for Family Style Dinner for a big crowd. There 2 kinds of dinner platter that you can choose…Greek Dinner and Grilled Family Dinner. We ordered few of both platters. Both are slightly different and included cheese, salad, mousaka, dolmas, spanakopita, rice, mashed potatoes, lamb and chicken skewers, grilled shrimps, and veges. They were all great and all the kids loved the meat items as well as the salad and rice.

While everything on the dinner platter was great, I wouldn’t recommend wasting your money here on desserts. The birthday girl received a free sundae ice-cream which was great. But most of the other kids who got ice-cream or lava-cake or cheesecake…they all complained the desserts weren’t that yummy. But most of all those desserts weren’t really traditional Greek or Mediterranean sweets.

Dolmas, spanakopitas, and mousaka at Antoni's
Dolmas, spanakopitas, and mousaka at Antoni’s

But other than that Antoni’s’ had a perfect customer service and dealt with this big group very professionally and patiently. The kids especially loved when our waitress flamed a block of cheese on fire in front of them and gave the younger kids some birthday goodies.

Antoni’s is in my list of favorite restaurants for Greek food in Portland. Check it out and do let me know if you come across any other good Greek restaurants in town. I like any kind of Mediterranean dishes any days of the week.

 

Verde Cocina

Last Sunday night was the girls’ night out (only dinner though) and one of our friends was determined about going to Verde Cocina. Unlike many of the Mexican restaurants, this place is a gluten-free and vegan friendly place with more of healthier choices in the menu. I guess what I mean by that is that they use more locally grown ingredients, have less dishes with refried beans and sour cream and some dishes with EVOO.

Verde Cocina in Sylvan Highlands
Verde Cocina in Sylvan Highlands

Verde Cocina has multiple locations around Portland and as far I know, all of those locations have option to dine outside and are well known for their brunch selections. But what I loved during my first visit there, was their interior decoration and coziness of this place. It has a casual family-friendly atmosphere and service is awesome too.

Inside Verde Cocina in Sylvan Highlands

I ordered guacamole and tortilla chips, crab soup (was their soup of the day), and shrimp ceviche. Another friend ordered Pollo Con Papas. Yes, the guacamole had the option to add jalapeno (which we forgot to add), but I thought it tasted slightly flat…nothing that stood out for me. The tortilla chips were very good and fresh. I loved my soup of the day thoroughly and another friend who ordered that loved it too. It was creamy and very well balanced. The ceviche had only shrimp option and it came with garden salad. I liked it, but again I’ve had way better ceviche with lot of kicks of flavors. My friend’s Pollo Con Papas was really good. The chicken was grilled perfectly and tasted amazing. The dish came with boiled potatoes and fresh garden salad. I din’t try anything else other than the chicken from her plate. And that was one good slice of chicken.

Soup, shrimp ceviche, guacamole, and Pollo con Papas in Verde Cocina
Soup, shrimp ceviche, guacamole, and Pollo con Papas in Verde Cocina

If I ever go back to Verde Cocina, it would be for brunch next time. I am all for big brunch yums and love places where they offer brunch until late afternoon. Overall, I thought this restaurant has a very nutritious menu with traditional Mexican items and use better ingredients to cook their dishes. I am not sure if this place would be ideal if you are looking for messy tacos or mouth watering diablo dishes. But if you are looking to enjoy Mexican food without too much cheese or grease or refried stuff, I would highly recommend this place.

Gandhi Restaurant

Gandhi Restaurant is about a block or two walk from my work. It’s a popular place and a fairly crowded during lunch time on weekdays. The days I don’t bring lunch are the best time for me to look around downtown and taste different places.

Gandhi Restaurant in Portland Downtown
Gandhi Restaurant in Portland Downtown

This is a Panda Express style Indian fast-food place. They don’t have buffet or menu items. You have the option to choose from chicken, lamb, or different kinds of vegetable dishes. I had spicy chicken with eggplant curry. The amount of rice, curries, and naan I got for $9 is amazing. I walked over to the chutney/raita place to add some on my plate.

Dishes in Gandhi Restaurant in Portland Downtown
Dishes in Gandhi Restaurant in Portland Downtown

Both chicken and eggplant tasted nice for the first few bites. Then I kind of lost the appetite. I started feeling like I am just eating very mediocre type Indian food made for people who never had gourmet or good quality Indian food. The rice was completely buried and got mushy under all the gravy from chicken. Half way thru, I didn’t even feel like packing the rest of my food to bring it home, because I knew I wouldn’t eat it anymore.

I haven’t tried the other items here at Gandhi Restaurant but I doubt if I will ever go back there again. The customer service is great here and couple people at my work actually recommended this place…just not my type of Indian food.

Si Señor

I have been to this place multiple times with my kids before. And again last week, when I was craving for some Mexican food, I went there with one of my friends to try some new stuff. I don’t go to Si Señor for the food actually, because I’ve had more authentic and better Mexican food other places. Si Señor’s food is good too, but I love their colorful and fresh interior.

Si Señor, Cedar Hills
Si Señor, Cedar Hills

After they changed their location, the place looks amazing. All the furniture and decors are adorable. The customer service has also improved a lot. You will be treated with a bowl of tortillas chips, bean dip, and salsa after you sit down. BUT do walk to their salsa bar for more dips and sauces.

My Shrimp a la Diabla in Si Señor
My Shrimp a la Diabla in Si Señor

We’ve tried their carne asada, guacamole (pre-made), and tacos before. This time I had shrimp a la diabla (shrimp in red hot sauce) and my friend had mixed grilled beef, chicken, and shrimp. They all came with rice, beans, salads and fresh avocados. But next time I know I should order my shrimp diabla really hot and not medium. My friend’s grilled beef was smokey and tender. From my previous visit, I remember my daughter loved their carne asada too and finished it all. I wasn’t a big fan of the chicken BBQ…but then again our waitress mentioned that their beef is more popular there.

Mixed grilled - beef, chicken, shrimp in Si Señor
Mixed grilled – beef, chicken, shrimp in Si Señor

Si Señor is a nice place for celebrations or just to hang out with the loved ones. It is a bit pricey for the food quality. Again, food was great but I think they can kick it up a notch with some fresh stuff and not pre-made things sometimes for the price they charge. I would recommend this place to anyone actually. Try it out and decide. I will definitely go back there for no reason really. I always have had a great experience when I go their from their waiters/waitresses and managers.

Mixed platter in Si Señor

Andina – Taste of Andes in Portland, OR

It was time to check out another Peruvian place in Portland. Thanks to my daughter, who just turned 12 yesterday for picking this restaurant for her and her another January-born sister (yeh, I have 2 January babies).

Live music inside Andina in Portland
Live music inside Andina in Portland

Andina is a super elegant, up-scale restaurant in Downtown Portland with multiple floors and a full bar. If you are looking for an exquisite place to celebrate an occasion or just spend time dining with your loved ones in a romantic atmosphere, this would be an ideal restaurant. I would highly recommend to make a reservation for this place, even for weekdays’ nights. We didn’t make a reservation but luckily got a table for 6 of us at the bar on a Thursday evening. This restaurant is a bit on the pricey side but it’s worth it somehow, because of the location and vibe of this place.

Our table at Andina in Portland
Our table at Andina in Portland

Let’s come to food now. Service is pretty fast and friendly here. I though the menu didn’t give too many options though. I was looking for chaufa, which is a Peruvian style fried rice with either shrimp or meat, for my 8 years old. But didn’t see that. Also, there weren’t variety of seafood options either.  The food was great though; but don’t get me wrong, I’ve had better Peruvian food for lesser price in Portland. As I said, this is a fine dining spot in the heart of Portland, where many other posh eateries reside.

Beef Empanada (left) and Chicken kabob (right) in Andina, Porltnad
Beef Empanada (left) and Chicken kabob (right) in Andina, Portland

You know a place is good when they can make raw fish taste good. I ordered ceviche with an order of chicken kabob from the appetizer. And in Andina, the ceviche was awesome with little kick of green chilies and a whole lot of lemon juice and a small side of vegetables. Chicken was also above my expectation…gotta love Peruvian style chicken. My little girl, uncle-in-law, and my cousin had lomo saltados. I didn’t taste the beef itself from lomo saltado, but the rice was fragrant and fries were very…PERUVIAN. If you want to go safe this is probably one of the safest dish to try and it’s Peru’s national dish. My older one, the birthday girl, had Peruvian seafood paella. Man, oh man…that was a good paella, even better than what I had in Spain. I never order paella and forget about ordering a seafood paella. But this was unexpectedly tasty. Also, we had beef and vegetable empanada as appetizers. They were good, but I am not a big fan of having powdered sugar on my empanadas…it was a bit sweet.

Lomo Saltado - a Peruvian beef and rice dish in Andina, Portland
Lomo Saltado – a Peruvian beef and rice dish in Andina, Portland

All the dishes were very proportioned and nicely decorated. My newly become pre-teen got a dessert with a candle to blow on the house. It was some kind of lucuma dessert and a hard chocolate cake with peanut and lucuma mousse. My lucuma ice-cream and my little girl’s lucuma mousse were both delicious. By the way, lucuma is a very popular fruit that we tried while visiting Peru, somewhat similar to avocado but sweeter.

Ceviche with veges (left) and Peruvian seafood Paella in Andina, Portland
Ceviche with veges (left) and Peruvian seafood Paella in Andina, Portland

If you want to drink something Peruvian, Andina serves Inca Cola which is a Coke product. While I am not a big fan of it, both my girls love it. I had to have a traditional purple corn juice, called Chicha Morada. Again, this is something  I had in Peru…so, had to test Andina’s version of it and it was what I was expecting…nothing extraordinary but good.

Overall, I would recommend this place to anyone. Would I ever go back there again? Yes, I would. But not for food, maybe for the nice arrangement of it. I definitely loved the character and look of this place.

 

Mexican Grocery and Eatery at Super Mercado in Hillsboro

Yes, I was looking for some authentic Mexican food in Portland after coming back from Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. I knew I wouldn’t get the quality food we had in Cabo. I tried couple other places but they were more like commercialized restaurants trying to make our American taste buds happy. But nothing really Mexican.

Super Mercado in Hillsboro was recommended by couple of my coworkers. They are big time taco guys…have to have taco Tuesday every week and have tried lots of places to give me some good recommendations.

Super Mercado in Hillsboro, Oregon
Super Mercado in Hillsboro, Oregon

Super Mercado is a Mexican grocery in downtown Hillsboro. Some of the food and items that I saw in Cabo were actually being sold here. From fresh produce to fish/meat section to bakery and everything else, this has it all. If you are looking for some rare fruits like guava or papaya…get them here. I was looking for some hot tamarind candies that we brought from Mexico were here too.

Super Mercado in Hillsboro Downtown, OR
Super Mercado in Hillsboro Downtown, OR

Let’s come to the small eatery section they have here. Super Mercado has a nice family atmosphere with variety options, reasonable price and good portion. Chicken, beef, pork, fish…all choices are here, even freshly made papaya juice…something I don’t know where else to get from.

Tortilla chips with variety of salsas
Tortilla chips with variety of salsas

Grab some free tortilla chips with some salsa from the open salsa bar while waiting on your food. I had the best shrimp cocktail in Cabo…the Mexican style (not the way we get here in the U.S. where the pale shrimps hang sadly from the side of your cocktail glass). Mexican shrimp cocktail is like a cold soup mixed with picco de gallo, cucumber, red onions, and you mix it with your favorite hot sauces. Sprinkle some tortilla strips…and voila, the best shrimp cocktail you’ll ever have. Super Mercado has a very close to the one we had in Cabo, except for the red onion. And pico de gallo wasn’t as good either, but hey…it wasn’t bad, I’ll probably go back there whenever I want some shrimp cocktail.

Shrimp cocktail
Shrimp cocktail

My friends ordered carne asada, chicken plate with rice and beans (forgot the name), and cheese quesadilla. They were all good, especially the chicken (according to my daughter).

A pollo dish with rice and beans
A pollo dish with rice and beans

Knowing little of Spanish may help while you are in Super Mercado, since most of the workers here don’t speak fluent English, or sometimes no English at all. But yeh, my little Spanish came handy in this grocery.

Carne Asada in Super Mercado, Hillsboro, OR
Carne Asada in Super Mercado, Hillsboro, OR

I still have to try some taco trucks in Portland and I heard, we have some really good ones in downtown or other places. But Super Mercado got me hooked for now. Next time I am there, I will be trying their ceviche, guacamole, and other plates.

Lima – Peruvian Restaurant

After coming back from Peru couple months ago, I am on the mission to explore all the Peruvian restaurants in Portland. So, Veteran’s Day came and kids had a day off from school. My girls haven’t tried a Peruvian place in Portland after our Peru trip. So, that was the day we were going to try it and I was looking for something close to home.

Peruvian Paella in Lima Restaurant in Beaverton, OR

Lima is in Beaverton, OR, tucked away with lots of other retail places in a complex. It’s a cozy place…not too formal and not too fast-foody type. We were there with two other families and with 6 kids. It’s a casual place to hang out without thinking of kids being too noisy.

My Ceviche at Lima Restaurant in Beaverton, OR
My Ceviche at Lima Restaurant in Beaverton, OR

All of us tried all sorts of food in Lima. I ordered ceviche, my older girl had lomo saltados (they had beef or chicken options), one friend tried Peruvian paella, and my little girl wanted chaufa de carne – the Peruvian style Chinese fried rice with beef. Honestly speaking, every single dish was fabulous. My 11-year old made a comment that her lomo saltados tasted like the one she had in Peru. And yes, my ceviche was the same…perfectly marinated which was served with large corn and red onions.

The price range for this restaurant is reasonable. It’s not too cheap nor too expensive for the large quantity we got. Servers and waitresses were very helpful. I asked the lady about the chef. He is a Peruvian…that brought joy to my ears.

Lomo Saltados in Lima Restaurant in Beaverton, OR
Lomo Saltados in Lima Restaurant in Beaverton, OR

Overall, Lima is a perfect restaurant to hang out with friends, families or colleagues. I may not go there for any special occasions but for a casual meal I would definitely recommend this place to anyone who want to try authentic Peruvian cuisine.

Gallo Nero Trattoria – Florentine Style All the Way

Dinner at Gallo Nero was a treat from one of my chicas and I was in charge of looking for a restaurant. After some research, I found out that the owner and the chef of Gallo Nero are both Italian, Tuscan to be exact. If you want to enjoy Italian cuisine…you gotta do how the Italians do and have an Italian chef cook for you. Living in Europe for 3 years spoiled my taste buds, so I look for authentic food wherever I go.

In front of Gallo Nero Trattoria in Portland, OR
In front of Gallo Nero Trattoria in Portland, OR

Gallo Nero is located in the heart of Pearl District in Portland where tons of other posh and trendy restaurants reside. It has a small outdoor sitting area along with its elegant indoor sitting arrangements. The place is not that big and reservation is highly recommended, even if it’s a weekday night. But just be ready to park on the street since most of the eateries in Pearl District don’t have their own parking spots.

My Gnocchi al pomodoro and Pici al sugo at Gallo Nero
My Gnocchi al pomodoro and Pici al sugo at Gallo Nero

The menu of Gallo Nero is very Florentine style. With poricini mushrooms bruschetta for appetizer, mouth-watering salad and soup choices, home made pastas, gnocchi, risotto, typical Tuscan flavored meat and fish, gelato, tiramisu, affogato, and other items, this place rocks for their authentic dishes. Keep one thing in mind though, the plates are not your typical American size…they are much smaller and very proportioned. I ordered select 2 pastas where I chose gnocchi and spaghetti with meat sauce. When I was done, I was still hungry and could finish a whole Big Mac. Thank God, that my little girl couldn’t finish her pasta with seafood…I ended up having her plate too.

Spaghetti ai frutti di mare at Gallo Nero
Spaghetti ai frutti di mare at Gallo Nero

If you are looking for an up-scale Italian restaurant with good quality food with your friends and family to celebrate a special occasion in the heart of Pearl District, I would highly…I mean, HIGHLY recommend this place. It’s good food all the way. The best part is the price is reasonable.

Torta Di Mele  apple torte served warm with gelato at Gallo Nero, Portland
Torta Di Mele apple torte served warm with gelato at Gallo Nero, Portland

 

La Leña – Peruvian Restaurant & Rotisserie

We just got back from Peru after a week long vacation. Other than it’s rich history, beautiful landscape, colorful culture, friendly locals, and attractive hand-crafts, I absolutely fell in love with the Peruvian cuisine. I was missing the flavors and freshness of their dishes after coming back to The States. So, last Friday, we decided to check out a brand new Peruvian restaurant in Portland, La Leña, to celebrate a friend’s birthday. I’m thankful that everyone took my suggestions and agreed to try it. More than that I was happy it didn’t disappoint us at all.

La Leña is a casual yet stylish restaurant in Portland on Hawthorn Blvd. They don’t take any reservations but with it’s fairly nice size, our group of 7 did manage to find tables on a busy Friday night. The price is very reasonable and no need to wait in long line to order. And our beautifully presented dishes were delivered pretty fast too, considering only one chef was actually cooking.

Alright, now let’s come to food. So, we tried alpaca meat in Peru (though my little one wasn’t too happy about it, but aye, I am a foodie and gotta try new stuff), I was REALLY hoping to get those here (?). But ok, they don’t have alpaca steak or grilled guinea pig at La Leña but they had almost everything else that we ate in different parts of Peru. Some of those that I found here are ceviche, Ají de Gallina, pollo a la brasa, lomo saltados, salsa criolla, chicha morada, fresh juice, and Inca Cola just to name a few from the menu. And they all tasted really good. Best ones would probably be pollo a la brasa and lomo saltados, very close to what I had in Peru. They ran out of fresh fish to make ceviche, so couldn’t try it…but the chef offered me he’ll give me a free plate of ceviche next time I go there (a happy customer right here). Make sure to order salsa criolla and their hot sauce with every dish to kick up a notch. Inca Cola tasted slightly different but their fresh juice and chicha morada (a purple corn juice) were ok.

Lomo Saltados in La Leña, Portland
Lomo Saltados in La Leña, Portland

We didn’t try any dessert because we were just too full with our perfectly proportioned plates but to finish off everything, try their Peruvian coffee.

One of my friend's dish - Ají de Gallina
One of my friend’s dish – Ají de Gallina

Before I finish, I got to add one extra thing here about La Leña. The customer service here was extraordinary from the minute we entered the place. The chef himself came and apologized for not being able to serve us ceviche. The waiter and waitress made our friend’s birthday eve a special one with their willingness to do every arrangement to make that it a wonderful one.  A++ all the way.

Nicholas Restaurant Broadway

Wow, another brand new idea and another brand new blog. A foodie like me, needs to record all the eateries in her city. So…there you go Portland, I present to you Portland Culinary. My plan is to cover all types of restaurants and cafe in Portland, Oregon, from street side carts to roof-tops’ exquisite fine dinning places and share my experience along the way. I have been planning to do it for a while now…finally did it. Yep, let’s…get… started.

So, for the first post…we went to Nicholas Restaurant Broadway on NE Broadway Street this past Saturday with few friends and families. This is a Lebanese/ Middle-Eastern restaurant with excellent customer service, elegant interior, and DELICIOUS food.

My Beef Kafta Kabab with rice and salad
My Beef Kafta Kabab with rice and salad

We couldn’t find parking close by…had to park couple blocks away. They don’t take reservations but we waited about half an hour for seat (which is not bad for a Saturday night). First floor was jam packed, so we were taken upstairs where it was much quieter…so we kind of had the place to ourselves.

My cousin's Shawarma plate with rice and salad (shredded beef)
My cousin’s Shawarma plate with rice and salad (shredded beef)

The unlimited free fresh fluffy breads are on the house…eat as much as you want. The menu has variety options from kebabs (including salmon kebabs), salads, different sauces to go with your breads, sandwiches/burgers, Lebanese pizzas, and platters just to name some. Order came quicklier than I thought.  I ordered beef kafta kabab with jasmine saffron rice with salad and garlic sauce. It was GOOD and the portion was not too big and not too small. My daughter’s Lebanese style beef burger with feta cheese and tzatziki sauce was absolutely fantastic too. We had Vege Mezzas for appetizer which had falafels, hummus, tzatziki sauce, and tabouleh salad. I usually don’t like tabouleh salad in lot of restaurants, but this one was tangy and perfectly balanced. Try their peach lassi and cinnamon/mint tea also. If not good ol’ mango lassi is there too. If are still not full, try the baklava or rice pudding with pistachios (kind of big size though…be careful).

Inside Nicholas Restaurant Broadway
Inside Nicholas Restaurant Broadway (upstairs)

This is a great place to celebrate any occasions really, like birthdays, graduation, anniversaries or anything that sort. It has the elegant touch but cozy feelings too. It’s formal enough to host special events but not too formal for families with kids. I loved it and I gotta say I would go back there again and would highly recommend this place to my friends in Portland.