As a family we LOVE to eat. I mean it doesn’t matter what kind of food it is, we eat it (My kids included). In-fact, our holidays and vacations usually revolve around “where are we going to eat.” And I’ll tell you what, some of the best places we’ve eaten at are the smallest holes in the wall that you’ve ever seen. Not fast food! We don’t eat that! This is good, wholesome Cheap Eats Portland. Portland has some of the best Cheap Eats around! From food carts to dives this a guide to the best places in Portland to eat on a budget. Here are some of our favorites as confirmed by USA Today.
Grilled Cheese Grill
The old school bus parked on NE Alberta Street isn’t waiting for the end-of-day bell — it’s full of tables where diners are digging into gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches. Take your pick from everyday standards to more exotic fare like brie and red peppers on sourdough. For dessert, try a Fat Elvis: grilled banana, peanut butter and bacon. grilledcheesegrill.com
There’s nothing dull about the two-hand sandwiches served in this hole-in-the-wall spot, which range from salt cod and mashed potatoes to roast chicken salad with applewood smoked bacon and avocado. They’re not for the fainthearted, but they’re tasty enough to earn guest spots on more than one national food show. bunksandwiches.com
Frank’s Noodle House
Hand-pulled noodles made fresh daily are the specialty at this humble restaurant in a house on NE Broadway. Owner Frank Fong and his wife Ying Jun Gao stretch them out every morning, then serve them up boiled with wok-fried extras like pork belly and Korean chile sauce. You’ll leave full and convinced that Frank serves the best noodles in the city. franksnoodlehouseportland.com
Fire on the Mountain
For fans of Buffalo wings and all things fried, not to mention a Portland-worthy beer list, Fire on the Mountain is the place to go. Sample their sauces before you order — be warned, “El Jefe” is a mouth-melter — and save room for a deep-fried Twinkie for dessert. It’s also a great place to catch Blazers games. portlandwings.com
Part diner, part deli, Laurelhurst Market has a butcher counter where you can order choice cuts to go, plus a comfortable brasserie if you’d like to hang around. Local meats are always on the menu, often house-smoked — try the BBQ brisket — as are seasonal veggies and homemade sides. The steaks, of course, are stunning, and reasonably priced to boot. laurelhurstmarket.com
HA & VL
It’s a bit out of the way on SE 82nd Street, but this Vietnamese soup utopia (souptopia?) is well worth the pilgrimage. Owners Ha “Christina” Luu and William Voung serve two regional options every day, from shredded free-range chicken and noodle to ginger-heavy snail noodle soup every Thursday. Finish with a Vietnamese iced coffee, and don’t dawdle; they often sell out.
¿Por Que No?
This colorful taqueria excels in atmosphere and food, especially when the weather is nice and they can throw open the large front doors. The taco choices range across Mexico, from the mountains of Oaxaca to the Pacific Coast, and they offer salads, rice bowls and tamales as well. There’s often a line down the block, especially during happy hour and on “Taco Tuesdays.” porquenotacos.com
If this chicly minimalist place in the industrial Inner Southeast only served their signature ramen bowls, richly seasoned with slow smoked pulled pork or seafood miso, that would be enough to merit a visit. But there are also steamed buns, warm Brussels sprouts salad and Korean fried chicken every Thursday evening. Kids can opt for a smaller “bambino bowl” with easy-to-use hinged chopsticks. bokebowl.com
Nong’s Khao Man Gai
Of all the food carts in Portland — and there are plenty — only one serves slices of poached organic chicken over rice, both simmered in Thai herbs and accompanied by a homemade ginger-and-garlic sauce. The popular Thai street dish is all they serve, in fact, but that should be a sign of just how tasty it is. khaomangai.com
There are movies projected on the wall here, but the focus is on the upscale Indian street food that’s as lively and unpredictable as the setting. The small plates of meat, fish, curries and veggies are perfect for sharing, with regional tastes ranging from Goa to Calcutta. Pair a few with a glass of chai or a yogurt lassi and you’ll be pricing plane tickets to the Subcontinent. bollywoodtheaterpdx.com