It’s 1 a.m., the soup bowl is clean, but the week’s ramen noodles have disappeared and the familiar, sweet aroma of chicken sesame suspiciously permeates from your roommate’s breath. To help solve this dilemma, here are a few secret and notable eateries – restaurants in the Portland State University area that cater to the modest income many students assume.
21 and over
If it’s late, hike over to The Cheerful Tortoise (1939 S.W. Sixth Ave.), a close-to-campus pub. For $1.99, you can buy the two eggs, hash-brown, and toast, more commonly referred to as “the best deal.” The Cheerful is also a popular hangout for its weekly “Thirsty Thursday” celebration with $1 pints of beer.
On the corner of Fourth and Harrison is the premier sweet and sour chicken in Portland. The Jasmine Tree (401 S.W. Harrison St.) is a hidden treasure, with the entire to-go menu costing $4.95. The food is terrifically hot, they have bamboo walls and the bartender, Jimmy, always offers friendly service. Unfortunately, the restaurant will be closing at an undetermined date after 30 years to make way for another downtown condominium.
Since opening its campus location on Sixth and Hall, Hot Lips Pizza (1909 S.W. Sixth Ave.) has become the premier pizza house at Portland State. Hot Lips is a perfect safe haven from incessant rainstorms and an ideal locale for a slice of sun on their outdoor garden deck. Boasting all local ingredients and a host of self-brewed sodas and beers, Hot Lips is a win-win option. It’s $2.50 for cheese, $3 for pepperoni, and the $1.50 bread sticks are terrific.
Whether buying or browsing books for class or pleasure, be sure to navigate your way across the street from Powell’s Books to Rocco’s Pizza (949 S.W. Oak St.), where you can fulfill all you’re thick-crust, Chicago-style pizza desires. Rocco’s offers a daily deal from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.: a slice of cheese and a 16-oz. soda for $3.75.
Cha! Cha! Cha! (1986 S.W. Sixth Ave.) could be the best and cheapest Mexican food on campus. With a menu entirely under $5, – except for fish items – you actually get change back from a five-dollar bill. Just walk a few blocks up Sixth Avenue, minutes away from campus. The tacos are small but thoroughly satisfying, but burritos are the way to get the best bang for the buck.
How about a drink? Ole Ole (1235 S.W. Jefferson St.) is a mainstay on any affordable Mexican food list and has a full-service bar. It’s close to campus and vaunts a happy hour every day from 4 until 7 in the p.m. that boasts a $3 margarita and a daily special. Owned by the same family, the menus at Cha! Cha! Cha! and Ole Ole are nearly identical. The cactus salad is a unique choice at either restaurant.
Breakfast and late-night
For a solid breakfast and access to the ghosts of Portland’s past and presently famous, be sure to stop in at the Bijou Cafe (132 S.W. Third Ave.). The corner of Southwest Third and Pine is Portland’s morning to mid-afternoon (8 a.m. to 2 p.m.) shelter for the socially chic, along with more tourists than one could possibly stand. Seats are hard to come by, but the prices are surprisingly affordable and the food is delicious.
For a more adventurous mood, The Roxy (1121 S.W. Stark St.), Portland’s famous 24-hour spooky-yet-pleasant hole-in-the-wall restaurant is fashionable but not elitist – perfectly Portland. Choose from a menu of dish titles named after famous actors and actresses, and beware of the life-size neon crucifix.