We all run into the same situation sooner or later: broke,hungry and too busy, stressed, inebriated or inept to actually cookour own food. While there are certainly lots of cheap food optionsout there, many of them are grossly unhealthy, run by massivecorporations or completely impersonal (think fast food). If you tryto up the quality a bit without the price, you end up with adisappointingly insubstantial amount of food.
All hope is not lost, however. With a little searching, thereare a few places in Portland serving 2004 food at 1984 prices andsome of them are better than just adequate meals-on-the-run -they’re downright tasty.
Here are five locally owned places where you can sit down andget a decent, filling meal for less than five dollars:
Where: My Father’s Place
525 S.E. Grand Ave.
What: Three egg breakfast
It might not be the healthiest way to start your day (even ifyou’re starting it at three in the afternoon), but this perennialPortland standby’s three-egg breakfast will give you the fuel youneed. Plus the tremendous pile of hash browns (or Potatoes O’Brien)and the ability to substitute two pancakes for toast gives thismeal the substance to fight off the feeling of starvation for a fewhours. The three egg breakfast is a bit on the greasy side, butultimately wholesome and tasty.
Where: Olé! Olé!
2137 E. Burnside
What: Olé Burrito
While the dirt-cheap tacqueria seems to be a growing trend inPortland, one of the originals still delivers one of the best mealsyou can eat with one hand out there. While there are many tastytaco, burrito and sandwich options to be had, the eponymousOlé burrito excels in both taste and originality. It’s blendof seasoned beef, rice, beans and chile relleno has a tasty blendof flavors without being greasy or heavy, but will still fill youup. For bigger appetites, you can add a side of rice, refriedbeans, sour cream and guacamole for a buck.
Where: Golden Dragon
324 S.W. Third Ave.
What: Lunch Buffet
The only thing that beats cheap food is cheap food that you can eatas much of as you like. Who would have thought that such tasty foodwould be found in this mysterious, bare, cafeteria-style interioron the second floor of a building nestled between a row of pornshops? While some people may find the idea of ultra-cheap Chinesefood suspect, the Golden Dragon is definitely the opposite offancy, but is of remarkable quality for the price (you even get adrink included in the buffet price). Indecisive types will likethat they get to choose from a wide selection of Chinese-Americanstandby dishes.
Where: Got Pho?
3634 N.E. Sandy Blvd.
What: Small Pho Bowl
Yes, that really is the name of the place (ah, when culturesmeet!), but one taste of Got Pho?’s rich and complex Vietnamesenoodle soup and the corny name will be a distant memory. Got Pho?’ssoup comes in 16 varieties, but most of them are probably tooexotic for most American palates, as they include ingredients suchas bible tripe. The tamer varieties are still delicious andcustomizable with sprouts, mint, chilies and plum sauce. Pho’scombination of noodles, beef and hearty broth is dense enough thateven a small bowl will fill those with average appetites, but alarger bowl is available for 75 cents more. The place also has anice inviting décor for being in a strip mall and theservice is friendly too.
4915 N.E. Freemont St., 5627 S.W. Kelly Ave.
What: The Milo double cheeseburger
Everyone (who eats meat) needs a good burger every now and then. InPortland, Stanich’s burgers are legendary, for good reason. Theseare burgers like they used to be: big and unapologetically greasy.Plus, as long as you are willing to forgo French fries for potatochips, Stanich’s has one of the best burger-to-dollar ratios in thecity. Those that are in search of some serious comfort food andaren’t turned off by an overwhelming amount of sports memorabiliawill have trouble finding a better place for their dollar.