MY STRATEGIES FOR CONQUERING PORTLAND DINING MONTH 2018!
Portland Dining Month returns for it's 9th year with a few newbies on the lineup! Portland dining month presented by Travel Portland is already live and on day five with over 120 participating restaurants, including some local favorites and a few newbies to the group. If you've not cruised the line-up this year then head over to www.travelportland.com to scroll through all of the amazing pre-fixe three-course options available all month long for $33 dollars.
Since it's inception in 2009, Portland food lovers have enjoyed dining across the city during the month of March while enjoy three-course-meals at a discounted price. For me, and many others, this is the time of year when we get to pull out our Portland restaurant bucket lists and hit all of the places I've been wanting to indulge in, at a delicious deal.
New to 2018 Portland Dining Month's lineup is Feastly. Feastly is the highly sought-after dining pop-up experience featuring local and global chefs connecting curious dinners with a pop-up dining experience. Feastly Portland and its community of chefs will throw Portland Dining Month pop-up meals in their dedicated space and through venues around town. For a full list of participating Feasty chefs, menus, and locations visit www.eatfeastly.com/pdxdiningmonth. The Feastly chefs participating in this years' dining month represent a diverse range of cuisines like Guamanian, Ethiopian, Turkish, Filipino, Puerto Rican, and Nigerian cuisines. Another fun reason to eat through Feastly is some chefs will be serving vegan and paleo dinners, which is perfect for those with dietary restrictions.
Also new to the 2018 roster are participating restaurants like Bistro Agnes, Southfork, and Alto Bajo. And, of course, some of my standby dining month favorites like Aviary, Little Bird, and Departure.
The full list of participating restaurants is available at www.travelportland.com/dining-month/. And, one important reason why we dine is for the participation with Oregon Food Bank. For every reservation made through the OpenTable links on the Travel portland website a donation will be made to the Oregon Food Bank's hunger-relief efforts. Do not skip this detail and reserve your table using those links!
And, in case you didn't catch my post and recap of last year's Portland Dining Month dishes head back to that post to see what a fun treat you can be in for. continue reading to learn about my strategy to sift through all of the overwhelming options of Portland Dining Month.
MY PORTLAND DINING MONTH STRATEGY
2018's Portland Dining Month will be my 4th year participating, and every year since, I have discovered new strategies and tips on how to navigate my way through the menus, the restaurants, and the values. Now, I want to share it with you. The following steps are the very ones I take to cut through the overwhelming list of participants and how I maximize my time and money. These are the things I look for:
Who has been on my "to try" list?:
Pull out that never-ending list of restaurants you've had on your phone and cross-reference the entire Portland Dining Month lineup and note which establishments on that list are participating. If ever there was a great time to go for it and dine out, March is the month!
Now, if a restaurant strikes your interest and isn't on your list, by all means, write it down. The next few steps will help us discover if this is the month to go try.
Some of those restaurants that are on my "to-try" food list are Olympia Oyster Bar, Jack Rabbit, Bistro Agnes, Laurelhurst Market, Jacqueline, Cabezon, Renata, and lucky me, they are all participating in this years' lineup.
Take note of menus with multiple options:
This has got to be my favorite part of dining month; multiple options per course. Some restaurants have fun with dining month and allow dinners to make between two and three choices for all three courses. This means one thing, you must bring all of your adventurous dining companions. Bar Casa Vale, one of my favorite restaurants, is offering up a menu featuring two choices between all three courses with items normally found on their menu. Since the items are familiar you can easily slice through a good chunk of their standard menu options with plates like papas bravas or salt cod fritters, citrus salad or kohlrabi, albondigas or fideos. Or, since we're talking multiple choices a place like Farm House Thai Kitchen, one I have not been to, is also offering multiple choices for the second and third courses, and an additional fourth course. This would be the absolute best time to try a little of everything and learn more about the food!
Always bring friends that are willing to share or even split the courses. This is the best part of having foodie friends and having course choices. More ways to try it all without the dreaded commitment to a lone dish.
Another perk about choices, the second option tends to be a vegetarian-friendly course. A few restaurants follow the veggie-friendly courses including Departure who always offers choices for herbivores and carnivores alike, as well as The Woodsman Tavern (offering two choices on the second entree), Taqueria Nueve, Serrato, Nel Centro, and Renata.
Check who is really producing a deal:
This is the heavy work, but it must be done. In order to fully maximize dining month you have got to see who is really putting out the best bargain. I like to do this by reading the menu offerings and comparing the price points to the listed menu prices. Now, this doesn't always work for every restaurant. Some places will be offering special dining month menus so the items offered will not be listed on their website menu. But, remember, $33 is still a little steep when you consider that it's the price-per-head and that's not including cocktails and tip, so make your dining month is worth it. And, if you get a menu with listed prices online and the math just barely makes $34, skip it You're better off going at a time outside of dining month and enjoying the entire menu's offerings.
$33 for three-courses sounds like a deal up front but, beware of those places that already offer deals throughout the week, some even better than dining month. I'm looking at you "Monday dinner/ cheap eats."
This year's amazing deals that have caught my eye are Fogo De Chao, Ecliptic brewing (where you leave with a $10 gift card, bringing your total to far below $33 once you cash that card back in), Jack Rabit (where the main course covers $30 on the menu), and Headwaters where the main entree's price point does not fall below $18 and the desserts are no less than $9.
Last, and certainly not least, Who is offering the best dessert?
Dessert is one of my favorite parts of dining out. whether it be classics like creme brûlée, a hot fudge sundae, or, even, a savory cheese board. Nothing excites me like a treat after finishing a meal. So, with that said, I do like a third course to be a treat course. Now there are a few exceptions like Yakuza, Olympia Oyster Bar, Buckman Public House, where instead of offering a sweet finish have turned course number three into an additional entree. This sounds like an even better deal for those who do not like sweets. Now if you want to know who has the keys to my dessert-loving heart then know that Laurelhurst Market is doing a great job of starting a relationship with their Dulce de Leche semifreddo with roasted banana, chocolate and hazelnuts -just take my wallet and cash savings account; Lechon is dishing out all of the smooth love vibes with a chocolate mousse tart with mango puree, raspberry and quinoa brittle -yep, just going to put my entire dinner in the fridge and go straight for dessert; and then there is Olympia Provisions massaging my heart with a Chocolate peanut butter parfait with creme fraiche and honey-roasted peanuts - Dairy Queen nostalgia with a grown ass attitude; and The Waiting Room is just tossing rose petals on my sheets with this Butterscotch cremeux with caramel, Jacobson sea salt, and Cashew streusel -I think it's safe to say I am in a full blown relationship with all of these desserts now.
I will not break or give a second thought to restaurants offering up pot de creme's -a dessert that requires roughly four ingredients, a blender, and refrigeration. I want the words brulee, brittle, streusel, chocolate shavings, coconut ash, passion fruit, and crust to fall somewhere on the dessert description. If you aren't playing, I ain't paying.
Now that we've narrowed down our list where will you be dining?
And, did you know I'm hosting a G I V E A W A Y ? Yep, Head to my Instagram Page @Maxenestrail and follow the requirements to enter and win dinner with me on behalf of Travel Portland!
Remember to book your tables using the the Open Table links on the Travel Portland page to help benefit our community.
disclosure: I was have been invited to participate in Portland Dining Month 2018 on behalf of my friends at Travel Portland. Part of my participation involves receiving dining vouchers for personal use and for hosting a giveaway! This post was at my own discretion and not in exchange for a positive review. All opinions shared are my own.