Portland State University, aka PSU, is located in downtown Portland, though it does manage to have a campus vibe. Dorms and student housing are dotted around the neighborhood and the best farmers' market in Portland sits in the middle of the campus on Saturdays from March through December.
Students take advantage of Portland's great public transport system to venture out of the neighborhood, and bikes are almost a must for the PDX college student.
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When it comes to burgers there are a few choices, but my first pick has to be at Higgins. It's not a cheap burger ($12) but it is a superb burger.
Bunk may be a bit of a walk but it's soooooo worth it. But my single favorite sandwich in all of portland would be the meatball sandwich from Thanh Long Bakery.
McMenamins Market Street Pub has good beer and the Cheerful Tortoise is the quintessential college sports bar where TVs abound and the booze is reasonable and the atmosphere offers all the bells and whistles college students hope to find. If you want a video arcade, head to Ground Kontrol in Old Town. They have a full bar, simple food, and it's just a pretty cool place to hang out until the wee hours of the morning.
Many options here. The food carts on 4th Avenue are some of the best in Portland. The beauty of the carts is that on a block or two you can find a wealth of choices, generally reasonable, fresh and fun. In addition to Thai from Nong's Khao Man Gai 2, the sequel to the original NKMG, you can find Mexican and French Creole.
If you are not into the carts, grab a burrito from Los Locos Burritos or for killer seafood chow mein with super tender BBQ pork, head to Good Taste in Old Town.
There are a couple pizza places that are good but if you're looking for spectacular, you have to wait until someone has a car and head over the river to Apizza Scholls, Ken's Artisan Pizza or Dove Vivi. But if you're sticking in the PSU neighborhood, you can head to Hot Lips and find a good selection of toppings and, of course, Hot Lips sodas to go with that slice. Pizzacato is really close to the school as well. Get the Very Veggie with fresh garlic. The salads are good and plentiful, too.
The brunch scene in Portland is huge, and there are some great choices near PSU. Veritable Quandary has outdoor seating; try the shrimp and grits or the chilaquiles. Bijou Café is a PDX favorite and with good reason. If you're an omelet person, you'll be blown away by these omelets. Mine recently had smoked cheddar, bacon, and scallions, and it was one of the best omelets I've ever eaten.
When the Folks Are in Town
If your folks are more of the experimental type, head over to Ping, Andy Ricker's other Southeast Asian place (not to be confused with Pok Pok). Order the skewered quail eggs with spicy mayo wrapped in bacon and a steamed bun stuffed with shredded pork and topped with fried shallots. And you can't not order the carrot cake: it's amazing, and it's not carrot at all, but rather a daikon radish cake stir-fried with eggs and veg. Ping also has a terrific happy hour. Less experimental folks will appreciate Higgins.
When Someone Has a Car
As mentioned above, if you're into pizza, head over the river to Apizza Scholls, Ken's Artisan Pizza or Dove Vivi.
For dim sum, head to Ocean City. If you want to play shuffleboard and eat a great Monte Cristo or a sublime fried chicken and waffle with honey, head to Sunshine Tavern. And there's soft serve for dessert!
About the author: Laurie Wolf is a food writer now living in Portland, Oregon. Her book "The Portland, Oregon Chef's Table" is now available. She is also currently teaching "Food For Thought" to a bunch of hungry students.