If you walk cross the street toward the river and walk south (up river, right) you will come to a pedestrian mall called River Place. There are several little restaurants and desert places there. There are also two nice restaurants, Three Degrees, which I have not recently tried but has an excellent reputation, and McCormick & Schmick's. McCormick and Schmick's has some outdoor dining and should be able to accommodate parties of random sizes. It is a seafood restaurant chain (headquartered in Portland) that specializes in fresh seafood.
1510 SW Harbor Way, Portland, OR
McCormick & Schmick's Harborside at the Marina
309 SW Montgomery St, Portland, OR
If you head north from the conference hotel (down river, left) you can come to a Portland institution, the Veritable Quandary. VQ has "northwest cuisine". It has a very nice bar.
1220 SW 1st Ave, Portland, OR
If you head away from the river you will come to Morton's steak house. I've never eaten there, but is has an excellent reputation.
Morton's the Steakhouse
213 SW Clay St, Portland, OR
If you are looking for more modestly priced fare, consider dinning near Portland State University. My favorites include: Thanh-Long Bakery, a Vietnamese restaurant; Hot Lips pizza, pizza by the slice made from local ingredients, and Baan Thai, a Thai restaurant. There are also food carts with a large variety of ethnic cuisine scattered around campus. A typical lunch special runs $5 at the carts.
Thanh-Long Bakery & Rest
635 SW College St, Portland, OR
Hot Lips Pizza: Near Psu
1909 SW 6th Ave, Portland, OR
1924 SW Broadway, Portland, OR
There are lots of really good places to eat in downtown. The pan-Asian Dragonfish is a fun place to go for sushi and other delights. Southpark (named for its location on the south park blocks) is an excellent seafood restaurant and wine bar. I often go there after the symphony. Higgin's is another place very popular with the symphony crowd.
Dragonfish Asian Cafe
909 SW Park Ave, Portland, OR
Southpark Seafood Grill & Wine
901 SW Salmon St, Portland, OR
1239 SW Broadway, Portland, OR
Moving a little closer to Burnside you get to another Portland institution, Jake's Famous Crawfish. This long running establishment has a lot of character inside and has an excellent reputation for seafood. They also operate Jake's Grill. Cassidy's is a nice, quite place with a good banquet room. It is moderately priced. They are open very late. It is an excellent place to go if you want to have a pleasant conversation.
Jake's Famous Crawfish
401 SW 12th Ave, Portland, OR
611 SW 10th Ave, Portland, OR
1331 SW Washington St, Portland, OR
The Pearl district is a former industrial warehouse district that has been recently redeveloped. It is currently a very trendy neighborhood with lots of art, good food, and nice urban places to live.
250 NW 13th Ave, Portland, OR
555 NW 12th Ave, Portland, OR
517 NW 14th Ave, Portland, OR
1129 NW Johnson St, Portland, OR
Bridgeport Brewpub & Bakery
1318 NW Northrup St, Portland, OR
900 NW 11th Avenue, Portland, OR
Northwest 21st and 23rd avenues are the heart of a trendy neighborhood with lots of old houses and traditional apartments. It is a very vibrant part of town with lots of life after dark. Some of Portland's best restaurants are located here. Paley's provides an intimate dining experience in a building that was built as a house.
1204 NW 21st Ave, Portland, OR
Wildwood Restaurant & Bar
1221 NW 21st Ave, Portland, OR
704 NW 21st Ave, Portland, OR
Portland is famous for beer. Bridgeport, listed under Pearl district above, is one of the best brewpubs in Portland. Another of my favorites is the Lucky Labrador (a good place to drink with your dog), but the original pub is across the river. They have a new one on Quimby in NW that I list below, but I haven't tried it. There is a chain of brewery/pubs run by the McMenamin brothers. The closest McMenamin's to the conference venue is the Market Street Pub, which is very close to the PSU campus. The McMenamin brothers have a reputation for buying classic buildings and restoring them while transforming them into a bar. An interesting example of this is the Crystal Ballroom, an old dance hall that is once again a dance hall.
Lucky Labrador Brew Pub
1925 NW Quimby St, Portland, OR
Mcmenamins Pubs: Fulton Pub & Brewery
618 SW Nebraska St, Portland, OR
Mcmenamins Pubs: Market Street Pub
1526 SW 10th Ave, Portland, OR
Mcmenamins Pubs: Ram's Head
2282 NW Hoyt St, Portland, OR
1332 W Burnside St, Portland, OR