Open late Fri.-Sat.
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Portland Penny Diner Restaurant Review: With a name inspired by the famous coin toss in 1845 between Asa Lovejoy and Francis Pettygrove to determine Portland's name, Portland Penny Diner is the casual branch of Vitaly Paley's two restaurants in Hotel Lucia. (The other, the Imperial, serves more upscale Northwest-style dishes.) The atmosphere is definitively hipster with a lunchtime overlay of shoppers and office workers, and the menu shines when it sticks to retro comfort food. The three-meal-a-day service requires ordering at the counter, but don't expect fast food. A house-made smoked chile and cheddar hot dog drips with grilled onions, pickle relish and sauerkraut. Cheeseburgers and fried chicken "oysters" hold their own with any in town, while waffle-cut fries pair with gravy and cheese curds. Trendier takes on familiar fare, such as the lamb neck confit with harissa and cucumber raita on frybread, or cola and PBR-braised pork, challenge taste buds but generally succeed. Lighter options such as a roasted pear and blue cheese salad or tofu lettuce wraps seem lacking. Drink selections include a "make your own cocktail" where diners choose a base spirit and create from there. Even better: Skip the alcohol and indulge in a nostalgic chocolate phosphate or homemade cherry soda.