Oregon’s lush environs make for flavorful ingredients. And nowhere is that appreciated more than in Portland, a hip, often-satirized culinary mecca, where food culture is taken to its outer artisan limits. The Portland Relocation Guide invites you to explore a sampling of Portland restaurants.
Food Culture and Artisan Obsession
Portland is a town as crazy about bacon as it is about Thai food. Which is why you’ll find Portland restaurants dedicated to the porkly pleasures as there are Thai street food restaurants. You’ll also find a huge selection of super tasty multi-cultural cuisine. Including Russian. Vietnamese. Peruvian. Cajun, Ethiopian and just about everything in between. Equally notable are the food carts and restaurants focused exclusively on one special dish to perfection.
Pacific Northwest Cuisine
However, not everything Portland cooks is from out-of-town. In fact, one of the reasons our world-class chefs like it here so much is the rich natural bounty that Oregon’s verdant landscape provides for their kitchens.
All things considered, fresh and local are important in the Rose City farmer’s markets. In other words, farm-to-table means the very best Portland restaurants can offer. Local dishes include wild salmon grilled on cedar planks, hazelnuts, marionberries, fresh shellfish, Chanterelle mushrooms and fiddlehead ferns. Not to mention, a dense roster of some of the best craft beer and wine the country has to offer.
Additionally, diners in Portland are some of the most knowledgeable and appreciative around. With many lining up to score a seat at the newest or hottest restaurants in town. You can always count a new must-eat restaurant or two to crop up in casual conversation. Like everything in Portland. it’s only made better by the people who live here.
Hungry? Dive into our listings and get a taste of a few of the many notable Portland restaurants.
2454 East Burnside Street
Masterminded by the owners of two other Portland area favorites (Laurelhurst Market and Simpatica) Ate-Oh-Ate (a punny homage to Hawaii’s area code) is Hawaiian done right. All your favorites are here: Kalua pig spam macaroni salad Katsu Loco Moco and even Saimin (a brothy tasty ramen-like dish) all taken to the next level by the use of quality ingredients and down home execution.
3377 SE Division Street
Ava Gene’s rustic Italian food has a strong emphasis on local ingredients even making room on their website to credit their purveyors. The toothsome pasta shines here as do the veggies in the hands of deft Executive Chef Joshua McFadden. Definitely try the charcuterie as well as the burrata with sesame and watercress or the gnocco fritto with prosciutto parmesan and plums drizzled with honey and flecked with chiles. Although the dishes change depending on the season look for offerings like Ribeye meatballs with fresh handmade pasta and ricotta wood-grilled pork steaks with salsa verde rigatoni with lamb and pork ragu in bianco with sautéed radicchio and Halibut with three bean salad in lettuce spring sauce. A great tip for Ava Gene’s is listen to the wait staff they can guide you to an outstanding dining experience that you may not have chosen for yourself otherwise.
310 SE 28th Avenue
With three area locations Bamboo Sushi touts its groundbreaking eco-friendly status as the first certified sustainable sushi restaurant in the world. However, it’s the excellent quality sushi they come for (it’s also what won them Best Sushi in Willamette Week’s Best of Portland Reader’s Poll). From nigiri to sashimi signature house rolls poke and even braised short ribs and tempura – there’s something for everyone. For the adventurous among you try the Chef’s choice sashimi or the horse mackerel served on the bone when you’re finished the fish skeleton will be whisked to the back and returned deep fried and crunchy.
2039 NE Alberta Street
This is Indian as you’ve likely never experienced before. Serving small plates of Southern Indian food so good that the line out the door at meal times rivals its neighbor ice creamery Salt & Straw. Fill your belly with the savory-sweet balance of warming spices – tomato raisin chutney mingling with saffron scented rice crispy fried okra earthy spiced lentils rich lamb curried shrimp and creamy tomato cashew curry topped off with a rose-syrup bloomed mango lassi.
2240 N Interstate Avenue
Broder Nord the baby sister of Southeast Portland’s Cafe Broder, is a brunch-time favorite. Treating locals to the wonders of Æbleskivers a Danish pancake unlike any pancake you’ve had before. These round light and fluffy balls of dough come with sprinkled powdered sugar and sides of lemon curd and lingonberry jam for the dipping. Don’t skip trying the variety of smoked fish hash or for something a little lighter try the simple but satisfying Swedish Breakfast Bord an assortment of tasty bites to get your day moving.
7937 SE Stark Street
One word – pudding. Country cat makes the most decadently mind-blowing pudding trio (dreamy-silken butterscotch rich chocolate pots de crème and the amber colored melted sugar-topped crunch of vanilla bean-packed Crème Brulée) you’ll feel both comforted and pampered by this homey delight (served with two mini fresh-baked chocolate chip cookies). This is American craft cooking at its made-from-scratch farm-to-table finest set in an intimate family-friendly eatery. While the menu is seasonal you can always count on favorites like their crispy succulent skillet-fried chicken signature country ham (they cure their own ham and five tons of bacon each year) and the aforementioned trio. They also do a formidable brunch and make a mean cocktail try The Boss and you’ll know Country Cat is one.
1235 SE Division
It’s a bar masquerading as gourmand. With first-class Banh Mi sandwiches served in a decidedly casual atmosphere. This is a place where tender roast duck nestled in a fresh chewy baguette and topped with vibrant julienned pickled carrots yellow-tinted daikon and sprigs of cilantro whisper satisfyingly the sweet song of Banh Mi to your palate. Another standout on the DD menu: the crave-worthy hangover cure lovingly dubbed Miso Disco Fries (miso bacon gravy and queso fresco-covered crisp French fries). Wash it all down with the bright grapefruit fizz of a Steigl Radler as you bop your head to the DJ’s beats.
1239 SW Broadway
Three decades as consistently one of the best Portland restaurants, Higgins offers diners a classically Pacific Northwest experience. For example, fine dining in the beautifully appointed dining room serving local seasonal ingredients like wild-caught Chinook salmon nutty chanterelles razor clams dry-aged Cascade beef steaks vibrant mixed green salads juicy berries and rich hazelnuts alongside knock-out grass-fed beef bistro burgers at the bar (best eaten medium-rare). Don’t miss the much-lauded Charcuterie board of artisanal cured meats and pickles.
720 SE Grand Avenue
Kachka is a narrow restaurant with a decidedly European feel. Sitting inside you feel ensconced somehow hidden from the present. And this feeling emboldens you to sample an icy cold vodka flight (before the night is over you will try another) and dive into the Ruskie Zakuski Experience ($25 per person) which features an assortment of frigid appetizers or “vodka snacks” as the word Zakuski implies some of which will include beets fish something pickled and something sweet – all of which you never knew could taste so good so cold. However, before it all ends you need more than vodka to keep the cold night out indulge in the Siberian pelmeni bite-sized Russian dumplings filled with beef pork and veal that slide seductively off your fork and into your mouth bursting with a deep brothy flavor that makes you feel somehow . . . primal. Try the Herring Under a Fur Coat – at least once. Layered with herring potatoes onions carrots beets and eggs the effect is somehow magical. Finish with Oreshki (nut shaped cookies) or Bird’s Milk Cake and wash it all down with more vodka preferably the Earl Grey infusion before facing the cold realties of life in these millennia.
2500 SE Clinton Street
The new kid within Portland Restaurants, La Moule is musseling in on Bridgetown’s food scene (it’s owned by Aaron Barnett of St Jack’s). Devoted to you guessed it – mussels – prepared artfully six different ways (from Classic to Thai to the kielbasa and sport pepper flanked Chicago). Bathed in array of rich flavorful broths and served a la carte in mounding bowls ideal for sharing they’re best eaten with La Moule’s crispy frites (French fries) served with three kinds of mayo. Room for dessert? Get your mouth on their Belgian Liege Waffle topped with powdered sugar chocolate sauce and crème chantilly flecked with vanilla bean.
Le Bistro Montage
301 SE Morrison Street
Opened back in 1992 Le Bistro Montage has garnered a reputation for comfy Cajun in the dark clandestine environs of the old Royal Hotel in the central eastside industrial district just underneath the Morrison Bridge. Serving brunch and dinner The Montage as it’s affectionately called dishes up everything from fried catfish and blackened chicken breast to jambalaya fried oysters frog legs and gator bites for the intrepid diner. It’s also well known for its infinitely customizable mac n‘ cheese which starts with nine different flavors before offering your choice of add-ins. Just make sure to leave some of your meal for later so you can leave room for one of their delicious desserts and so you can take home their signature aluminum foil art masterpiece.
738 East Burnside Street
Two-time James Beard Award winner and Chef/Owner of Le Pigeon and Little Bird Gabriel Rucker has a thing for foie gras. So much so that he uses it in a variety of ever-changing dishes including one of his most well-loved (the legendary foie gras profiteroles in sea salted caramel sauce) to such splendid effect that you’ll wonder why no one has ever done it before. Serving an ever-shifting seasonal menu Chef Rucker will push your boundaries like a good lover just enough to excite you but never so much as to overwhelm – the result is pure bliss. Dive headlong into the Chef’s Tasting Menu at five courses for $75 per person or seven for $95 per person. You’re in good hands there’s not a bad dish in the house and every visit provides at least one transcendent moment of culinary ecstasy.
Lovely’s Fifty Fifty
4039 N Mississippi Avenue
Kid-friendly (Pizza and ice cream! Who can resist?) and adult palate approved. Naturally leavened artisan pizzas topped with organic and locally sourced ingredients are the main event here. Get yours topped with egg arugula or spicy and fruity Calabrian chiles. If you’ve got room order ice cream favorites like malted milk ball mint stracciatella salted caramel and quince vanilla bean for the whole table.
Mother’s Bistro and Bar
212 SW Stark Street503-464-1122
Just like mom used to make . . . if mom were an accomplished chef. This upscale slow-cook bastion in the heart of downtown Portland serves up comfort food three meals a day. Stick-to-your-ribs dishes like chicken & dumplings, mom’s meatloaf and gravy and Mother’s macaroni and cheese du jour for dinner. Chef and owner Lisa Schroeder a mother and grandmother herself and critically acclaimed author of Mother’s Best, is a stickler for good food made right. The dining room is warm and welcoming to people of all ages with its enchanting crystal chandeliers natural light from surrounding windows and a play area for the kiddos. Hot tip: try the wild salmon hash at breakfast.
3223 NE Broadway Street
A much-beloved Portland staple since the late 80s. Nicholas’s delectable Lebanese and Middle Eastern fare has survived the artisan influx of the door-closing recession. They not only survived they’ve thrived branching out from their original SE Grand location with two bigger more chi chi locations on NE Broadway and in Gresham. In addition, Nicholas is known for their big portions of authentic middle-eastern food their extensive menu and their signature house-made fresh pita. It’s a great place to share a unique meal with the whole family.
6 SE 28th Avenue
Portland OR 97214
Cousin to Langbaan (the highly-lauded-six-month-waitlist-for-a-reservation-secret-society-of-upscale-Thai-restaurants) Paadee is more casual yet just as tasty Thai street fare. Never-miss dishes include the tangy and salty Peek Gai Tod (fried chicken wings in a Sriracha-fish sauce glaze) the tantalizing Sai Grog E-San (fermented rice and pork sausage) hangar steak salad Ba Mhee Pitsanulok (a ramen-like soup featuring egg noodles in a spicy lime and pork broth with pork belly red pork ground pork green beans ground peanuts sprouts and scallions) seasonal duck curry and seasonal tempura fried asparagus salad.
1204 Northwest 21st Avenue
Vitaly Paley is a force that cannot be denied with Portland restaurants. Since opening Paley’s Place with his wife Kimberly in 1995 Paley has gone on to be awarded the 2005 James Beard Foundation’s Best Chef Pacific Northwest 2012 James Beard Foundation Semi-Finalist for Outstanding Chef was a victor on the Food Network’s popular series Iron Chef America and was declared Chef of the Year in Portland Monthly’s 2012 Restaurant Issue. In addition to the critical acclaim and media attention Paley’s Place has garnered as one of the city’s top restaurants. There is not enough room here to extol all the virtues of Paley’s seasonal northwest menu. However and its French execution will not disappoint you. Think mussels crispy sweetbreads dry aged ribeye glistening bone marrow cedar plank salmon escargot and seared foie gras. Eating at Paley’s Place is a gift to be savored. Try anything they offer you and everything they don’t – it’s all guaranteed to be unforgettable.
Podnah’s Pit BBQ
1625 NE Killingsworth Street
Podnah’s fans are legion. Due to the finest barbecue you’ll find in Portland. Classic dishes include, a four-hour smoked St. Louis cut pork ribs, tender 10-hour smoked brisket, 12 hour smoked pulled pork, Ruby Trout, smoked hot links and Mary’s Free Range Smoked Chicken. All in all, this is flavorful succulent barbecue at its best. But the surprise standout is the Tex Cobb – romaine lettuce topped with generous slices of juicy smoked brisket pico de gallo bacon bleu cheese green onion avocado and egg with your choice of dressing (bleu cheese is the perfect accompaniment). Bet you didn’t see that coming.
Por Que No? Taqueria
4635 SE Hawthorne Blvd
Will work for Tacos. This may be the sign you find yourself painting once you get your first taste of all Por Que No? Taqueria has to offer. Notably delicious, these authentic steamed corn tortilla sensations are filled with only the best quality meats like Carlton Farms pork and Draper Valley chicken and are topped with crunchy shredded cabbage queso fresco a variety of salsas and crema. From the spicy hot heat of the calamari and Barbacoa beef brisket tacos to the refreshing Camarones (wild shrimp topped with crema and cilantro-pineapple salsa) and mild but flavorful tender carnitas – one bite and Por Que No? will have you in its grip. Stop by for happy hour prices on tacos and libations from 3pm to 6pm daily and 3pm to close on Taco Tuesdays.
626 SE Main Street
Controversially crowned as The Oregonian’s Best Restaurant of the Year this wood-fired Italian restaurant from the minds of French Laundry alum Nick and Sandra Arnerich opened in spring 2015 to immediate rave reviews. Featuring a rotating menu of contemporary Italian dishes from fresh pasta, wood-fired meats, mussels and pizzas as well as an enchanting selection of charcuterie and a selection of cheeses (from their neighboring Ancient Heritage Dairy) and fresh-baked bread. Try it and see if you agree with the Oregonian’s assessment.
727 SE Washington Street
House margaritas, zesty guacamole tart, catch-of-the-day, ceviche, fresh salads, yucca fritters and their classic octopus cocktail are all back—after a 6 year hiatus—what more is there to say? Tacos!! Among some of the best tacos Portland has to offer the Suadero lushly pan-fried fatty beef brisket will curl your toes with its rich flavor as will the crisp slow-braised boar carnitas and the juicy cheese stuffed bite of their roasted poblano Chile Relleno. Run don’t walk to Taqueria Nueve – your taste buds will thank you.
120 NE Russell Street
Of course, Chef John Gorham’s Spanish-inspired local seasonal tapas restaurant in NE Portland the menu here is Pinchos (usually a skewer here a starter) Kisses (shouldn’t it be Besos?) Ensaladas (salads) Tapas (small savory dishes) Charcuteria (cold cooked meats) and Raciones (larger plates to share) and changes daily. The bold sangria-red walls may help you summon your fiery side – go on BE BOLD – order the tasting menu ($40 per person) and you will be rewarded with an array of dishes specially chosen by the chef to give you the full Toro Bravo experience. However, if you choose to go it alone you might try the sweet and salty bacon-wrapped dates rich squid ink pasta generous charcuterie of duck liver mousse terrine Toro Paella or oxtail croquettes. You can’t go wrong.
5411 NE 30th Avenue
By and large Portland’s best kept secret, Yakuza Lounge serves up the best burger in Portland. Even though you can’t miss with anything on Yakuza’s impressive menu . You shouldn’t miss their now-legendary Yakuza burger topped with chevre shoestring potatoes ketchup and spicy mayo.