Visitors’ Guide to Portland 2018
Hey visitors! Betcha you worked up an appetite, now that you've flashed a peace sign in front of Multnomah Falls, got lost in Powell's, and stood in line at Voodoo Doughnuts!
So let's get down to the real reason you're here: To eat. Portland's built its reputation on the basic rules of super-seasonal fare at hyper-reasonable prices. With rents on the rise, that's starting to change, but we're still batting WAY above our class in terms of flavor and creativity.
Here's a look at the new crop of super-tasty eats in Portland, and a helpful guide to which longstanding spots are still bringing it.
When Gabe Rucker (Le Pigeon, Little Bird) drops a new restaurant, it's basically like a surprise Radiohead album for food nerds. Located right next door to the eponymous Le Pigeon, Canard is Rucker's café-by day-wine bar-by night venture, with an insane list, high falutin' steamed burgers and uni toast. Uni toast!! Droooooools. 734 E Burnside, canardpdx.com
There is SO MUCH good roasting happening around Portland right now that a rotisserie chicken should be our city's official bird. I'm partial to Arrosto, with its lemony-bright infusion of oils, and sides that include crispy potatoes roasted in chicken fat, and a salty slice of focaccia. Plus, a visit gets you in the door of Providore Fine Foods, a very swank and enjoyable market full of food souvenirs. 2340 NE Sandy, arrostopdx.com
For years, Podnah's Pit has been the top barbecue joint in town, but the arrival of this spunky cart has really mixed things up. I like the brisket and Saturday beef ribs special, but it's best to get a platter of the works—brisket, a rib, a sausage, pulled pork, and sides—to see what you like best. 4233 N Mississippi, mattsbbqpdx.com
I'll take a thin patty with cheese and a bun that won't get in the way over almost all other comers (sorry fatty bistro burgers). Few do this better than BYH Burger in the Pine Street Market, with its Martin's potato roll and Duke's mayonnaise in the mix. At Pine Street Market, 126 SW 2nd, byhpdx.com
Though their new Burnside location replaced one of my favorite thrift stores, it is a really gorgeous remodel. And the ice cream, especially the Thai rice infused with Pandan and their superior selection of non-dairy options makes it worth a visit. 2742 E Burnside and 2021 SE Clinton, fifty-licks.com
Don't miss their game-changing counter service Thai fried chicken and roti from PaaDee and Langbaan chef/owner Earl Ninsom. The curries will burn your little tongue off in the best way. 1605 NE Killingsworth, hatyaipdx.com
This former cart made the leap to restaurant in the best way possible: by expanding their famous torta and bowl menu, adding good cocktails and not blowing up the price point too much. Also, the layer of griddled cheese they add to sandwiches and the hamburgesa both give me the feels. 200 NE 28th, gueropdx.com
Tusk has slow-burned into a trademark New Portland restaurant in all the best ways. It's one brunch for which I'm willing to stand in line, and their transformative take on vegetables with a Middle Eastern-inspired flair is to die for. 2448 E Burnside, tuskpdx.com
Classic Portland Restaurants You'll ALSO Want to Try!
Our once-sleepy lumber town has come a long way to claim the title of best eatin' city west of the Mississippi. While there are always worthy newcomers, these are the places that continue to shape our palates.
After 10 years, Chef Gabriel Rucker is still defining Portland's culinary creative scene. While the famous
foie gras profiteroles are always on the menu, the inventiveness happening behind the open chef’s counter (which is always free for walk-ins!) is just as tongue-twisting (and pleasing) as when it opened—if not more so. 738 E Burnside, lepigeon.com
One of my favorite meals in memory was sharing a flight of eight incredible seasonal, seasoned, and textured fresh salads, a bottle of rosé, and a rich slice of chocolate cake at the chef’s counter. The wonders Chef Joshua McFadden works with vegetables are the stuff of legend (and he’s got a new cookbook to prove it). 3377 SE Division St, avagenes.com
Listen, it's a Portland snob cliché to say that Voodoo sucks. But... maybe try going to stand in line at Pip's, which makes li'l mini donuts to order and tops them with fun stuff like Nutella, honey, cinnamon and sugar, or all of the above. Dip into the extensive house-made chai menu too. 4759 NE Fremont, facebook.com/pipsoriginal
Every time I go to La Moule, I eat super well and have an amazing time. The funky sibling to St. Jack, La Moule is a Belgian fever dream, serving amazing seafood, small plates like steak tartare with a marrow bone, with special attention paid to mussels. 2500 SE Clinton, lamoulepdx.com
I'd like to sum-up Argentinean-inspired Ox as: MEAT, MEAT, MEAT!! And while that's partly the case, the open, woodfired stove at this staple also puts out a mighty fine coal-roasted spaghetti squash and grilled asparagus. Chef/owner/partners Greg Denton and Gabrielle Quinonez Denton just pulled down the 2017 James Beard award for Best Chef Northwest, so you know they're still coming in hot. They don't take reservations, so last-minute tourists have just as much chance at a table as plan-ahead locals. 2225 NE MLK, oxpdx.com
Ha & VL/Rose VL
Both locations of this legendary Vietnamese family's soup shop are a bit further out east than many Portland visitors will travel, but we'll say that the experience is worth the extra Lyft dollars. With rotating soups from the adventurous (the famous snail noodle soup) to the sublime (those turmeric noodles!) the soups change daily and are served until they're sold out. It may wind up being the only place you eat, every day of your trip. Ha & VL, 2738 SE 82nd; Rose VL, 6424 SE Powell
Got a group that likes cured fish, bomb dumplings, and a whole raft of vodka? Look no further than Kachka, where Russian food is elevated to a level of delight and fun heretofore unseen outside Petrograd. Go for the $25-per-person zakuski experience, order more horseradish vodka than you think you need, and get to it. 720 SE Grand, kachkapdx.com
Once the little sister to the fancier, but now defunct, Genoa, Accanto is finding new life under former Taylor Railworks owner/chef Erik Van Kley, who also came up under Gabe Rucker at Le Pigeon. That means the seasonal Italian vibes are the same, but now there's also foie gras pastrami on the menu. It's a real delight, and its brunch remains one of my favorite under-the-radar spots in town. 2838 SE Belmont, accantopdx.com
More Restaurants to Try
Expatriate—Asian-inflected plates for dinner and a very inventive brunch. 5424 NE 30th, expatriatepdx.com
Tasty n Sons/Tasty n Alder—Still great for brunch (and underrated at dinner), these two John Gorham spots are crowd pleasers for brunch and dinner standards infused with world influences. Tasty n Sons, 3808 N Williams, tastynsons.com; Tasty n Alder, 580 SW 12th, tastynalder.com
Jacqueline—Seafood joint that tips its hat to director Wes Anderson with $1 oysters at happy hour! 2039 SE Clinton, jacquelinepdx.com
Besaw's—Classic and beloved Portland brunch place. 1545 NW 21st, besaws.com
Sammich PDX / Pastrami Zombie—Finest pastrami west of the Chicago River. 2137 E Burnside and cart at 4237 N Mississippi, sammichrestaurants.com
Broder—With three Portland locations and one in Hood River, the demand hasn’t seemed to ease up for the Nordic brunch stylings at Broder. Aebelskiver forever! Multiple locations, broderpdx.com