Newcomers guide 2017 ha vl gtk12j

Soup at Hà VL

New York dining is serious. LA is theatrical. Seattle is polite. Austin is, well, barbecued. Portland’s food scene is something else: personal. Very, very personal. You won’t find the next Michelin star here; we don’t have the money, the inclinations, or, frankly, the outfits. Portland thinks big in small packages, taking deep dives where you don’t expect them in cozy little spaces. The best menus are invitations to plunge into a cook’s personal world, deliciously, without a crumb of pretension. Even as the city changes, the attitude remains: food first, come as you are, and no idea off the table. That can mean ice cream for breakfast, or foie gras teriyaki for dinner. Fun is always on the menu; so, invariably, is Oregon’s world-class produce. Best of all, craft cocktails, great beer, and microroasted coffee are never more than a napkin’s throw away. The beauty of Portland is this: you don’t need an overstuffed bank account to feel nourished and entertained. Buckle up.
—Karen Brooks

Hà VL

Chef Peter Voung crafts regional Vietnamese soups with free-range chickens, meticulous broths, and noodles fully soaked before boiling for an extra bounce of chewy goodness. Come early: the goods are often gone by noon.

Newcomers guide 2017 castagna dp4p5w

Castagna's edible "terrarium"

Castagna

A culinary poet and dessert artist, chef Justin Woodward splices seasonal high points, technical feats, and concentrated sauces into spare compositions of strange beauty. A classic, definining example: an edible “terrarium” with dreamy onion custard and hypergreen onion-stalk purée standing in for soil beneath a greenhouse of backyard leaves and flowers.

Beast

Naomi Pomeroy creates deeply seasonal prix fixe dinners that celebrate French comfort cooking, communal tables, and local farm finds. The four-course brunch is one of the city’s best.

Newcomers guide 2017 ox x1zwke

Ox does meat right.

Ox

Greg Denton and Gabrielle Quiñónez Denton’s meaty love story is told over flames erupting from a hand-cranked grill. Don’t miss the Uruguayan beef rib eye or the clam chowder, served with smoked bone marrow shouldering some fierce jalapeños.

Newcomers guide 2017 pok pok ukurwy

Pok Pok's signature fish-sauce wings

Pok Pok

From its bare-bones beginning as a takeout shack, Pok Pok has become—perhaps—Portland’s most recognizable restaurant, progenitor of several cross-town (and cross-country) spin-offs. Charcoal-roasted game hens, grilled boar collar, and the signature fish-sauce wings are mandatory, but exploring the blackboard specials is always a good idea.

Newcomers guide 2017 aaron barnett a3qxhg

Chef Aaron Barnett of St. Jack

St. Jack

Chef Aaron Barnett writes a comforting love letter to the rustic bouchons of France, serving food made for cast-iron stomachs. The bubbled-over crocks of macaroni gratin pounded with bacon lardons and plates of blood sausage leave no doubt: Lyon is in the house.

Country Cat

Missouri native Adam Sappington is some kind of cross between a preacher of the nose-to-tail gospel and a Southern granny. His family-friendly neighborhood eatery turns out Portland’s landmark fried chicken and a squeal-worthy “whole hog plate.”

Newcomers guide 2017 langbaan lribt0

Langbaan serves up a two-hour Thai tasting menu.

Langbaan

At this revelatory backroom Thai spot, there are no choices, no substitutions—only a two-hour tasting menu of traditional Thai snacks, coconut-chunked soups, raw dishes, chile relishes, grilled pig parts, and some shockingly delightful desserts buried in salty coconut cream or infused with Thai candle smoke. Start looking for reservations now—it can be a while.

Newcomers guide 2017 le pigeon sxl77b

Le Pigeon's curried carrot cake

Le Pigeon

Gabriel Rucker is a Portland original whose ideas crackle into something electric. Meat rules the ever-changing list—foie gras, pigeon, and pig parts are frequent guests. But salads can also be brilliant, and the French-focused wine list is deep, smart, and personal.

Newcomers guide 2017 broder mnjd4h

Brunch at Broder

Broder

This busy Scandinavian café lures lines of breakfast seekers with Danish modern atmospherics and food pretty enough for Wallpaper magazine. Tuck into fried eggs over smoked trout and potatoes, or go for the æbleskivers: golf ball–size puffs of golden baked batter, served with homemade lemon curd and lingonberry jam.

Newcomers guide 2017 apizza scholls gdegg6

Apizza Scholls' diablo blanco

Apizza Scholls

Owner Brian Spangler channels New York’s Italian American coal-oven shops through an Oregon baker’s avid heart. The result: muscular pies with char-speckled bottoms that make East Coast devotees swoon, from a “New York White” to a sausage and spicy peppers—all ginormous.

Navarre

John Taboada pioneered a new east-side indie food style with this 33-seat eatery in 2002, filled with local-farm gestalt, scholarly European village recipes, and his own definition of how a restaurant could be run—freewheeling, food-focused, and accessibly priced.

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Editor’s Pick

Navarre

$$ Mediterranean 10 NE 28th Ave

John Taboada pioneered a new east-side indie food style with this 33-seat eatery in 2002, filled with local-farm gestalt, scholarly European village recipes,...

Editor’s Pick

Apizza Scholls

$$ Pizza 4741 SE Hawthorne Blvd

With a reception as warm as a warden greeting a recidivist, Apizza wins no atmosphere awards. Still, for pizza theologists, it’s a temple. Owner Brian Spangl...

Editor’s Pick

Broder

$$ Scandinavian Multiple Locations

This busy Scandinavian café lures lines of eaters with Danish modern atmospherics and food pretty enough for Wallpaper magazine. Once seated, settle on a Sto...

Editor’s Pick

Le Pigeon

$$$ French, New American 738 E Burnside St

Gabriel Rucker is a Portland original whose ideas have crackled into something electric. Working off-the-cuff in his own world of complex flavor combinations...

Editor’s Pick

Langbaan

$$$$ Thai 6 SE 28th Ave

This cozy, cramped kitchen hidden in the back room of Thai restaurant PaaDee looks like a foodie’s vision of a Bangkok night market, with herbs everywhere, s...

Editor’s Pick

Country Cat Dinner House & Bar

$$ Southern 7937 SE Stark St

Missouri native Adam Sappington is evangelical in matters of meat and a master of American vernacular cooking— somewhere between a nose-to-tail preacher and ...

Editor’s Pick

St. Jack

$$ French 1610 NW 23rd

Even after migrating from its quiet perch on SE Clinton to a bigger, more industrial landing on a bustling corner of NW 23rd Avenue, St. Jack is still a comf...

Editor’s Pick

Pok Pok

$$ Thai 3226 SE Division

From its bare-bones beginning as a takeout shack, Pok Pok has grown into a full-on eating experience, while owner Andy Ricker has earned a reputation as the ...

Editor’s Pick

Ox

$$$ Latin American, Steakhouse 2225 NE Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.

Greg Denton and Gabrielle Quiñónez Denton’s meaty love story is told over flames erupting from a hand-cranked grill. Don’t miss their Uruguayan beef rib eye ...

Editor’s Pick

Beast

$$$$ French, Pacific Northwest 5425 NE 30th Ave

Feel the girl power at Naomi Pomeroy's no-holds-barred, female run eatery on NE 30th, where the Top Chef Masters contenders serves up prix-fixe meals of foie gras bonbons, pork belly, and daring seasonal fare.

Editor’s Pick

Castagna

$$$$ Dessert, Modern, Pacific Northwest 1752 SE Hawthorne Blvd

A culinary poet and dessert artist, chef Justin Woodward splices seasonal high points, technical feats, and concentrated sauces into spare compositions of st...

Editor’s Pick

Hà VL

$ Vietnamese 2738 SE 82nd Ave

Owners Ha “Christina” Luu and William Voung are artisans, crafting small-batch regional Vietnamese soups with flavorful free-range chickens, meticulously ski...