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Pok Pok's fabled fish sauce wings. (Yep, they're really that good.)

Image: Pok Pok

Once upon a time, Southeast Division Street was a sleepy stretch populated by adult movie theaters and paint shops. And then came Stumptown. And Pok Pok. And Ava Gene’s. These days, its arguably the most culinarily clogged thoroughfare in the city, bursting with high-end restaurants, funky carts, and comfort-food-laden bars. Get grazing. (And what’s that you say, Old Portland partisan? You don’t see Reel M Inn and Dot’s on the list? They're right here.) 

A note: For the sake of walkability, we limited our picks to Southeast Clinton and Division from 11th Avenue to César E. Chávez Boulevard—but there are more great eats and drinks to be had farther east up Division if you have time and stomach space to spare.

The American Local

DINNER Inspired by izakaya-style after-work watering holes in Japan and patriotic union halls of the early 20th century, the American Local offers an eclectic mix of regional American drinking food accented by Asian ingredients and melting-pot preparations—like a bowl of poached chicken and noodles that lands halfway between rich ramen and the soup your mom makes during flu season, Netarts Bay oysters with togarashi and cara cara oranges, and pork belly skewers with Sriracha and maple. 

Apex/Los Gorditos

LUNCH/DINNER/LATE NIGHT This huge parking lot filled with picnic tables has become a prime bike ride destination for locals seeking great Mexican grub and high-end beer. Family-owned taqueria empire Los Gorditos delivers satisfying spins on Mexican street food for carnivores and veggie lovers alike. The vegan tacos satisfy all comers: corn tortillas hug meaty soy curls and thick bean paste or dark crumbles of soyrizo with grilled onion. There's a meaty menu, too, for those who need their asada or carnitas fix. Wash it all down with quality suds from adjoining beer bar Apex, which flaunts everything from Upright Brewing's farmhouse ales to German lagers and Firestone Walker IPAs on its ever-changing 50 (yep, 50) taps. Bonus: Delivery-only operation Ranch Pizza will ferry Sicilian-style pies right to your table Thursdays–Sundays. 

Ava Gene’s

DINNER In the neighborhood that birthed Stumptown Coffee Roasters, Duane Sorenson’s ode to Italy, Brooklyn, and the People’s Republic of Portland swings like an indie brasserie. It’s a place to indulge in everything that makes Portland tick, as exacting ingredients, garage-rock scruffiness, shameless Europhilia, cocktail savvy, and Italian wine are reconfigured into a new standard of dining: marble clad, service intensive, and soaring behind what sounds like a director’s cut of iconic rock. Traditional limitations of “rustic” food are erased between the wood-charred breads, vegetable intensity, and grunt-worthy pastas.

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Aviv's standout shawarma fries

Image: Kelly Clarke

Aviv

LUNCH/DINNER A team of worldly chefs takes inspiration from Tel Aviv, with a menu of standout meatless Israeli dishes—often spiced with vivid green parsley-cilantro tsug and puckery mango-and-mustard-seed amba. Inside the space last home to vegan-Italian stalwart Portobello, Aviv focuses on vegan Israeli recipes both traditional and modern—think falafel bowls and soy curl shawarma fries smothered in hummus, tahini, and a trio of house-made sauces, plus bourekas (pastries) and pita baked in-house. 

BeerMongers

LUNCH/DINNER BeerMongers is about as no-frills as nerdy beer bars come: a cash register, some high tables, eight taps, and two wall-size refrigerators packed with both hard-to-find and popular imports and micros. Pick up a sloppy burrito from Los Gorditos across the street, grab a cold 22 oz from the fridge, and recall a time when all of Division was like this. Bonus: the cozy vibe makes it one of the best places to catch a Timbers game in town.

Bollywood Theater

LUNCH/DINNER Chef Troy MacLarty directs an edible journey through India complete with collaged ephemera, Gandhi shrines, and real-deal flavors. The MO is casual, and the format (counter orders, bus your own dishes) keeps prices low. Classic thali platters—sambar, raita, dal, saffron rice, curry, and paratha—are full-meal deals. But the kitchen really excels at Mumbai street snacks (bhel puri, dahi papri chaat), seasonal vegetable sides, and Goan-style pork vindaloo that tastes like barbecue from another planet. You polish it off with animal sounds and sweet, buttery, crumpet-like rolls. But order carefully, or face a garbanzo bean assault.

Broder

BRUNCH/LUNCH This busy Scandinavian café lures lines of eaters with Danish modern atmospherics and food pretty enough for Wallpaper magazine. Once seated, settle on a Stockholm hot dog wrapped in a potato pancake with house-made relish or a baked scramble with gravlax or smoked trout, served in handsome skillets next to sides like roasted apples. Everyone comes for aebleskivers, golf ball–size puffs of batter baked in a special pan and served with homemade lemon curd and applesauce. And of course, the rich meatballs in a creamy sherry sauce.  

Burrasca

DINNER A former breakout food cart, brick-and-mortar Burrasca offers the same slow-simmered Italian comfort and Big Night charm as its previous incarnation. Always-smiling chef Paolo Calamai spoons out authentic nonna cooking with a short menu of strictly Tuscan plates. Burrasca’s greatest strengths are its pasta, best demonstrated by the tender ricotta gnudi, soaking up a pool of sage butter, and the velvety cuts of tagliatelle in thick beef ragù. Equally great: Calamai’s garlicky, slow-cooked stews, like the dark, braised squid, and the palombo, a dish of thresher shark (you read that right) cloaked in rich tomato sauce and a melted pile of Swiss chard.

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Slurp, swoon, and repeat at Jacqueline’s happy hour, 5–7 p.m. Tuesday–Saturday.

Jacqueline

DINNER This seafood cove in the former St. Jack space gets its name—and aesthetic inspiration—from Wes Anderson’s The Life Aquatic. At the driftwood-clad bar, beneath a painted portrait of Bill Murray, one can slurp down $1 happy hour oysters accessorized with house tarragon vinegar, jalapeño hot sauce, and red Tabasco. Hyperseasonal is the mode: morels, pea jus, sea beans, and a spruce tip focaccia, topped with house burrata and mushroom conserva. Whole roasted trout to cioppino fishers’ stew are crowd favorites, while crudo shows off the kitchen’s creativity, with a shrimp ceviche popping with green strawberries and fresno chiles, or yellowtail with salted kohlrabi. It goes down smooth with a small, carefully curated wine list and stellar but potent cocktails—just the way Zissou’s sailors prefer it. 

Lauretta Jean’s

BREAKFAST/LUNCH/DINNER Lauretta Jean’s is many things: a pie sanctuary, a biscuit destination, a date haven. The room, folksy and spare, is given to Neil Young croons and small tables. Feast your eyes on the glass counter, home to peak-season pies and custardy beauties in all-butter crusts. The city’s best biscuits bracket a wealth of possibilities, from house preserves to plump breakfast sausage slapped with hot cheddar and homemade tomato jam. The savory quiche will make your day. And where else will you find cocktails and the perfect pie until 10 p.m.? Would you like a Cat’s Pajamas (Campari, Prosecco, grapefruit, and tequila) or a double-crusted pear pie? Both, of course. 

Little T Baker

BREAKFAST/LUNCH Little T rules Southeast with crave-worthy baguettes, each one a crusty cylinder that’s perfectly airy and creamy throughout. It’s not surprising; owner Tim Healea was head baker at Pearl Bakery for years and a member of Team USA in Paris’s 2002 Coupe du Monde de la Boulangerie—the World Cup of Baking. The display case at Little T favors breakfast offerings like croissants, rustic tarts, chocolate chip cookies, and “slab bread,” a focaccia-style flatbread slathered in olive oil and sea salt. 

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Fifty Licks’ strong, sweet-bitter affogato Cubano

Image: Karen Brooks

Ice Cream Crawl

This neighborhood is wholly devoted to devoted to the icy arts, boasts the city’s most famous scoops and cult operations alike. Here’s where to get yer licks in. 

Salt & Straw: This is Portland’s signature ice cream. Every scoop from cousins Kim and Tyler Malek is wildly different, bulging with luxurious texture, daring combinations, and an unmistakable taste of place—perfumed with everything from Steven Smith’s Teas and local beers to Olympic Provisions meat or Woodblock Chocolate “chips.” How far will the Maleks push to redefine ice cream on our turf? They used food waste as inspiration this summer to create flavors like “Celery Root & Strawberry Celery Leaf Jam.” FYI: Bone marrow-and-smoked cherry is a hit, and the Happy B-Day Elvis with malted banana ice cream, marionberry jam, and peanut butter topped with candied bacon is a game changer.  

Eb & Bean: Carefully curated toppings— Pinkleton’s Curious Caramel Corn to crushed chocolate-gobbed Bakeshop cookies—star at this artisan, soft-serve frozen yogurt pioneer. Get hooked on the aptly named “Tart” fro-yo, squiggled beneath a brisk blast of marionberry compote and the wild crunch of oat streusel. Plus, vegan flavors—churned with coconut and almond milks—are good enough to lure dairy addicts away from the udder. 

Pinolo Gelato: This Tuscan-style gelateria that traffics in handmade rigor, each icy batch made fresh in the morning with just the right balance of fluff, creaminess, and concentrated flavor. It’s well worth a detour for the deep pistachio, delicate Piedmont hazelnut, or potent cioccolato (chocolate).

Fifty Licks: French custard-style ice cream guru Chad Draizin is a texture master, in flavors ranging from blackstrap gingersnap to roasty Thai rice. Add in stellar Cuban coffee, perfect house-made cones, creative sorbet cocktails, and creative toppings ranging from sweet corn dust to ghost pepper salt, and there’s something for everyone.

La Moule

DINNER/LATE NIGHT/SUNDAY BRUNCH At La Moule, St. Jack’s Francophile chef Aaron Barnett reintroduces Portland to mussels and fries with a globe-spanning take on Belgium’s national dish, plus a side of moody lighting and great cocktails. Its comfy black booths are sweet, dimly lit nooks for sharable, date-night mussels steamed in six flavorful broths, with a menu bookended by French-inspired bar fare, like a burger with a thick slice of bacon and double-cream brie on top. La Moule pulls double duty as a serious bar with approachable cocktails rife with interesting ingredients. Meanwhile, the Belgian-inspired tap list, both European and local, is a traditional (and perfect) partner for the country’s favorite dish.

Night Light Lounge

LUNCH/DINNER/LATE NIGHT For more than a decade, this humble watering hole has served as the Clinton hood’s living room and backyard. That means plenty of big, dimly lit tables, 10 taps and cheekily-named house cocktails, a roster of comfort food classics—grilled cheese to hot apple crisp—and a smoker’s paradise of a heated patio out back. You’re welcome.

OP Wurst Sausage Bar

LUNCH/DINNER Olympia Provisions’ fast-casual wurst concept is a sausage party with an crazy-good beer and wine list: suds are local and international, with a heavy emphasis on Germany—even a hard-to find Kostritzer Schwarzbier—while glass pours come from the crack team of sommeliers at the original OP restaurant in Central Eastside Industrial. Everything’s bigger here than at the satellite Wurst locations, including a sprawling patio and kitchen that turns out palate-cleansing shaved fennel and orange salad and an old-school griddle burger. Meanwhile, the Pine Street Market and Oregon City mini-locations offer a concise menu with their own “creative wursts,” like the Hound Dog, with bacon, banana, and peanut butter.

Pine State Biscuits

BRUNCH/LUNCH Yes, ladies and gents. This is the home of the long beloved, often name-dropped Reggie—two biscuits sandwiching buttermilk-battered fried chicken, bacon, melted cheese, and gravy. Besides that behemoth, the farmers market cart turned brick-and-mortar cult also offers our second-favorite combination: the McIsley, an equally addictive biscuit sandwich that pairs pickles, mustard, and local honey with crispy fried chicken. Not a fan of the cluckers? Just nab a salty, flaky, buttery biscuit, fresh out of the oven and served with butter and jam. Divine. 

Pok Pok and Whiskey Soda Lounge

LUNCH/DINNER/LATE NIGHT 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 one of the country’s foremost Thai cuisine experts. Order a plate of khao man som tam—blissfully sweet shredded pork served over coconut rice with green papaya salad—and sit at one of the (heated and covered) outdoor picnic tables. Or step into the small, adjacent, speakeasy like dining room. Inside or out, don’t miss the blackboard specials, the unusual dishes like grilled boar collar, or the signature fish-sauce chicken wings. Just across the street at his Whiskey Soda Lounge, Ricker re-creates Asian pub snacks without compromising for Western palates: deep-fried sour cured pork riblets, charcoal-toasted dried cuttlefish, and shrimp chips, all designed to be washed down with drinking vinegars, cocktails, and ice-cold bia wun, or “jelly beer.” The phat Thai, served only after 10 p.m., is Portland’s best. 

Richmond Bar

DINNER/LATE NIGHT Restaurateur Nate Tilden has made his mark in town by knowing exactly what Portlanders crave, from cured meats (Olympic Provisions) to Jeffrey Morgenthaler (Clyde Common). With Richmond Bar, he bestows upon Southeast Portland a compact greatest-hits collection in the former Matchbox Lounge’s Lilliputian space. Gangs of neighbors crowd the black-leather banquettes for pints of 10 Barrel and a righteous chopped salad sprinkled with meaty OP goods. The house offers a smart parade of well-balanced cocktails that skip from light and fizzy Clear Creek pear brandy numbers to silky-smooth bourbon sips. Our favorite boozy SE Division Street resident? The Sassafras. With a smoky mescal burn and a bittersweet, brawny one-two punch of cynar and root-beery liquor, it’s sexier than most men in this town. 

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Scenes from Roman Candle

Image: Karen Brooks

Roman Candle

BREAKFAST/LUNCH While you were in your usual biscuit coma, Roman Candle quietly perfected the breakfast of champions: light and lean, with flavors to keep you happy and healthy. This may be Portland’s best daily a.m. menu right now. Chef Joshua McFadden oversees the menu at both Roman and sister restaurant Ava Gene’s. His Old World Cereal is a warm ooze of heritage rye, cracked emmer, flax seeds, sprouted raw almonds, and maple syrup, simmered in almond milk. It makes standard issue oatmeal curl up in a corner and quiver. House granola sports olive oil roasted oats, pumpkin seeds, giant cracks of pistachio, and thick yogurt. Just-baked bread shines everywhere: sourdough toast stacked alongside shakshuka-like “eggs in purgatory,” or a fab slab of raisin-cocoa-walnut bread beneath fresh hazelnut butter, bitter chocolate, and roasted nuts.

Scottie’s Pizza

LUNCH/DINNER Scottie’s house style is a hodgepodge of pizza ideology: poofy-rimmed, leopard-spotted Neapolitan pies, cooked in a 900-degree Swedish electric deck oven but served New York–style, in cheap 18-inch rounds or big, foldable slices and topped with über-Portland ingredients, all sourced locally and made from scratch. The best slice at Scottie’s happens to be the simplest: pizza bianca, with melting heaps of creamy, fresh-made ricotta, fried basil leaves, and a dusting of crushed New Mexico chiles, all drizzled with olive oil. 

SE Wine Collective

DINNER On summery evenings at this urban winery, just blocks from buzzy restaurants like Ava Gene’s and Pok Pok, the garage door stands open. Passersby might catch glimpse of guests at the bar sipping pinots and viogniers—made in house or by “overseas colleagues”—or maybe a local chef cooking a special dinner in the adjacent concrete-floored space that, come fall, will serve as the winery’s grape- and stem-strewn production area. Local winemakers rent space at the collective, sharing high-cost equipment and trading winemaking knowledge. Drinkers get to soak up the fruits of their labor. 

Tidbit Food Farm & Garden

LUNCH/DINNER Bistro lights gleam against silver Airstream trailers, locals inch, single file, toward a cart pouring craft beer, and the smell of Korean barbecue wafts through the air. It feels like Feast’s bustling night market, but it’s just another night at Division’s Tidbit food cart pod, complete with a fire pit, beer garden, and a double-decker bus filled with vintage fashions. From Oregon-theme vegan soft serve sundaes (Back to Eden), ramen bowls (Hapa) and kalbi ribs (Namu) to waffle sandwiches (Smaaken Waffle) and hefty mix-and-match salads (Garden Monsters)—Tidbit’s got it all.

Victory Bar

DINNER/LATE NIGHT You have to love a bar named for George Orwell. (“Victory” refers to the rotgut gin swilled in Orwell’s 1984.) Hard to say if the flinty English writer would have liked Victory’s huge Euro-beer selection or arty cocktails, but he probably would have appreciated its twilit romance. And given Orwell’s perpetual financial woes, he would have loved Victory’s happy hours (all night Monday and 6–7 p.m. every other day), when items from its hearty, gastropub-ish menu (baked spätzle, venison burger) dip low, with discounts on well drinks, wine and beer, too. Those deals help endear this well-tuned little place to local cooks and bartenders—and, inadvertently, make Victory a living example of how Portland’s collective tastes have changed, from Pabst to Pernod.

Xico

DINNER Oaxaca is represented at Xico—but so is Oregon: playful notes, purist notions, and fresh-ground masa fill out a room that feels like a beach hut with pearls. A few dishes seem destined for iconic status, including a crispy, smoldering mass of chile glazed chips with cotija cheese (totopos con chile) and upscale Mexican street-style rotisserie chicken—tender, brined in chipotle and avocado leaf, basted with scallions and apple cider vinegar. For dessert? Campfire-blazing habanero-caramel drinking chocolate with mescal or a dark chocolate–dipped oblong of coconut, almonds, and raisins that would make the Mounds folks blush. 

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