Being a foodie can create a heavy burden on the pocketbook, never mind the difficult task of deciding what sounds good. But during the 9th annual Portland Dining Month presented by Travel Portland, gourmands and casual eaters alike should rest easy in the comfort of variety, because over 100 of the city’s premier restaurants are offering three-course meals for a more than reasonable $33. A donation is made to the Oregon Food Bank for reservations booked on PortlandDiningMonth.com. Every day of March, 2018, epicurean explorers can embark on a voyage of savory discovery – sampling cuisines from around the world, revisiting homegrown favorites and experiencing the edible unconventional.
They say the journey of 100 restaurants starts with just one bite, so here are some delicious spots to get you started.
Looking for an Adventure -
Trying something new is at the heart of every great adventure. There’s no better way to break outside the taste bud box than with the Cajun and Creole inspired dishes at Tapalaya, a fusion of tapas and jambalaya in both name and execution.
Feastly represents the next step of restaurant evolution. Throughout March, they will host a distinctive pop-up dining experience, keeping patrons guessing with guest chef appearances and intimate global-inspired recipes.
Ash Bar at Nomad.PDX seeks to flip fine dining in Northeast Portland with avant-garde entrees such as braised beef and celery root soup.
A champion of revolutionary flavors, Kachka delivers the victuals of the former Soviet Union with a modern twist. The Dining Month dinner begins with a Midwest salat with broccoli, cauliflower, dried barberry, Zante currant seeds and fried onion carries the torch to tsimmes chicken ‘n’ dumplings in a mess of carrots, finishing on a kompot float comprised of rhubarb punch and vanilla and lime Plombir - a Russian ice cream treat.
Looking for Pacific Northwest flavor -
With bountiful natural ingredients available year-round in the Pacific Northwest, it’s no surprise that some of Portland’s best restaurants utilize seasonal flavors to create a sense of place and delight diner’s senses.
At Quaintrelle, elegant locally sourced fare dots the menu and Trifecta Tavern, brings the richness of the Oregon Coast to 6th Avenue. Ned Ludd is “an American craft kitchen” specializing in tastes of home. It’s offerings rotate weekly based on the weather and artisan producers, but this Dining Month, the freshness practically jumps off the plate with the smoked trout fillet, charred leeks, capered herb salsa verde and early spring salad.
Higgins Restaurant & Bar, led by owner and James Beard Award-winning Chef Greg Higgins, is a destination for organic, high-end dining. As homage to a Viennese composer, Papa Haydn East specializes in classical European food, including fennel sausage and papas bravas.
Celebrity Chef Chris Cosentino of Jackrabbit embodies efficiency by using every piece of meat, including offal such as pig head, in his intriguing creations. Limiting waste is a sentiment every Portlander can get behind, and so is this dining month menu: puree of root vegetable soup with hazelnut oil; house-made tagliatelle with roasted wild mushrooms, pine nuts and peas; and Meyer lemon tartlet with toasted cocoa nib meringue, brown sugar streusel and white chocolate mousse. Add a signature gin cocktail or shot from the espresso bar to finish an unforgettable meal.
Looking to up the Insta-game -
Beauty is in the eye of the gastronome - and on the plate - at these picture-worthy eateries. Besaw’s, a quintessential Portland establishment since 1903, throws it back to its old garden with custom floral wallpaper – the perfect background for its lineup of comfort foods. A half dozen shellfish on ice just beg to be shared at Olympia Oyster Bar, in person and on social media. Departure is all about location (15 stories up in the heart of downtown) and contemporary Asian cooking.
A relative newcomer to the Division neighborhood, seafood joint Jacqueline makes a splash with its quirky maritime style. Set sail on its event selection made from wedge salad with blue cheese, Nueske's bacon, fried shallots, fines herbs and pickled celery, followed by Hama Hama clams and mussels with Rainer, smoked potatoes, carnitas, kale and crème fraîche, and completed with buttermilk panna cotta, huckleberries, bee pollen, lemon curd and brown butter.
Looking for a vegetarian friendly option -
Dieters and vegetarians rejoice, meat-free is the name of the game with these vegetarian-inclined menus. Between the eggplant Parmesan at Nonna, and roasted kale rapini at Blossoming Lotus, eating healthy doesn’t mean sacrificing the wow factor.
The one time McMenamins property, Produce Row Café reopened in 2015, continuing the tradition of sudsy brews and tempting appetizers. But guilt is needless when indulging in their crispy Brussels sprouts with pickled peppers, fried capers and lemon.
Andina whisks customers to a foreign land through its approach, an exciting celebration of Peruvian culture. Enjoy a timbale of Yukon Gold potato, a quinoa risotto with Grana Padano cheese, golden beets, local mushrooms and truffle oil, and a brownie accompanied by an avocado crème anglaise. The piquant tones of Northern Spain come alive at Bar Casa Vale, with aioli drizzled papas bravas, a citrus salad with sunflower, dried olive, chilies, pecorino and sorghum, and a finale of fideos (Spanish for noodles) with greens and a nutty picada sauce.