The Ultimate Week of Portland Dining

Your guide to a week of serious noshing in America's most original food city

By Karen Brooks November 1, 2013 Published in the November 2013 issue of Portland Monthly

Clockwise from top left: Broder, Country Cat, Bar Mingo, Teahouse in the Tower of Cosmic Reflections, Aviary, Ken's Artisan Bakery, Ned Ludd.


First stop: berry-jeweled Oregon “croissants” at Ken’s Artisan Bakery. Steps away at Sterling Coffee Roasters, Portland’s nattiest baristas dispense nano-batch espresso in single-malt scotch glasses. Lunch is Olympia Provisions for killer hot dogs and outrageous chocolate salami. Grab a barrel-aged negroni at Clyde Common as the sun goes down, then head for dinner at is the ne plus ultra of Portland’s food scene: spicy Vietnamese chicken wings at Pok Pok. Yes, they’re that good. Grab an outdoor table, a celery drinking vinegar, and, goodness, a bowl of khao soi kai curry noodle soup.


Say good morning to North African sausages, Burmese red pork stew, and biscuits at Tasty N Sons. For lunch, wander downtown’s food-cart communities. Prime stop: Nong’s Khao Man Gai for simple Thai chicken and rice with wildly addictive ginger sauce. Aviary’s whimsical global experiments, from granita-topped oysters to fried brussels sprouts nachos, make a case for Portland as an unrivaled happy hour city. Adventure on to feast at Smallwares, where “inauthentic Asian” food, like albacore with bonito aioli, rules.   


At Heart Coffee Roasters, macchiatos are dispatched in a room that channels the ambience of a Finnish science lab. Imperial delivers perfect pancakes, a stack of grandmotherly goodness with pork belly bacon smoked over barrel-aged pinot noir oak chips. At the weekly risotto night at Bar Mingo, slow-stirred batches of perfectly creamy seasonal versions arrive “only when ready.” Last call: nearby Salt & Straw churns out extremely local, equally experimental ice cream. Scoops of Loaded Baked Potato all around.  


Fuel up on creative breakfast bowls at Roman Candle, from hot farro, dried fruit, and bee pollen to granola as the gods meant it to be—chunked with dark chocolate. Lunch is a jaunt out to HA & VL for flavor-singing Vietnamese soups—the Thursday menu’s double bill features ginger-snapping snail soup and soulful chicken with shredded eggs. Finish up the day with wood-fired everything (even the chocolate chip cookies) at the epicenter of eccentric (and delicious) Portland dining, Ned Ludd


Broder mashes up Swedish mornings and indie Portland. This is where tattoos and piercings meet smoked-trout hash and big-yolked eggs baked into squares. For lunch, segue to Ikea-chic vegan haven Canteen for a righteous taco salad crunchy with walnut paste and cashew “nacho” spread, then head for dinner at Ox, where Argentine barbecue meets Portland bravado—and clam chowder sports a smoked marrow bone bigger than a Grecian pillar.


Brunch at the Country Cat might kick off with a basket of cinnamon rolls, detour gracefully to smoked steelhead Benedict or French toast with lemon clabber cream, then finish with maple-glazed fried chicken bronzed in cast iron. Midday, slip into Cacao for a flight of “drinking chocolate,” a kind of liquid dark chocolate pudding that pierces deep pleasure centers. For dinner, put yourself in the hands of Gabriel Rucker, the bad-boy flavor savant of Le Pigeon. Name your courses, comb the impressive wine list, and let the man fly. 


Still hungry? Buckle up for a top-down brunch ride at Beast: four courses, seasonal genius, and French comfort galore in a room of feminine cool. Contemplate the calories consumed this week at the Teahouse in the Tower of Cosmic Reflections, a hidden gem inside the Lan Su Chinese Garden. A certain lawlessness hovers in the air at Navarre, and that’s part of the magic. From candied fennel to chocolate pear pies, this is Portland’s purest expression of farm-to-table eating and independent thinking, tenderly priced.

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