3 Portland Restaurants You Must Try in October

Portland Monthly food critic Karen Brooks dishes on the restaurants, obsessions, and under-the-radar finds of the month.

By Karen Brooks September 21, 2015 Published in the October 2015 issue of Portland Monthly

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Image: Karen Brooks


Who needs secret menus in Portland? Limited editions rule. Want the city’s best soup? HA & VL serves two recipes a day, and they’re gone by noon! Expatriate’s awesome Thai nachos come with restricted hours. Now, from the talented Nomad.PDX, which typically serves only 15-to-20-course tasting menus, we have our first playful, modernist à la carte menu (in case you just want, say, savory padron pepper ice cream with “butter soil,” and nothing else). The catch? The new menu is available ... 9 p.m. to 1 a.m. on Sunday nights only (for now). Buck up, coffee up, and damn the limitations: this is some of the most exciting food in the city right now. Above Shift Drinks, 1200 SW Morrison St, nomadpdx.com


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Image: Karen Brooks

When the doors blew open in July, I expected Coquinefrom Michelin-trained chef Katy Millard and wine-savvy Ksandek Podbielski—to make a mark as a seriously casual dinner destination. Mission accomplished. But I didn’t see this coming: the Mount Tabor spot is also Portland’s best new haunt for morning pastries, delicious lunch sandwiches, and finely tuned salads. Standouts so far include beautiful buckwheat biscuits; malty, nutty granola rife with cacao nibs and fresh fruit (see photo, right); and a killer porchetta sandwich of lean meat, cabbage crunch, and crackly pig skin nubbles cradled in a super-toasty ciabatta roll. 6839 SE Belmont St, coquinepdx.com


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Either/Or layered coffee cocktail

Image: Karen Brooks

Making lattes is the least of it. At Sellwood’s vintage-cozy Either/Or coffee shop, owner Ro Tam innovates seasonal sodas, turns espresso flights into art, and bottles outstanding house-made chai. Her latest brainstorm: coffee mocktails, an ingenious collection crafted with a bartender’s care, double-shaken at Top Gun speed, then spilled into proper glassware. Each month brings a new special, as Tam re-imagines alcohol-free, old-school drinks with coffee infusions. Recently, she conjured a “coffee negroni” with faux gin (pine and juniper cold-brew concentrate); a wash of herbs, vinegar, and white grape juice subbing for vermouth; and Campari culled from coffee cherry pulp, beets, and grapefruit skin. Her “coffee flip” extracts the flavor depths and aromatic heights of complex chai, orange peel, nutmeg scrapings, and cold brew. Then she taps the caramel-molasses tones of demerara sugar to emulate the drink’s absentee rum. It arrives under inches of rich egg foam. Trust me: you won’t miss the booze. 8235 SE 13th Ave, facebook.com/eitherorcafe

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