The 50 Best Portland Restaurants For Any Occasion

Dine your way through Portland's top places to sit down for a great meal, whether you're looking for take-out or a ten-course affair.

Edited by Kelly Clarke October 19, 2015 Published in the November 2015 issue of Portland Monthly

1115 taylorrails015 yzbiqg

Chef Erik Van Kley’s new Taylor Railworks wows with “Borderless” American plates, like chile crab with buttery house rolls, in an industrial-cozy space—so close to its namesake tracks that train whistles soundtrack your dinner.


Accanto 4 usgxui

Image: Allison Jones


New chef Sean Temple, the former chef of wine country’s Paulee as well as a Paley’s Place alum, has remixed the menu of Genoa’s once-casual counterpoint to highlight fresh Italian fare every day of the week. Dive into pastas, from calamarata to cavatelli, and check out Accanto’s apertivi hour menu for bites like bone marrow with giardiniera relish and brûléed pressed pork ciccioli with wild plum preserve. 2838 SE Belmont St, 503-235-4900

Angel Face


Navarre’s sister bar, a jewel box of a space dominated by conversation-starting pink, flowered walls, charms with French plates and artful cocktails. Portions are small, but the homey-yet-polished flavors are huge, like a French onion soup hiding gobs of gruyère, or a poached egg swimming in a silky, tart broth of red wine and onion. The steak tartare is a hit, which you should accessorize with raw, chopped oysters to give a seaside tang to an already lux schmear. 14 NE 28th Ave, 503-239-3804

Apizza Scholls


For pizza theologists, Apizza is a temple. Owner Brian Spangler channels New York’s Italian-American coal-oven shops through an Oregon baker’s heart. He makes dough daily and uses an infrared thermometer to suss out prime spots in his electric oven for muscular pies with char-speckled bottoms that make devotees swoon, from a “New York White” to a sausage and spicy peppers, all ginormous. 4741 SE Hawthorne Blvd, 503-233-1286


Ataula1 s6fuia

Chef Jose Chesa’s brand of tapas in a nutshell: stupid-good but incredibly smart, informed by modernist know-how but as accessible as a Tater Tot. From a guy hiding a small galaxy of Michelin-star experience under his apron come big and little snacks, detailed salads, toasted squid-ink noodles, well-chosen Spanish wines, and a rocking, seafood-laden black rice paella for two, all in a bustling, casual space. Among the finds: bombas, crackling balls of potato mash, spicy beef, and comfort; and deep, dark chocolate “nutella” with toasted Spanish bread for scooping. 1818 NW 23rd Pl, 503-894-8904

Ava Gene’s


In the neighborhood that birthed his 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 chef Josh McFadden’s wood-charred breads, vegetable intensity, and grunt-worthy pastas. 3377 SE Division St, 971-229-0571


Aviary 4 qkwhf0
New Asian

This cinder-block bunker serves delicious culinary provocations: it takes audacity to put crunchy chicken skin at the center of a fresh watermelon salad that also hosts the heady surprise of Thai chiles, watercress vines, and a carpet of baba ghanoush. Chef Sarah Pliner’s approach unfolds slowly on a seemingly random list of dishes, each its own constellation of cuisines and visual juxtapositions. France winks at Chinatown; Japan dances with India. Any night turns up plenty of food and drink to tease the mind and make your tongue smile. 1733 NE Alberta St

Bar Mingo


Jerry Huisinga performs old-school Italian magic at this casual satellite of Caffe Mingo. Get a spread of starters for the table, especially the lip-smacking chicken livers on crispy toast, the mint-spiked lamb meatballs, and the best calamari around, super fresh and springy. Pasta rules, with at least a half dozen options nightly, all made fresh, from a silky, soulful, big-flavored lasagna to chitarra with spicy puttanesca. The risotto banishes competitors simply because it’s the real thing, made fresh with surgical concentration. 811 NW 21st Ave, 503-445-4646


Beast lu4qtf

Image: Beast


Naomi Pomeroy runs with the meat-worshipping bad boys of the Portland food scene, muscles flexed, elbows flying, but with lace showing underneath. Beast is her stage for sumptuous multicourse meals choreographed and assembled in the middle of the room. Pomeroy ships a seasonal parade of mushroom soups, maple-glazed pork bellies, and foie gras bonbons in six-course prix fixe dinners that celebrate French comfort cooking, communal tables, and Oregon farm finds. The four-course brunch is the city’s best, embracing candied bacon and a no-brakes attitude in an atmosphere of Otis Redding and pure girl power. 5425 NE 30th Ave, 503-841-6968



Biwa mashes up indie Portland and the izakaya, a bar where customers can drink beer and sake while nibbling on small plates of Korean beef tartare topped with quail egg, or a lusty burger with marinated pork and kimchi mayo. Other finds? Yakimono (grilled skewers of chicken thigh, hanger steak, mackerel, lamb, or shiitakes) and some of the city’s best ramen, served in a savory dashi broth and topped with egg, barbecued pork, or seaweed. 215 SE Ninth Ave, 503-239-8830

Bollywood Theater

Bollywood sign zm4lvt

Image: Julia Raymond


Chef Troy McLarty directs an edible journey through India complete with collaged ephemera, Gandhi shrines, real-deal flavors, and a DIY vibe. 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 steals at $12–15.50. 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. 3010 SE Division St, 503-477-6699 & 2039 NE Alberta St, 971-200-4711



This busy Scandinavian café lures lines of eaters with Danish modern atmospherics and Instagram-ready food. Nab a Stockholm hot dog wrapped in a potato pancake with relish or a baked scramble with smoked trout, served in a little skillet with roasted apples. Everyone comes for aebleskivers, tender, golf ball–size puffs served with homemade lemon curd and applesauce. And, of course, rich meatballs in a creamy sherry sauce. The N Interstate Avenue outpost, Broder Nord, boasts a seafood-heavy dinner menu, while Southwest’s new Broder Söder nestles inside the stunning Nordic House community center. Multiple locations

Bunk Sandwiches

Bunk bacon egg and cheese nryxll

Bunk co-owners Tommy Habetz and Nick Wood package outsize flavor between two slices of bread, from a rousing pork belly Cubano to a defining Oregon albacore tuna melt, in a handful of lively outposts around town. Find the same signature sammies at spin-off Bunk Bar (1028 SE Water Ave), along with loud, live indie music, an anti-mixology bar, and late-night hours, plus some additional finds, like the mole tater tots, courtesy of Habetz’s dream addition—a deep fryer. Multiple locations



This Florentine cart’s new brick-and-mortar home boasts the same Big Night charm as the original. The airy space is filled with personal touches from owners Paolo Calamai and Elizabeth Petrosian (a bull’s skull from Tuscan cowboy country, included). Burrasca’s greatest strengths are its pastas, 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 dishes, like the dark, braised squid, and the palombo, a dish of thresher shark cloaked in rich tomato sauce and a melted pile of Swiss chard. 113 SE 28th Ave


1213 davenport 13 wfjvzb

Image: Allison Jones


Kevin Gibson, vet of Castagna and cult diner Evoe, cooks with stripped-down clarity, producing a menu that reads like a mood ring of the seasons: ever-changing soups and salads, braised meats and local fish, polished with attention to detail and Old World sentiment. At the same time, co-owner Kurt Heilemann has turned Davenport’s East Burnside space into a pretension-free wine nerd’s paradise. His list is 150 bottles deep in value-driven finds—a stash of Loire Valley discoveries, Sicilian gems, and that Piedmontese producer with one great plot. Cheers. 2215 E Burnside St, 503-236-8747


Gregarious, telegenic chef Gregory Gourdet has turned the Nines hotel’s astro-sleek 15th-floor restaurant from a singles mixer into a lively hub for ambitious pan-Asian cuisine, a spot where Oregon’s produce, meats, and seafood are transmuted into bold yet comforting dishes that pop with the big, bright flavors of chile, lime, and ginger. Visiting the restaurant, with unparalleled views of the city, is an expensive but giddy-making surprise: it’s as if you went into a dressing room to try on a pair of gaudy Ed Hardy jeans and came out clad in an Armani suit. 525 SW Morrison St, 503-802-5370


New Asian

Candles spotlight what matters here: two turntables spinning vintage moods, drinks balanced like the scales of justice, and heat-seeking Asian snacks dispatched with ornate gold silverware. Devour co-owner Naomi Pomeroy’s corn dogs remodeled with spicy Chinese sausage, or the Korean fried game hen blistered beneath pickled watermelon ranch dressing. It could feel pretentious if it all weren’t so damn good. 5424 NE 30th Ave, 503-805-3750


0812 gruner tba hamburger gjuufj

Image: Gruner


Chef Christopher Israel makes art of Mittel-europa in a jewel-box revamp of the leaden and the uncool. Begin your climb to the mountaintop with two unworldly visions: beet-pickled deviled eggs and a plate of thin-cut radishes displayed like an Indian mandala. Braised rabbit or chicken is a must, blushing with savory juice and paired with tender spätzle, as is the cider-poached calves’ liver. 527 SW 12th Ave, 503-241-7163



A juicer’s whir soundtracks the chic hippie paradise Harlow, where every meal is an excuse to savor a rainbow of plant-based plates and fruit- and veggie-packed elixirs. Nosh on spice-happy African peanut stew and quinoa topped with a vibrant jumble of gingery pickled veggies and roasted roots. Garlic tahini and silky avocado cilantro cream are everywhere. And then there’s Harlow’s “pasta”: a belly-filling heap of thin, raw zucchini “noodles” tossed with carrot curls, spinach leaves, and a zippy sun-dried-tomato pesto. This is what raw power tastes like. 3632 SE Hawthorne Blvd, 971-255-0138



One of the first farm-to-table restaurants to open in Portland in the early 1990s, Higgins has staying power. That’s thanks to its timeless cuisine: impressive house-cured charcuterie, seasonal risottos, and a walloping whole-pig plate, not to mention chef-owner Greg Higgins’s longtime loyalty to the local farmers who produce his ingredients, which translates to a surprisingly vegan-friendly menu. Regulars often skip the white-tablecloth dining room and settle in at the homey, wood-worn back bar, with its formidable beer list, uptown lunch menu, and some of the city’s best soups, changing daily. 1239 SW Broadway, 503-222-9070


Holdfast kgmibc

Will Preisch and Joel Stocks deliver a fresh vision of what fine dining in Portland can be: high-quality, highly personal, and casually ceremonial. The former pop-up recently relocated to its own romantically rustic perch in the front room of an urban winery. But the wide-ranging thinkers still swing easily from modern to gritty, one-bite snacks to multifaceted entrées, foraged sea plants to beef snagged at New Seasons. Sign up online, snuggle in at the chef’s counter, and dig into multiple courses conceived, cooked, composed, and hand-delivered by a pair of guys who also serve as the evening’s hosts and dishwashers. 537 SE Ash St, #102


New American

At last, Vitaly Paley’s Imperial has found some swagger—thanks, in part, to a surge of energy from chef de cuisine and Top Chef fave Doug Adams. The kitchen now nails the things you’d hope for in a rustic downtown hotel dining room, from lunchtime pastas to happy hour steak frites, each sear, crust, and fry perfect. It also boasts a cult-worthy signature: Adam’s moist-meets-crunchy fried chicken, sided by Texas-size watermelon chunks, pickled onions, jalapeños, rooftop honey, and the kitchen’s barrel-aged hot sauce. Top Chef judges swooned over this one. 410 SW Broadway, 503-228-7222



Kachka’s boisterous take on Russia’s traditional cuisine, as reimagined by chef Bonnie Morales and her husband, Israel, centers on vodka and all the requisite cured fish, dumplings, and cabbage-wrapped meat that come with the territory. With its small tables groaning under plates of vareniki bulging with tangy farmers cheese and beef tongue (fried to a crisp but meltingly tender inside), plus caviar and traditional Soviet sweets, Kachka just might kick-start a homegrown Russian revolution. 720 SE Grand Ave, 503-235-0059

1115 kachka ajkkm9

Kachka’s vibrant “Herring Under a Fur Coat.”

Image: Karen Brooks

Laurelhurst Market


When Laurelhurst Market opened in 2009, it veered as far from Morton’s as you could get: affordable cuts, next-level sides, and a butcher counter to rival any in the city. Six years in, it’s gotten an infusion of fresh blood: veteran local chef Ben Bettinger and mixologist Kevin Ludwig. Much of the food is still pure Laurelhurst comfort, with rotating à la carte steaks, classic wedge salad, and potato-chip-topped mac and cheese. But Bettinger has added rich, land-meets-ocean riffs, like creamy blood sausage tumbled with roasted beets in a tar-black swath of squid ink. Bonus: the new radicchio salad, garlicky, creamy, and weighted down with strips of grilled lamb heart, gives Nostrana’s famed radicchio salad a run for its money. 3155 E Burnside St, 503-206-3097

Lauretta Jean’s

113 pies lauretta jeans d4pswe

Image: Allison Jones


Lauretta Jean’s is many things: a pie sanctuary, a biscuit destination, a date haven. The folksy room 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 pulled pork with apple barbecue sauce to plump breakfast sausage slapped with hot cheddar and homemade tomato jam. And where else will you find cocktails and the perfect pie until 10 p.m.? 3402 SE Division St, 503-235-3119



The brainchild of husband-and-wife team David Welch and Jenn Louis, Lincoln soothes more than it struts, as evidenced by its straightforward, minimalist menu and sturdy fir tables. Louis eschews big flavors and gimmickry for freshness and balance. Her dishes are ingredient-driven and satisfying, perhaps a signature appetizer of two eggs baked with cream and chopped green olives, or a rib eye steak with braised leeks and a poached duck egg. The warehouse space has been remodeled, but nothing about this restaurant is new-fangled. 3808 N Williams Ave, 503-288-6200  

Lovely’s Fifty-Fifty


Think wood-fired California designer pizza, by way of fine Oregon farmers: beautifully bronzed and constructed, light on cheese and sauce. Pies arrive dressed for the weather—perhaps wild nettles with crispy pancetta or slivers of black trumpet mushrooms boosted by parsley, citrus, and garlic. Sure, you can knock off a Tolstoy chapter before your order arrives, but that allows more time to contemplate the inventive salads and luscious ice creams. 4039 N Mississippi Ave, 503-281-4060


Luce4 oy5jf7 drnjy0

Image: Allison Jones


Chef John Taboada’s Luce is not easily defined. Candlelit shelves stretch from the floor clear to the ceiling, inviting a treasure hunt for imported foods and Italian wine finds. At tiny oak tables, an understated menu kicks off with a carnival of $2 antipasti bites and ends with double-decker sponge cake billowing pastry cream and pistachios. In between come a fine stuffed trout, a dandy bowl of spaghetti and clams, and the best bowl of soup to be found: cappelletti in brodo (stuffed pasta in broth). 2140 E Burnside St, 503-236-7195



Kristen Murray curates every molecule of flavor at her strange and delightful FrenchScandinavian “pastry luncheonette,” where the experience veers from twee to revelatory. You’ll meet both Murray’s sweet-craft and her nana’s lefse, bitter salads, a vermouth happy hour, and evening “dessert cuisine.” A visit may land you her “chocolate box”—black sesame seed cake, banana mousse, and chocolate mousse housed in glossy chocolate walls so stunning it belongs in the window at Barneys. 921 SW Oak St, 503-224-9921

Milk Glass Mrkt


In 2005, while you were eating yet another salmon hash, Nancye Benson paved the way for PDX’s food cart revolution with morning treats conjured in a vintage trailer oven on N Mississippi Avenue. Now, her signature Moxie Rx cart dishes have found a permanent home: a super-cute retro-mod café filled with curated groceries and some fresh ideas. Chomp right into a cheddar biscuit sandwich—not just the usual fried-egg number, but an herby omelet neatly folded and tucked beneath meaty bacon (or salmon, or roasted peppers) and an ooze of hot white cheese. Scan the counter for daily treats, from serious muffins to crispy-edge bread-pudding cakes—and remember, it’s never too early for Benson’s epic ginger lime macaroons. 2150 N Killingsworth St, 503-395-4742



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 tenderly priced. In a city that prides itself on a farm-to-table ethos, nobody embraces the philosophy more completely: ninety percent of the produce is grown within the city limits. You won’t find a more original seasonal menu anywhere. 10 NE 28th Ave, 503-232-3555

0615 nedludd d0m1ad

Image: Karen Brooks

Ned Ludd


With his I-did-it-my-way bluster and locavore intensity, Jason French embodies everything to love about Portland’s food scene. The playful depth of his homesteader’s cabin gone mad never lets up, from the name (after the 19th-century British folk hero) to the restaurant’s lone stove, a six-foot-high fireplace fueled by gnarly logs stacked everywhere. Among the surprises tumbling out of the open kitchen’s 750-degree cavern: a plate-size chocolate chip cookie, rising in a cast-iron skillet, its salt-crunching surface emerging one lucky degree shy of torched. 3925 NE MLK Jr. Blvd, 503-288-6900



Local food legend Cathy Whims presents Italian home cooking as it should be—stripped down, honest, powered by wood fire. No place in Portland is better suited to please a diverse crowd: foodies, kids, wine lovers, your adventure-fearing relatives. Pasta with tomato butter embodies simple purity, but desserts—hot-from-the-oven fruit crisps and intensive chocolate bodino—can make you gasp. The bistecca alla Fiorentina is arguably the city’s best steak: 2.5 pounds, cooked over oak fire, and big enough for four. 1401 SE Morrison St, 503-234-2427

Olympia Provisions


Since 2009, salumist Elias Cairo has been forging the resurgence of American charcuterie, spreading his pork-proud gospel to the epicurean edges of the country. Charcuterie fiends can swing by the retail meat counter to pick up fresh sausages and house-cured meats, from fennel-pocked finocchiona to velvety slices of pistachio mortadella. Behind the meat display, chef Alex Yoder transforms Cairo’s meat-craft into a rotating feast of Spanish and Mediterranean small plates. Shrimp bathed in chile oil and chèvre or baby octopus over corona beans and chorizo lend themselves to an Old World wine list brimming with dangerously drinkable rosés and sherries. 107 SE Washington St, 503-954-3663


Ox 1 qppqwc

Image: Allison Jones


Greg Denton and Gabrielle Quiñónez Denton’s meaty love story is told over dramatic flames erupting from a hand-cranked grill. Don’t miss their Uruguayan beef rib eye or the clam chowder, served with smoked bone marrow with fierce jalapeños. The intimate chef’s counter is an essential destination—and close enough to the wood fire to literally feel the heat. But happiness can be easily found at clustered tables or the teeny bar, home of a righteously twisted pisco sour: smoky and ear-tingling under a billowing white egg cloud. 2225 NE MLK Jr. Blvd, 503-284-3366

Le Pigeon


Gabriel Rucker is a Portland original whose ideas crackle into something electric. Working off-the-cuff in his own world of complex flavor combinations, Rucker is possessed by French bistro cooking and Americana. 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. The voltage extends to the softly lit, Parisian atmosphere, with communal tables and great energy. Le Pigeon embodies Portland’s rise on the national scene in a single, sharply focused snapshot. 738 E Burnside St, 503-546-8796,

Pinolo Gelato

Img 0239 fotor collage ikwocc w23hqw

Image: Karen Brooks


The doors had barely cracked open in July when the whispers started: “Italy just dropped into PDX.” That’s the perfect summation of this Tuscan-style gelateria, which 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 already well worth a detour for the deep pistachio, delicate Piedmont hazelnut, or potent cioccolato (chocolate). 3707 SE Division St, 503-719-8686

Podnah’s Pit


Any questions about the Lone Star State’s culinary greatness? With unforgettable piles of pork ribs, red chili, and homemade corn bread, Podnah chef (and Texas food ambassador) Rodney Muirhead provides the unequivocal answers. Where else can you find brisket this perfect—thick-barked, kissed with smoke rings, and melted through with heavenly fat marbling. 1625 NE Killingsworth St, 503-281-3700, 

Pok Pok


From its bare-bones beginning as a takeout shack, Pok Pok has grown into a full-on eating experience (including smaller spin-off Pok Pok Noi, at 1469 NE Prescott St, 503-287-4149), while owner Andy Ricker has earned a reputation as the country’s foremost Thai expert. 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 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. 3226 SE Division St, 503-232-1387,

Pizza1 1 om3ivu ibgng5 fzcgu9



This popular hip-hop pizza-night pop-up turned brick-and-mortar spot conjures an alternate reality where brassicas and smoked lardo dance over fire-kissed dough and the sound system pumps a killer set of early dance-party rap. The wildly decorated restaurant’s menu  (rotating pizza, seasonal salads, and dessert) is an inspired work-in-progress and a missing link in Portland’s food scene: the convergence of Wendell Berry and Wu-Tang Clan. 2131 SE 11th Ave, 503-231-2809,


Modern Seafood

Trent Pierce’s slinky, amber-lit spot celebrates critters and bits found on foraging trips to the beach—from jewel-toned sea lettuces to tiny, skittering surf crabs—in a wild lineup of challenging plates. The reservations-only fine-dining experiment
charges a premium for lavish but low-key service with a speakeasy vibe and fresh dishes with big, Japanese- and Spanish-inflected flavors. It’s worth every penny. While you can order the four-course “Guests’ Choice,” our money is on the chef’s tasting menu—a multihour aquatic odyssey. 3113 SE Division St, 503-232-1566,

Salt and straw pints iavtek

Image: Allison Jones

Salt & Straw

Ice Cream 

Cousins Kim and Tyler Malek tapped the local spirit of craft, collaboration, and crazy flavors to challenge expectations of what an ice cream parlor might look like in Portland. Each scoop is wildly different, bulging with luxurious texture, daring combinations, and an unmistakable taste of place. 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. Multiple locations,


New Asian

Chef-owner Johanna Ware offers not so much a menu as a rethinking of dinner, Asian cult foods, and Oregon larder all at once. In this bright enclave of red-lacquered tables, pop music, and flotsam-and-jetsam lamps, the snacking is fun and fearless. An evening’s adventure can swing from a supremely elegant egg custard holding a shriek of chiles, pork crumbles, and fermented black beans to a mind-bending “cobb salad” stocked with shishito peppers, blue cheese, crispy-crunchy six-minute eggs, and kimchi mayo. You’ll find clever cocktails and bargains through 2 a.m. in the back room
Barwares. 4605 NE Fremont St, 971-229-0995,

0615 smokehouse tavern xiwkk4

Smokehouse Tavern


B. J. Smith’s new east-side tavern has the same metaphorical butcher block as his original Smokehouse 21 in Northwest (beef brisket to pork cheeks). But the second restaurant, with its vaulted ceiling and herd’s worth of taxidermy covering the mustard-colored walls, adds a full-fledged cocktail menu, stylish starters, and brunch to stake its claim as the quadrant’s premier ’cue spot. Smokehouse’s ribs might be the best in the city: Flintstone-size hunks of amber-glazed meat with improbable tenderness. Sides are solid, too: fingerling potato salad laden with cornichons and mustard seeds to diabolically creamy macaroni and cheese topped with corn bread and bacon. And a weekend brunch of maple syrup–brined peameal bacon (fried slabs of sweet-salty, cornmeal-rolled pork loin) with eggs, greens, and a craggy, honey-drizzled biscuit is an a.m. treat. 1401 SE Morrison St, Ste 117, 971-279-4850, 

St. Jack

NW French

St. Jack has migrated from its quaint corner perch on SE Clinton Street to a bigger, more industrial landing on a bustling corner of NW 23rd Avenue, but chef Aaron Barnett’s menu is still a love letter to the rustic bouchons of Lyon, France—serving food made for cast-iron stomachs. There are some serious upgrades, too, including an ambitious chilled seafood menu packed with luxurious nautical finds like briny-sweet whorl-shelled bulot (giant snails). Despite the address change, the bouchon’s bubbled-over crocks of macaroni gratin pounded with bacon lardons and plates of blood sausage leave no doubt: Lyon is still in the house. 1610 NW 23rd Ave, 503-360-1281,


Bakery / Café

On a frumpy stretch of N Albina Avenue, Sweedeedee proudly serves “pie, breakfast and lunch.” Outside, jars of tea “cook” in the sun. Inside, Maldon salt and hand-cranked pepper mills stand on every table. Big portions, big flavors, great vibes, and most dishes under $10: that’s Sweedeedee. From the tiny kitchen come soups, farm-fresh salads, giant cakes, a righteous honey pie. Sandwiches are towering visions of bacon, beets, and shredded lettuce on fresh cornmeal molasses bread. Breakfast percolates all day, led by the best corn-cakes plate around. 5202 N Albina Ave, 503-946-8087,

T9 qpo553 cevlb5

Taqueria Nueve


The boar is back. Earlier this year, Taqueria Nueve was resurrected from Portland’s restaurant graveyard and transplanted to a shocking fuchsia dining room. Chef-owner Billy Schumaker’s menu of accessible Mexican plates—grilled Oaxacan hanger steak and tart ceviche—is as good as it was the day the original T9 shuttered in 2008. But Nueve’s two greatest contributions to the city’s Mexican scene are its crispy boar tacos (boar collar slowly cooked with oranges and spices, then caramelized in lard) and a clean, strong margarita. Our advice? Take a bite. Wash it down with a swig of perfectly balanced lime and tequila goodness. Repeat. 727 SE Washington St, 503-954-1987,

Tasty n Sons


At renowned Toro Bravo chef John Gorham’s all-day brunch spot, the food is inspired, and so is the mood. Dishes are served family-style, allowing diners to split, share, and compare. You won’t find eggs to order, but they turn up everywhere—fried with a cheddar biscuit or over-easy atop spicy North African sausage and couscous. The French toast, served with fruit-infused maple syrup and whipped cream, bids for the best in Portland. A light frittata packed with farm-fresh vegetables arrives still sizzling in a cast-iron skillet. A communal vibe will tempt you to try new things—a valuable habit at Tasty n Sons and its downtown sister spot, Tasty n Alder (580 SW 12th Ave, 503-621-9251). 3808 N Williams Ave, 503-621-1400, $$ D Br

Taylor Railworks


When Erik Van Kley flew the coop at Little Bird in early 2015, who’d have guessed that the talented chef would return with a vibrant detour to the American South by way of Asia. His new industrial-cozy space—so close to its namesake tracks that train whistles soundtrack your dinner—excels in clever, flavor-packed plates of “borderless” American cuisine. One of the city’s best braised-grilled octopi mingles with bright yogurt and spicy-smoky tomatoes. Spiny king crab, slathered in spicy-sweet chile sauce, comes with house butter-bomb rolls, limes, and Wet-Naps. And silky grits in a pool of soy sauce, topped with hunks of pork belly, a head-on shrimp, and a shower of scallions, is pure salty, funky comfort. Service is sharp, the wine and cocktail list brims with food-friendly finds, and the room, with its iron and concrete details and low-slung dining room, is tailor-made for casually chic dinners. All aboard.  117 SE Taylor St, Suite 101, 503-208-2573,

Toro Bravo


John Gorham imports the rowdiness of a tapeo in Andalucía to his Spanish-inspired east-side eatery. There’s a little French and a pinch of Northwest thrown into the mix—evinced by the creamy sherried chicken-liver mousse and the garden-fresh salads made from local greens—but it’s all guided by the spirit of boisterous tapas. Expect flavorful paellas, fried green tomatoes with pickled mayo, juicy crab-and-pork croquettes, and salt-cod fritters, not to mention bottles of pétillant txakoli and robust Rioja from the modest wine list. 120 NE Russell St, 503-281-4464,

10 13 xico brunch fperfl

Image: Allison Jones



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. They include a crispy, smoldering mass of chile-glazed chips with cotija cheese and a pozole makeover, starring a whole roasted trout (in place of the usual pig’s head) and a broth you’d be happy to swim in. Among the desserts is a dark chocolate–dipped oblong of coconut, almonds, and raisins that would make the Mounds folks blush. 3715 SE Division St, 503-548-6343,

Show Comments