Where Do Portland’s Best Chefs Eat on Their Own Time?

From hearty Italian spreads to Balkan stews and cheap salt-and-pepper squid, our chefs devour the city.

By Kelly Clarke October 27, 2015

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Uno Mas

Your favorite local chef does have a life outside their own kitchens. In fact, the city's finest foodmakers hightail it to a mindbogglingly diverse range of spots when they get hungry. Check out their recommendations below.

Alex Yoder, chef at Olympia Provisions: “On my own time I like to eat at the Northeast Portland's Uno Mas— everyone always seems really happy to be there,” says Yoder. “I get barbacoa tacos along with one or two of their delightful vegetarian offerings.”

Josh McFadden’s, Ava Genes: He heads to Kachka, for the “Ruskie Zakuski Experience”—infused vodkas to dumplings and khachapuri. “It’s such a special place,” he says. “Every time I go I love it more and more.” 

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Pono Soul Kitchen

Image: Allison Jones

Naomi Pomeroy, Beast/Expatriate: Portland’s kitchen queen’s neighborhood hangout is Hollywood’s Pono Farm Soul Kitchen. “The New York strip steak is to die for and the sashimi is the freshest I’ve had in PDX,” says the chef.

John Taboada, Navarre, Luce, and Angel Face: Taboada calls PoMo’s Rising Star 2015 Coquine his favorite restaurant in town. “What a wonderful place. It is so personable, with great wines, and the food has subtlety,” he raves. “We eat the duck wings, but it’s all so good.”

Ben Bettinger, Laurelhurst Market: The meat man’s go-to spot is old school Chinese downtowner Good Taste. “I get a giant plate of salt and pepper squid with onions and jalapeños and some General Tso’s chicken. I always tell people that anything wok-fried there is a winner.”

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Image: Karen Brooks

Kristen Murray, Maurice: Navarre brunch is one of the sweets-master’s favorite haunts, but, post-work, look for her at Navarre’s sister spot Angel Face: “I go for a fish board or some tartare and a gin martini after a long day—it’s always a good nightcap spot.” Bonus: “I really adore Coquine. There’s not an ounce of pomp and circumstance, just love and delicious food. And their chocolate chip cookie is pretty addictive.”

Troy MacLarty, Bollywood Theater: MacLarty is a regular at Nong’s, but another one of his haunts that gets less attention is Alberta’s Euro cafe Swiss Hibiscus. “It’s in our neighborhood, the food is comforting and rich and they are the nicest people. My wife and I generally get take-out and they treat us with the same care and respect as the folks that dine there. The salad is good, the rosti is perfect, and I really like their goulash."

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Scottie's Pizza

Bonnie Morales, Kachka: What does the Kachka crew crave? “A slice of pepperoni with green chiles from Scottie’s Pizza,” says Bonnie. “Best pizza by the slice around.”

Jason French, Ned Ludd: “We love Luce,” says French, name-dropping John Taboada’s East Burnside Italian kitchen. “The space is small and intimate, simple and clean. The food follows much of the same ethos and we usually order a number of antipasti, a salad, and two pastas. I also love it for a quick lunch. The cabbage with garlic oil is amazing.”

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Davenport; Kevin Gibson in the kitchen.

Image: Allison Jones

Elias Cairo, Olympia Provisions: For new spots, the cured meats king spotlights Coquine. “This place gets me so excited for the next wave of Portland restaurants,” he gushes. “So delicious, charming, and a lot of great thought put into the wine list.” His longtime crush? “It’s Davenport. Kevin Gibson is the cook I wish I could cook like. So effortlessly and undeniably delicious and that WINE LIST. Also, for a cheap eats standby—Pho Van. The crispy fried seafood crepe has made me so happy on so many different occasions.” 

Gabe Rosen, Biwa: Rosen has a laundry list of under the radar spots: NE Sandy’s Pho An for crispy rolls and meatballs (“I love the funny little building.”); date night rosti, potato salad, and wienerschnitzel with partner Kina at Swiss Hibiscus (“lots of Swiss charm/alpine nostalgia.”). Still hungry? Rosen also heads to Cyril’s for “delicious vegetables," munches carnitas tacos at Uno Mas, or pops by Grassa to carbo-load: “I can actually get a little buzz from eating pasta,” he says.

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Image: Allison Jones

Greg Denton & Gabrielle Quiñónez Denton, Ox: Greg says to get the burger at Imperial: “We think it is the best burger in town, plus, they have great drinks, and the service is always super friendly.”

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