Dining Guide

Portland’s 50 Best Restaurants Right Now

Hungry? Here are top picks from Portland Monthly editors.

By Eat Beat Team October 18, 2018 Published in the November 2018 issue of Portland Monthly

Portland’s food scene moves fast. Restaurants open and close in the blink of an eye; chefs jump ship, climb aboard others, and reinvent themselves constantly. With that in mind, here are Portland Monthly’s 50 best restaurants right now: a snapshot of the city’s hottest, most crave-worthy, groundbreaking eateries of the moment, updated quarterly. Short on time? Check out our Best Restaurants 2019(Last updated December 2019.)


In Portland, African cuisine is often shorthand for Ethiopian food. But Akadi, one of our Best New Restaurants of 2018, rockets eaters to the continent’s lesser known western region—redolent with smoked fish-funked flavors, smooth balls of cassava fufu, and chile pepper–rumbling sauces—the culinary touchstones of chef Fatou Ouattara’s native Ivory Coast. The setting for all this is a small, mural-adorned dining room and sprawling, covered outside chamber that aims to channel the warmth of the bustling maqui (open-air restaurants) found from Burkina Faso to Togo, complete with palm wine cocktails. The kitchen might run out of ice—or a third of its menu—on any given night. And waiting for your order can seem as long as an actual flight to Abidjan. But food this soulful and connective is worth waiting for. 3601 NE Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd

Apizza Scholls

Brian Spangler channels New York’s Italian-American coal-oven pizza shops through an Oregon bread baker’s heart, which is why his dusky, muscular crusts often taste like exaggerated ciabatta. His Apizza Scholls, founded in 2005, still protects its dough art like a samurai warrior: no more than three ingredients, no phone orders, nothing to detract from the sheer enjoyment of a beautiful neo-Neapolitan crust. Pies are ginormous, from an East Coast “New York White” to a number groaning with sausage and spicy Mama Lil’s goathorn peppers. The menu rarely changes, so it’s easy to forget that seven nights a week, arguably one of America’s top 25 pizzas is emerging from an electric oven on SE Hawthorne. 4741 SE Hawthorne Blvd


Looking for Catalonian home cooking, notched with technique and personality, in a vibrant neighborhood setting? Who isn’t? With kitchen creds from the likes of Paris’s L’Arpège and Spain’s Can Fabes, chef Jose Chesa pays homage to his father’s Sunday night kitchen in Barcelona, adding just enough modern tweaks to keep things interesting—plus, thoughtful cocktails and Spanish wines. From a menu rife with finds, get a spread of tapas for the table (don’t miss the toasted squid-ink noodles) and divvy up one of the umami-laden paellas. 1818 NW 23rd Pl

Ava Gene’s

A rush of indie glamour greets you at the door: marble, grandma curtains, banquettes as soft as Italian bomber jackets, rock ’n’ roll. The menu pays homage to the Italian sensibility: great ingredients, simply prepared, pastas to wood-charred breads heaped with deliciousness. But everything is channeled through the imagination of owner/chef Joshua McFadden, a national vegetable star (and one of our 2017 Chefs of the Year), with his own cache of ingredients, produce intuition, and flavor combinations. Salads are the stars, but the menu offers broad possibilities: intriguing fritters to fish off the grill. Grab a seat at the chef’s counter and enjoy the live-fire cooking show. 3377 SE Division St

For epic lasagna, Bar Mingo chef Jerry Huisinga still hangs dough in the dining room.

Image: Karen Brooks 

Bar Mingo

Pasta-ace veteran Jerry Huisinga performs old-school Italian magic at this casually modern satellite of Caffe Mingo next door. Get a spread of starters for the table, especially the chicken livers dancing on crispy toast, the mint-spiked lamb meatballs, and the best calamari around, fresh and springy. Pasta rules, with several options nightly, all made fresh, including a silky, soulful, big-flavored Bolognese lasagna. The risotto (Wednesday only) banishes local competitors simply because it’s the real thing, made in two fresh batches with surgical concentration. 811 NW 21st Ave

Bollywood Theater

Chef Troy MacLarty directs an edible journey through India complete with collaged ephemera, Gandhi shrines, and real-deal flavors. The MO is casual, and the format (counter orders, bus your own dishes) keeps prices affordable. Classic thali platters—sambar, raita, dal, saffron rice, curry, and paratha—are full-meal deals at $17–20. But the kitchen 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. You polish it off with animal sounds and sweet, buttery, crumpetlike rolls. But order carefully, or face a garbanzo bean assault. 3010 SE Division St & 2039 NE Alberta St


Local brunchers have a long-running love affair with this trio of Scandinavian cafés, which lure with cozy hygge grub (years before we knew hygge was a thing). Settle in for a baked scramble with gravlax or smoked trout, served in handsome skillets next to sides like roasted apples. Everyone comes for aebleskivers, golf ball–size puffs of batter baked in a special pan and served with homemade lemon curd and applesauce. Each location has its charms, but Broder’s Southwest outpost inside evergreen-fringed Scandinavian Nordia House excels with a Swedish coffee break pastry menu holding kanelbullar, cinnamon knots baked fresh each morning, flavored with cardamom and showered with pearl sugar. Multiple Locations


Onetime Top Chef celeb, Doug Adams, is the star at Woodlark Hotel’s primo, 3,000-square-foot downtown restaurant (one of Portland Monthly's Best New Restaurants 2019). It’s a well-heeled Lone Star dude food magnet—San Antonio–style smoked chicken, lunchtime meat-’n’-threes, and spendy T-bone steak dinners. Meat is king here, the portal to Adams’s heart. The game changer is Bullard’s smoked pork belly—not only euphorically tender, but presented Korean ssam-style, ready to tuck inside lettuce cups with garlic-chile sambal, green papaya pickles, and bread-and-butter jalapeños. Throw in textbook-perfect chess pie and call it a good night. 813 SW Alder St


Ever wonder what a breakfast joint from James Beard winner Gabriel Rucker might look like? Here it is in Canard (our Restaurant of the Year 2018): a cool Elmer’s on Paris’s Left Bank. The mood continues nonstop for 16 hours daily. Menus move seamlessly from breakfast to lunch to the weirdest collection of dinner options assembled under one roof—everything under $20. The ménage runs from bistro mash-ups to holy-schnikes-good pancakes under a sloppy-joe heap of duck gravy to a cult-in-the-making White Castle homage. Salads might sport crunchy quinoa or cheddar cheese. Also in the mix: peanut-sauced foie gras dumplings, and a buxom Paris Brest pastry. Up front, Canard feels like another world: a tiny wine bar that taps the eloquent, nerd-magnet mind of his longtime business partner Andy Fortgang, one of the best sommeliers in the biz. Together, Rucker and Fortgang create Canard’s dynamic high-low tension, the perfect odd couple roommates sharing a cramped space. 734 E Burnside St



Meditations on Oregon’s grocery cart are the focal point of Castagna’s nightly slate of tasting menus. One of the country’s best young chefs, with his own slate of technical moves and poetic plating, Justin Woodward soars above most farm-to-tablers. This is where celery root struts like Rihanna and slow-roasted carrots look like magic Lincoln Logs and taste like sweet potato pie. Yes, an all-vegetable option is possible. Everything hums beautifully here, the wines, the service, the cocktails, thanks to veteran restaurateur Monique Siu, once a co-founder of Portland’s legendary Zefiro. 1752 SE Hawthorne Blvd


Katy Millard is a beast in the kitchen, crafting thoughtful, everyday food and drink, day and night. Vegetables get top billing, rigor is a given, and yet you never forget you’re in laid-back Southeast Portland. Millard ponders finds from 10 farms for the day’s menu—perhaps a salad that digs into squash (wide, raw curls above, jewel-cut cooked chunks below, with sunflower pesto spackled in between) or crackling-skinned guinea hen heaped alongside eggplant-apple purée and buzzsaw cuts of green cauliflower roasted to the heavens. Every dish embodies the house ethos: light, naturalistic, spot-on seasoned, yet underpinned by an iron framework of fundamental technique. It’s Michelin around the corner, a high-end homey cuisine that stands in beautiful contrast to Portland’s usual bacon-heavy, stoner-dude munchies. 6839 SE Belmont St


At Davenport, you’ll find two guys doing what they love and hoping someone will show up. In the kitchen, Kevin Gibson, veteran of Castagna and cult diner Evoe, produces a menu that reads like a brochure to an Italian village–ever-changing pâtés and beautiful soups, braised meats and local fish, polished with detail and Old World sentiment. Gibson’s a seasonal nut, which means the fritto misto is not only perfect; it might include wild mushrooms as big as your hand. Behind the bar, co-owner Kurt Heilemann has turned the East Burnside space into a pretension-free wine nerd’s paradise. The list is deep in value-driven finds—Loire Valley discoveries, Sicilian gems, the Piedmontese producer with the one great plot. But even a $30 bottle arrives with handblown Zalto glasses, normally reserved for high-rollers in big-city food temples. Cheers. 2215 E Burnside St


When New York high-end kitchen vet Gregory Gourdet took over the Nines hotel’s astro-sleek 15th-floor restaurant nearly a decade ago, it was better known for its bridge-and-tunnel singles scene than for its eats. Since then, the gregarious, telegenic chef has turned the dining room into a lively hub for creative, ambitious modern-Asian cuisine, a spot that transmutes Oregon’s produce, meats, and seafood into bold yet comforting dishes that sizzle and pop with chile, lime, and ginger. Visiting the restaurant, with its Vegas-style decks and 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, 15th floor

Din Tai Fung

Steps away from a LensCrafters and an American Eagle at Washington Square mall sits Oregon’s first outpost of global food-chain phenom, Din Tai Fung. Die-hard followers come for the world-famous xiao long bao, each folded with precisely 18 pleats and stacked in bamboo steamer baskets at tables crowded with chile-slicked wontons, Chinese sweet buns, and springy seaweed–bean curd salad. The rest of the menu might not change your life, but Din Tai Fung’s strength lies in its ineffable friendliness, care, and consistency, with genuine Chinese food for a wide audience in an upscale-corporate setting—think Michael Jordan’s Dumpling Steakhouse. 9724 SW Washington Square Rd Tigard, OR

Duck House's Szechuan pork wontons in chile oil


In 2019, Eem (one of Portland Monthly's Best New Restaurants 2019) erupted as an epicenter of fun eating and drinking: clever, collaborative, affordable, spicy, meaty, a bit bombastic, and slathered in good vibes and coconut cream. White curry with brisket burnt ends is the star around which Eem revolves, its easy-to-love Thai broth (creamy, hot, sweet) teeming with smoky charred meat from the Austin school of barbecue. Drinks ultimately provide the glue for the restaurant’s far-flung concept: this is where coffee-speckled piña coladas are frothed like Frappuccinos and even Hawaiian punch gets its due as a grand golden bowl swimming with tropical cordials. Call it the distillation of Portland’s food scene or just the salve we need in these anxious times.

Enoteca Nostrana

Enoteca Nostrana looks nothing like its neighboring mother restaurant, Nostrana, nor the city’s formulaic, aseptic restaurant mode. Instead, it’s an expensive marvel of postmodern Italian design: Tetris tiles in shades of gray, squishy Champagne-cork-inspired bar stools, and pastel-hued Pixar-logo lamps. Sommelier Austin Morris Bridges stocks the massive cellar—an impressive, well-aged library of Italian wines. But Enoteca (one of our Best New Restaurants of 2018) isn’t just a boozy waiting room—it has its own kitchen and menu of Italian staples and snacks, including an intensely smoky oyster dip that falls somewhere between stringy queso and bluefish pâté, and a DIY tomato pasta. Silly? Yes. But you’d be hard-pressed to find a better spaghetti in red sauce anywhere in the city. 1401 SE Morrison St, #105


Candlelight spotlights what matters here: two turntables spinning High Fidelity-level vinyl moods, and heat-seeking Asian snacks by James Beard medalist Naomi Pomeroy. Then there are the house nachos, crunched up with fried wonton-skin chips, lemongrassed beef crumbles, bright herbs, and, yes, spicy Velveeta cheese. But lip-smacking cocktails from Kyle Linden Webster and crew are the show, eight per night, balanced like the scales of justice. 5424 NE 30th Ave

Gado Gado

In a converted Vietnamese restaurant with bright, tropical wallpaper, Thomas and Mariah Pisha-Duffly cook up some of the city’s most tongue-twisting plates. Gado Gado (one of Portland Monthly's Best New Restaurants 2019) summons a hodgepodge of Southeast Asian traditions and ingredients, as much Thai, Malaysian, and Singaporean as Chinese-Indonesian. Pork and blood sausage corn dogs over “hoisinaise” and grilled breakfast roti oozing Oaxacan and American cheeses elicit squeals for their bicultural food-play. Add to that a riotous weekend brunch that jumps from Dungeness crab omelet noodle soup to Cap’n Crunch–covered pandan waffle puffs. To cook this way, truly by the seat of your pants, requires chutzpah and skill.

A torta at Güero


This beloved neighborhood torta spot exemplifies Portland-style optimism: built from the ground up, and run by a couple with no big name chef creds. Owners Megan Sanchez and Alec Morrison serve up eight or nine tortas, with bowls, salads, fried snacks, and a burger. Güero’s Jaliscan-inspired ahogada sandwich might be the best torta in town: super toasty, stuffed with carnitas, and ankle-deep in an electric tomato sauce. The small cocktail list has all the greatest hits: a margarita available in slushie form, a mezcal margarita with sour orange juice, a horchata cocktail, and a solid Negro Modelo michelada. For agave lovers, there’s also a tidy, curated list of mezcal (served with orange and worm salt, of course) and tequila by the glass or carafe. Come summer, Güero’s outdoor tables are a prime spot to hang your hat. 200 NE 28th Ave

Ha & VL

The little Vietnamese soup shop that conquered Portland and splashed out in Lucky Peach magazine lives up to its reputation. Peter Vuong, son of soup master Christina Luu, crafts small-batch regional specialities with meticulously skimmed broths and complex seasonings. Every day brings two options, but watch for Sunday’s pho and Mi Quang (turmeric noodles) double-bill, both spiced to swoon. At sister restaurant Rose VL on SE Powell, the “Special Noodle Soup”—teeming with aromas, pork exuberance, and herbs—will rocket you out of your pho rut. 2738 SE 82nd Ave, Suite 102

Han Oak’s mentaiko spaghetti, with cured pollack roe, shiro dashi, butter, parmesan, and nori

Han Oak

Every once in a while, a place rewrites the rules, charms hearts, and dominates the conversation. Since 2016 that honor has gone to Han Oak (our 2017 Restaurant of the Year), behind a hidden door off of NE Sandy Boulevard. Han Oak calls itself a “non-traditional Korean restaurant.” Consider those words a mere starting point for an experience: landmark dumplings, spicy wings, and joyful chaos. Personal? The space doubles as the home of chef Peter Cho, Han Oak’s magnetic center of gravity, where he holds court with Korean moms, seemingly every off-duty cook in town, and anyone else who wanders in for an evening of chill magic. 511 NE 24th Ave

Hat Yai

Hat Yai, a spin-off of celebrated Langbaan, brings Southern Thai fried chicken to Northeast Killingsworth. Its version isn’t all that different from Southern American fried chicken, but for the lovely, subtle savor of fried shallots and whole coriander seeds punching through the crackling crust. It comes, presented on trays ($13–17), alongside an impressive trio of the Malaysian accoutrement: chile-vinegar sauce for chicken dipping; flaky, panfried roti bread; and a heady vat of red curry deep in chiles and coconut fat. The rest of the menu—a few skewers and a half-dozen regional specialties—goes well with the wide selection of Asian beer, or a refreshing coconut mango horchata, available with or without booze. 1605 NE Killingsworth St

Kayo’s Ramen Bar

The ramen boom sometimes feels like one of those signifiers Portlanders are supposed to embrace—like woodworking, or beard oil—to demonstrate our artisanal machismo. Kayo’s Ramen Bar takes ramen in a gentler direction, brewing elegant, nuanced broth in the lighter assari style to bathe the springy coils of house noodles (“Noodle #47, because it took 47 tries over three months,” as the menu notes). All the same, the fiery Tan-Tan bowl leaves no doubt this is serious ramen. No need to get aggro. 3808 N Williams Ave, #124


This cozy, cramped kitchen hidden in the back room of Thai restaurant PaaDee looks like a foodie’s vision of a Bangkok night market, with herbs everywhere, soup vapors billowing, and moody shadows creeping from table lamps. The décor only hints at what’s to come: a two-hour tasting menu of traditional Thai snacks, coconut-chunked soups, raw dishes, chile relishes, grilled pig parts, and delightful desserts buried in salty coconut cream or infused with Thai candle smoke. Start looking for reservations now—it can be a while to get in. 6 SE 28th Ave

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, the chef is possessed by French bistro cooking and Americana. Meat rules the ever-changing list; foie gras and pig parts are frequent guests. Starters tend to be exceptional—you can make a meal out of them—but only a fool passes on a Rucker pasta. And note: you want anything with the word “pigeon.” The voltage extends to the alt-Paris atmosphere, with close tables, counter seats, and great energy. It’s the best of Portland’s food scene, in a single, sharply focused snapshot. 738 E Burnside St

Lovely's Fifty Fifty

Lovely’s Fifty Fifty

Purists, don’t bother. Sarah Minnick is the bold auteur of the Portland pie, deeply connected to adventurous local farmers and Northwest cheeses ... and they’re terrific. You’ll find yourself digging into combinations that would be considered tantamount to war crimes in a Jersey ’za shop. A pie of roasted apricots, fresh fenugreek greens, and pink echinacea flowers? You bet, and, typically, the weirder it sounds, the better it is. Three bites in it becomes clear why Italian pizza master Franco Pepe is a fan. For dessert, don’t miss one of the last reminders of what real ice cream tastes like, with seasonal flavors so ripe they could have fallen from a tree. 4039 N Mississippi Ave


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 begging for impromptu table parties and ends with buttermilk panna cotta with pine bud syrup. 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


Kristen Murray curates every molecule of flavor at her strange and delightful French-Scandinavian “pastry luncheonette,” where the experience veers from twee to revelatory, varying by the day and the plate. You’ll meet Murray’s sweet-craft, her nana’s lefse, seafood reveries, and bitter salads. One visit lands 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. The next yields bostock, a thick slice of brioche coated with walnut paste and poached fruit like an otherworldly French toast. It’s a gutsy spot—580 square feet of technical skill, refined palate, and tunnel-vision fervor. 921 SW Oak St


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. Far from local dive culture, next door soulmate Angel Face is a Paris meets-Portland cocktail bar jewel. 10 NE 28th Ave


If you like your sushi rolls stuffed with cream cheese and layered like an undersea turducken, then you will positively hate Hawthorne sushi house Nimblefish, one of our Best New Restaurants of 2018. Local sushi chefs, Cody Auger and Dwight Rosendahl, and notable wine man Kurt Heilemann (Davenport), run an old-school nigiri-and-handroll-only operation for purists who appreciate a good white burgundy as much as a fatty slice of otoro tuna. Nigiri is fine-tuned for the customer; no soy sauce, no wasabi. Everything about the experience is meant to give you the freshest, most efficient bite. Hungry diners can opt for a hodgepodge bowl of chirashi zushi: sashimi over well-seasoned, just-fanned rice. 1524 SE 20th Ave


It takes chutzpah and chops to flip the script on formal Japanese cuisine and sushi art. Nodoguro did just that, adding a chatterbox dinner-party vibe, maverick dishes, and zany pop culture muses from Twin Peaks to computer games. In 2016, Nodoguro jumped from a jerry-rigged Hawthorne kitchen to Belmont’s storied Genoa space, which they recast as an intimate, Zen vintage stage for their Michelin-caliber meals. True believers assemble for the twice-monthly “Supahardcore” dinners, a portal into Roadhouse’s sushi world and current food obsessions, in 25 courses. 2832 SE Belmont St

The classic chicken and rice order at Nong’s

Image: Karen Brooks

Nong’s Khao Man Gai

Unless you live under a rock, you’ve probably already heard of “Nong,” Portland’s food-cart queen, and creator of the best chicken and rice you can imagine, bundled old-school-style in butcher paper bound with a rubber band. Each packet holds perfect grains of rice simmered with great hunks of galangal root, poached chicken, a cilantro bouquet, and Nong’s addictive, nose-tingling sauce. The original cart is a thing of the past, but brick and-mortars on SE Ankeny and Southwest 13th mean you can get your KMG fix on either side of the river. Multiple locations


Local food legend Cathy Whims presents Italian home cooking as it should be—stripped down, honest, and powered by wood fire. No place in Portland is better suited to please a diverse crowd: foodies, kids, wine lovers, your adventure-fearing relatives. The mandatory preamble is the Caesar-esque insalata Nostrana. Pasta with tomato butter embodies simple purity, but desserts—hot-from-the-oven fruit crisps and chocolate budino—can make your day. The bistecca alla fiorentina vies for the city’s best steak: 2 ¼ pounds, cooked over oak fire, and big enough for four. 1401 SE Morrison St

Olympia Provisions

Since 2009, salumist Elias Cairo has been forging the resurgence of American charcuterie, spreading his pork-proud gospel to the country’s epicurean edges. Behind the meat display at Olympia’s Southeast location, chef TJ McConnaughey transforms Cairo’s masterful meat-craft into a rotating feast of Spanish and Mediterranean small plates. At Olympia Provisions Northwest, chef Eric Joppie works his own seasonal meme, plating up whole, family-style Dungeness crab in buttery bagna cauda and kale papardelle in truffle-celeriac cream. 107 SE Washington St

Oui! at SE Wine Collective

Oui! Wine Bar at Southeast Wine Collective has found its niche (and landed among our Best New Restaurants of 2018). It’s a small haven of bottles and barrels with a bold roller coaster of dishes and unexpected pours that truly fit the food. The collective’s chef, Althea Grey Potter, seasons aggressively, sources wholly seasonal produce, and is one pickled raisin away from total chaos. She smuggled salty pistachios, scallions, and sweet corn into tarragon-wafting risotto so cheesy it qualifies as fondue. Plus, the optional five-course, family-style tasting menu ($39 per person) is surely among the best deals in price-accelerating Portland. Take a friend, celebrate a milestone, or just wander in. Oui! demands little of you, but returns quite a bit. 2425 SE 35th Pl


Greg Denton and Gabi Denton’s meaty love story is told over flames erupting from a handcranked grill. Don’t miss their Uruguayan beef rib eye or the clam chowder, served with smoked bone marrow shouldering some fierce jalapenos. 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

Park Avenue Fine Wines

Not many chefs, in Portland or beyond, can redefine the semimystical notion of “local cooking.” But supreme culinary multitasker Karl Holl (our 2018 Chef of the Year) does just that, with a hard-core, raise-your-own-meal mentality delivered in an unlikely setting: a cluster of tables inside downtown's Park Avenue Fine Wines, an open-minded shop with a global reach. In Holl’s world, every forgotten inch of food is a potential edible, smoked potato skin powder to candied hazelnut debris. Tempura recently popped with pickled green beans and nasturtium flowers, its crackling batter dusted with smoked parmigiano and a kicky powder derived from the fermented padron pepper mash. If Doritos grew in a farm field, they’d taste like this dish. 626 SW Park Ave

Pizza Jerk’s cast-iron pepperoni

Pizza Jerk

Tommy Habetz, son of Connecticut, everyday tastebud master, and Bunk Sandwiches co-founder, has discovered his a new destiny: pizza revisionist. Few places have as strong of an old-school, regional American pizza game as the Jerk. Where else can you find a major-league pepperoni slice and a barbecue chicken pizza on the same menu, as punk-rock blares and families gather at red-checkered tables? The house is flex, so you can order a half-half East Coast white clam pie and an experimental San Francisco-esque red clam pie spring-loaded with garlic. Then there’s his shout-outs to deep-dish Detroit: über-crisped with Wisconsin brick cheese in a cast-iron pan. Grunt-worthy. 5028 NE 42nd Ave & 621 SE Morrison St

Pok Pok

Years after its climb from SE Division takeout shack to nationally craved destination, Pok Pok still delivers one of the best Thai food experiences found in America. The menu is a portal into the mind of chef Andy Ricker and an edible road map to the dishes he’s hunted down and championed for 13 years. Among the dishes that still make us feverish: khao man som tam (spicy papaya salad, coconut rice, and sweet pork shreds), khao soi kai (curry noodle soup beneath mustard greens, crispy noodles, and roasted chile paste) and yes, the legendary Ike’s Vietnamese fish-sauce wings. There’s always something new to try, which keeps the adventure going. Multiple locations

Proud Mary

This Alberta Street spot doubles as a fancy brunch destination serving Aussie-inflected fare and a cupping bar brewing flights of coffees so rare some aren’t available anywhere else in the US. The sprawling, sun-drenched space vibes like Kinfolk got coffee-drunk. At Proud Mary, “hash” means an addictive stack of crisp potato cakes, the thickest bacon, and poached eggs pooled in anchovy-amped cream sauce. “Coffee” can be a $10 wine glass of blossom-heady Panamanian Geisha or a cult Costa Rican roast that tastes of hot cross buns. It’s a bit overwhelming for Portlanders used to grabbing a to-go cup of local roast with zero fanfare. But that’s the goal: service, food, and education equal to the buzzy gold Proud Mary pours. 2012 NE Alberta St


Ashland’s greatest food gift to Portland is this sandwich shop’s pastrami: fatty, dark red, and deeply smoky after hours over smoldering black oak. Try it—as the Chicagoans do—in Reuben form, or capping the Sammich Burger griddled with ground Angus beef and special “Sammich sauce.” The 24-seat eatery, one of our Best New Restaurants of 2018, also hosts a gut-busting lineup of non-pastrami options, from a Chicago Italian Beef served “wet,” to the Timbo cheesesteak, served only “slightly wet.” You can’t miss outspoken owner Melissa McMillan, often seen chopping wood for her smoker out front and enforcing the mandatory Chicago Cubs dress code2137 E Burnside St

Sardine Head

Sardine Head, a “natural wine dive bar” that commandeers indie breakfast café Sweedeedee three nights a week, has cracked the code that bedevils the smartest sommeliers of our day: how to make wine appeal to a generation chugging cocktails and craft brews. Themed wines weave among roughly 50 bottles and 10 glass pours, most priced $10 or less. Information is bare bones: the winery, the year, the place. No grape types, no vineyard plots. Instead, Sardine Head levels the playing field with a few “tasting notes” for each option. Just say: “I’ll have the violettes, iron, and aspirin,” and you’re good. The food is humble and thoughtful, inspired by coastal Brittany (home to Lowry’s grandparents), seasonal produce, and White’s fishmonger days. Sardine Head feels fresh and new but also like Old Portland: created by enthusiastic people figuring things out on the fly, on a bootstrapping budget. That is reason enough to raise a glass and toast. 5202 N Albina Ave, Fri–Sun

St. Jack

Plenty of restaurants hit their stride early, sliding downhill in the years—or decades—that follow. St. Jack came out sprinting when it opened on a cute Clinton street corner in 2011 (later relocating to Northwest Portland) with a deep pool of talent and Lyonnaise-style, gut-busting cookery. But instead of fading out, it’s become a consistent fount of playful, comfort-heavy French cooking. Fresh chilled seafood, ranging from juicy prawns dunked in complex vadouvan aioli to sweet smoked scallop tartar dressed up with trout roe, plays well with the thought-provoking cocktail list. But the classics, reimagined with seasonal wit and playful accessibility rule here: long, fatty troughs of bone marrow brimming with sweet caramelized onion, fried shallots, and melty gruyere; piping hot gougères dotted with poppy seeds, drizzled with honey, and served with a dollop of squash butter for smearing; and impeccable steak frites, upgradable with the optional seared foie gras. If you had any doubts, rest assured: Lyon is still in the house. 1610 NW 23rd Ave

Super Deluxe

Super Deluxe, one of our Best New Restaurants of 2018, is Portland’s answer to In-N-Out from Blue Star Donuts firebrand Micah Camden and partner Matt Lynch. It’s also the great fast-food equalizer, drawing one of the city’s most varied crowds. The secret formula? The cultishness of beloved regional burger chains, the allure of using responsibly raised Northwest meat and eggs, and the bottom line ($5.75 for a double) that wins over Foster-Powell’s fast-food culture. Yolk-oozing English muffin sandwiches and hot paper pockets crammed with crunchy tater tot medallions are worth the drive-through traffic jam, but you’re here for the Double Deluxe: two griddled, crispy-edged patties in a potato bun, slathered in proprietary special sauce, and embalmed in American cheese—the whole thing turned on its side to face the customer like a grinning heart attack. 5000 SE Powell Blvd

Tasty n Sons' shakshuka


Tusk is like a shot of vitamin D, a breezy, feel-good-rocking California dream even a shaggy-sweatered Portlander could embrace. The mode is spiritually Middle Eastern, freethinking in form, and strong in Oregon farm connections. The kitchen’s daily-changing salads and rose-petaled feta plates reveal the antidote to PDX’s usual meaty gout aesthetic: healthy, visual, and super-fresh. At Tusk, meat is but a nibble, a garnish. Hummus is shockingly light. Oven-fresh whole-grain pita tastes like the missing link between buttered wheat toast and pizza char. The chef behind all this? Sam Smith (one of our 2017 Chefs of the Year), an exciting, modern thinker—his food free of deconstructions and foams, and powered by the surprise of whole spices. 2448 E Burnside St

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