Seafood Guide 2019: Restaurants

A Diner’s Guide to Oregon Seafood

These are our favorite seafood restaurants right now.

By Kelly Clarke, Ramona DeNies, and Benjamin Tepler July 24, 2019 Published in the August 2019 issue of Portland Monthly

(Top photo: The Full Circle roll at Bamboo Sushi: spicy albacore and tempura green onion topped with tuna tataki. Credit: Courtesy Robin Kim)


Bamboo Sushi

Brandon Hill, supply chain director for the Portland-based Bamboo Sushi empire, knows exactly how much sustainable Oregon albacore this sushi empire goes through each year (about 50,000 pounds). Here, it‘s served draped over consistent, crowd-pleasing rolls like the Green Machine or showcased, gently seared, as nigiri. With six locations and counting (not including future expansions in Seattle and the Bay Area), Bamboo Sushi and poke spinoff QuickFish churn through more seafood than most any other Portland restaurant, from the amberjack it buys direct from Hawaiian farms to tender black cod sourced from Ocean Beauty. With that leverage, Bamboo Sushi is hoping to change the seafood industry from within: educating diners about Marine Stewardship Council certification (four or five options are usually on offer, from coho salmon to Artic surf clams) to wooing eaters with sushi-grade farmed fish. Hill sees aquaculture as the future of seafood. Multiple Portland locations


From the kooky blown-glass jellyfish lamps floating over the bar to the eclectic, globe-spanning menu, this Rose City Park bistro has been swimming against the tide since 2009. “I’ve had some wrestling matches with seafood companies in town. I’m particular, maybe a little high-strung, which I think it’s important to be,” says co-owner, chef, and stickler-in-charge David Farrell. His tenacity might show up as sanddabs from “a little guy on the coast” or wild, mesquite-grilled Quinault River sturgeon paired with flageolet beans, springy meatballs, and a swoop of Sicilian tarragon-wafting “dragoncello” sauce. What must be the most generous cioppino in town groans with a pair of monstrous Dungeness legs, assorted fish and bivalves, plus firm, sweet wild shrimp from Mexico’s west coast. Farrell‘s even got a line on his tough-to-find namesake cabezon this summer, from a fisher down in Charleston, Oregon. “Cabezon is a little firmer and sweeter than lingcod,” he raves. “They eat little abalone and crab and urchin and take on a bit of that flavor.” That‘s how you land another regular: hook, line, and sinker. 5200 NE Sacramento St, 503-284-6617


For Jacob Harth, if a seafood distributor can’t tell him exactly where a fish came from, that sale is dead in the water. “When it comes to the ocean, it’s that drastic of a scenario,” he says. As the chef of Portland’s only all-local prix fixe seafood restaurant, he and colleague Nick van Eck make use of Harth’s intertidal commercial harvest license to source much of the tasting menu’s little diggers and clingers: native limpets, rock scallops, gooseneck barnacles, and butter clams. (Served dressed up, Noma-style, in giant pearlescent shells or alongside dabs of sea bean salsa or borlotti spread mystified with house-made seafood-scrap miso.) What they can’t harvest or forage, they get direct from fishers like Kristen Penner in Garibaldi, or traceability-obsessed outfits like TwoXSea. 215 SE Ninth Ave, #101, 503-206-8619

Flying Fish Company

The menu at Flying Fish is simple: if you’re here, you’re mainlining oysters. Sweet little Blue Pools to fat, briny, mouthfuls from Netarts Bay, nothing here really needs the mignonette. It’s too fresh. Perfect day: order oysters, peruse the Europhilic delicacies on Providore’s shelves (Flying Fish is inside this upscale market on NE Sandy), slurp, wash down with cava, and repeat. 2340 NE Sandy Blvd, 971-806-6747

Whole, cedar-planked McFarland Springs rainbow trout at Jacqueline


This cute SE Clinton seafood cove gets its name (and aesthetic inspiration) from Wes Anderson’s The Life Aquatic. At the driftwood-clad bar, beneath a painted portrait of Bill Murray, diners sip rosé and down oysters from Carbajal in Washington to Oregon’s Nevør. Local seafood, from rockfish ceviche and Dungeness crab toast, is the focus, but not slavishly so. Find also stout little lobster buns with Old Bay potato chips and big eye tuna poke from Hawaii. Jacqueline’s pièce de résistance is a pricey cedar-planked whole McFarland Springs trout sourced from TwoXSea and raised on a vegetarian diet of red algae, pea protein, pistachios, and flaxseed meal. 2039 SE Clinton St, 503-327-8637

Jake's Famous Crawfish

A century-plus old, with throwback seafood preparations to match, this creaky downtown institution’s arm-length menu (it changes twice daily) is a seasonal map of West Coast waterways, with petrale sole caught in Warrenton, razor clams from Quinault, Washington, and Yukon River salmon in late summer (plus Idaho trout and Honolulu swordfish). That famous crawfish? Surprisingly tasty, simmered with potatoes, corn, and andouille in a salty broth thrumming with clove and allspice. It’s available summers only, when the kitchen scores the li’l crustaceans from Oregon’s Lake Billy Chinook. Jake’s is pricy, sure, but you’re also here for the threadbare grandeur of this space, dimly lit with stained glass lamps and cluttered, Hogwarts-style, with oil paintings, scalloped oyster plates, and brass railings. It’s fun to pack in with Japanese tourists and tattooed elders in fleece and relive this near-vanished mode of dining. (Cap off a meal with a tall slice of banana cream pie, and that surcharge for history goes down a lot sweeter.) 401 SW 12th Ave, 503-226-1419

Blue corn seafood tacos at King Tide's summer-only Tacos & Tequila pop-up

Image: Michael Novak

King Tide Tacos & Tequila

Few spots in town revel in summer better than King Tide’s warm-weather pop-up. From May through late September, this open-air taco spot commandeers the Willamette riverfront sidewalk directly outside its RiverPlace Hotel mothership. Seafood, often local and very fresh, is a prime motivator here: maybe lime-spritzed redbanded rockfish ceviche or a nicely grilled halibut paired with house chorizo tucked inside Three Sisters blue corn tortillas and heaped with bright serrano-guava salsa. Chef Lauro Romero is working toward using Wilder Land & Sea as his go-to source for seafood, including bycatch items like eel and head-on Oregon bay shrimp. (Romero’s locavore commitment extends to King Tide’s chic dining room inside the hotel.) Take a long lunch and order another margarita while the weather holds. One delightfully un-Portland warning: bring sunscreen. 1510 SW Harbor Way, 503-295-6166

La Moule

On a busy week, chef Aaron Barnett’s classy moules frites den crushes 700 pounds of bivalves. That kind of volume means he’s worked out an “unheard-of” sweetheart deal with Hood Canal–based Taylor Shellfish: up to three direct mussel deliveries a week—“they’re only out of the water for a day!” Barnett crows—with oysters thrown in for good measure. (Some go to St. Jack, his more upscale bouchon in Northwest Portland.) Barnett, raised by Scottish-Canadian foodie parents, slaps “weird stuff” on both restaurants’ menus every chance he gets: live scallops and urchin sauces, geoduck, cockles, and varnish clams, all sourced from Wilder Land & Sea, TwoXSea, or Cascade Organic. 2500 SE Clinton St, 971-339-2822


If you like your sushi rolls stuffed with cream cheese and layered like an undersea turducken, you’ll hate Nimblefish. The project, from a pair of Portland sushi purists and wine man Kurt Heilemann (Davenport), is an old-school, Edomae-style nigiri/sashimi/handroll-only den for those who like their fatty slice of otoro tuna served with a fine white burgundy. In some ways, Nimblefish is the spiritual opposite of sustainable seafood empire Bamboo Sushi. Here, much of the catch is shuttled from Toyko’s fish auctions through a private broker; for foodies, this means access to rarities like aged longtooth grouper (hard to find even in Japan) or summertime belt fish. Not everything is exotic: you’ll also see troll-caught spring and summer chinook, albacore, and Northwest oysters when the time is right. Just don’t ask for wasabi. 1524 SE 20th Ave, 503-719-4064

La Moule's Korean mussels with kimchi and gochujang


Tokyo’s Toyosu Fish Market (kinda, sorta, formerly known as Tsukiji) is world famous: the Bergdorf Goodman of seafood, complete with next-day air service. Here is where Portland sushi auteur Ryan Roadhouse sources his line-caught saba (mackerel) and Hokkaido scallops. “The carbon footprint is a tricky one,” Roadhouse concedes of his fly-in fish. But he’s stymied by what he sees as a choice between sustainability and the superlative quality he’s looking for. (In 2015, PoMo food critic Karen Brooks wrote that Roadhouse’s “hardcore omakase” was “prepared with enough ritual care to make Jiro dream of Portland.”) What Roadhouse dreams of? Getting his hands on more Oregon sardines, as well as Tim Foley’s urchins. 2832 SE Belmont St

Olympia Oyster Bar

Last summer, if wanderers near Netarts Bay timed it just right, they could drop by Nevør Shellfish for a very special pop-up: Maylin Chavez of Olympia Oyster Bar, shucking, dressing, and baking oysters with everything from smoked goat butter to pickled serrano peppers (“bringing in a bit of my Mexican influence,” she says). OOB‘s coastal pop-up is on hiatus this summer, but Chavez still dishes the goods year-round at her three-year-old shellfish palace on N Mississippi: Hama Hamas, Oregon bay shrimp, sardine conserva with pimentón and verjus, fresh corn and crab gazpacho with peanut-and-pepper-laced salsa macha. Look also for the small oddities Chavez sources from farms up and down both coasts: cockles, barnacles, butter clams, and more. 4214 N Mississippi Ave, 503-841-6316

Boat-direct fish and chips from the window at Portland Fish Market

Image: Kelly Clarke

Portland Fish Market

The real score at this Woodstock spot is around the corner, where the market’s takeout window hawks some of Portland’s best fish and chips. Options range from salmon and juicy halibut to slippery lingcod or wild shrimp from the Sea of Cortez, along with whatever else the house feels like battering, sturgeon to halibut collars. (Pick your fish with a $16.50 sampler platter.) “We’re not cutting corners, we don’t put wild-caught fish out front [at the market] and [sell] farm-raised at the window,” says co-owner Ben Berkowitz. (The market doesn’t even sell farmed fish, he stresses.) Meanwhile, the house’s top-secret gluten-free batter combats the sweet, bready goo that can plague other Portland baskets. Post up at the picnic tables out front with a Chuckanut pilsner and get to dunkin’ those crisp, fishy hunks in dill-heady tartar sauce. 4404 SE Woodstock Blvd, 503-477-6988

Get cracking at Southpark, home to Portland's largest oyster program

Southpark Seafood

This two-decade-old downtown stalwart is a rock-solid spot for business lunches of loaded lobster rolls, mellow Oregon rockfish swimming in orange-oil-dotted dashi broth, and seafood towers laden with Dungeness and poached prawns (depending on the day). The city’s biggest oyster lineup graces the crushed ice at the raw bar: about a dozen varieties refreshed daily, from teeny King of the Norths from Washington’s Grays Harbor to more briny, lesser-seen East Coast shells. (”They tend to have a stronger brine,” says executive chef Chris Robertson of the East Coasters. “They’re a bit more powerful and in-your-face.”) By necessity, the 200-seater sources from nearly every seafood wholesaler in town. Still, it hews to the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch ratings to keep overfished or irresponsibly farmed fare out of the kitchen. That iconic salmon? It changes with the season: Native-caught Columbia King in summer; quality farmed fish from British Columbia come winter. “It’s never frozen salmon,” says Robertson. “Never.” 901 SW Salmon St, 503-326-1300


The Attic Lounge, Salishan Resort

Maybe it was the Erlenmeyer flask of apple smoke lightly wafted into a pre-dinner cocktail by showman bartender Matt Stallings. But what came next impressed: smoked redbanded rockfish dip with house-made chips, followed by a massive plank of butter-seared Pacific sturgeon, sourced from Ocean Beauty and surrounded by plump golden beets. For prime hotel dining that worships its protein, this rivals Portland’s finest. Salishan Resort, an isolated golf mecca smack on the central Oregon Coast, could probably skate by on pub burgers and kale salad. Which makes it all the more rewarding to see it flaunting, instead, seafood starters like throwback crab Louie. 7760 N Highway 101, Gleneden Beach, 855-211-6532

Buoy Beer

This brewery near the mouth of the Columbia River makes, arguably, the Pacific Northwest’s best Czech pilsner. But at its Astoria taproom, just a wood floor removed from madly barking sea lions on the landings below, you can also score fresh tempura-battered rockfish, hoisin-brushed black cod, petrale sole, skate, and more, largely sourced dockside from Bornstein Seafoods one mile west. (“We have a special relationship with Bornstein,” says executive chef Eric Jenkins.) Sidebar: while in Astoria, you could queue for fried tuna nearby at buzzy Bowpicker Fish and Chips. Just be prepared for long waits, no bathrooms, and the distinct possibility of supply shortages. Says Byron Beck, Portland gossip maven and frequent Astoria visitor: “It’s becoming the Voodoo Doughnut of Astoria.” 1 Eighth St, Astoria, 503-325-4540

Catalyst Seafood

“These just came in flopping this morning,” grins the cook behind the pass at Catalyst, a dimly lit, nautical themed fish-and-chips joint along the port-side drive of Brookings Harbor, just north of the California border. He’s talking about the pretty vermilion rockfish he’s about to grill on the flat-top and toss into soft tacos. (Offseason Thursdays at the restaurant are ”Tacos and Tequila Day,“ meaning each of these tasty little babies is a sweet $3; sadly, this deal comes off the table during summer.) The albacore and Dungeness crab featured in this homey, stripped-down menu are caught by restaurant owner Willy Goergen himself, on his boat, the Catalyst. (For farther-afield items like lingcod and that fresh, melting rockfish, he taps buddies also docking along this mile-long harbor.) 16182 Lower Harbor Rd, Brookings, 541-813-2422

Local Ocean

Sit at the chef’s counter on a sunny afternoon and you might glimpse the very boat that brought you lunch, bobbing in Yaquina Bay. This bustling Newport institution—part upscale family dining, part straight-from-the dock fish market—is exactly what its name claims. Owner Laura Anderson should know: she started as a teenage deckhand on family boats, and was selling Newport fish to Portland and Seattle chefs by 2002. Her bay-facing restaurant opened in 2005 as a seafood market with a few stray tables. Today, that two-story space is crammed with diners face-deep in Dungeness crab bisque (Anderson won’t do East Coast clams) and bacon-wrapped albacore done up like filet mignon. And Local Ocean still cuts out the middleman—unless you count restaurant fishmonger Amber Morris and her daily short walk to the docks. 213 SE Bay Blvd, Newport, 541-574-7959

Salmonberry Saloon's simple, crowd-pleasing Willapa Bay steamer clams and house sourdough

Salmonberry Saloon

Wheeler’s reborn saloon is a feast before you ever lift a fork, set on a stunning stretch of the Nehalem (on our August 2019 cover). That expanse lies at the heart of the menu, a mash note to area fishers and farmers. Ask a single question and prepare for a chat about the team that harvests those heavenly Netarts Bay oysters or hooked the Garibaldi rockfish for Salmonberry’s fish and chips. Straight talk: Nearly everything at this family-friendly haunt is a tad underseasoned. But the sears, simmers, and bakes are on point, and many dishes come with big slices of great, house-baked wild-yeast sourdough, including a fennel-heaped fish stew heavy with Dungeness crab. Soak up summer rays on the deck’s octagonal tables. And if the properly salty fried oysters are on offer, get ‘em. 380 S Marine Dr, Wheeler, 503-714-1423

The Schooner Restaurant & Lounge

Perched on the edge of sleepy Netarts Bay, the Schooner is best known for its sprawling, family-friendly patio overlooking the bay’s calm waters. But during the week, regulars also pack into the bar, a dark, wooded side room decorated with broken surfboards and the quiet glow of video poker in back. Divey as it may seem on the bar side, the Schooner is hyperlocal about its food—especially its shellfish, some of which comes straight from this same placid bay. The steamers—an overflowing bowl of clams in a pool of spicy chorizo butter and salty focaccia-style bread to mop it all up—are the quintessential coastal dining experience. 2065 Boat Basin Rd, Netarts, 503-815-9900

The Source

Taking a Highway 101 ramble? Stop at this bare-bones Garibaldi storefront for a $6 glass of rosé, two-hander tacos stuffed with tender spiced rockfish from the docks across the street, and perfect bivalves dropped off by the “oyster guy” that morning. The Source’s oceanic goods ebb and flow with, you guessed it, the tide: maybe a grilled cheese smuggling fresh Dungeness crab one day; delicate, Old Bay-fuming steamed oysters the next. The tiny spot is actually a lure for fisher Jeff Wong’s “boat-to-table” CS Fishery, a hard-core rod-and-reel cadre of small-boat fishers who cruise Oregon’s coast for everything from halibut to octopus and black rockfish, and fill monthly community supported fishery boxes with lingcod, tuna loins, oysters, bay clams, and cans of CSF’s wild line caught Oregon tuna. Place an order for a CSF box to be shipped to Portland or pick one up at the Source. After, mosey over to the docks to meet the fishers in person. 402 Garibaldi Ave, Garibaldi, 503-714-1425

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