For years, the only way to sample Chef Naoko’s lunchtime-only “Oregon farm to Japanese table” bento boxes was to dine-in at the tiny shop on Southwest Jefferson. Now, you can grab karaage bowls and massive egg tonkatsu sandwiches to-go inside downtown’s Muji (near the Nines Hotel) and order teishoku lunch trays (including those absolutely killer oat-clad pork shu mai dumplings) for delivery on Grubhub.
Poke gets the artisan treatment at Bamboo’s QuickFish, with locations downtown and in the Pearl District for maximal raw fish intake. Step up to the bar for a Choose-Your-Own-Adventure bender of raw fish, sauces, and toppings—seaweed salad to sesame brittle. Overwhelmed? Just order the Bamboo Bowl, with honkin’ cubes of Oregon albacore tossed in a sweet cilantro aioli, all topped with confetti strips of nori and crunchy fried shallots.
At Northwest’s Mama Bird, poultry is elevated to biblical status, grilled in the center of the room on a giant funeral pyre of Oregon white oak. Dunk the juicy, smoky bird ($9 for a quarter) in creamy aji verde or vinegary chimichurri for best results. With consistently excellent seasonal salads, this is a place all of Slabtown’s diet-observant—Keto, Whole30, or whatever comes next—can get behind.
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. In this post-food cart era, Nong operates out of two cute, efficient brick-and-mortar locations on either side of the river. Bonus: both locations cater to nearly every shade of dietary restriction.
We’re not 100% on the “reverse-steakhouse” tagline, but G-Love, a hyper-local eatery from San Francisco talent Garrett Benedict, is a dazzling night out with some excellent vegetable-forward plates. Among them: a charred cabbage Caesar gussied with miso, parmesan, and chile breadcrumbs, and “The Spicemaster,” a cornbread-based winter comfort loaded with textures, from cardamom crunch to savory “ocean whip” foam.
La Luna might be the only place in town where you can order a gravy-slathered chicken-fried pork loin and an acai bowl dusted with spirulina. Yes, we do love a good B.P.C. (a banana-enhanced pancake), but La Luna’s fresh-expelled juice boosters, zaatar-dusted roasted vegetable bowls and seriously good smoothies make it a go-to brunch and lunch spot for the pork belly-adverse.