Dining Picks

Portland’s Essential Outdoor Dining Spots

Seven places with a singular blend of food and fun. Backyard rhinestone bar with fish sauce caramel ribs, anyone?

By Karen Brooks

The summer vibe at Oma's outdoor bar in 2022

Who has an outdoor table? For years, the question seemed down-right Biblical every summer, as sun-deprived Portlanders hunted for open-air tables like Indiana Jones tracking down the Holy Grail. Now, we have an answer: everyone. Outdoor tables, once a special find, are now a way of life, year-round. Some are bare-bones operations built by the Dude School of Architecture. But a wave of outdoor dining auteurs are rethinking food and mood, the Portland way—full of personal touches, unconventional food, and fun. Behold.  

Oma’s Hideaway


Outdoor tables, spread with vibrant, floral-patterned oil cloths, line the sidewalk at this jolly restaurant, with spirited Malaysian-Chinese-ish food to match. More tables abound on a deck out back, along with rugs and twinkling lights, as vintage psychedelic tunes bump all around. Eclectic? This is where sticky fried ribs soaked in fish sauce caramel shares space with holy crow char sui pork, longan fruit chimichurri, one of the city’s best burgers, and landmark salted egg yolk curry fries. Lunch adds its own excitements, including a char siu pork sandwich layered with kaya jam and a hash brown patty. The Filet-O-Fishball sandwich is a Singaporean spin on McDonald’s and pretty genius at that. (Just saying the words “Filet-O-Fishball” out loud can make you grin). The backyard bar, open only for dinner, adds to the party vibe, gleaming with rhinestone tile. It even has its own bartender to shake up house cocktails and inventive slushies, with booze or without, one boasting a lime leaf-sumac-chile salt rim.

3131 SE Division St

OK Omens

OK Omens


Bless OK Omens owner Monique Siu, OG Portland restaurateur and co-founder of the legendary Zefiro. Even at the height of the pandemic, she fretted over the aesthetics of a proper meal in a food world driven outdoors.  No he-man picnic tables here. The spacious patio of this gracious gastro-bar looks like a forgotten civilization—a sea of classy private gazebos, tables shaded by big tilted umbrellas, and potted olive trees. At your service: an enthusiastic, knowledgeable staff. The wine list, via esteemed house somm Brent Braun, is equally devoted to elegant classics and funky naturals and full of gems, though cocktails are good, too. Casually delicious musings from Michelin-caliber chef Justin Woodward swing from cheese-oozing beignets to sexy pastas to a towering burger etched in smoked beef remoulade, plus intricate desserts. It adds up to one of the city’s most reliable outdoor experiences. 

1758 SE Hawthorne Blvd

The Thai train car-themed outdoor dining area at Phuket Café

Image: Karen Brooks

Phuket Café

Northwest District

On an ordinary street, in a natty, residential Northwest hood, Phuket Café has boldly reimagined the dining car on a Thai train, outdoors. You can’t miss it: the bold red and pink trim, the big open windows, the compact pistachio-colored booths. It shows what streetside eating can look like – architectural, with mood lighting and colorful personality. Steps away, a string of window counter seats peek into the restaurant’s bustling inside bar. The drink of the moment is called Resting Clown Face, a punchy play on a whiskey sour shaken with rye, allspice, amaro, lemons, and, for good measure, coconut caramel. Nightly dinners take inspiration from Bangkok’s energy and Phuket’s seafood, peanut brittle-topped ceviche to whole fresh pompano bundled in lettuce wrappers with peanuts, limes, and chiles. The new lunch menu has its own fun, including an only-in-Portland red curried sloppy joe on a streamed bao shaped like a hot dog bun.

1818 NW 23rd pl 

Le Clos

Le Clos


Les Caves, Portland's splendid underground wine cave, feels like a bohemian rock club. But no words quite describe Le Clos, the cave’s adjacent patio room, an outdoor-indoor space which is carpeted, hilariously, in Astroturf, floor to bar. You lounge here on couches or church pews or chairs the color of a smiley face. In this hidden wine lover’s paradise, sweatshirts and Champagne are one at last. The list is worldly and knowing, unconventional and unpretentious to the core, built for discovery. Owner and winemaker Jeff Vejr is a dogged explorer of grapes from unheralded centers like the Republic of Georgia. He always has some new intrigue on the list. Recent obsessions: Argentina’s Cara Sur, a showcase for rarely seen, pink-skinned cereza grapes and an eye-opener for red wine drinkers who think they don’t like rosé. Panini-pressed grilled cheese sandwiches,  the only food in the house, comes in six guises, each expressing a different place. Options swing from the Oregonian (with apple butter) to the New Yorker (pastrami included) to the Uiseong, in honor of the South Korean city known for its sweet-and-sour black garlic. The brilliance lies in their eternal truth: grilled cheese is the perfect food.

1719 NE Alberta St

Coquine Market Café

Image: Karen Brooks

Coquine Market Café

Mount Tabor

The most Portland of Portland outdoor dining spaces occupies the corner of a dead-end street on SE Belmont, sitting at the base of Mt Tabor Park and smack in the middle of picket-fenced homes. Coquine’s wood-tabled, tree-entwined patio feels like a hidden treasure, which it is. I already regret telling you about it. It’s a pretty sweet haunt for customers snagging daily baked goods, an epic chocolate chip cookie, or a lovely  seasonal sandwich at Coquine Market, a great little neighborhood grocer with a dedicated pastry counter and barista. At night, the market morphs into Coquine Café, a casual, walk-ins-only spot which shares a kitchen with acclaimed big sister Coquine next door, now indoor dining only. The crack a la carte list screams Coquine’s commitment to local farms, seasonal promise, and good taste, not to mention excellent wines and house made cordials. Watch for perfect pasta, lamb loin in yogurt-sumac sauce, smoked green farro, and a neo-beer float of house ice cream, Fernet chocolate sauce, and dark porter, served in a rocks glass. Order at the counter, head outside, and count your blessings.

6839 SE Belmont St 

Thuy Pham of Mama Dút Foods drinking a cocktail at Eem

Image: Karen Brooks



A handful of cozy, sidewalk eating huts. A few light-strung, colorful patio huts. And everywhere, diners hoisting luscious drinks sporting paper umbrellas and purple orchids. All together, it’s little more than some wood and imagination. But the outdoor vibe at Eem, the beloved Thai-Texas-BBQ-cocktail joint, feels more like a beach in Thailand than a corner in North Portland. The rewards are evident: each cabana feels private but right in the street action. The kitchen keeps it tight and as reliable as the atomic clock with dialed curries, irresistible BBQ fried rice, smile-inducing sweet-sour fried chicken nuggets, and hair-raising hot cauliflower. Good luck parking and battling the lines.

3808 N Williams Ave

Gado Gado

Image: Emily Warden

Gado Gado


This rocking house of Indonesian-Chinese(ish) food knows how to bring the fun to a strip-mall parking lot: not just one but three discreet eating nooks, two of them tricked out like souk vendors, with colorful floor rugs, floral oil tablecloths, and curtains, with speakers beaming disco and reggae. Standing between them: a private little pink A-frame with one table only, first come, first served. The menu, one of Portland’s best, buzz-saws family traditions and boundary-blurring ideas via fun-loving owners Thomas and Mariah Pisha-Duffly. Every dish boasts its own spice cabinet, euphoric sambal or herb salad. The divinely flaky roti (Malaysian flatbread) is a must. Changing options veers from grilled banana left halibut collar to sensuous beef rendang to house doughnuts. Or just let the kitchen cook up a family-style “Rice Table” feast. The popping boba Jell-O shots, eaten with a spoon from a tiny cup, rethink the notion of a cocktail. Have two.

1801 NE César E. Chávez Blvd

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