Best Restaurants

Portland’s Top 50 Restaurants

The legends, new voices, and mad scientist ideas that make Portland a strange and wonderful food city 

By Karen Brooks and Katherine Chew Hamilton


here should we eat?” This may be the most frequently asked question in Portland. And yes, brothers and sisters, we have answers—passionate, argument-worthy, mouthwatering answers.

Our notion of “best” is always shifting and evolving. Some of the city’s most acclaimed and beloved spots are now gone. In their place, voices old and new are writing the next chapter. We expect the list to keep changing, so stay posted.

Our new edition includes dozens of updated reviews of local gems, Berlu to Sweedeedee. We also welcome to the list Akadi, Portland's only table-service West African eatery; Cafe Olli, an homage to all things handmade; Phuket Café, our new Thai crush; old-school Pho Van, still bringing it; Takibi, an upscale izakaya and serious cocktail den; and Han Oak, the Korean charmer back from hiatus.

Note: Many of these places have indoor and outdoor dining options. The wise check websites or Instagram feeds in these moving-target times. 

Jump to your quadrant: 

North / Northeast / Northwest / Southeast / Southwest / Multiple Locations



Eem is so much more than the overnight phenom of 2019, when it nabbed our Best Restaurant award. The Thai-Texas BBQ-cocktail joint (pictured at the top) is a forever sweet spot and  pandemic hero, its scoped-down menu as precise as the atomic clock—available to go, at colorful outdoor seating huts, or inside, where goofy vintage glassware and bumping playlists hold court. Four curries hold the fort, all good, including the overlooked vegan red version. The white curry says it all, its creamy hot-sweet broth thick with smoky burnt brisket ends from the Austin school of barbecue. That said, don’t sleep on the BBQ fried rice (meaty or meat-free), the sweet-tangy fried chicken, or the hair-raising hot cauliflower.  Luscious umbrella drinks are not so much sipped as sucked down exuberantly, as if this was the last hour on Earth, and who knows, it may be. What a way to go. 3808 N Williams Ave —Karen Brooks


Gracie’s Apizza 

St. Johns
These personal pies mash up Neapolitan pizza theory, Oregon ingredients, and pizzaiolo Craig Melillo’s upbringing near New Haven, Connecticut, which proudly boasts its own pizza style. Most important, Melillo nails the crux of pizza: the crust (tangy, airy, crisp) and the tomato sauce (garlicky and deeply flavored). Both shine in the tomato pie, which the menu dubs “the best pizza,” but it would be sad to miss the calzone stuffed with fluffy ricotta, stringy mozzarella, Mama Lil’s, and house sausage. Let Melillo help you choose a natural Italian wine for pairing. The house ice cream alone is worth the trip to St. Johns, with flavors ranging from brown sugar coffee to bay leaf. 8737 N Lombard St —Katherine Chew Hamilton


Kayo’s Ramen Bar 

We love Kayo’s for its delicate, nuanced broths made in Assari style—clear, light, more feminine. Osaka native Kayoko Kaye is the driven cook in the kitchen, even going so far as to make her own noodles. Roughly 11 versions are available, traditional to playful, and most offer a vegan option. Ramen geeks go for the brothless spicy tantan mazemen, inspired by Sichuan dan dan noodles, or the shoyu, which goes down like a power shot of a Jewish grandma’s chicken soup. For dessert, the first bite of Kayo’s Japanese-inspired Basque cheesecake is like the early stage of a toasted marshmallow, a golden, graham-y, sugar-fired head-rush, as much about smell as taste. 3808 N Williams Ave #124 —KB


Lovely’s Fifty Fifty

Sarah Minnick is the auteur of Portland’s most iconic pizza—deeply connected to Oregon’s most adventurous farmers and in its own flavor land.  You’ll taste notes not typically associated with pizza: sour, bitter, funk, floral, and nuanced heat, all pinging off a thin, chewy sourdough crust. No sauce here—just cool stuff on top. Toppings are built around whatever farmers drop off, stinging nettles to fenugreek bok choy raab, plus Minnick's imagination and unusual Northwest cheeses. A moan-worthy pie of rainbow chard, fermented tomatoes, Calabrian chiles, and goat cheese? Yeah, baby—and the weirder it sounds, the better the pie. Three bites in and it’s 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. 4039 N Mississippi Ave #101 —KB



The famed corn cakes are RIP. Moan if you like. We're still wailing. Yet this reborn North Portland gem still defines the Portland breakfast—homey, offbeat, jeweled with farm goods, personal touches everywhere, mug coffee. Breakfast is served until 3 p.m., a sign of a place that respects the best meal of the day. French toast is from the “holy shit” school: custard-soaked house-made bread thunderously bronzed and charred, then lavished with house jam and Okinawan sugar beads. The pastry case is a star, leaning into refined Americana comforts, not too sweet, perhaps a buckle cake or a custard bun. Lunch and dinner show the hand of co-owner and chef Sam Smith, an alum of Ava Gene's and Tusk: good pastas, salads that are more than their simplicity suggests, a roast chicken sided by spicy mayo. 5202 N Albina Ave —KB


Café Olli's roasted strawberry Dutch baby

Image: Karen Brooks


Café Olli


The next generation of “handmade Portland food” has arrived—employee-owned, farm-connected, and led by a coterie of chef-baker friends. The food is nonstop, day to night, with changing menus for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. At all times, the massive, wood-glowing brick oven is in play. Breakfast and lunch often showcase the rustic house breads in sandwiches and toasts, but it's hard to best the Dutch Baby pancake, puffed in a small cast-iron skillet and heaped with roasted fruit. Wood-fired pizza is the show at dinner, though the menu has plenty of other enticements—terrific beef tartare, playful seasonal vegetables, daily pastas. From the bakery case, watch for chocolate croissants, exquisite morning buns, and fat bomboloni doughnuts with changing custards and house jams inside.  3925 NE Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd —KB


Low-key Kevin Gibson is known as a chef's chef among his peers. You don't need to stare at the plates here or deconstruct the ingredients. Just know the best of the season is front and center, in dishes that would be right at home at one of those romantic local spots two blocks off the main street in Europe. The à la carte menu roams from roasted fava tips to top sirloin steaks to hand-rolled flatbread smeared with sheep cheese, spring onions, and crispy jamon. The occasional cheeseburger is a work of art, topped in summer with a juicy-thick heirloom tomato round. And know this: no one makes better scallops than Gibson. The wine list has plenty of Euro-treasures, mostly $45 and up. 2215 E Burnside St —KB

Dimo’s Apizza

One of the city’s most craveable pies—thin, rimless, with a distinctive crisp crackle-crunch. Just the thought can stick in your head like the Succession theme song. The best of them boast little more than concentrated tomatoes and garlic (the Russo) or a wealth of spicy meat (Hail Mary). Being heretics, we crushed hard on a summer special flashing creamed corn butter. The white clam pie has its own following, though insiders note it must be eaten less than 60 seconds out of the oven. Feast Portland’s Mike Thelin describes it in poetic f-bombs, noting “there is nothing else I’d rather eat.” To channel New Haven’s coal oven pies, owner Doug Miriello deploys an electric oven to start, then finishes the rounds in a fire-breathing wood oven hand-built in Naples. Our kind of nut. But note, one person's char is another’s burned. 701 E Burnside St —KB



Candlelight spotlights what matters here: two turntables spinning vintage moods, careful cocktails, and dead-on delicious bar food. Expatriate, a destination since 2013, keeps the menu tightly curated. The house philosophy is “not just a dish, but a perfect version of that thing, hitting all the cylinders, a serious attempt.” That includes James Beard’s onion and butter sandwich, Portland’s best classic cheeseburger (at least according to PoMo’s Burger Cabal), and a mountain of weirdly wonderful, crackly fried wonton chip nachos with Thai chile–spiked Velveeta cheese. Did we need another spicy fried chicken sandwich? Expatriate answered the question with an exclamation point, adding a fairy-dusting of Sichuan peppercorns and house-made black vinegar pickles. Like most things here, it elicits f-bombs of joy all around at the table. 5424 NE 30th Ave —KB

Gado Gado


Since opening in 2019, Thomas and Mariah Pisha-Duffly have tickled our brains with some of the best eats anywhere— a whirling blender of Indonesian-Chinese(ish) food, with family traditions and boundary-shredding ideas in the mix. A New York friend who eats here on every visit calls it God-Oh God-Oh. The expressive à la carte menu makes room for haunting roti canai (Malaysian flatbread) and onion fritters that come on like wild-child falafel, backed by mezcal-pickled raisins and fermented coconut chutney. Charcoal-grilled albacore, wrapped in lettuce leaves with one of the night’s rocking sambals, is a must. Beef rendang tastes like carnitas that fell into a vat of coconut cream and candied anchovies. The house doughnuts deserve your attention. Or just let the kitchen cook a family style “Rice Table” feast. The popping boba Jello shots, eaten with a spoon from a tiny cup, rethink the notion of a cocktail. Have two. 1801 NE César E. Chávez Blvd —KB



At this bustling indie neighborhood spot, tortas on toasted telera rolls are the show. The Jaliscan-inspired ahogada—carnitas-stuffed and knee-deep in achiote-tomato sauce—cartwheels across the tongue like a smiling demon: messy, spicy, and wicked delicious. The Desayuno, another fave, taps braised beef and chicharrón de queso to upgrade the fried-egg sandwich. Meanwhile, one of the city’s best bowls lives here, rife with ensalada fresca, pinto beans, lime rice, and esquites (toasted corn), then swathed in avocado dressing and condiments. The mood is elevated by a tidy list of mezcals and tequilas. 200 NE 28th Ave —KB


In 2002, harebrained food philosopher John Taboada conceived a tiny “eat spot” with the feel of a park bench and a kind of lawlessness in the air. There’s still nothing quite like it: the dim sum-like plates, the ugly-delicious vegetable gestalt, the abiding wine passion, the delightful brunch that still worships French butter and homemade jam. Minimalist menus arrive as they always have—with a pencil, checklist, and clipboard. The tiny back bar, which overlooks the closet-size kitchen, is still lined with the day’s pies and cakes, perhaps a Turkish orange cake made with bread crumbs. If authentic Portland can be summed up in one word, Navarre is it. 10 NE 28th Ave —KB


Flames greet you just inside the door like the Burning Bush. A hand-cranked wood-burning grill is the centerpiece of Ox and the chariot to heavenly chops, rib eyes, and chorizo glazed in signature fatty, garlicky Black Gold juice drippings. The menu—Argentine barbecue, coal-fired vegetables, a little Portland food mania—rarely changes, and nearly every dish is a house classic, including the spicy beef tripe. Clam chowder is the unexpected star: fresh, deep, and garnished the Ox way with a smoked bone marrow the size of a Grecian pillar. 2225 NE MLK Jr. Blvd —KB


Ripe Cooperative's crab sandwich

Ripe Cooperative


Leave it to Naomi Pomeroy, Portland’s DIY Julia Child, to up the sidewalk dining game, erecting an all-day café … outdoors. Soulful rock beams over an intimate arrangement of café tables, royal blue plates, potted plants, good wine, a serious martini, and homey-chic cooking. It’s the food and mood we’ve been missing since Pomeroy shuttered her iconic Beast in 2020 and reopened months later as boutique Ripe Cooperative market with wines and restaurant-quality food to go. A few indoor tables give a view of the cook and bakers in action. Weekdays, count on beautiful salads, a fancy burrata plate, and a landmark Dungeness crab roll tucked inside a whole loaf of toasted shokupan. Evenings and weekends get more ambitious with multiple pastas and chicken stuffed with prosciutto mousseline.  Come just for a scoop (or pint) of frozen custard, with multiple daily flavors and one worth the drive alone: a wicked, cake-laced devil's food. 5425 NE 30th Ave —KB

Pho Oregon

Madison South
At this longtime pho palace off 82nd, you’ll want to slurp every spoonful of the deeply flavored broth, the base of 20 different permutations that include steak, fatty or lean brisket, flank, tendon, tripe, and meatballs. For best results, order a side of onion oil—scallions served in the fatty skimmings of the broth. Dip your meat into the oil, but also add a little to the broth to unlock its maximum flavor. The massive, two-sided menu offers plenty more delights, from übercrisp, giant banh xeo to the signature nem nuong (grilled pork sausage) rolls to rarely seen soups like bun mang vit (duck with bamboo shoots) or bun mam (fish broth laden with seafood, pork, and banana flower). 2518 NE 82nd Ave —KCH


In Portland’s eternal best phở argument, Thơm, opened in 2021, belongs in the conversation. The house broth, a head rush of slow-cooked marrow bones under flaps of melting tenderloin, may win the championship belt. The mood—midcentury-modern hideout meets Vietnamese mini-mart—comes from the mind of LA photographer Johnny Le. In the kitchen, brother Jimmy pays tribute to the family’s Phở Lê, one of Vancouver, Washington’s first pho spots, opened in 1991. Care and quality define this tiny menu and space. The roasted skin-on cơm gà (chicken and rice) is a testament to dark sweet soy sauce, and “Dad’s Barbecue Pork Noodles” remind us that father really does know best. 3039 NE Alberta St  —KB


At this buzzing, vibrant spot, sip sherry, eat pintxos, and pretend that Alberta Street is an upscale sidewalk café on a cobblestone road in Basque country. Must-orders include the foie bomba, a dumpling served inside a spoon with juices and plum gel ready to burst, and the Tortilla Española 2.0, a spin on a tapas classic with a mason jar of potatoes in eggy foam, ready to shake and spread over a thin, round egg crepe. Meanwhile, the Bikini is a simple yet surprisingly flavorful take on a gooey American grilled cheese, layered with jamon serrano and truffle honey. Pair everything with vermouth, sherry, or seasonal sangria for an immersive experience. 3033 NE Alberta St —KCH




Northwest District
Chef Garrett Benedict, an alum of San Francisco’s famed AL’s Place, is cooking his dream: light, eclectic, accessible, and sustainability-minded, with an emphasis on vegetables and smaller-portioned proteins. Still, the juicy, charred sliced steak sided by new potatoes, whipped yogurt, and capers—one of the menu’s few meat options—nearly steals the show. Regulars come for a half an avocado encrusted in coco-blackspice seed mix (add tuna poke if you like) or the massive Ensalata Bomba, in which lettuces get spiffed up with plum dressing, aged gouda, avocado, and apple relish. Creative desserts, a globe-trotting wine list, and playful cocktails round out the menu. 1615 NW 21st Ave —KCH


Phuket Cafe's Coffin Maker

Image: Karen Brooks

Langbaan & Phuket Café

Northwest District

Phuket Café is a Thai restaurant. Beyond that, labels are off. Drinks are from their own planet. One of them, the Coffin Maker, brings to mind a smoky margarita eating a Thai cucumber salad, down to the crown of fried shallots riding on top. Already, it's on our death row wish list. Dinners take inspiration from Bangkok's new energy and Phuket's seafood. Jump in with ceviche garnished with peanut brittle. Curry puffs in artful pastry are like hip handpies, with peanut sauce for dipping. Whole fried pompano is a dramatic high point, served head-on and crispy-tailed, its meat scooped out, fried, then returned to the center under a blanket of peanuts, herbs, and chiles, with lettuce leaf wrappers on the side. From bumping music to the colorful outdoor seating structure that resembles a Thai train car, Phuket Café is a destination. Still, the food has room to grow. More kaya and Thai tea syrup on that cool weekend French toast, please! And could someone put the head and tail back on that pompano at brunch? In July, owners Akkapong “Earl” Ninsom and Eric Nelson, will airdrop their acclaimed Thai tasting menu restaurant Langbaan (formerly in Southeast), right into the Phuket party action with reserved seats Friday–Sunday and traditional cooking over Thai charcoal pots. This could be fascinating. 1818 NW 23rd Place —KB

Mama Bird

Northwest District
At this bustling Slabtown spot, poultry is elevated to biblical status, grilled in the center of the room on a giant funeral pyre of Oregon white oak. The magic is in the pineapple brine and spot-on grilling that assures a juicy, crispy-skinned, smoky bird, available as quarter, half or whole. Dunk it into one of six sauces—best are the creamy, spicy aji verde and the herb-thick chimichurri. Charred sweet potatoes set over fancy curry yogurt are a must. Watch for seasonal specials including grilled delicata squash, jumping with pomegranates and pumpkin-seeded salsa macha. The perfect everyday, anytime meal. 2145 NW Raleigh St —KB



St. Jack NW

Northwest District
Chef John Denison brings experience from Paris’s neo-bistro world: casually serious, not too rich, fresh and fun. He doesn’t reinvent the wheel but bends it, temptingly. Instead of an artery-alarming sauce, his vol-au-vent “pastry shells” hold minced mushrooms, sheep's cheese, and a soft egg. Old-school pastry-bound pâté en croute is a must for a table of meatheads. Vegetables are visual, surprising. A collection of pea, favas, and dandelion greens might be swaddled in chamomile butter, and summer's flower-adorned haricots verts, wreathed around a pool of tangy triple-crème Brillat-Savarin cheese, can take your breath away. In île flottante, or “floating island,” poached meringues bob over crème Anglaise, a classic French dessert rarely found outside of exclusive restaurants. You can get staple steak frites here, but seasonal specials are the show, delivered by enthusiastic, knowledgeable servers. 1610 NW 23rd Ave —KB


A spread of dishes from Takibi


Northwest District

An oasis of sashimi, serious cocktails, happy chatter, and high-tech camping tables hide on the patio of Takibi—an upscale izakaya with next-level drinks and an outdoor area that evokes urban glamping. The restaurant's interior, designed by the inventive Skylab Architecture and swanky by izakaya standards, is hidden in the back of Snow Peak, the cult Japanese outdoor gear store famed for its titanium camping gear. The pride of the kitchen is sashimi, including some rare cuts from Japan, expertly cut and cured and cut by chef Cody Auger, an old-school sushi purist (Nimblefish). From the extensive menu, dishes can be subtly refined or underwhelming. Gems include: fried morels lavished in a sweet-tangy slaw of pickled carrots and onions; killer-rich pork belly; and a seared hambagu patty that pays homage to Japanese moms everywhere. Bar stars Jim Meehan and Lydia McLuen are the kind of people who infuse rum with two sheets of nori for precisely 75 seconds just to get just a hint of sea umami. For me, the salty-juicy Japanese Plum cocktail, blending cognac and umeboshi paste, is the face of God. 2275 NW Flanders St —KB



After a pandemic hiatus, Portland’s only sit-down West African restaurant is back, bigger and better than ever in an airy, industrial-chic spot near Ladd’s Addition. Chef-owner Fatou Ouattara held back on some flavors at Akadi’s old MLK location, leaving out ingredients like smoked fish and bitter African eggplant for fear of upsetting the average Oregonian’s palate. Now, after months of study in the Ivory Coast, Ghana, and Burkina Faso, traditional flavors shine, front and center. Some staples remain, good as ever: whole grilled or fried fish with attieke (mouth-puckering fermented cassava grated into couscous), and velvety vegan peanut stew. But spinach stew now boasts the full-bodied punch of smoked fish, which goes particularly well with fresh blue crab and shell-on shrimp, scooped up with fluffy fufu. The new fried chicken wings are both wet-rubbed and garnished with Nigerian smoky-peanutty suya spice, making them instant contenders for Portland’s best wings. Pair everything with a South African wine from the extensive list, and finish dinner with a tropical, tangy soursop cheesecake. 1001 SE Division St —KCH 


Apizza Scholls 

Who makes Portland’s best pizza? Arguments rage here like debates over points of scripture. But for a strong contingency, Apizza Scholls, opened in 2005, is the Bible—muscular, 18-inch neo-Neapolitan pies made with eccentric perfectionism and fine-tuned toppings. Not a bad choice here (down to the whole-leaf Caesar salad), but it’s hard to get past the Diablo Bianco, a sauce-free wonder splotched with super-creamy ricotta pools, jalapeño wheels, and a roasted tomato-pumpkin seed pesto that tastes, somehow, like chorizo. 4741 SE Hawthorne Blvd —KB


Step inside this tiny white food chamber, offering one of the country's most original Vietnamese tasting menus from talented chef Vince Nguyen. Think street foods and conceptual experiments, delivered with grace, seasonality, skill, and a few mind-blowers in the mix. Menus change, but pray for Berlu's thrilling take on bánh xèo, which transforms the classic shrimp-filled crêpe into regal, palm-size tacos laced with ceviche, bright herbs, fish sauce, and lime. Fresh-baked bành bò nướng (honeycomb cake) is sliced, charcoal-toasted, and sided by a luxe dip of coconut cream and caviar. It's the coolest bread course around. And who else dares to spoon geoduck and candied lychees over ethereal durian custard? On Sunday mornings, Berlu becomes Berlu Bakery, dispensing lovely sweets and savories, including that amazing honeycomb cake. Note: this is a dairy-free and celiac-friendly zone. 605 SE Belmont St —KB


What would the Larousse Gastronomique, that grand codifier of French food, make of Canard? Perhaps this east-side diner would be its own entry: “A place in Portland, Oregon, that swapped duck à l’orange for a stack of duck fat grilled hotcakes and duck gravy, best savored slowly and wickedly with a fine Burgundy from the house list.” After all, delicious send-ups of Paris and Americana are the specialty of James Beard winner Gabriel Rucker, wine-ace partner Andy Fortgang, and veteran chef Taylor Daugherty. Once an all-day eatery, PoMo’s Restaurant of the Year 2018 is now a battened-down, dinner-only collection of Canard signatures (everchanging foie gras dumplings, a White Castle–crushing steam burger) and ongoing brainstorms, perhaps a jalapeño cheddar bratwurst terrine or a brisket paired with harissa hummus and za'atar Caesar. Desserts include a twisted Paris-Brest and a make-your-day Dairy Queen–worshipping Pine Nut Buster Parfait. French food scholars, avert your eyes and giggle. 734 E Burnside St —KB


Mt Tabor
Raise your glasses and toast the good old days, when we waltzed in here for an à la carte menu of home-cooking delights … that is, if your home cook had Michelin star–quality chops. Like many top Portland restaurants, Coquine dinners are now prix fixe only—a choice of four or seven courses intensely driven by local farms, backed by gracious service and a compelling wine list. Dinner might kick off Meyer lemon–cured spot prawns with sugar snap pea vinaigrette, move on to guinea hen sided by morels and baguettes stained with pan drippings, then close out with carrot cake capped with walnut meringue and carrot sherbet. Coquine Market next door boasts daily baked goods (including an epic chocolate chip cookie). The city's best-kept secret is found Thursday-Saturday evenings, inside the market and on the charming outdoor patio only: oyster hour (with fun flights and pairings) alongside a terrific seasonal a la carte menu that juggles perfect linguine, hand-cut fries, and pastry-chef desserts.  6839 SE Belmont St —KB

Fermenter Kombucha Brew Pub  

Portland’s plant-based laboratory flies under the banner of “your friendly neighborhood bacteria emporium.” As it outgrows its tiny punk rock beginnings, Fermenter has morphed into a future-forward analog to Portland’s beer-culture hangouts, obsessively crafting all things spored and fizzing in a house of rollicking sandwiches, bowls, and hazelnut ranch. Most everything is house-made, even the vinegars. The beet Reuben is a masterpiece etched in ruby kraut and hazelnut cheese on rye. The burger juggles a black bean lentil tempeh patty, smoked onions, leaf lettuce, house ketchup, and miso mayo, plus tempeh bacon if you like. It’s a whopper. 1403 SE Belmont St —KB

Ha VL & Rose VL 

These sister noodle soup shops have such a devoted following that there’s an entire fan site dedicated to their daily menus. It’s worth planning your week around your favorite Hà VL or Rose VL soup—only two or three options per day, and each soup is offered only once a week, with slight variations between the two restaurants’ menus. Highlights include the creamy, coconut-y chicken curry noodle soup and the melt-in-your-mouth Vietnamese beef stew with noodles. On Saturdays, Rose VL unveils its exclusive cao lau, a hard-to-find dry noodle bowl thick with chewy noodles, tender pork, tons of herbs, and a sweet-salty sauce on the bottom; pork broth comes on the side. It pays to be an early bird—the restaurants open as early as 8 a.m., and prized soups might sell out by noon.


Han Oak's house party atmosphere

Han Oak


Drake is thumping on the sound system. Lights are party-dim. And fun-loving chef Peter Cho seems to be everywhere at once: in the kitchen, delivering Korean potato chips to customers, and mostly, in his head, dreaming up new ideas for Han Oak, our 2017 Restaurant of the Year. Meanwhile, his wife, Sun Young Park, makes sure every customer feels welcomed at their “home,” a scene of house-party chill, family vibes, and kids romping around a rambling, grassy backyard in full view of the cozy dining room and chef's counter. The food? You never know where the menu will go, and that's intentional. Over the course of its short life, dumpling raves, backyard barbecues, and, recently, hot pots have taken center stage. Up next for summer: casual set menus with shout-outs to Korean BBQ. Count on this: a mix of highbrow and low, good ingredients, and goofy-good taste, in a place where magic happens. The message here is clear: this is who we are, how we live and eat; please join us. 511 NE 24th Ave — KB

Ken’s Artisan Pizza

Ed Levine, founder of the popular New York–based blog Serious Eats, calls Ken Forkish “one of the world’s great pie men,” and, halfway through a spicy fennel sausage and onion pie here, it’s hard to disagree. After all, Forkish penned The Elements of Pizza cookbook, a must for home cooks hoping to pass for pros. No bones about where the shop's heart lies—these wood-fired 12-inchers demand engagement with their leopard-spotted rustic crust. Though Forkish has retired to Hawaii and handed over ownership to longtime former managers, the pizza is still lively and flavor-rich. But starters can surprise you, including wood-fired calamari in spicy tomato sauce set over rustic garlic crostini. 304 SE 28th Ave —KB/KCH

Le Pigeon

In the ancient days of 2006, Le Pigeon first welcomed us in for a wild ride from Portland’s most gifted chef, Gabriel Rucker, who went on to win two James Beard awards. We ate elbow to elbow at crowded tables, devouring eclectic send-ups of French food and offal parts, backed by a great wine list. The new world is now tasting menu only, each course seemingly from a different Rucker planet. It’s the kind of fine dining we need, weird and wonderful, with distinct omnivore and vegetarian menus. Meat courses might include foie gras flambé. Veg people get the likes of morel spanakopita or stuffed pappardelle with stinging nettle pesto and pine nut jam. Desserts are in the spirit here, twisting classics into something fresh. Chocolate passionfruit Monte Cristo, anyone? 738 E Burnside St —KB


This charming spot evokes small-town Italy and the best of Portland, from the handmade ambience to a certain personal voodoo that makes food, drink, and magic happen at tiny indoor tables and a street-eatery patio. Even the floor-to-ceiling mini-mart grocery shelves are candlelit. (The room could be mistaken for a ladylike hardware store.) Unadorned plates carry the kitchen’s paean to honest Italian food: pasta, fresh focaccia, and olive oil cake. Make a party out of the $2 antipasti list, slurp a truly soulful cappelletti in brodo, or make hay on insider favorites—stuffed trout, octopus with potatoes, and a hunk of blackened cabbage seemingly cooked by an ironworker, twinkling with garlic oil. Nearly everything is under $20, backed by a terrific Italian wine list, priced to drink. 2140 E Burnside St —KB


Filipino cuisine is on the rise in Portland; 2021 ushered in an excellent new cart, Baon Kainan, and two new pop-ups, Pulu by Sunrice and Tikim. But the godfather of this movement is chef Carlo Lamagna, who opened Magna in late 2019 and went on to earn a spot on Food & Wine’s 2021 Best New Chefs list. Come for cheffed-up versions of family classics, from charcoal-grilled banana ketchup-glazed chicken hearts to super-crisp lumpia to sizzling pork and pig ear sisig.  Adding to the cheer: a vibrant green, fragrant gin-pandan cocktail and desserts like the super-comforting biko, warm coconut-scented sticky rice with crumbled polvoron cookie topping. 2525 SE Clinton St —KCH



Jessie Aron is a poster girl for the times, rewriting the rules for what it means to be young, female, and a restaurant owner. In the mix: strong community values, empowered kitchen comrades, romantic Victorian décor, and whimsical maximalism—red mole-draped tater tots to an eggplant sandwich that involves more than 100 ingredients. Even a salad gets the full Malka treatment, juggling lime-plum vinaigrette, pickled cherries, tahini, mustard greens, fried shallots, and more. The food has its own internal illogicalness: no two dishes alike, no two bites alike, brought to life with names like “An Important Helmet for Outer Space.” Call it global hippie food from a mad scientist or a tornado twisting of Thai food and Shabbat dinners, Malka is poetry in motion, made with unthinkable determination. 4546 SE Division St —KB

Mama Dút


Ribs, pork belly, banh xeo, and banh mi—they’re all vegan at Mama Dút, a street food and snack shop opened by former hair stylist and longtime Portlander Thuy Pham. The ever-changing menu entices customers to come back for frequently changing specials, from nostalgia-filled hot dog buns to playful desserts like ube whoopie pies and pandan custard pie. Top it off with a dose of blasting hip-hop, a desire to give back to the local community via food deliveries to AAPI seniors, and live streams about social causes from Black Lives Matter to cultural appropriation in the restaurant industry, and you’ve got yourself an iconic Portland eatery. 1414 SE Morrison St —KCH



Local food legend Cathy Whims and her kitchen posse present Italian home cooking as it should be—stripped down, honest, very local, lots of wood fire. No place better serves a diverse crowd: kids, wine insiders, adventure-fearing relatives, and lovers of Italian classics. The mandatory preamble is the Caesar-esque Insalata Nostrana stocked with radicchio and rosemary-sage croutons. Pizza is often good, especially the crab pizza, and hot-from-the-oven fruit crisps can make your day. Bistecca alla Fiorentina vies for the city’s best rib-eye: a 2 ¼ -pound beast, cooked over fire, and big enough for a couple of Trailblazer guards. 1401 SE Morrison St  —KB 

OK Omens

Wine whisperer and house somm Brent Braun brings his Riesling madness and small, sustainable farming ethos to this grown-up gastro-bar, opened in 2018 as a counterpoint to the abstract glamour of big sister Castagna next door. Castagna is now shuttered, leaving OK Omens as the only place to taste the musings of its Michelin-caliber chef, Justin Woodward. The mood swings from crispy, spice-cured duck legs to seasonal vegetables in seaweed butter to a towering burger. Insiders get the Torito salad, a double-downed Caesar crackling with corn nuts and the glow of Sichuan peppercorn dust—topped, if desired (and you should), with sliced fried chicken. OK Omens found its groove during the pandemic with classy outdoor private cabanas and a major wine list expansion, as equally devoted to elegant classics as funky naturals. 1758 SE Hawthorne Blvd —KB

Oma’s Hideaway 

The thrust here is nominally Malaysian Chinese—nominally being the operative word. The jumping point is family food memories from chef Thomas Pisha-Duffly’s oma’s, or grandma’s,  kitchen. But Oma’s Hideaway also embraces complex sambals, stoner food fun, and Indonesian psychedelic rock. It adds up to one of Portland’s best nights out. Splendid house char siu holds down the wonton mee noodles, while feathery, buttery roti tastes like some giant croissant in the sky. Steak tartare is like no other—funky, herbaceous, capped in candied anchovies and salted egg yolk, with jumbo shrimp chips for scooping. Don’t sleep on the cheeseburger, with its oozy American cheese, salted egg yolk aioli, and a bun griddled in coconut lime leaf butter. 3131 SE Division St —KB

Pho Van


Despite its name, the draw at this 82nd Avenue institution isn’t the pho—it’s the numerous shareable dishes ideal for festive dinners among family and friends. The house specialty: whole roasted catfish prepared Saigon-style with crispy edges, a caramelized glaze, and a massive plate of accompaniments, including mint, basil, cucumbers, sliced tart green apple, a bowl of bouncy vermicelli, and rice paper to roll your own bundles. Grab some flaky, moist fish, add your herbs and noodles, and admire (or mock) your companions’ rolling skills. Bánh xèo, a turmeric rice flour pancake stuffed with ground pork and shrimp, is impressively big and crispy. Don't skip Chè Van, the house version of the classic Vietnamese crushed ice dessert. The ice is smashed to just the right size, easily crunchable between the teeth, with long green jellies for slurping, pink water chestnuts for crunching, and al dente sweet yellow and red beans adding a hint of sweetness for a refreshing end to the meal. 1919 SE 82nd Ave –KCH



Scotch Lodge


The perfect night in Portland: sitting in a dark whiskey cave, sipping from an A-caliber list that goes deep and sideways, and wolfing into Portland’s best-kept secret—a monumental crab sandwich, super-crispy, lavished in white kimchi, and jutting over the edges of tender milk bread. Chef Tim Artale is on a roll, making familiar foods fun and serious at once with ideas, skill, and bistro-quality plating. Oysters dabbed with icy-sweet granita set the mood—on the half shell, embedded in ice, and glistening with playful toppings like tequila sunrise. Pasta is among the city's best, and who can say anything bad about pickle-spiced fries? The food pairs beautifully with whiskey treasures from owner Tommy Klus’s collection as well as smoky cocktails from a crack team of friendly bartenders eager to share knowledge and swap stories. 215 SE Ninth Ave —KB




Is Sebastiano’s an Italian American deli, a New Orleans sandwich shop, a Sicilian bakery, or an Oregonian farm-to-table eatery? All of the above. Shortly after its summer 2020 opening, Sebastiano’s vaulted into our 2020 Best Restaurants issue thanks to its standout muffuletta. House-baked sesame bread meets mozzarella hand-stretched in store, layered with Olympia Provisions mortadella and ham and house-made giardinera. The standout vegetarian version boasts eggplant instead of charcuterie. But let's talk about the cannoli, the city's best, freshly fried and stuffed with fluffy ricotta, Italian chocolate chips, and house-candied orange peel. Look for baked goods like focaccia, irresistible almond–pine nut cookies, and Sicilian zeppole, plus occasional dinner events and afternoon aperitivo hour during summer weekends. 411 SE 81st Ave —KCH


Duck House Chinese Restaurant 

When a dumpling craving hits, Duck House should be your destination—especially for xiao long bao. Slurp soup from the pork or pork-shrimp filled dumplings inside a moody, wooden-walled former bar that now serves up its own twists on cocktails with Sichuan peppercorn, cilantro salted rims, and Sriracha. The restaurant bills itself as Szechuan, and you’ll find fine examples of that cuisine, from ma po tofu to dry-fried green beans—but the restaurant also branches into Cantonese and Chinese American cuisine with dishes like mayo-coated honey walnut prawns (be prepared to gobble them like popcorn). 1968 SW Fifth Ave —KCH


In 1984, Greg Higgins biked to Portland and mounted a farm-to-table food revolution, connecting chefs and farmers. First at the Heathman, then at his own Higgins, the gardener-chef gave voice and direction to everything we now hold as our Portland food birthright: local-first dining, smoking, pickling, charcuterie (before anyone could pronounce the word), and the realization that ambitious food needs to be more than a pretty plate. Today, Higgins (with longtime business partner Paul Mallory) is the last man standing from the first wave of Portland’s Beard-winning chefs in the 1990s. The menu still boasts world-class cured meats, a fine lunch burger, a formidable beer list, eclectic vegetable dishes, and Higgins’s loyalty to local farmers. Where else can you find a gratin sporting fiddlehead ferns, once Portland’s hottest local ingredient? 1239 SW Broadway —KB


Even by Portland standards, Maurice is quirky, the definition of a local food gem. Since opening in late 2013, this white-walled wonderland has served as the idealist food kingdom and alter-ego of owner Kristen D. Murray. Now, the iconic French-Scandinavian luncheonette has a new vision: refined seven-course meals for lunch and dinner, with set seating times, Friday–Sunday. To enter, knock three times and yodel. The famed baked goods and Paris-level quiche are now available on Thursdays only, still à la carte. You don't know what you got until you lose it. Run, don't walk, for the tender rosemary-current scones, the legendary lemon souffle pudding cake, or the seasonal Norwegian-style sandwiches—served open-faced with the likes of roasted beefs, fresh strawberries, and soft cheese. Lovely wines are here, by the glass or bottle. Walk-ins welcome. 921 SW Oak St —KB


Portland’s old-school Japanese restaurant, opened in 1988, is still running strong today, though not much inside has changed—the soft jazz, the sushi chefs wearing ties, and the sought-after private tatami rooms. Sushi is the main draw here, with a menu that spans crowd-pleasing rolls to standard nigiri to seasonal fare (sweet, local Dungeness crab, anyone?). But sticking solely to sushi would be doing yourself a disservice. In the fall and winter, don’t miss the seasonal matsutake mushroom soup served in a teapot; year-round comforting dishes like chawanmushi, agedashi tofu, and chazuke (fish soup) are also on offer. 200 SW Market St —KCH


The abiding rule in Toki’s playful Korean kitchen? “Just make the stuff you want to eat.” Turns out, it’s also what we want for dinner: dumplings, hand-pulled biang-biang noodles in chile oil, and fried chicken wings flavored with the DNA of instant ramen. Brunch, one of the city's best, dives into freewheeling breakfast sandwiches, steak-and-eggs bibimbap, and the art of yoshoku—Japan's reimagined Western foods, found in dishes like Toki's omurice, which parks kimchi fried rice and Spam beneath a sheet of tornado-swirled eggs. Day or night, the cult steamed bao burger is Portland's best magic trick: hiding the innards of a double cheeseburger (American cheese, raw onion, and secret sauce to boot) inside of a bao bun, pan-seared on one side, steamed on the other. As with their acclaimed Han Oak, Peter Cho and Sun Young Park are part of something bigger here—a philosophy, an inspired food culture. 580 SW 12th Ave KB

Multiple Locations

Afuri Izakaya

This Japanese ramen chain nearly always has a line, but it’s absolutely worth the wait for the ramen, featuring thin, housemade noodles with assertive bite and flavorful yet delicate broths. The signature yuzu shio ramen balances bright citrus with soy sauce and chicken broth, while accompaniments like melt-in-your-mouth slices of fatty-lean chashu pork and a jammy-yolked egg add luxury. The silky-skinned gyoza, complete with a lacy crust and stuffed with gingery pork or cashews and miso, are a must-order. Don’t pass over the sushi offerings, which include many seasonal varieties from Japan plus freshwater eel with lightly sweet house sauce. The beverage menu, from sake flights to house yuzu lager to Japanese whiskey cocktails to strawberry-yogurt soda, presents endless options for pairing. 923 7th Ave and 12555 SW 1st St, Beaverton —KCH


Hat Yai

With Pok Pok out of the picture, Portland’s most famous Thai fried chicken now lives at Hat Yai, another member of the Earl Ninsom crew of restaurants. Get the combo with the classic accoutrements: flaky roti, rich coconut curry, and simple sticky rice. But don’t overlook the other dishes, from the Killingsworth-exclusive oxtail soup with sour-spicy lemongrass broth, tomato, and celery, to the Southern Thai ground pork, complete with a “THAI SPICY!” warning label. You might need a pandan gin and tonic, a tamarind whiskey smash, or a coconut-mango horchata to calm all that chile. 1605 NE Killingsworth St and 605 SE Belmont St —KCH

Nong’s Khao Man Gai

Unless you live under a rock, you’ve probably already heard of Nong, the icon,creator, and rock-star personality behind one perfect dish, Thai chicken and rice, bundled old-school-style in butcher paper bound with a rubber band. Each packet holds jasmine rice simmered to absolute perfection, each grain moist and defiantly individualistic, a feat that eludes pretty much every restaurant. It’s the foundation for tenderly poached chicken, a cilantro bouquet, and Nong’s nose-tingling sauce. The famed cart is gone, but with two tiny brick-and-mortars, you can get your KMG fix on either side of the river. 609 SE Ankeny St C and 417 SW 13 Ave  —KB

Filed under