Dining Guide

Portland’s Most Romantic, Date-Worthy Restaurants

Planning a date with that special someone? Peep this list first.

By Karen Brooks, Katherine Chew Hamilton, and Matthew Trueherz

Heavenly Creatures


Portland, land of funky DIY restaurants, is suddenly kind of fancy. Tasting menus, once a rarity, are now a thing. Candlelit wine bars with deep lists are surging, and caviar is no longer for snobs—one place serves it in a glass jar, to spoon over potato chips. The options for romantic meals have never been greater. True to Portland, the best of them involve passion, creativity, and personal touches. Where are they? No worries, we've got you covered. Our suggestions include a fanatical rice table for two, a chic and moody Haitian bar, and a modernist dining room with a total staff of three.  

Angel Face 


A bespoke drink in progress at Angel Face


Less a bar than a meticulous little jewel box, Angel Face is a front runner for the perfect date spot. The horseshoe bar, which occupies most of the space, has no cocktail menu—order based on spirit and flavor preferences, and they whip you something up. In the warmer months, the patio (heated and covered) is probably Portland’s most Parisian, with tiny sidewalk tables and woven bistro chairs good for people-watching. Most here come for the bespoke cocktails but, inconspicuously, Angel Face boasts a full French bistro menu: steak frites, pâté, duck confit, and a gloriously golden roast chicken. Come early and tuck into something hearty, or drop by for a Franco-nightcap. 14 NE 28th Ave —Matthew Trueherz 

Café Olli 


Café Olli's handmade pasta with Dungeness crab


When night falls, this light-filled, all-day cafe morphs into an intimate neighborhood retreat, illuminated, in part, by the embers of a mammoth brick oven. Prime seats are at the small chef's counter—a bird’s-eye view of the cooking show in the open kitchen (and a blessing, if conversation lulls). The mode is casual, à la carte, and handmade everything.  Smart moves: the supreme marinated olives, heated to order; a seasonal salad; and dessert, perhaps a lusciously frosted chocolate cake. Pasta is a house passion. But what is romance, if not splitting one of the city's best pizzas, the Pomodoro? 3925 NE Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd —Karen Brooks 


Mt Tabor

Coquine's roast chicken

At this neighborhood fine diner, love comes in many forms: pristine oysters, hard-to-find Champagnes, and heart-stopping chocolate chip cookies, rich and smoky. Tasting menus are currently on hiatus. Coquine is back to its old ways:  stylishly à la carte, with a range from moules frites to goose confit cassoulet, meant for sharing, and always thoughtful vegetable preparations. Caviar service doesn’t take itself too seriously—changing options served in a jar with a little spoon to heap  over the likes of French onion dip or blinis. 6839 SE Belmont St —KB 



Davenport’s sought-after seared scallops, eased back with rare wine and handblown Zalto glasses

Davenport is a restrained type of classy date. For the food-obsessed, dishes are sparse, ingredient-focused, and sing with product quality. For the oenophile, the wine list is long and bottles are served in hand-blown Zalto glasses. For those simply looking for a semi-quite reservation in an unassumingly beautiful dining room, Davenport delivers, 11 out of 10 times. Chef Kevin Gibson usually cooks in a button-up shirt and sweater, with the relaxed calm of a practiced dinner party host. He slices delicate scallop crudos and poaches tender, house-made pastas in the open kitchen, often wading through the dining room to deliver them to the table himself. Nothing is overt or designed to wow, but you’ll be scratching your head wondering how a simple carrot soup or roasted cut of cod with chickpeas carries so much depth. 2215 E Burnside St —MT 

Gado Gado 

Our idea of the perfect date night: adventurous food, great service, and inventive cocktails. This is it. The Rice Table tasting menu is like no other: a gleeful parade of Indonesian-Malaysian-Chinese(ish) food, buzz-sawed with tradition and playfulness. A typical meal might include the famed roti, electric sambals, a blistering curry, and beef rendang clocked with candied anchovies. Or make your meal from the a la carte menu. The dining room has a creative strip-mall vibe and bumping playlist. Outdoors, there's a trio of heated huts decorated with tropical charm. In or out, romantic conversations can be fraught; the wise order the Immunity Idol cocktail, awash in tequila, coconut milk, and spices. 1801 NE César E. Chávez Blvd —KB  

Heavenly Creatures 

Sullivan's Gulch
A trip to Heavenly Creatures can be the entirety of your night out. Though it's technically a wine bar, presumably humble snacks (overseen by St. Jack’s Aaron Barnett) are more than enough to make a meal. Think sliced ham with pickled peppers, Tim’s potato chips to dip in an aerated camembert mousse, and the cult-favorite yellowtail toast—a sushi-grade nod to a lox bagel. Grab a seat at the plant-filled, candlelit chef’s counter, or around one of the small pink terrazzo tables. Be it the warm light, the laid-back but festive mood, or the palpable reverence for the titular heavenly creatures (the bottles of wine), being here carries the ineffable feeling of “going out.” Partner and house somm Joel Gunderson writes wine lists for restaurants across town, but he wanted a focused place: a pet project to serve wines pulled from his own not-so-small collection. Glasses come with lessons in European geography, stories of ardent farmers, and a distinctly Portland energy of nailing the details without taking yourself too seriously. 2218 NE Broadway —MT 



Jacqueline's oysters and house hot sauces

Jacqueline offers two different dates nights in one—daily dollar oyster happy hour for couples who want to try their luck at getting a walk-in table well before 5 p.m., followed by more relaxed seafood dinner dates in a playful environment that takes good cooking very seriously. Dinner might include hamachi crudo with charred pickled pineapple, seasonal salads boasting the likes of black sesame tahini, and rotating whole fish, perhaps fried branzino with salsa macha. Desserts join the party: pineapple tres leches cake in an umbrella-garnished glass, petite key lime pie with torched meringue and blueberries, or fig leaf–tulsi tea ice cream. 2039 SE Clinton St —Katherine Chew Hamilton


Pearl District 
This pan-Asian Pearl District newcomer delivers big on ambience, with a glowing cherry blossom tree in the center and showy food and drink—cocktails concealed under smoke-filled domes, caviar services adorned with bamboo mats and woven branches, hot stone wagyu beef. The menu is expensive but built for sharing, with dishes to suit several moods, including lavish Peking duck, restrained nigiri, and small plates, shishitos to steamed bao. 250 NW 13th Ave —KCH 

Langbaan and Phuket Café 

Northwest District
Oysters are prime romance food, but only Phuket Café serves them with the tingly sensation of nam jim seafood sauce. From there, anything is possible, like a Bangkok-inspired dry-aged rib eye, big enough for two; yellow curry–glazed potatoes, fierce and crusty; or whole pompano fish transformed into a glorious snack to bundle in herbs and lettuce. Or reserve a tasting menu at the cafe's other persona, the acclaimed Langbaan, which blends tradition, modernism, and the farmers market. Both options are possible in one cool vintage-mod room, sharing irreverent cocktails and wines curated by Portland's natural wine guru, Dana Frank (Bar Norman). 1818 NW 23rd Pl —KB 

Le Pigeon 

Portland’s original offal-loving punk-rock bistro has food combinations that would make Escoffier laugh, plus a deep wine list. If that’s not your idea of romance, we can’t help you. You never know what might spring from the mind of gifted chef Gabriel Rucker, only that it will be interesting. The experience is tasting menu-only, the weird and the wonderful. Each course is seemingly from a different Rucker planet, with distinct omnivore and vegetarian menus. Meat courses might veer from black truffle beer can chicken to ox hearts with bone marrow sabayon. Veg people get the likes of cornflake-fried squash. Desserts keep the whimsy going, like almond mocha ice cream with a foie gras profiterole. 738 E Burnside St —KB 

Les Caves and Le Clos 


The subterranean wine bar, Les Caves


Fools in love and lovers of wine, behold: paradise, Portland-style. Choose between two connected spots, separated by a few steps and a stairway. Downstairs is Les Caves, an underground wine cave with the feel of an old bohemian rock club. Upstairs is Le Clos, an enclosed patio room carpeted, hilariously, in Astroturf, floor to bar, with lounge couches and chairs the color of a smiley face. In both places, wine is what it should be: magical, an adventure, a chance to discover something out of the ordinary, perhaps from Croatia, the Republic of Georgia, or Forest Grove, Oregon. The crew makes the night accessible and special. Golden grilled cheese is the only edible option, gloriously panini-pressed. The best is the Alsatian, piled with Munster and ham, but all are good, and happily cut for sharing. 1719 NE Alberta St —KB 



Luce's clam pasta


This charming room is the quintessential Portland date spot—intimate, modestly priced, marching to its own beat. Even the floor-to-ceiling mini-mart grocery shelves are candlelit. Unadorned plates evoke the kitchen’s paean to honest Italian food: delicious pasta, fresh focaccia, and olive oil cake. Make a date-night party out of the $2 antipasti list or share a collection of house pastas, all available as half orders. Dig into the wine lover’s list, priced for everyday people, and don’t miss the silky panna cotta. 2140 E Burnside St —KB 


Looking for love in the afternoon? Måurice is your place, one of the last local bastions of the romantic lunch. Expect ambitious cooking, impressive baking, and interesting natural wines along with antique plates and indie chanteuse music. The menu is à la carte, but heads up: reservations are recommended. The small changing list is very in the moment, perhaps the freshest fish, butter browned, or a tender lefse pancake to roll up pickled persimmons and glorious little meatballs. The famed house quiche tastes like a savory crème brûlée. Desserts are a must: gorgeous pear and pistachio tarts to decadent black pepper cheesecake. 921 SW Oak St —KB 



A chef's selection of nigiri at Nimblefish


Sometimes, date night calls for quiet conversation and thoughtful, subtle flavors. The omakase, at $85 per person, highlights the range of raw fish in a tiny, 10-seat restaurant. Soon, you and your date will be discussing the merits of sea bream versus snapper. Though omakase portions are on the small side, the real fun comes at the end, when control of the courses gets handed over to diners for add-ons like sardine, wagyu beef, or tamago nigiri. 1524 SE 20th Ave —KCH 

OK Omens 

Confidence is its own seduction—knowing you're in the hands of pros who can deliver. Low-key, serious-casual gastrobar OK Omens is one of those places, helped by knowledgeable, enthusiastic service. The wine list, the alter ego of esteemed house somm Brent Braun, straddles elegant classics and funky naturals, though cocktails are good, too. Musings from Michelin-caliber chef Justin Woodward swing from fresh pasta baked with Roquefort mornay to a fine burger, with fries to match. The risotto is terrific, laden with pristine crab on top. The capper? PoMo's dessert of the year—a square of frozen coconut cream perched over luscious oat ice cream, chocolate coated cocoa puffs, and warm chocolate sauce. 1758 SE Hawthorne Blvd —KB 


Food meets art at this quirky tasting menu restaurant that moved to SE Clinton in late 2021, with four tasting menu options per night in different price tiers, $105–255. A meal might take you from buffalo mozzarella and figs to pork belly ssam, and cocktails are garnished with whimsical, super-spiraled zests and muddled with ingredients like charred peach. Add on service includes caviar and uni. Sit at the bar, in the dining room, or on the romantic, plant-filled patio. 2032 SE Clinton St —KCH 

Scotch Lodge 


Cocktails at Scotch Lodge are top-notch.

Tommy Klus's dark and sexy whiskey bar doubles as a food destination, with seats in cozy nooks or at the handsome marble bar attended by a crack team of cocktail experts. Chef Tim Artale makes familiar foods fun, delivered with bistro-quality plating. Oysters are a must, topped with playful granitas. Fried Brie sticks, clad in fine pumpernickel crumbs and pistachios, taste like elegant, cheese-oozing French toast. Some of Portland's best pasta is found here (not to mention a world-class whiskey list). But the real date test: are you going to share the monumental soft shell crab sandwich or hog it for yourself? 215 SE Ninth Ave —KB 

Sousòl Bar 


Let others fight for a reservation at Kann, Gregory Gourdet's blockbuster ode to Haiti.  The savvy date move is a seat at the restaurant's moody-chic subterranean bar, Sousòl—still a bit under the radar. In this theatrically dark space, mod cocktails and spicy Caribbean snacks are dispatched at little tables grouped around hot pink velour banquettes and ottomans. Trust us: you want the candied nuts, oven-toasted to a sweet-hot brittle. Regulars get the lollipop Trini-Chinese chicken. Insiders go for the samosa-like beef patties in turmeric-curry crust. Hiding inside: vividly spiced beef crumbles and toasted crumbs from Kann's plantain muffins upstairs. The capper: shaved pineapple ice, with pockets of guava and coconut cream inside. 227 SE Sixth Ave —KB 

St. Jack 

Northwest District
Masquerading as a classy bistro on NW 23rd's upscale strip, St. Jack is part of a modern wave of French restaurants pushing history book recipes into the modern era. Chef John Denison’s neo-Parisian flair melds seamlessly with the date night charm of the classy, dressed-down dining room. From rich pâté en croute to a humble but delicately roasted chicken, craw intact, to impossibly airy gougères (yes, remarkable cheese puffs), the menu is full of exciting but unpretentious bites to nosh between longing gazes. The wine cellar is deep. The dessert menu is loaded with nostalgic favorites like baked-to-order madeleines and mille feuilles. If you’re looking to woo a certain someone with a thing for the French, this is your spot. 1610 NW 23rd Ave —MT 


If you’re after a tasting menu date, Tercet does fine dining with a dose of Portland nonchalance. In place of the dozens of employees usually found at big-market prix fixe spots, as the name suggests, Tercet is run by just three people: two chefs and a sommelier/service manager. What they haven’t done away with is the rigor for detail, a tireless pursuit of quality, local foods, and of course a few novel tricks. (Caviar with egg yolk jam, anyone?) A healthy dose of luxury—by way of welcome cocktails, said caviar being served with mother of pearl spoons, and the dark and elegant mezzanine dining room—brings this spot up to special occasion-level dining, by all standards. There are certainly no jackets required at Tercet, but it is the city’s take on a dressed-up downtown tasting menu. 515 SW Broadway #100 —MT 


For a lot less money than a getaway to Spain, Urdaneta offers some of the same vibes, sherries, and snacks on Alberta Street. Along with an impressive selection of vermouth and sherry (get a flight for the full experience), seasonal sangria, and plentiful Spanish wine, tapas are the thing to get. But these aren’t your basic Spanish tortillas and patatas bravas—the kitchen taps modern fine dining techniques to make spherified olives (inspired by Spain’s famous El Bulli) and aerated truffle potatoes. Even a simple pressed American cheese sandwich, known here as the Bikini, is elevated with jamon serrano and truffle honey. 3033 NE Alberta St —KCH