For a decade now, Travel Portland’s annual Portland Dining Month event has been tantalizing the city’s taste buds. With this year’s collection of 137 restaurants, locals and visitors alike can take advantage of exquisite, pre-set three-course dinners for just $33 - an affordable price for an alimentary adventure.
Every reservation made on PortlandDiningMonth.com using the OpenTable booking links generates a donation to the Oregon Food Bank, so plan to give in to your cravings this March. At participating restaurants, $1 from a charity cocktail will also go to local nonprofit Transition Projects’ Mobile Engagement Unit, which delivers assistance to the area’s vulnerable residents.
Sometimes you can get lost outside your culinary comfort zone, so here’s a guide to some of the landmark spots you won’t want to miss in 2019.
Portland’s Northwest District is notorious for being a gastronomic hotbed. Steeped in history, Besaw’s has been a cornerstone there since 1903. Though it moved two blocks to a new location, it upholds the tradition of fine food and community atmosphere. Their Dining Month lineup gets off to a savory start with crispy Brussels sprouts, smoked honey, Taleggio cheese and Bordelaise sauce, with coq au vin next and panna cotta for dessert.
Kim Jong Smokehouse blends Southern-style barbecue smoking techniques with mouthwatering Korean street food, culminating in chicken mandu, kimchi flights and bibimbap bowls that are to die for.
Working with ingredients sourced from nearby organic farms and ranches, The Fireside is a cozy corner spot to enjoy the warmth of a hearth and the company of friends. You’ll certainly want to share the delicious pozole with charred cabbage and bruleed lime, and the braised brisket with black bean puree, chocolate mole and corn cake bolsters the Mexican-inspired spread.
High rises and high caliber cuisine await downtown diners. At Saucebox, energy hums through the pan-Asian fare, exciting the palate while nightly DJs entertain the ears. Discover tsukemono first, a plate of daikon radish and other preserved vegetables. By course three you have triple the options: spare ribs with peanut, scallion, pickled cucumber and jasmine rice; Phanaeng curry and potato, carrot and red pepper; or Kung pow shrimp drizzled with tsin tsin sauce.
Led by James Beard Award winner Greg Higgins, the eponymous Higgins delivers laudable European-tinged cooking that takes full advantage of Portland’s seasonal bounty. The event menu is graced by Pâté ardennais, Belgian farmhouse-ale sausage with stoemp, spaetzle with Brussels sprouts gratin and washed-rind abbey cheese, finishing on dark Belgian chocolate pave.
Headwaters at the Heathman is true to the source, displaying the vibrant cornucopia of Pacific Northwest ingredients in every delectable dish. Mama Mia Trattoria makes their case for the best Italian food in town, and the zucchini carpaccio, scallop risotto and Amaretto cheesecake are all pretty convincing.
In an area defined both by change and long time establishments, these eastside eateries set the standard. Hoda’s Middle Eastern Cuisine has been cooking flavorful, authentic Lebanese favorites for 20 years. Beginning with fresh tabouleh salad, the ambrosial meal also incorporates kibbeh “meat cupcake” stuffed with grass-fed beef, pine nuts, pomegranate and mozzarella and makloubeh with layers of lentils, jasmine rice, fried eggplant and caramelized onions.
A more casual compatriot to the restaurant that took Russian cuisine mainstream, Kachinka continues to deliver incredible vodka flights, dumplings and this phenomenal meal: smoked beets salad with potatoes, pickled carrots, sauerkraut, hard fried onion and sunflower dressing; Belarusian pork belly, machanka, pan gravy, blini and sea buckthorn berries; and hazelnut and chocolate wafer torte.
In a beautifully restored industrial building, Olympia Provisions Southeast prepares American charcuterie with rustic Spanish and Mediterranean influences. Dive into their chicories “caesar” salad with anchovies, roasted chicken thigh with celery root purée, wild mushroom and bacon, and stick the landing on warm gingerbread with spiced apple and hard sauce. Sampling the chef's choice charcuterie board with three meats, house-made pickles, grain mustard and baguette is a worthwhile addition.
Eating North By Northeast
Set your heading to discover some restaurants that sit above the rest. Astronomy loving Ecliptic Brewing may not be lightyears away, but its craft brews are out of this world. Throw in the Vegan Classic sandwich with black bean-frikeh-walnut patty, tofu mayo, lettuce, onion and pickle on ciabatta, or the boozy Porter float with daily ice cream, and there is something for everyone.
Salty’s On the Columbia offers the iconic view of Mt. Hood rising above the river, and exemplary seafood as an added bonus. Tiffin Asha will answer your wish for traditional Indian food, with treats such as dosa or masala. Make sure to check out their spice market before you leave.
You don’t have to go all the way to New Orleans to get that charming Cajun bistro vibe - just Fremont and 13th. Acadia Bistro brings a taste of the bayou to Portland with cornmeal fried Louisiana catfish, smoked chicken and andouille sausage jambalaya, and signature bread pudding with bourbon caramel sauce.