This March, make sure to leave room in your schedule for a few palate pleasing days during Portland Dining Month, presented by Travel Portland. At more than 100 restaurants across the city, gluttons for all things gourmet can take advantage of prixe fixe three-course meals for just $33. There’s no better way to kick off 2020 than investing in your own epicurean entertainment, without busting the budget. Also, every time a reservation is made through OpenTable at PortlandDiningMonth.com, the Oregon Food Bank receives a donation—as if you needed another reason to indulge. Charitable chow is a win-win, but if you don’t know where to start, give these eateries a try.
While many Dining Month restaurants are longtime participants, there are several novel faces (and feasts) making their debut this year.
On top of actively promoting the sustainable use of seafood resources, Flying Fish Restaurant and Oyster Bar Owner Lyf Gildersleeve is always ready to educate customers on why his ocean-harvested fare tastes so delightful. Once you see the selection, there won’t be much time for chatting—oysters, a bowl of cioppino, Flying Louie salad, and tuna poke with cilantro ginger sauce round out the first two courses. Stay the course for blackened Oregon Rockfish gringo hardshell tacos or savory albacore fish and chips. Vegetarian options are available throughout, and you can always pick a la carte. Opening February 10, 2020, this restaurant is as fresh as the daily catch.
Set on the ground floor of The Hoxton in Old Town Chinatown, Lovely Rita is a chic Pacific Northwest-style bistro, in its decor and hyper seasonal recipes. It’s difficult to not fill up on the braised short rib pappardelle with celery root cream, crispy potato and gremolata, but try your best moderation; you can’t let anything come between you and the dark chocolate ganache tart with espresso whip and hazelnut crumble.
Literally translated to “mix mix,” Gado Gado is also an Indonesian dish—and Asian fusion restaurant in the Hollywood District. Satays of all sorts are served there, showing all you need to do to bring the best ingredients together is put them on a stick. Whether you’re a regular or first timer, Oma's aromatic rice with opor ayam (chicken leg in curry with a soft egg) is a necessary delicacy that’s even better knowing you have shaved ice with sweet red bean, jackfruit, longon, pandan coconut milk, and gula jawa syrup waiting for you.
Female Chefs and Restaurateurs
Don’t miss out on the scores of female chefs and restaurateurs thriving across Portland. The mouthwatering cuisine they are whipping up is to-die for.
Cantina Xica owner Liz Davis bring the wonders of mezcal and Mexican favorites to the Rose City, from street food to timeless classics. Begin with a salad taco on an organic corn tortilla, then dig into two chile rellenos (one poblano and one guajillo) stuffed with smoked chicken tinga, tomatoes, chiles, and a black bean sauce. To end with mucho gusto, order the tres leches cake with shredded coconut and whipped cream.
Chef Sarah Pliner brings diverse offerings to her kitchen at Aviary. Drawing on decades of experience and clean, local ingredients, the choices are plentiful too. The green papaya, Thai chili and mint in the turnip cake makes an unforgettable appetizer. Kurobuta pork short rib or pan-seared salmon are the main courses, while lemon chiffon cake with blood orange crémeux and citrus is the sweets standout.
Together with her husband, Lily Tollefsen oversees a phenomenal Mid-Atlantic and American-inspired spread at Radar. East and West Coast cuisines come together in an entirely open kitchen and diners can take in the spectacle as their food is prepared. Kick off the experience with seafood bisque and dungeness crab cake, or a fennel and citrus salad with watercress, oil-cured olive, pistachio and champagne vinaigrette. Next, deciding between braised beef cheeks and pan-roasted scallops may be leave you torn, but the crème caramel and spun sugar will make you feel better afterward.
From original cocktails to satisfying brews, here, notable liquid refreshment is on tap, as is the delicious fare to match.
At natural wine bar OK Omens, the descriptions of the vino tell you all you need to know: “A Refreshing Take on a Familiar Grape” or “Good Cheap French White”, are two examples. Their Dining Month lineup spells out even more delectable options, from a burnt beets starter to chicken bites or the Impossible Burger. For dessert, save space for the “Kinda Like a McFlurry”.
Ground Breaker Brewing’s gluten-free beers and vittles open the door for everyone to enjoy. In the gastropub, you’ll start with a sherry vinaigrette local greens salad, then move to the buttermilk fried chicken sandwich that’s slathered in creamy garlic sauce, house-made pickles, lettuce and heirloom apple BBQ sauce. The double chocolate chip ice cream sandwich (and house-made maple syrup gelato) are a satisfying finale.
Vodka is priority No. 1 at Russian eatery Kachka, where the list of spirits is as long as the Siberian winter. Getting warmed up for your meal with a flight is a smart choice. It will set your palate for traditional dishes such as mushroom salata with cured porcini, butternut squash vareniki with crispy basturma, and lastly, a thyme and black tea plombir covered in Sushki cookie crumble and poppyseeds.