PDXGuide

The Best Restaurants In Portland, Oregon

There’s so much good food to eat in Portland. Start with this list of buzzy Thai spots, fancy tasting menus, incredible food carts, and more.
Spread of dishes and cocktails on wooden table at Yaowarat

photo credit: Brooke Fitts

Portland was experimenting with fermentation, foraging, and whole animal butchery long before the restaurant world decided those things were trendy. That spirit is still ingrained in the city's DNA—which is why we’re a destination for restaurants and food carts featuring everything from salads filled with seasonal produce to Guyanese bakes stuffed with saltfish and Atlanta-style lemon pepper wings.

Some of the most creative and talked about restaurants in Portland are east of the Willamette River, the city’s natural dividing line. North Mississippi is the district for breweries and Prost Marketplace, the popular food cart collection with a pub. Or head to Inner Southeast to explore food pod culture or drink small-batch spirits on Distillery Row. Because, yes, there’s more to Northwest life than hoppy IPAs. 

THE SPOTS

photo credit: Eva Kosmos Flores

Haitian

East Burnside

$$$$Perfect For:Drinking Good CocktailsSpecial OccasionsBirthdays

Kann is by far the biggest Portland restaurant opening in the past couple of years. Maybe that has something to do with a former Top Chef contestant in the kitchen, or the fact that they smoke their own meats over a live fire. We think it’s because the Haitian-ish meal here always feels like a party. It’s the kind of place that could be described as fun and raucous if you’re with a group, but might not be ideal for deep conversations. Order the crispy taro fritters and coffee-rubbed wagyu ribeye and hang out at one of the long communal tables while pretending you’re in a Kinfolk spread. Reservations are no longer as hard to nab as they were when Kann first opened, but don’t count on being able to waltz in on a weeknight—you definitely want to plan ahead.

photo credit: Brooke Fitts

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The latest debut from the Nimson empire (Eem, Phuket Cafe, Langbaan) introduces the Thai-Chinese cuisine you’ll find in Bangkok’s Chinatown—a.k.a. Yaowarat. The prices are pure 2024 Portland, though. While you’re not going to sweat on plastic chairs while prawns are wok-fired in front of your eyes, a trip to this fun, casual spot in Montavilla is your chance to enjoy grilled squid swimming in spicy dressing, some of the silkiest mapo tofu you’ve ever tasted, and bright curries like Yaowarat’s green version with springy fish balls and winter melon. Skip the Singha in lieu of one of the fanciful cocktails that change up often, like the Same But Prettier, which is built around Thai tea-infused rum and coconut-jasmine horchata.

photo credit: Emily Joan Greene

Portland has no shortage of spots to grab a steamy bowl of phở. But nothing beats Hà VL. This Vietnamese place on 82nd has a daily changing rotation of two or three soups, which might not necessarily include phở. The options could be bún chả ốc with snail meatballs, tofu, and tomatoes on a Thursday, or bún cari gà, coconut chicken curry soup, on a Wednesday. To prevent any broth-based heartache, go early if you’re set on a particular soup since they will sell out by lunch. There are two other iterations of Hà VL around town—Rose VL Deli on Powell and the newer, more centrally located Annam VL. We like this location because it’s in the Jade District, so you can stock up on Asian groceries at nearby markets.

The chef duo behind Hollywood’s Xiao Ye gives a delicious lesson in “first-generation American food.” Rigatoni all’amatriciana is livened up with preserved chiles, and seasonal Jolyn’s Favorite Noodle V. 1, a riff on late-night meals made with pantry staples like black vinegar and chili crisp, is both tasty and comforting. Order the mini madeleines made from masa and mochi, served with whipped butter and jalapeño powder, to really understand their playful vision. With mismatched chairs and pale green wainscoting, the space feels like a cozy cottage that’s casual enough for a weeknight dinner. The food, however, is special enough for date night. 

The city’s Mexican restaurant scene leans toward overstuffed burritos and birria, and Comedor Lilia is a nice change of pace. The ambitious restaurant from República & Co on the South Waterfront is the answer for upscale Mexican food that goes deep into the hyper-seasonal Pacific Northwest thing. The daily changing menu might feature Hakurei turnips in mole or a carrot tlacoyo, moodily plated with pipian negro, black truffle shavings, and a pop of orange carrot foam. Order the juicy pork collar confit if it’s available. Depending on the season it might come with carrot sikil pak or black bean caldo, plus pan arabe. Or better yet, opt for the $98 chef’s tasting menu at the counter, and invite your Californian friend who insists there isn’t good Mexican food in Portland.

photo credit: High Proof Preacher

The Thai food and Texas BBQ mashup at Eem might seem unexpected at first, but the more you think about it, it totally makes sense. The combination of smoked meats, bird's eye chilies, and handfuls of herbs go perfectly together, making a meal here worth the (inevitable) wait. They don’t take reservations, but put your name on the list before heading to nearby Migration Brewing or The Box Social to buy some time. After one bite of the creamy white curry that’s studded with chunks of burnt-end brisket, you’ll get why it’s on everyone’s table. Add some smoked pork belly krapao, topped with a fried egg and a fun slushie drink, and soak up the party vibes before heading to your coworker’s gallery show you keep flaking on.

photo credit: Stu Mullenberg

$$$$Perfect For:Casual Weeknight Dinner

Portland doesn’t have a history of strong pizza traditions, which means you’ll never be subjected to a Chicago deep dish vs. NYC slice debate (though everybody here seems to love eating pizza with ranch). If anything could represent Portland-style pizza, though, it’d be Lovely’s Fifty Fifty on N. Mississippi. This is the place for a casual dinner in a big wooden booth. Expect tangy sourdough crust, no sauce, and seasonal toppings like snap peas, ramps, and green garlic. Don’t be surprised to see a rainbow of edible flowers sprinkled on top, which is prettier than sliced basil anyway.

Jeju, from the team behind Han Oak, goes beyond the usual all-you-can-eat deals and DIY tabletop grilling you see in many popular Portland KBBQ spots—and goes for drama. The $75 set menu features nose-to-tail cuts, all cooked over live fire. While the sliced meat, eaten bo ssam-style, is the main attraction, the banchan, like the blistered padron peppers with candied anchovies, smashed cucumbers, and chile crisp, are Scottie Pippen-level sidekicks. The high wooden ceilings make the chatter and vintage hip-hop echo, so while there’s lots of room to spread out as you split a bottle of soju or a round of makgeolli cocktails, it’s not the place for estate planning.

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Kaede fills a much-needed gap in Portland’s sushi scene. It's high-quality seafood flown in from Japan that doesn’t require saving up for weeks to enjoy. Things are kept relatively low-cost—almost all dishes on the menu are under $20. Rotating specials like golden-eye snapper and half beak will satisfy the sushi nerd in your life, while the saba battera (house-cured mackerel served in a square-shaped roll) is buttery enough to win over that friend who sticks solely to California rolls. This kappo-style Sellwood restaurant seats only 15 people and doesn't take reservations for more than two. So plan accordingly if you want to book a spot for a semi-special weeknight meal or an anniversary. 

Ask us who makes the best French food in Portland, and we'll say Le Pigeon every time. Seasonal dishes don’t shy away from unexpected ingredients—think sea buckthorn and furikake—and are nothing short of spectacular. The $135, seven-course tasting menu (with a vegetarian option) is served in a space that has bare brick walls and a tiny open kitchen. Depending on the day you might see things like chicken and dumplings with eel and pork belly or beef tartare with saffron pickled potatoes. The restaurant’s iconic foie gras profiteroles with caramel are always served as a meal-ender, and we now refuse to eat duck liver with heated sugar any other way.

A little French, a little Scandinavian, Maurice has been a daytime oasis for over a decade. Stop into the whitewashed downtown cafe for fika—a.k.a. coffee and a black pepper cheesecake with three-nut sablé. This spot is also the move for leisurely midday meals full of spring greens overflowing with asparagus and walnut lemonette, open-faced Norwegian smørbrød topped with anchovies, trout roe, and black radishes, plus glasses of orange wine. But any time spent here will be a welcome break from Portland’s casual-to-a-fault lunch scene.

Local Indian food fans know that the city’s westside suburbs are where to go for a dosa and dal fix, but in Portland proper, it’s the fast-casual Bhuna in Nob Hill that stands out. Born out of a beloved pop-up, Bhuna showcases Kashmiri cuisine with small plates and rice bowls that are vibrant and aromatic. Think turmeric basmati topped with lamb rogan josh or a rich tomato and eggplant curry spiked with mustard oil. The light-filled restaurant—it’s a flatiron building, so there are plenty of windows—is also a good pitstop for Happy Hour snacks, like lotus root fries, sliders, grilled skewers, and cocktails after some 21st Avenue shopping.

photo credit: Rachelle Hacmac

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The raw bar behind Fracture Brewing which shares an outdoor patio with the Lil’ America pod is a delightfully unexpected spot to find fresh fish. The less-than-obvious location—plus the seafood towers full of raw oysters, beautifully plated scallop crudo drizzled with chamomile oil, and hamachi garnished with green apple—are enough to impress a date or a group of out-of-towners. You need their lobster roll, which comes with hunks of meat doctored up with sauce gribiche, topped with brown butter, and served in a small hollowed-out brioche loaf. Câche Câche has a tight list of reasonably priced wines to pair with your seafood, and thanks to the neighboring taproom, you can sip a petite saison or rice lager if you’re more into beer.

The owner of Gracie’s worked in some Brooklyn pizzerias, which might have something to do with how perfectly charred and bubbly the crust is. Any Brooklyn comparison stops here—the toppings at Gracie’s are pure Portland. Local Mama Lil’s peppers, shishitos, and lemon oil might be in the mix. You can’t go wrong with the margherita if you’re the type who likes to let a few quality ingredients shine on their own, but if you go with a group, add on one of the daily pizza specials that combine a bunch of toppings in wonderful ways. Hazelnuts, fennel, calabrian chilis, green garlic, and fonduta? Pizza Hut could never.

Nong’s Khao Man Gai started as a food truck in 2003, and the local legend has since expanded to a couple of brick-and-mortar locations on both sides of the river. They mainly serve their namesake dish: deceptively simple sliced chicken poached with ginger, garlic, and pandan, served with jasmine rice cooked in aromatic chicken stock and a spicy-tart sauce that’s sold by the bottle. Stop in for a casual lunch featuring the now iconic Portland dish and make sure you order some crispy fried chicken skins on the side if they aren’t sold out yet.

There are a few things you can count on when you eat at Kachka: the room will be lively, a silly amount of vodka will get passed around, and you’ll become a lover of Belarusian food even if you didn’t know your salat from your shila plavi before. This Southeast spot is a great place to fill up on stuffed dumplings with farmer’s cheese or pelmeni with three different types of meat. They also have a wide variety of infused vodkas—including birch, sea buckthorn, and bay leaf—that are perfect for taking shots with the table next to you.

photo credit: Carter Hiyama

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Magna Kusina, a lively space filled with reds, blues, and yellows borrowed from the Philippines’ flag, is great for Filipino food that’s more chef-y than homestyle. Start with a few grilled skewers to share—we like the diver scallops, wagyu, and shishitos. Then focus on dishes like Mom’s Crab Fat Noodles made from squid ink and local Dungeness crab, or the duck legs with squash, long beans, and dirty rice. The restaurant is pretty casual, but you still need to make a reservation for a table. Otherwise, plan on eating takeout on the couch while reruns of Bar Rescue play in the background.

There aren’t many places in town to try food highlighting Mexico’s culinary history—while also managing to be fun, modern, and delicious. If you want to have the type of transporting experience found while dining in contemporary Mexico City restaurants, República’s seven-course tasting menu is a great approximation closer to home. You’ll get small bites using Mexican and Indigenous ingredients like annatto, palo santo, and plenty of corn, alongside dishes that draw from ancient Mayan times. Come here for a special occasion and add on a wine pairing that features pours exclusively from BIPOC, female, and LGBTQ+ winemakers, with a focus on Mexican and Mexican American producers.

This intimate spot from the Le Pigeon team reminds us of a Parisian wine bar because of the incredible small plates and eclectic wines by the glass. Except nobody who’s hanging out and having dinner at 10pm in the 11th arrondissement would be eating the kind of food you’ll find here. We’re talking about things like the duck stack—pancakes topped with a duck egg, smothered with gravy, and topped with an optional slice of foie gras—and the delicious mini steam burgers, Portland’s answer to White Castle. Canard is small on space but big on charm, so it’s best for solo diners who want to hang out on a window-facing bar stool or couples kicking off their evening at one of the banquettes that line the wall.

photo credit: Stu Mullenberg

Langbaan takes over Phuket Cafe Thursday-Sunday (Phuket Cafe is still open then), and it's the move for a big night-out dinner when you want to spend a small fortune on Thai dishes you won’t find anywhere else. The ever-changing tasting menu ($125 per person) starts with a parade of sweet, spicy, and funky one-bite dishes before moving on to plates like gaeng luang, a soupy curry with king salmon and roe that wouldn’t be out of place at a Michelin-starred restaurant in Bangkok. Just know that there are only eight seatings per week, so reservations go fast.

photo credit: Christine Dong

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Oma’s Hideaway shows off the city's love for fun, Asian-influenced mash-ups. There’s char siu and longan chimichurri, curry fries with salted egg yolk butter sauce, Fruity Pebbles Rice Krispie treats kissed with lime leaf and lemongrass, and more dishes inspired by the chef’s Chinese-Malaysian grandmother. Somehow, it all just works—and is perfect for sharing. The space, with fun sea creature wallpaper, disco balls, and ‘70s light fixtures, is the perfect spot to catch up with friends and get much-needed serotonin after a long week. 

Nicholas has been a Portland institution for Lebanese food since the ‘80s, and it’s still packed. So packed that they moved the original location to a loftier space in the inner Southeast, complete with a sprawling patio and full bar. Luckily, the pillowy, freshly baked pita that could feed a family of four is as good as ever. Bring a group and split a mezze, a Manakish pizza sprinkled with za’atar, and a slew of kabobs. Hummus and baba ganoush have become ubiquitous in the city over the years, but muhammara, the earthy red pepper dip, thickened with walnuts, is harder to find in Portland. Nicholas’ version is so rich and flavorful that you’ll want to get a container to go and devour it in private. 

photo credit: Stu Mullenberg

$$$$Perfect For:Special Occasions

Despite being located near multiple bodies of water, Portland hasn’t always been known for high-end sushi. That was before Nimblefish came on the scene in 2017 with Edomae-style nigiri presented one at a time like small jewels. This Hawthorne spot serves some truly excellent sushi, with plenty of local shellfish, imported ingredients like saba mackerel that’s cured in-house, and always perfectly cooked and seasoned rice. They have an omakase menu for $95, and it’s worth snagging one of the 12 seats at the counter for a special night when you want something a little more lively than a formal fine dining spot.

We'd nominate jojos as the food to represent the Pacific Northwest. Nobody does the thick-cut, deep-fried, and battered potato wedges better than this SE Powell food cart (they also have a brick-and-mortar in the Pearl District). Here, they're not relegated to just a side. You can get them loaded with cheese and one of ten different sauces, like our favorite jojo sauce, a blend of Duke’s mayo and ketchup. Despite the cart’s name, they also make a standout spicy chicken sandwich with pepper relish, honey, and Alabama white mustard sauce that puts Popeyes to shame.

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