*Update: Although we still stand by these restaurant recommendations, we have since published an all encompassing, beautifully written and photographed list of the 40 best restaurants in Portland, and we highly recommend referencing this new post first and foremost. Happy reading!
It’s no wonder foodies from all over the country flock to Portland. In Portland there is an overwhelming abundance of local, innovative restaurants that you can’t find anywhere else. In Portland you could eat at a different food truck every night for just about two years (over 600 licensed food carts). In Portland there are more vegan/vegetarian options than any other city in the U.S. And in Portland we found, as the Female Foodie team, that some of the best bites we have ever had lie in this quirky city. Follow along with us, Brooke and Jenny- two members of the Female Foodie team as we share 15 of our latest top picks!
Life of Pie Pizza
Life of Pie Pizza is a popular pizza spot for locals along the North Williams Avenue strip in southeast Boise district of Portland, Oregon. The pizza is wood-fired making the crust crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. The mozzarella cheese they use is my favorite part – so melty and thick. The picnic benches outside are perfect for this location to take in the relaxing aura of Portland.
We chose the following food and they were ALL good:
- Appetizer: Arancini (risotto croquettes with ricotta and mozzarella)
- Pizza: chop spicy salami, mama lil’s peppers, goat cheese & honey
- Pizza: seasonal mushrooms with shaved pecorino romano and truffle oil
- Pizza: fennel sausage and mama lil’s peppers
For one of the best sandwiches in town, be sure to stop by Lardo in one of their two locations in Portland. A once food truck now turned into bustling restaurant, Lardo boasts a mouth-watering menu that features pork drenched double burgers, a giant meatball Banh Mi, and hand-cut french fries smothered in pork.
Favorite menu items:
- Pork Meatball Banh Mi (with pickled vegetables, sriracha mayo, cilantro, cucumber)
- Korean Pork Shoulder Sandwich (with house kimchi, chili mayo, cilantro, lime- pictured above)
- Double Burger (porkstrami, cheddar, lettuce, Lardo Sauce- pictured below)
You don’t have to be a jerk to eat here. In fact, the man who helped place my order at Pizza Jerk was possibly one of the kindest people I met while visiting Portland. But let me back up to the first time I heard about Pizza Jerk, which was just a few weeks back on the Bon Appetit Podcast when they were talking about the 3 Best New Pizza Joints In America. My ears totally perked up when they mentioned their number one pick of the year was in Portland- Pizza Jerk. I immediately did some research, made some calls, and found out to my dismay that Pizza Jerk was temporarily closed down.a blog that Pizza Jerk keeps up, revealing the big reason as to WHY they had decided to shut their doors. Long story short, my prayers were answered and Pizza Jerk indeed was recently re-opened during my stay in PDX. It’s everything you want in a salty, savory, slice of pizza and it was all I could do to not soil my entire appetite on an entire pizza myself.
Salt & Straw
Salt & Straw has come to be known as one of the most popular ice cream shops in the country. Salt & Straw started in Portland, but now they have expanded to Los Angeles, California. They are infamous for creating complex, unique flavors using seasonal and farm-to-table ingredients of their local area. Also, the waffle cones are beautifully made to order and are so delicious! You can smell them along with the rich ice cream inside the store.
- They welcome you to try any and all flavors, so keep trying as many as you want until you fully decide which one to go with!
- The waffle cone is most beautiful as a cup because they fold it to look like a flower, so get one if you intend to take photos.
- There is another size most do not know about: you can split a scoop. Normally you would probably just want one scoop of their ice cream because it is so rich and the scoops are huge. Well, you can split the scoop between two people choosing different flavors, or you can just split it yourself for the price of one and try two different flavors! For instance, I usually get one scoop in a cup split to whatever coffee flavor they have (my favorite is the Stumptown Coffee with Compartes Love Nuts) and the Sea Salt with Caramel Ribbons.
All their flavors are worth a try, and do not get discouraged by how odd the flavors may sound. They are brilliant at mixing flavors together into ice cream – you will be so pleasantly surprised at how many are good!
Saint Cupcake is the cutest little cupcake place on the North Williams Avenue strip. They have “dots” (mini versions of their cupcakes) which make it easier to try a bunch of flavors. The cupcakes are so unique and beautifully decorated.
Again, all the flavors were good so no wrong choices here:
- Chocolate with Vanilla Buttercream = rich and fudgy chocolate cake topped with traditional vanilla buttercream
- Big Top = buttery vanilla cake with chocolate chips baked right in, then topped with vanilla cream cheese icing that is tinted differently each day
- The Salty Captain = rich and fudgy chocolate cake topped with a smooth caramel buttercream, finished with a drizzle of caramel sauce and sprinkling of sea salt
- Red Velvet = classic moist red velvet cake topped with classic vanilla cream cheese icing
There’s nothing like good sushi when you’re in a coastal town. This restaurant is 100% to code with the Portland vibe of sustainability, organic, farm to fork, etc. and sports the tagline “sustainable. delectable. possible.” We loved the Southeast neighborhood this location is situated in almost as much as the sushi.
- the green machine (sushi roll with tempura fried long bean and green onions topped with avocado and cilantro sweet chili aioli)
- garden of eden (sushi roll with spicy albacore, cucumber, and apple inside topped with tuna tataki,
basil, and pickled mustard seeds, with a touch of spicy aioli on the plate)
- the local (sushi roll with MSC albacore, strips of red jalapeño, and cucumbers inside topped with east coast red crab mixed with spicy sesame aioli and black tobiko)
- sweet and sour cauliflower
- miso mushrooms
Tasty n Sons
Tasty n Sons is Portland’s go-to brunch spot and new American diner serving family-style meals inspired by co-owner and executive chef John Gorham’s international travels. Nestled along the North Williams Avenue strip, Tasty n Sons has an industrial, neighborhood feel. While their brunch is famous, the dinner can easily stand on its own as iconic.
The following are highly recommended:
- Biscuits with royal’s honey butter
- Burmese Red Pork Stew (pictured above)
- Fried Egg N Cheddar Biscuit (pictured below)
- Mary’s Fried Chicken (chesapeake bay or red hot)
- Cider Brined Pork Chop with bacon jam
- Piedmontese Bavette Steak with shallot-thyme butter
- Cajun Mac & Cheese
- Red Beans & Carolina Gold Rice
Por Que No?
Because what is a trip to a foodie city without finding the best Mexican joint in town? We loved the neighborhood this specific location was in- the Boise neighborhood in the North East part of town (although they do have an additional location just off of Hawthorne in the South East part of Portland) and had no idea that this would become one of our absolutely favorite places to eat in the entire city! Best menu item? Their tacos. #shocker
- Camarones: spicy sautéed wild shrimp topped with crema, cabbage, spicy serrano salsa, onion, cilantro, and pineapple.
- Lengua: Cascade Farms beef tongue braised and seared crisp, topped with onions, cilantro, and spicy serrano salsa.
- Al Pastor: succulent Cascade Farms pork grilled with pineapple & topped with spicy salsa de arbol, onions, and cilantro.
- Pollo Verde: Cascade Farms chicken braised in tomatillo salsa & topped with salsa verde, onions, and cilantro
- Barbacoa: Cascade Farms beef brisket braised inside banana leaves in a three chile barbacoa salsa, topped with pickled red onions, cilantro, and crema from Ochoa’s Quesaria in Albany.
Screen Door is my favorite southern brunch I’ve had so far. It’s hearty, soulful, and delicious! The decor is simple and diner-like on the inside, and it looks like a neighborhood house on the outside. The gravy here is outstanding! I seriously crave it even while I am having it. I couldn’t get enough!
Here is what we had:
- Screen Door Fried Chicken and Waffle
- Fluffy Buttermilk Biscuits with country sausage gravy and 1 egg over-easy
Pip’s Original Doughnuts & Chai
Newly opened in 2013, owners Nathan and Jamie Snell desired to “bring back the mom and pop doughnut shop” and thereafter created a delicious, made-to-order doughnut experience that is unlike any other in PDX. You can read our full post here for all of the delicious details on Pip’s, and in the meantime feast your eyes on these bad boys . . .
Nong’s Khao Man Gai
It’s hard to forget a name like Nong’s Khao Man Gai after you hear it over. And over. And over. Rumored to be one of the best food trucks in Portland, Nong’s serves delicious authentic Thai Food. The owner, Nong, moved to the U.S. in 2003 with only two suitcases and $70. Now, 13 years later, she has a thriving and cult-following business and a simple yet incredibly flavored rice and chicken dish (Khao Man Gai) that will literally knock your socks off. Be prepared to join the following.
We noticed while in Portland there was an over abundance of MEAT, MEAT, MEAT everywhere. Which was a big shocker for how vegan of a city it is. But, nonetheless, this food-centric town (meaty or not), has more charcuterie boards than you can imagine. And the best is at Olympia Provisions. I first found them at the Good Food Awards in San Francisco, and was pleasantly surprised to hear they had an actual restaurant in the industrial part of downtown Portland.
Pine State Biscuits
Although a rival to the earlier mentioned Screen Door, we had to mention both. Because they’re just that incredibly good. Pine State Biscuits was one of our most recommended spots to hit up while dining in Portland- and the recommendations come for good reason. Their homemade, buttery biscuits will make you feel like you’re sitting at home at your mom’s counter as you cover these homemade beauties in soft, salty butter and homemade marionberry jam.
Feeling more adventurous? Try their oh-so gluttonous Reggie Delux. It’s a homemade biscuit topped with fried chicken, bacon, cheese, gravy, and a hot fried egg. You might need a walk around the block after this one but trust me- it’s 100% worth it. They have 4 PDX locations including their booth at the Saturday Farmers Market- we tried their Alberta location and really enjoyed it.
Blue Star Donuts
You have probably heard of VooDoo when you think of donuts in Portland, Oregon. While this popular touristy spot has its charm, you really can’t beat homemade donuts made with a classic brioche recipe and inventive, yet tasteful ingredients. Although now with multiple locations in Portland and also in Los Angeles and Tokyo, Blue Star Donuts began in Portland and still stands as a symbol of delicious baked confectionaries in PDX today.
If you haven’t heard of Pok Pok, it’s time to get out of that hole and start living. Pok Pok has been a top item in terms of Portland Restaurants for several years now- and it only takes one meal for a new comer to understand why. We were lucky enough to visit the original location, “Pok Pok PDX” for a delicious meal with over 8 menu items, all shared family style as they encourage their guests to do so. Beware- lines at Pok Pok can be insanely long, similar to most bustling restaurants in Portland. Cut the line by reserving for a group of 6 or more online ahead of time or ordering takeout!
- Ike’s Vietnamese Fish Sauce Wings: half dozen fresh whole natural chicken wings marinated in fish sauce and sugar, deep fried, tossed in caramelized Phu Quoc fish sauce and garlic and served with Vietnamese table salad.
- Kai Yaang: charcoal roasted, Mary’s fresh pasture raised, air-cooled chicken, stuffed with lemongrass, garlic, pepper and cilantro served with spicy/sweet/sour and tamarind dipping sauces
- Khao Soi: Northern Thai mild curry noodle soup made with our secret curry paste recipe and house-pressed fresh coconut milk. Served with house pickled mustard greens, shallots, crispy yellow noodles and roasted chili paste.
- Muu Sateh: Carlton Farms pork loin skewers marinated in coconut milk and turmeric, grilled over charcoal and served with peanut sauce, cucumber relish and grilled bread.