Welcome to our 2021 guide to Portland restaurants, which features 40 of the best restaurants in Portland in as many categories as could reasonably fit into a post for readers with an above-average attention span. Like any visitor, native or person of interest with interest in the Portland dining scene knows, culling to 40 best Portland restaurants from about 4,000 is no easy task.
The absolute best restaurants in Portland
This guide has short highlighted information for each restaurant and includes high-end Portland restaurants as well as a smattering of casual Portland restaurants. We kept parameters limited to locally-owned restaurants in the Portland area.
40. Upscale Mexican: Xico
Xico is a wonderful Mexican restaurant on Division Street in Southeast Portland with delicious, thick homemade tortillas, juicy and amply stuffed tacos, and inventive options including ceviche, burritos and a nice spicy mexi-dog. They are open for lunch and dinner, as well as brunch on the weekend and it’s one of the best Portland restaurants. Highlights: those deliciously thick tortillas, Salad Tacos, Sopa de Lima.
39. Chinese: Danwei Canting
Danwei Canting has an amazing menu full of dumplings, burgers (tofu, lamb), skewers, bings, noodles, jiaozi, and fun snacks like peanuts and fries. While not a traditional Chinese restaurant, it’s still a fun visit if you’re in the mood for Chinese but more in the form of Beijing snack-ey and street foods.
38. Spanish: Bar Casa Vale
Bar Casa Vale is a fun Spanish restaurant with excellent snacks such as Valencia Almonds, Marinated Olives, Anchovy, Bread with Tomato Oil, King Spot Prawns with Shrimp Paste and a Trout Skewer; Boards including Charcuteri, Seafood and Cheese; and an impossible-to-choose-from list of Small and Large plages including Clams, Octopus, Paella, Salt Cod Fritters, and Roasted Iberico Pork. Be bold and go for the $50 Chef’s Choice Family Style Feast, with tastes of all the best choices.
37. Cool and Fun: Deadshot
Deadshot is a bar-with-snacks (not only snacks but also an amazing plate of pork steak with mashed potatoes), the friendly and casual relative to former fine-dining restaurant Holfdfast (now permanently closed), and is serving up the best ham this side of Tennessee. At Deadshot, Adam Robinson, Will Preisch, and Joel Stocks are reinventing bar food and their drinking accompaniments. Highlight: Ham sampler with Pineapple Butter and Aleppo Pepper and Cornmeal Madeleines with Lardo, Parmesan and Honeycomb.
36. Burger: Pastrami Zombie
There are a zillion delicious burgers in Portland, but one of our personal favorites (and one that we’d confidently recommend if you could only sample one or two) is found at Pastrami Zombie. Sister restaurant to Sammich, Pastrami Zombie makes one heck of a burger, also known as “Da Burg”. With Swiss and American cheese, sammich sauce, shredded lettuce, and onion on an Italian bun, this burger is truly to-die-for. The bun is light and not too dense, griddled to perfection with the perfect crunch on the outside and softness on the inside. The burger itself is decadently juicy and packed with great, juicy flavor. The sammich sauce ties everything together perfectly. You can get the exact same burger at Sammich, but #scoutshonor it tastes better at the truck.
35. BBQ: Holy Trinity Barbecue
Holy Trinity Barbecue is a fantastic true-to-form Texas-style barbecue in the heart of Portland. Similar to authentic barbecue joints in the south, they sell quintessential cuts of meat such as brisket, pork ribs, sausage, and pulled pork, with classic sides like beans, slaw, and cheesy grits. Everything here is made with quality, flavor, and moistness in mind– you won’t find day-old barbecue here and if you arrive too late, some meats may be sold out. Brisket is traditionally the true measure of a pitmaster (it’s unquestionably the most difficult to smoke), and you can expect nothing less than moist, juicy brisket, smoked to perfection here.
34. Over the Bridge: Nonavo Pizza
Our choice for the restaurant to hit if you’re heading over the bridge, away from the crowds and traffic, is Nonavo in Vancouver. Nonavo is king of the farmer’s market/farm-to-table pizza and serves some of the best salads in the Pacific Northwest. Try the margherita for a no-fail classic order, or get the bolognese for a pizza that’s a little more substantial. Don’t miss the homemade ice cream!
33. Indian: Bollywood Theater
Bollywood Theater is a fun, casual and always bustling Indian restaurant with two locations in Portland offering lesser-known dishes and popular street foods. It’s our favorite spot for great Indian food in town and one of the best Portland restaurants. Highlight: Kati Roll and Goan-Style Shrimp.
32. Sandwiches: Sammich
Sammich PDX is Chef and owner Melissa “Cubby” McMillan’s newest addition to her empire that began with Sammich Ashland (2013); took on Cully and North Portland with food truck Pastrami Zombie (home of one of our favorite burgers) in 2016, and in 2017 arrived on E. Burnside to bring killer sandwiches including her signature Montreal-style Pastrami to the masses. All of Sammich’s meats are roasted, smoked, and cured in-house. Besides a sublime Pastrami sando, you can also get a “Timbo” which is a Chicago version of a Cheesesteak- sliced beef stuffed into a toasted baguette with mayo, cheese, lettuce and onion; the “Da Burg” which is a first-class double patty burger that can be tricked up a number of levels (add pastrami, jalapeno, giardiniera, bacon); a Cubbie Cubano with ham, swiss, bacon, pickles, mustard, and giardiniera; a Chicago Italian Beef with giardiniera and sweet peppers then dipped; a couple of nice Turkey sandos; a Grilled Cheese (Cheddar and Swiss and served with Tomato Soup); an Albacore Tuna option and finally, why not try a salad such as a Cubbie Cobb or Wrigley Salads. If you’ve picked up on the baseball references then you know the other reason we love this place which is that there’s a die-hardedness to the fan/owner, and what’s there not to love about that?
31. Nong’s Khao Man Gai
One of the most beloved Portland restaurants, Nong’s Khao Man Gai, serves straightforward and undeniably delicious Thai Food. Female owner Nong Poonsukwattana moved to the U.S. in 2003 with only two suitcases and $70. Now, nearly two decades later, she has a thriving and cult-following business thanks to her simple yet incredibly flavored rice and chicken dish (Khao Man Gai) that will literally knock your socks off. Her signature sauce is the icing on the cake– be prepared to join Nong’s cult following.
30. Southern: Yonder
Yonder is one of the best restaurants in Portland for incredibly thorough, finger-licking southern food. Yonder is the place to come for sinfully delicious comfort food items such as buttermilk-brined (and fried to order) chicken, perfect buttery biscuits, or crunchy and nostalgic iceberg salad. And the brunch on Saturday and Sunday is not to be missed, with glutinously fantastic dishes, perfect for sleepy weekend mornings like country fried chicken, biscuits and gravy, and the hot mess hash. Looking for the ultimate southern dining experience? Book a reservation at their unforgettable family-style tasting menu at their sister restaurant Mae, housed in a gorgeous private room in the same building as Yonder.
29. Iconic Pizza: Apizza Scholls
Apizza Scholls is one of the tried and true Portland restaurants that locals and tourists alike will always visit with confidence, because they know they’re getting not only one of the best slices of pizza in Portland, but some of the best pizza of their lives. There is not a frill in sight at Apizza Scholls, just solid classic pies and a few creatives thrown in for good measure. Get the Amatriciana (mozzarella, grana padano, light sauce, red chili flakes, red onions, and house-cured bacon), or if you’re a pineapple on your pizza kind of person, the Pig & Pineapple is delicious. Also worth noting, Apizza Scholls makes an outstanding Caesar salad.
28. Happy Hour: Expatriate
Perhaps familiar from our guide to the best burgers in town, Expatriate is Beast Chef Naomi Pomeroy’s ode to fun drinking snacks and is also one of the best restaurants in Portland. Try the James Beard Onion Sandwiches, Shrimp Toast, or Expat Katsu Sando. Expatriate also serves one of the best brunches in town with an unusual and creative small menu.
27. Sugarpine Drive-In
Relatively new-ish to our canvas of Portland restaurants is the Sugarpine Drive-In. You’ll have to drive nearly 30 minutes from the city center to access this hidden gem, but it’s a decision we venture to say you’ll never regret. Sugarpine Drive-In is equal parts cozy, nostalgic, and delicious. An old tackle shop converted into a drive-in and restaurant, Sugarpine serves up a variety of approachable and fantastic menu items like grilled cheese sandwiches, hearty salads, and homemade soup. Save some room for a soft-serve cone or an ice cream sundae!
26. Artisanal Pizza: Lovely’s Fifty Fifty
The Lovely’s Fifty Fifty Pizza, served up by the wonderfully creative and spirited Sarah Minnick, although changing by week and season, consistently has so many things we love on and in a pizza: organic and naturally leavened dough, locally grown produce, juicy sauces and condiments, and eggs. Fifty Fifty pies have more of everything we love in a pizza: more smell, more color, more character, more taste, more chew. Yet they are not heavy-handed or overdone, just in possession of every good pizza element in its perfect fullness. The Fifty Fifty pies are wildly vegetable-centric, and the dough has a delicious earthy deep flavor. Open for dinner only and always polish off your pizza with some of their homemade, small-batch ice cream.
25. Lunch Deal: Luce
Grab a table at this simple neighborhood Italian spot, with its black & white checkered floor and shelves filled with imported goodies, for some deceptively simple Italian home cooking, with choices from appetizers to salads to pasta and/or steak sections. This is unfussy Italian food at its best. You can also order a la carte from the seasonal menu with choices like roasted beets, arancini, lemon-scented cappelletti in brodo, octopus and potato salad with parsley and olives, and don’t forget the wonderful fresh focaccia. Highlight: Olive Oil Cake.
24. Eastern European: Kachka
We love the food and the decor at Kachka and it’s undoubtedly one of the best restaurants in Portland. Whether or not you drink vodka, you’ll enjoy yourself at this playful yet sophisticated restaurant in the Industrial district. Lots of dumplings including a Siberian Beef and Pork Pelmeni and a local Sour Cherry Vareniki, Charcuterie, Smoked Fishies, and inventive seasonal dishes. Be sure to try the famous “Herring Under a Fur Coat,” (herring, potatoes, beets) pictured above.
23. Charcuterie: Olympia Provisions
You can’t come to Portland (or live in Portland) without indulging in the best spot in town for delicious, salty charcuterie. And there’s no one who does things quite like Olympia Provisions. It’s one of our favorite spots in town for nearly every occasion, with a brunch, lunch, midday, and dinner menu. Be sure that every meal has at least one of their Spanish, Italian, or French cheese boards, and some house marinated olives. Not enough charcuterie? Hop over to the bar and purchase one of their homemade salami rolls to go.
22. Vietnamese: Rose VL
If you love a good bowl of Pho or other traditional Vietnamese soup, this is the one place you have to go. Rose is a hole-in-the-wall family with a capital “F” Mom and Pop joint with a sparse menu (2 soups per day) on Foster Avenue in Southeast Portland and is not really near anything else, but you won’t care. You’re there for the soup. The soup at Rose VL is easily one of Portland’s Top 10 dishes, it’s so flavorful, fresh, and authentic and it’s also a great deal. Pop will likely take your order and Mom (or daughters) will make your soup. Highlights: Crab Flake Soup, Turmeric Noodle Soup.
21. Tortas: Güero
There’s no restaurant in Portland quite like Güero. Situated on 28th Ave in southeast Portland, this Mexican restaurant serves phenomenal tortas. Have you had a mouth-watering, life-changing torta before? If you haven’t, Güero is a great place to set the bar. Get the carnitas torta, which is prepared on a perfectly toasted telera (Mexican sandwich bread), packed with juicy delicious toppings including Carlton Farms pork, avocado, fresh onion, cilantro, lime, cabbage, and pickled onion with chile lime mayo. Güero also serves an exceptional burger, made with two smash patties, avocado, American cheese, pickled jalapeños, grilled onions & chiles, ham, queso, iceberg lettuce, and chipotle mayo on a sesame bun.
20. Australian: Proud Mary Cafe
Proud Mary is simultaneously a dual-country cafe and one of the best restaurants in Portland. The emphasis here is hands down the high-end coffee, but coffee drinker or not, the food here is incredible. They offer all-day breakfast, delicious lunch, high-end tea, fresh juice, smoothies, cakes, and pastries in a gorgeous, bright space. True to Australian-themed restaurants, the food here is fresh and (mostly) healthy with a big emphasis on sustainable, locally sourced products. Menu items may rotate seasonally, but the ricotta hotcake is an absolute must!
19. Ramen: Afuri Izakaya
If you want the best ramen in Portland, head straight to Afuri in southeast Portland, where the ramen is authentic as it gets (this is Afuri’s first location outside of Japan). Ramen is the house specialty, but everything served at Afuri is noteworthy, from the dumplings to the sushi to the sashimi. Get the yuzu shio for their most signature ramen, or if you’re in the mood for a seafood-centric meal, the chirashi don is unforgettable.
18. Thai Comfort Food: Paa Dee
Our favorite Thai spot in Portland is Paa Dee. Chef Earl Ninsom (Hat Yai) serves up your favorite familiar Thai dishes such as Pad Kee Mao and Tom Yum soup, as well as Thai comfort food curries, vigorously flavored snacks and appetizers and a standout Fried Whole Trout. Highlight: lunch’s Fried Soft Boiled Egg with Dried Chili, Shallot, Scallion, Tamarind Sauce and the Pan Fried Tapioca-based Chinese Chive Cakes served with Sour Soy Sauce. You’re welcome.
17. Fried Chicken: Hat Yai
Hat Yai is the iconic tiny Thai spot on N. Killingsworth (and a newer location on Belmont) where you’ll feast on the most delicious fried chicken of your Portland life. Fried Chicken Wing, Leg Quarter, Half Chicken, and Whole Chicken option comes with Sticky Rice, and Fried Chicken Curry Roti Set is a Leg Quarter served alongside Curry and Roti. Be sure to go with friends so one of you can order the other curry options as well as the dessert Roti.
16. Modern French: Le Pigeon
Ah, Le Pigeon, the James Beard award-winning Chef Gabriel Rucker’s playful take on French food and the place to go for all-out indulgence, serving not only the finest modern French cuisine in Portland, but also one of the best burgers in town. Highlight: sit at the counter and watch the team cook your Beef Cheek Bourguignon, Seared Foie Gras, Spaghetti alla Pastrami, or your burger for gastronomic bliss.
15. Classic French: Bistro Agnes
Bistro Agnes is the chic reincarnation of Greg and Gabrielle Denton’s Superbite (RIP) in a wonderfully convenient location if you are staying or spending a day walking about downtown Portland. Bistro Agnes has everything you want from a classic French menu: Onion Soup au Gratinee, Endive Salad, Chicken Liver Mousse, Salad Lyonnaise, Mussles Mariniere and Steak Frites. Highlights: Onion Soup, and proximity to other wonderful places such as Blue Star Donuts, Bamboo Sushi and Lardo.
14. Italian: Ava Gene’s
Ava Gene’s is Tusk’s older Roman-influenced, also vegetable-centric, Division Street sister restaurant. Ava Gene’s bills itself as “aggressively seasonal” and it is. It’s one of Portland’s best restaurants to eat a ton of vegetables. Same owners as Tusk, same wonderful hospitality and chic brand, and same guarantee of a very good meal as well as good people watching. Highlights: The menu changes monthly, but generally anything from the “Giardini” or “Primi” section.
13. Tacos: Matt’s BBQ Tacos
There are so many great tacos in the City of Roses. From trucks to tiendas to sit down restaurants, everything is possible in Portland. But our current favorite go-to taco spot is unquestionably Matt’s BBQ Tacos. You’re coming here for Texas-style tacos that taste every bit Texan and authentic as the real-deal establishments in cities like Austin, San Antonio, and Houston. Foundational to any great taco is a homemade tortilla, and Matt’s BBQ Tacos makes both their flour and corn tortillas by hand (most taquerias in Texas typically make one or the other). The menu here is delightfully small and simple, with four lunch taco options and two breakfast taco options. The Migas is the quintessential breakfast taco, and Matt’s makes theirs to perfection, with soft scrambled egg, cooked tortilla chips (those are the migas), pico de gallo, cheese, and guac. All three lunch tacos are adorned with succulent cuts of barbecue, but the sliced brisket is our strong recommendation, topped with guacamole, perfect pickled red onions, and cilantro.
12. Brunch (And Mediterranean): Tusk
Tusk has a very California vibe and serves wonderful Mediterranean food seven days each week. The weekday dinner menu is delectable, but our favorite meal here is weekend brunch. You’ll eat plant strong at Joshua McFadden and Luke Dirk’s very popular and very pretty place on E. Burnside, for the menu is replete with vegetables in every stage of cookedness, beginning with raw. Brunch highlights include the hummus, baked eggs, smoked trout platter, and the not-to-be-missed pistachio gooey butter cake. Another place we’d hit if we only had a handful of hours or meals in Portland.
11. Korean: Han Oak (TEMPORARILY CLOSED)
Han Oak is unquestionably one of the best Portland restaurants and here’s why: (1) It’s a restaurant inside the chef’s home but it still feels like a restaurant . . . an indoor/outdoor open kitchen concept/patio and patio-extension restaurant, that is; (2) the rollicking spicy Korean fried chicken; (3) a tasting menu option; and, (4) legendary pork dumplings – not a mandu dumpling, not a soup dumpling, but somehow with elements of both- they’re giant and served in a spoon, with a little bit of broth. A “non-traditional” Korean restaurant according to Han Oak’s website, it is definitely one of the places you’d have to go if you only had a few hours or meals to spend in Portland. Caution: reservations are necessary, even for a solo non-drinking diner seated at the bar.
10. Farm Forward (and Vegan): Farm Spirit
Farm Spirit is an absolutely unique and unforgettable fixed multi-course dining experience, using vegetable ingredients sourced from within 100 miles ONLY (no coffee is served but rather, recently, a basil “broth”). Opt for the “temperance” drink pairings for a heady and fragrant dose of kefirs and sparkling fruit-and-herb-centric refreshments.
9. Casual Pizza: Pizza Jerk
Although nearly impossible to narrow down a favorite pizzeria in Portland, let alone a favorite casual pizzeria in town (see 34 other choices right here), Pizza Jerk is unquestionably one of the very best restaurants in Portland. They serve top notch pizza but in the most fun, kicked-back environment. The pizza here is New Haven style, with twice fermented crust, creating a beautifully hydrated dough that gives you that perfect crispy-on-the-outside, soft and and warm-on-the-inside effect. The cheese pizza here is our unanimous favorite- it’s simple and bare bones which really lets the pure ingredients including the sharp pecorino and the buttery crunchy dough shine through. Follow their Instagram account for weekly specials and if you have a sweet tooth their soft serve ice cream and rice krispy treats always hit the spot.
8. New: Gado Gado
Gado Gado is our new favorite restaurant in Portland. The food here is a mixture of both Southeast Asian and Chinese fusion, inspired by owners and chefs Thomas and Mariah Pisha-Duffly’s heritage and travels. Everything here is chock full of flavor and each dish is unlike anything you’ve made in your kitchen or even enjoyed at another Portland restaurant. Don’t pass on the Sumatran Style Beef Rendang, which is best described as a “dry curry”– an aromatic, incredibly flavorful, and slightly spicy beef dish served with fried egg, cucumber pickles, candied anchovy, peanuts, coconut rice, green chili tomatillo samba, and shrimp krupuk. It’s quite an amazing combination of textures, flavors, and colors. We’re also big fans of the homemade roti, which is served with the most beautiful concoction of blistered tomato, coconut, and toasted garlic curry oil.
7. Salads and Vegetables: Quaintrelle
Located on another restaurant-centric street in Northeast Portland (Mississippi), Quaintrelle is named for “A woman who emphasizes a life of passion expressed through personal style, leisurely pastimes, charm, and a cultivation of life’s pleasures,” and it’s the place you’ll want to go for a big plate of gorgeous vegetables. Of course there are many other options on Quaintrelle’s menu, such as a Ribeye, but even that steak is vegetable-laden and served with Cauliflower, Pickled Ramps, Radishes, and Ramp Butter. Do go vedge at Quaintrelle and try such recent offerings as Beets, Strawberries, Sheep Cheese, Hazlenuts, Mint and Gazpacho, or Little Gems with Tarragon, Radishes, Sunflower Seeds and Cured Egg Yolk.
6. Steak and Meat: Ox (TEMPORARILY CLOSED)
Ox is the Argentinian meat-centric restaurant on MLK Blvd belonging to husband and wife chef stars Greg and Gabrielle Denton. There are many options for steak including an Uruguayan Ribeye, and the Clam Chowder with Marrow Bone and Jalapenos is one of Portland’s most photographed and coveted bowls.
5. Thai Barbecue: Eem
Although somewhat new to the dining scene, Eem is one of the best Portland restaurants by a landslide. This fusion restaurant combines two beloved food genres which you never knew belonged together: Thai and barbecue. Everything on the menu at Eem is executed so fantastically, and the vibe is completely non-pretentious and enticingly carefree. Always start with the chopped BBQ fried rice, then work your way through curries and Thai BBQ including the white curry with brisket burnt ends (not kidding) and the Massaman curry with smoked lamb shoulder. Grabbing some lunch? The smoked pork belly & holy basil are chock full of flavor and the Eemburger will delightfully surprise you.
4. Sushi: Nimblefish
Nimblefish is the place to go for the best sushi in Portland, with options from a la carte to omakase. No gimmicks or weird sushi-bar appetizers here, just fresh, diverse, and premium sushi. Best for a date or intimate dinner, the place is tiny but chic and modern. Highlights: Handroll of Chopped Amberjack, Green Onion, Cucumber, and Yuzu.
3. Modernist/Molecular: Castagna
Castagna has long held the highest esteemed position in Portland’s fine dining scene and is definitely one of the places you must visit if you are craving a molecular fix and many small tastes of next-level delicious and exquisite food art. Castagna is a hushed, tasting-menu-only restaurant with a highly pedigreed chef cooking modern-style food for a well-healed patronage, and if Michelin stars were conferred in Portland, Castagna would certainly earn at least one. Prepare to be astounded at the level of artistry, technical skill, and sophistication as well as the elevated and layered tastes plated up course after course in this meal. You won’t watch the chef at this restaurant but rather, and perhaps better, sit in a beautiful, minimalist, quiet dining room. Highlights: Lamb Belly and Loin, Beef Tartare hiding under Beet Cup, Caramelized Potato Skin Ice Cream.
2. Every Occasion: Canard
Canard is a brilliant café by day and a wine restaurant with great cocktail food by night brought to you by spirited and James Beard award-winning chef Gabriel Rucker of Le Pigeon. It’s also one of the few non-hotel restaurants in Portland where you can get an outstanding weekday breakfast. If we’re being completely honest, there’s no occasion or meal that Canard cannot satisfy. The food is always consistently fantastic, and whether you’re enjoying a casual weekend brunch with friends or a date night with your significant other, Canard is always a home run. Try the Duck Stack (pancakes with duck egg, duck gravy, and foie gras if you prefer) or their famous funfetti pancakes for breakfast, and steamburger sliders or oeufs en mayonnaise with trout roe for a midday snack. Order their soft serve for dessert always.
Coquine is a wonderful, warm-hearted French-inspired neighborhood restaurant nestled into a corner in Portland’s Mt. Tabor region that is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. It sits quietly and unassumingly in one of our favorite neighborhoods in Portland, on a corner street with nothing but a yoga studio, beautiful homes, and Mt. Tabor Park for blocks. The food is consistently perfect. The dishes are creative, the ingredients impeccably sourced and the vibe is a nice cross between modern and rustic. Coquine is open on the weekends for breakfast, brunch, between and dinner, with a small but killer pastry case. Sit for the four-course “Chef’s Choice” Menu or the seven-course “Tasting Menu”. Highlights include Chicken Liver Mousse with Persimmon Jam, Orechiette with Peas, Almond, Breadcrumbs and Lemon, and Chickpea Socca. You can also order la carte. For breakfast, try the house-made pastries, Rye Pancakes, Buckwheat Biscuits or Homemade Granola and Yogurt with Fruit. Never leave without one of their life-changing chocolate chip cookies.
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