The 40 best restaurants in Portland you need to try

Nodoguro’s hassun, or tray of mini bites, is part of a multi-course menu at one of Portland's best restaurants. Vickie Connor/The Oregonian
Editor's Note
To compile this guide to Portland’s 40 best restaurants, The Oregonian’s dining critic Michael Russell revisited every eatery from the last top 40 guide that’s still in business; every best new restaurant honoree from 2019-2022; and dozens of other notable places. To narrow things down, selections were limited to restaurants within the city limits that were at least one year old (a separate best new restaurant list published at the end of last year). Russell made his picks based on the quality of the food, drinks, atmosphere and — as always — paid for his own meals. Note: Current hours are listed for each restaurant, though checking for unexpected schedule changes or temporary closures online is never a bad idea.

Portland’s last dining boom was nearly two decades ago, when award-winning chefs such as Naomi Pomeroy, Andy Ricker and Gabriel Rucker set up shop in a farm-to-table town ripe for disruption. Their restaurants — Beast, Pok Pok and Le Pigeon among them — served menus that were provocative and fearless, inspired by everything from fast food to global travel.

The years that followed saw startling growth and national accolades for Portland restaurants, reframing the city as a budget-friendly foodie paradise.

But skeptics have long argued that the city’s dining bubble was ready to pop. And then: COVID-19, and a pandemic that took down sprawling restaurant empires and decades-old destinations with ease. The list of closures included some of Portland’s most prominent restaurants — Ataula, Beast, Clyde Common, Paley’s Place, Pok Pok, Toro Bravo and many more.

But now, nearly four years after the start of the pandemic, the ingredients are in place for what could be a new leap forward.

Start with the empty storefronts, the turnkey spaces and Sunday-Tuesday pop-up venues, each a potential stage to debut a bold menu.

Not every opportunity is going to a scrappy startup. The last few years have seen increased consolidation and corporatization among local restaurants, most notably from investment firm Sortis Holdings, which gobbled up Ava Gene’s, Bamboo Sushi, Sizzle Pie and other distressed food and drink assets. (Meanwhile, a plummeting stock price and raft of recent lawsuits indicate that Sortis’ bet on Portland brands prove a bust.)

Yet something seems to be happening that’s harder to quantify. The winter cold snap has been tough for small businesses, but while researching this guide last summer and fall, we found packed houses, comforting cooking, free-flowing wine and vibrant rooms practically bursting with live music and fun. That might not be enough to bring The New York Times a-callin’, but it’s a solid recipe for a welcome night out after a stubbornly slow post-pandemic recovery, at least when warmer weather returns.

In other words, now is as good a time as any to take the temperature of the Portland restaurant scene.

Yes, we recently published a list of Portland’s best new restaurants of 2023. But much has changed in the nearly five years since our last proper guide to Portland’s best restaurants overall, when Canard emerged as our favorite place to eat in the city, period. Read on to find out what we learned, what has changed, and who took the top spot in 2024.


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No. 40: Tulip Shop Tavern ($)

Forget restaurants for a second. The only beer bar in Portland where I spotted a coveted fresh-hop hazy from Seattle brewery Cloudburst last fall was this neighborhood standout, which also happens to serve one of the city’s best burgers. Found in the old Duckett’s, Tulip Shop Tavern looks like a dive bar, but take one bite of the perfect smash burger, the flawless fried fish sandwich or the great hot wings and the jig is up: This is the platonic ideal of bar food, served to a dimly lit front room and a chill back patio (with no video lottery to be found). The Seattle beer pipeline is impressive, with taps often devoted to Holy Mountain or Fast Fashion breweries, but owners Tyler and Devon Treadwell also have their handle on the Oregon scene, including scoring an early keg from “luxury” McMinnville lager makers Gold Dot Beer.

Order this: It’s tempting to plan your visit around Tulip Shop’s daily specials, particularly the chopped cheese Sundays and patty melt Mondays. But the everyday menu has merits of its own.

Know this: Sorry kids, Tulip Shop Tavern is 21 and over.

Try this next: For well-made bar food with an upstate New York bent, try Tinker Tavern (7980 S.E. Stark St.), especially on $10 “Wing Wednesdays.”

Details: Tulip Shop Tavern serves dinner noon to midnight daily (and until 1 a.m. Friday-Saturday) at 825 N. Killingsworth St., 503-206-8483, tulipshoptavern.com

No. 39: Tasty Corner ($$)

The neighborhoods bordered by I-405 and the Willamette River have taken a battering over the past few years. But one thing is clear — for Sichuan food fans, downtown Portland is the best place to eat this side of Beaverton. Among a new crop of restaurants that includes Sichuan Taste (515 S.W. Fourth Ave.) and Xin Ding Dumpling House (71 S.W. Second Ave.), Tasty Corner reigns supreme. Co-owner Daniel Chen created Tasty Corner to be a “greatest hits” version of Hillsboro’s highly regarded Szechuan Garden, serving the same great mapo tofu, hot and spicy “dried pot” pork ribs and hand-shaved noodles, each with just just enough salt, chile and Sichuan peppercorn spice to lend a tingle to your lips tingle. If you haven’t been downtown since 2020, you’ve missed out on some serious heat.

Order this: Mapo tofu, dried pot pork ribs, hand-shaved noodles.

Know this: Xin Ding has ties to yet another downtown Chinese restaurant with Sichuan dishes on its menu: Duck House (1968 S.W. Fifth Ave.).

Try this next: Among Portland’s more notable Chinese restaurants elsewhere are the dumpling specialists at Master Kong (8435 S.E. Division St. and 1522 S.E. 32nd Ave.) and Chin’s Kitchen, which serves hearty stews from China’s frozen Northeast (4126 N.E. Broadway).

Details: Tasty Corner serves dinner from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and 4:30 to 9 p.m. Thursday-Tuesday (with service continuing through the break on weekends) at 624 S.W. Hall St., 503-954-1835, tastycornerpdx.com

In the Olympia Provisions restaurant universe, Bar Casa Vale has the feel of a passion project. Stephanie Yao Long/The Oregonian

No. 38: Bar Casa Vale ($$$)

Before the pandemic, Portland had one very good Spanish restaurant (the ever-popular Toro Bravo) and one great one (the award-worthy Ataula). The cupboard is a bit more bare these days, but I’m glad Bar Casa Vale — with its long bar backed by Spanish tile — is still around. You can order paella, meaty dishes cooked in the hearth or croquetas two ways — a classic bacalao and another stuffed with bechamel and sweetheart ham from Olympia Provisions, the house brand. But it’s best to take the “bar” part of the restaurant’s name in earnest, focusing on pintxos — blistered shishito peppers, deviled eggs with jamon serrano — tapas — patatas bravas, fried cauliflower drenched in piri piri sauce — and drinks. Among the latter, the PX sherry Old Fashioned and the quartet of gin and tonics served in the properly bulbous glasses are great places to start.

Order this: Shishito peppers, croquetas, patatas bravas or fried cauliflower, a PX Old Fashioned or a gin and tonic.

Know this: The Bar Casa Vale building — also home to Scotch Lodge — used to be La Luna, a music venue that formerly played host to grunge bands including Nirvana.

Try this next: The other two main Spanish options in town are the more traditional Can Font (1015 N.W. Northrup St.) and the more creative Urdaneta (3033 N.E. Alberta St,).

Details: Bar Casa Vale serves dinner from 5 to 9 p.m. (or later) daily, 215 S.E. Ninth Ave., #109, 503-477-9081, barcasavale.com

Matt's BBQ Tacos have never been better than they are at Great Notion Brewing. Michael Russell/The Oregonian

No. 37: Matt’s BBQ Tacos at Great Notion Brewing ($)

If you find yourself thinking about Taco Bell while wolfing down a G.O.A.T. taco at Matt’s BBQ Tacos, no one will be offended. In fact, owner Matt Vicedomini created the unholy union of smoked brisket, pulled pork and two mismatched, cheese-stuffed tortillas — one flour, one corn — as something of an homage to the Cheesy Gordita Crunch. The G.O.A.T. (in the Michael Jordan “Greatest Of All Time” sense; there’s no actual goat meat) is the gooey centerpiece of a menu of Austin-inspired breakfast and BBQ tacos featuring slam dunk combinations of Texas-style smoked meats, greasy-good flour tortillas and eggs scrambled to order under a shower of Tillamook cheddar. When it first opened as a spinoff to Matt’s BBQ, Vicedomini might have had grander brick-and-mortar visions. But the Alberta Street partnership has meant more consistent food, plus access to Great Notion’s note-perfect New England-style IPAs. Only order the generous portion of chips and queso if you’ve brought a hefty appetite.

Order this: The G.O.A.T. taco, a migas taco, and a beer from Great Notion.

Know this: Breakfast tacos are available all day, and there’s always a vegetarian option or two, typically involving smoked mushrooms or imitation beef.

Try this next: Portland’s other great breakfast taco comes from La Osita (1515 S.E. 122nd Ave.), an East Portland food cart that has been working on a Montavilla brick-and-mortar for the nearly two years.

Details: Matt’s BBQ Tacos serves lunch and dinner from 11 a.m. until 8:30 p.m. (or later) daily at the original Great Notion Brewing, 2204 N.E. Alberta St., #101, 971-806-2792, mattsbbqtacospdx.com

No. 36: Navarre ($$$)

Despite lounging on Northeast 28th Avenue for more than two decades, Navarre often feels like it could have opened yesterday. That’s in part because of a recent rush of like-minded Mediterranean restaurants, each offering a little seafood, some humble braises and plentiful wines by the glass. It’s also because Navarre remains so good. As always, your best bet is to opt for the “We Choose” option, a $55 tasting menu that includes around 10 dishes (add $30 for the wine pairing). Meals tend to begin with glistening radishes, salted butter and a stack of crusty bread, but small plates of olive-oil-poached albacore or rabbit hindquarters braised in mellow sauce will soon crowd out the table. If you’ve saved room, a towering slice of red velvet cake waits at the finish. Not everyone will love Navarre, but those who do will love it deeply.

Order this: When they’re available, crab cakes are non-negotiable.

Know this: Ordering is similar to a sushi restaurant, with guests using a marker to check off items on a slim paper menu of house standards, plus a separate sheet listing the day’s specials.

Try this next: Sister restaurant Luce (2140 E. Burnside St.) uses the Navarre menu format — with dishes available in small and large portions — in a more narrowly Italian theme.

Details: Navarre serves dinner from 4:30 to 10:30 p.m. Monday-Friday and noon to 10:30 p.m. Saturday-Sunday at 10 N.E. 28th Ave., 503-232-3555, navarreportland.com

No. 35: Akadi ($$$)

It was easy to love the old Akadi, an unhurried restaurant then on Northeast Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, where Ivory Coast-born chef Fatou Ouattara coaxed impressive flavors from a kitchen we later learned was badly in need of repairs. Closed then relocated during the pandemic, the new barn of a location has tall ceilings and extra dining room real estate by the acre. But as Portland’s best-known West African restaurant, the comforting food remains the main draw. Consider the whole fried fish, a signature Ivory Coast dish rubbed with salt, pepper and garlic and topped with diced tomato and onion in a thin mustard sauce. Fried plantains are sweet and deeply bronzed. If available, you should consider upgrading your starch from rice to fufu, the fermented cassava pounded by hand into a smooth ball, perfect for dipping into a tender goat or peanut-based stew.

Order this: Lentil samosas, fried plantains, suya wings, whole fried fish.

Know this: Akadi frequently hosts live music on its small corner stage. On our visit, that meant a band playing Stevie Wonder and other classic R&B instrumentals.

Try this next: Though it was closed during our research period, Black Star Grill (1902 N.W. 24th Ave.) is the other name to know for West African food in Portland.

Details: Akadi serves dinner from 4 to 9 p.m. Wednesday-Sunday at 1001 S.E. Division St., 971-271-7072, akadipdx.com

Rangoon Bistro blends homey and global touches from its chefs' personal and professional backgrounds. Mims Copeland/The Oregonian

No. 34: Rangoon Bistro ($$)

Rangoon Bistro co-owners David Sai and Alex Saw met while working at an upscale Italian restaurant in Malaysia. What does that mean for you? Well, if you happen to order noodles, Saw might finish them in a saute pan with their own starchy water, a technique more common to Southern Italy than Southeast Asia. After teaming up with Nick Sherbo, a fellow former Bollywood Theater cook and the only partner not born in Myanmar, Rangoon Bistro launched as a farmer’s market stand in 2017, serving tea leaf salads and comforting coconut curries to customers at Northeast Portland’s King Farmers Market. Found today alongside the Breathe Building’s reopened yoga studios, Rangoon Bistro’s menu resembles little else in Portland, with its saucy noodles, giant dumplings and crunchy fried chicken rubbed in lemongrass, curry leaf and mild red chiles inspired by Sai and Saw’s time in Malaysia. Burma? Italy? Malaysia? Wherever it comes from, Rangoon Bistro feels like home.

Order this: Fried chicken, noodles or the seasonal khao pyan sane, a “very large dumpling” stuffed with pork and veggies, plus a tamarind Pegu Club for sipping on the patio.

Know this: After an extended pandemic absence, yoga and other movement classes are back in session at Rangoon’s surrounding Breathe Building, perfect for working up a sweat before your meal.

Try this next: Once a Burmese food desert, Portland now has a wealth of options, including several locations of Top Burmese in Northwest Portland, Beaverton and Hillsboro, and the just opened Sandy’s Myanmar Cuisine (3612 S.E. 82nd Ave.).

Details: Rangoon Bistro serves dinner from 5 to 10 p.m. daily at 2311 S.E. 50th Ave., 503-953-5385, rangoonbistropdx.com

Bluto's specializes in wood-fired souvlaki, or Greek-style grilled meats.  Mark Graves/The Oregonian

No. 33: Bluto’s ($$)

Before it opened, Bluto’s was billed as a “Greek-inspired” place for hearth-grilled souvlaki, mint-flecked ouzo mojitos and soft-serve ice cream capped in tahini magic shell from Lardo and Grassa chef Rick Gencarelli. Even the name was cribbed from a Greek hero of a different sort: John “Bluto” Blutarsky, the fraternity prankster from the Oregon-filmed “Animal House.” Turns out, Bluto’s is a little less Greek, and a lot less gonzo, than those early descriptions had us believe. But it is very good, with plenty of attention given to what’s on the plate, even if those plates aren’t broken at the end of the night. Start with some delicious flatbread and those skewers, especially the herb-marinated chicken and the spiced ground lamb, each seared in the roaring hearth. Hang on to some flatbread to swipe through a plate of smooth, tahini-rich hummus. For afters, there’s soft serve with honey and halva or tahini magic shell.

Order this: As much souvlaki, flatbread and hummus as you can handle (while leaving room for soft serve).

Know this: Dining solo? The grilled pork chop with charred scallion sauce and fries will fill you up for $18.

Try this next: Though it’s ostensibly Greek, Bluto’s hummus and flatbread is closer in style to modern Middle Eastern restaurants Tusk (2448 E. Burnside St.) and Mediterranean Exploration Company (333 N.W. 13th Ave.) than to beloved local Lebanese restaurants such as Nicholas (various location), Hoda’s (3401 S.E. Belmont St.) or Ya Hala (8005 S.E. Stark St.).

Details: Bluto’s serves lunch and dinner from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily at 2838 S.E. Belmont St., 971-383-1619, blutospdx.com

No. 32: Laurelhurst Market ($$$$)

Portland’s Laurelhurst Market marked an evolution in the urban steakhouse, a modern restaurant that eschewed overpriced and overhyped beef cuts in favor of the relatively inexpensive yet highly flavorful. Here, teres major, hanger and bavette steaks are served alongside creative starters, salads and sides — the crispy maitake mushrooms with a miso-green goddess dip are hard to put down. The charcuterie plate is a local favorite — no surprise, given that Laurelhurst Market comes from the old Simpatica catering guys, who previously had a hand in Viande meats. Most steaks still hover in the $30s, though some dry-aged options have crept above $60, still a pittance by old-school steakhouse standards.

Order this: Charcuterie, fried mushrooms, Caesar salad, hanger steak and a martini (or a $64 rib-eye if you just got paid).

Know this: The deli isn’t just for show. At lunch, Laurelhurst Market doubles as one of Portland’s best sandwich shops.

Try this next: At nearly 80 years old, Ringside Steakhouse (2165 W. Burnside St.) remains the benchmark for old-school steakhouse charm and service in the Pacific Northwest.

Details: Laurelhurst Market serves lunch and dinner from 10 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. daily at 3155 E. Burnside St., 503-206-3097, laurelhurstmarket.com

Tamago nigiri from Nimblefish. Michael Russell/The Oregonian

No. 31: Nimblefish ($$$)

These days, calling Nimblefish an “everyday” sushi option is a bit of a stretch. But for $95, the set menu here does include two small appetizers, 11 thin-sliced nigiri and a scoop of refreshing yuzu sorbet. This is the anti-Saburo’s — nigiri are noticeably petite — but quality is typically high, with much of the fish coming from the waters around Japan. At the restaurant, that fish gets salted, pickled or otherwise preserved in the house Edo style. After the nigiri flight, you can order additional seafood from a menu that could include gizzard shad, Hokkaido uni (sea urchin), ikura (salmon roe), anago (grilled eel) or tamago (dashi-infused egg). Pay attention to the rice, made fresh throughout the night, served at body temperature, with grains that hold together just long enough to fall apart on your tongue. And after recently reviving a more casual a la carte option, Nimblefish remains one of Portland’s best sushi restaurants.

Order this: Until recently, your only real option is choosing between the $95 and $125 set menu options. But at the start of the year, Nimblefish added Nimble-Chan, a small, a la carte sushi counter open Tuesday-Friday.

Know this: You can tack on toro, uni, ikura or other delicacies to the end of your nigiri flight, but be forewarned: At $8-$14 per piece, those extras can add up.

Try this next: Portland restaurants sourcing fish from the Japanese markets isn’t as rare as it was a decade ago, with fresh, seasonal fish options available all over Portland and Beaverton. One new favorite? Sellwood-Moreland’s Kaede (8268 S.E. 13th Ave.), from a married pair of Japanese chefs.

Details: Nimblefish serves dinner from 5 to 9 p.m. daily at 1524 S.E. 20th Ave., 503-719-4064, nimblefishpdx.com



  • 13: ...restaurants from our 2019 restaurant guide that have since closed. They are: Acadia, Ataula, Beast, Bistro Agnes, Castagna, Holdfast Dining, Ned Ludd, Paley’s Place, Pok Pok, Renata, Toro Bravo, Trifecta and Xico. (Make that 14 if you include Olympia Provisions NW, though its sister in Southeast Portland remains open.)
  • 1: …of those restaurants that closed just before the pandemic. That would be Trifecta, whose owner, Ken Forkish, now lives in Hawaii.
  • 3: Restaurants that closed for so long that we thought they would never reopen, until they did, all starting with the letter “A” — Abyssinian Kitchen, Akadi, Ava Gene’s.
  • 0: Restaurants from our best new restaurants lists from 2022 or 2023 that have closed so far (fingers crossed).
  • 90+: Restaurants visited for this updated guide to Portland’s very best restaurants.
Stammtisch in the jewel in the Prost bar group's multi-state crown. Stephanie Yao Long/The Oregonian

No. 30: Stammtisch ($$$)

Yes, it’s a bier stube, and an unapologetic one at that. But don’t let the lagers served in giant glass boots food you: the food here is quite serious. The menu, from former St. Jack sous chef Graham Cheney, is designed to match the deep selection of celebrated imports flowing from the taps, including seasonal soups, silky German ravioli dressed in butter and white wine or bacon-braised rabbit with wild chanterelles. Even the street food-inspired dishes are better than they need to be, from the pretzels with their cup of translucent schmaltz to the paper boats of juicy currywurst and shoestring fries. If you have an Oktoberfest-sized appetite, try the house sausages, the great schnitzel or the schweinshaxe, a hulking roast ham hock shrouded in its own crunchy skin. Pass the boot.

Order this: Schweinshaxe or schnitzel if you’re hungry, a pretzel, a soup or the maultaschen if you’re nearly full.

Know this: Food-wise, Stammtisch is the jewel of a larger German bar group that includes Prost locations in Seattle, Portland, Bend and Boise.

Try this next: Former festival favorite Urban German has a lively wursthaus at 6635 N. Baltimore Ave., #201, just across from Occidental Brewing in St. Johns.

Details: Stammtisch serves food and drinks from 3 to 10 p.m Monday-Thursday, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday-Saturday and 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday at 401 N.E. 28th Ave., 503-206-7983, stammtischpdx.com

Scotch Lodge is a cocktail bar with food worth considering on its own merits. Mark Graves/The Oregonian

No. 29: Scotch Lodge ($$$)

If it weren’t a world-class cocktail bar, Scotch Lodge might be better known as a great restaurant. As is, chef Tim Artale’s slyly modernist takes on tavern fare and electric pastas are still flying just under the radar. The pickle-spiced fries are fun, as are the oysters glistening with granita and roe. But the main thing to focus on is … well, the mains, typically including the outrageously fluffy-crisp soft shell crab sandwich packed with tart white kimchi on milk bread, and a pappardelle to which we hereby demand you add the candied duck. Owner Tommy Klus, who helped build the spirits portfolio at Multnomah Whiskey Library, opened this subterranean boîte in 2019, briefly running it as a chippie during the pandemic. As you might expect from the name, few bars are better at incorporating scotch into their cocktails.

Order this: The soft shell crab sandwich and the pappardelle, plus an islay daiquiri with smoky scotch, pineapple rum, coconut-oolong syrup and lime.

Know this: Scotch Lodge’s decor was loosely inspired by Captain Nemo’s submarine library from “20000 Leagues Under The Sea.”

Try this next: If you’re feeling flush and have the right connections, you can make a run at Multnomah Whiskey Library (1124 S.W. Alder St.) or its adjacent Green Room (1122 S.W. Alder St.).

Details: Scotch Lodge serves dinner from 4 p.m. to midnight daily at 215 S.E. Ninth Ave., #102, 503-208-2039, scotchlodge.com

Half pizzeria, half ice cream shop, Lovely's Fifty Fifty is far more than the sum of its part. Vickie Connor/The Oregonian

No. 28: Lovely’s Fifty Fifty ($$)

Sarah Minnick’s formula is simple but brilliant. Adorn gorgeously baked pizzas with market-fresh produce and unusual cheeses, then deliver those pies to a cozy dining room home to a counter filled with arguably the city’s best ice cream. What more do you need? We dropped by Lovely’s Fifty Fifty at its late-summer peak, when chanterelle mushrooms mingled with gremolata and a smoked Basque sheep’s milk cheese on one pie, while the fan-favorite peach mingled with guanciale, shishito peppers and sweet corn on another. You won’t regret adding marinated olives, a seasonal soup or a fresh salad, or the occasional pasta. Portland is blessed with several pizzerias you can credibly call your favorite, but none are as uniquely Portland — or as deeply loved — as Lovely’s.

Order this: A couple of pies with leafy greens and pungent cheeses whose names you have to Google, some shimmering olives, a seasonal soup and a chilled red wine.

Know this: The “fifty fifty” in the restaurant’s name refers to the concept: half pizza, half ice cream, all delicious.

Try this next: Lovely’s has a kindred spirit in Tastebud (7783 S.W. Capitol Hwy.), the farmers market truck turned Multnomah Village takeaway that has a similarly seasonal approach to pizza.

Details: Lovely’s Fifty Fifty serves dinner from 5 to 10 p.m. daily at 4039 N. Mississippi Ave., 503-281-4060, lovelys5050.com

No. 27: Eem ($$)

In the before-times, a quiet weekday at Eem might mean a line snaking down North Williams Avenue, with crowds waiting patiently for a taste of The Oregonian’s 2019 Restaurant of the Year. Long waits are less common these days, but this only-in-Portland mashup of Thai flavors and Texas barbecue is as thrilling as ever, from the fiery kanpachi ceviche to the sweet-and-sour fried chicken to the sliced brisket in jungle curry — the dish that inspired the restaurant — all paired with tropical drinks, including some served in a ceramic blowfish. Don’t miss the fiery papaya salad, the hot fried cauliflower, the smoky-funky-sour flavors rising from the barbecue fried rice or the curries swimming with brisket burnt ends or shredded smoked lamb.

Order this: Ceviche, fried chicken, BBQ fried rice, a curry or two and a frosty piña colada.

Know this: Eem co-owner Colin Yoshimoto is gearing up to open his first solo project, Toya Ramen (803 S.E. Stark St.), a ramen shop and bar featuring recipes honed during the pandemic.

Try this next: There’s some like-minded Asian-Texan fusion in Austin, but there aren’t many places like Eem on the West Coast. That being said, if you like Eem, you’ll probably like the Thai-Chinese dishes at sister retaurant Yaowarat (7937 S.E. Stark St.).

Details: Eem serves lunch from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and dinner from 4:30 to 9 p.m. (or later) daily, 3808 N. Williams Ave., #127, 971-295-1645, eempdx.com

Gabbiano’s Italian restaurant

Fried mozzarella cups at Gabbiano’s in Northeast Portland.Sean Meagher/The Oregonian

No. 26: Gabbiano’s ($$$)

After years of false starts, Gabbiano’s was the first Portland restaurant to nail “red sauce Italian,” a deceptively simple, surprisingly elusive concept. The Concordia neighborhood restaurant — breezy in summer, cozy in winter — is often filled with folks happily enjoying sauce-drenched fried mozzarella “cups,” sauce-drenched pastas and Italian-inspired cocktails mixed with a little extra fun. If you only order one thing from chef Liz Serrone’s kitchen, make it the spaghetti and meatballs, a big plate with house-made noodles, soft but not overcooked, with garlic-spiced beef and pork meatballs drenched in tasty marinara. Gabbiano’s is that rare place we didn’t know we needed — perhaps even thought we didn’t need — a red-sauce restaurant overflowing with warm hospitality and melted mozzarella. Some things don’t need reinventing.

Order this: Spaghetti and meatballs, an Old Fashioned and a bib.

Know this: The bathroom posters reimagining the original Star Wars trilogy as spaghetti westerns feel like a statement of purpose.

Try this next: Last year saw a glut of new Italian restaurant openings, including Dolly Olive (527 S.W. 12th Ave.) and Tartuca (3951 N. Mississippi Ave.), a comfort-oriented trend that slowed in 2023.

Details: Gabbiano’s serves dinner from 4 to 9:30 p.m. daily at 5411 N.E. 30th Ave., 503-719-4373, gabbianospdx.com

The wood-fired oven at Ken's Artisan Pizza Stephanie Yao Long/The Oregonian

No. 25: Ken’s Artisan Pizza ($$)

It’s strange that it took baker Ken Forkish retiring for the notices to truly start piling up, but pile up they certainly have. Over the past year, everyone from random travel websites to Italian pizza ranking organizations have picked Forkish’s old Southeast Portland pizzeria as one of the best pizzerias not just in America, but the whole world. Now under the stewardship of Peter Kost and chef Vince Krone, Ken’s Artisan Pizza often bakes 300 pizzas in its wood-fired oven each day for crowds that line up half an hour before opening — roughly one pizza per minute. We’re happy for Ken’s, and the pizza remains as good as ever, but the awards sure have made it harder to drop by for pizza and a glass of wine or negroni on a whim. Perhaps a second location would take some pressure off the original?

Order this: Meatballs, a pizza or two and a bottle of good Oregon pinot noir to split.

Know this: Once a secret known only to local parents, traveling influencers seem to have figured out that Ken’s opens a half hour early on Sundays.

Try this next: First opened in 2001, Ken’s Artisan Bakery (338 N.W. 21st. Ave.) — where the pizzeria got its start — remains one of Portland’s top bakeries.

Details: Ken’s Artisan Pizza serves dinner from 5 to 9 p.m. (or later) Tuesday-Saturday, and 4:30 to 9 p.m. on Sundays at 304 S.E. 28th Ave., 503-517-9951, kensartisan.com

The Higgins bar: One restaurant, two experiences. Stephanie Yao Long/Oregonian file photo

No. 24: Higgins ($$$$)

The final standard bearer for Portland’s farm-to-table revolution, Higgins would be a civic treasure even if it weren’t so consistently good. But whether you’re bellying up for a burger and a beer at the bar or meeting family for a leisurely meal in the three-level dining room, the kitchen can still deliver as it has for nearly 30 years. Last summer, the duck-cherry terrine and duck liver moussette could teach a few things to most Portland charcuterie boards. I’ve never thought to order steak here, though there is one on the menu, mostly because I can’t get past the seafood stews and choucroute-style meat dishes served three ways (sometimes pig, but on our visit duck). As it enters its 30th year, few restaurants have done more to put Oregon produce, wine and beer on the map as Higgins.

Order this: At the bar: mussels or a burger. In the restaurant: charcuterie and a seafood stew.

Know this: After holding out for decades, Higgins did away with tablecloths during the pandemic.

Try this next: Entering its 20th year, Nuestra Cocina (2135 S.E. Division St.) continues to deliver one of the more enjoyable sit-down Mexican meals in Portland, served alongside one of the city’s best margaritas.

Details: Higgins serves lunch and dinner from 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesday-Friday and dinner from 5 to 9 p.m. Saturday-Sunday at 1239 S.W. Broadway, 503-222-9070, higginsportland.com

Spiced lentils and tangy injera flatbread from Abyssinian Kitchen, which found a new Northeast Portland home after the pandemic. Stephanie Yao Long/The Oregonian

No. 23: Abyssinian Kitchen ($$)

When this Ethiopian and Eritrean restaurant closed due to coronavirus restrictions in 2020, Portland didn’t just mourn for its finest East African restaurant. It lost chef Elsa Wolday’s carefully seasoned meats and deeply spiced lentils and husband Kuflom Abbay’s patient manner and sweet honey wine, as well as the intimate nooks and earth-toned walls of its converted Southeast Portland home. But even then, the married couple promised that Abyssinian Kitchen would return in a new location someday. They kept that promise in late 2022, moving into the storefront previously home to tapas bar Lolo and rolling out the same great menu, only served in a more conventional dining room with a more wide-ranging bar. As always, Wolday works magic with vegetarian dishes such as atakilti alicha, a mellow cabbage, potato and carrot stew, while also delivering delicious berbere-stewed chicken and sauteed beef and lamb.

Order this: Lamb or beef and a beyaynetu sampler, which includes four vegetarian stews — including the atakilti alicha — on spongy injera for you to tear free with spice-stained fingers.

Know this: The surprisingly modern cocktail menu — including a smoked fig boulevardier and a clarified pisco sour — is nearly as impressive as the food.

Try this next: The original upscale Ethiopian restaurant was Bete-Lukas (2504 S.E. 50th St.), while Enat Kitchen (300 N.E. Killingsworth St.) is the place to go for similarly tasty food on a tighter budget.

Details: Abyssinian Kitchen serves dinner from 5 to 9 p.m. Wednesday to Saturday at 2940 N.E. Alberta St., 503-206-7635, abyssiniankitchen.com

Despite closing its original cart location, Nong's retained its scrappy, punk rock energy. Stephanie Yao Long/The Oregonian

No. 22: Nong’s Khao Man Gai ($)

Nong Poonsukwattana has stood her ground. After starting as a food cart in 2009, the eponymous chef has built a mini empire around a single dish, khao man gai — a Thai street food specialty made of poached chicken and aromatic rice. Awards and national magazine spreads have followed, as did a first brick-and-mortar restaurant in 2014. If you’re dining in, start by unwrapping the white butcher paper wrapper, then douse the chicken and rice inside with Nong’s delectable ginger-garlic sauce. If you’re bringing food home, add a quart of nourishing winter melon soup (our family’s cold-weather staple) to your order, plus some sweet braised pork over rice or a box of Ota tofu in creamy peanut sauce, underrated dishes that have been overshadowed by the khao man gai. Note: The pandan-coconut milk soft serve is best ordered to-stay.

Order this: A side of fried chicken skins to go with your khao man gai, while supplies last.

Know this: After closing her signature cart, Nong’s smartly added a second location on the west side (417 S.W. 13th Ave.) in 2018. But if you only try one, make it the original.

Try this next: Few businesses have better managed the cart-to-restaurant transition than Güero (200 N.E. 28th Ave.), the great torta shop from Megan Sanchez. And while the flavors are different, Love Belizean (1503 S.W. Broadway) is another female-owned restaurant built around a single delicious chicken dish.

Details: Nong’s Khao Man Gai serves dinner from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily at 609 S.E. Ankeny St., 503-740-2907, khaomangai.com

No. 21: Expatriate ($$)

How many restaurants have the nerve to not only serve a $31 katsu sando inspired by the similar sandwiches sold for a few hundred yen at Japanese convenience stores, but to make it this damn tasty? Probably just Expatriate, a cocktail bar that ranks among Portland’s best places to eat, period. Across the street, award-winning chef Naomi Pomeroy’s celebrated Beast has closed, one of the city’s highest profile pandemic casualties. But inside Expat, few things have changed since Pomeroy and husband Kyle Linden Webster opened this dimly lit bar with its vinyl records and creative cocktails. You’ll still find James Beard’s famous butter-onion sandwich, the same spicy fried wonton nachos and the double-vision cheeseburger some consider the city’s best. And that sandwich that graced the menu last fall? Well, its fluffy milk bread is packed with panko-seared American wagyu audaciously slathered in Kewpie mayo and Bull Dog tonkatsu sauce. Come back soon.

Order this: Start with a cheeseburger and a cocktail, then work backwards from there.

Know this: The back bar, once a doorframe at the Hollywood neighborhood’s old Pagoda restaurant, is one of several floating around town, Webster believes.

Try this next: The corner of Northeast Killingsworth Street and 30th Avenue has one of the highest concentrations of good restaurants in town, with the chef residencies at Lil’ Dame (5425 N.E. 30th Ave.), its big sister Dame (2930 N.E. Killingsworth St.) and Gabbiano’s (see No. 26).

Details: Expatriate serves cocktails and delicious bar food from 5 p.m. to midnight daily, 5425 N.E. 30th Ave., 503-867-5309, expatriatepdx.com



  • Huber’s (opened 1879): A flaming Spanish coffee — if not a full turkey dinner — remains a holiday season must at Portland’s oldest restaurant. 411 S.W. Third Ave.
  • Jake’s Famous Crawfish (1892): The menu holds few fireworks, but ambiance and hospitality remain strong, especially in Jake’s historic bar. 401 S.W. 12th Ave.
  • Dan & Louis Oyster Bar (1907): Grab a drink and a dozen oysters from the same spot they’ve been shucked for more than 115 years. 208 S.W. Ankeny St.
  • Otto’s Sausage Kitchen (1921): The Woodstock neighborhood’s great German deli chars its house-made franks over coals out front, rain or shine. 4138 S.E. Woodstock Blvd.
  • Fuller’s Coffee Shop (1947): Under relatively new ownership and recently reopened after a fire, Fuller’s still makes a great cheeseburger. 136 N.W. Ninth Ave.
Chef Juan Gomez finishes a dish at South Portland's Lilia. Michael Russell | The Oregonian

No. 20: Lilia ($$$)

This year-old South Waterfront restaurant offers “Pacific Northwest cuisine through the lens of a Mexican-American chef.” That chef? Juan Gomez, who moved here from sister restaurant República. Among his seasonally driven dishes are updated riffs on quesadillas, tacos, huaraches and other taqueria standards. You can order a la carte, but you should probably just splurge on the tasting menu ($98), which often starts with nicely shucked oysters under a mound of piquant pear-serrano granita. You might find a crispy blue corn quesadilla stuffed with gooey cheese from Salem’s Don Froylan Creamery and dotted with discs of apple-green radish, a worthy rival to the famed rendition at República. Meals tend to lead up to the properly greasy pork collar carnitas that Gomez rests for days in lard, confit-style, then crisps to order alongside some griddled pan arabe. Of all the restaurants opened (and closed) by the Republica group since its breakout two years ago, Lilia has been my favorite.

Order this: The tasting menu, though if you order a la carte, the pork should not be missed.

Know this: Considering it was originally home to local pizza chain Pizzicato, Lilia’s dining room is surprisingly elegant.

Try this next: The group’s recently relocated namesake restaurant, República (100 N.W. 10th Ave.) presents an even more ambitious tasting menu ($129 for seven courses, $150 for 10) from rising chef Jose “Lalo” Camarena. Nearby, De Noche and Bar Comala sit side-by-side on the North Park Blocks, each offering their own compelling reasons for dropping by.

Details: Lilia serves dinner from 5 to 9 p.m. Wednesday-Sunday at 3159 S. Moody Ave., 541-900-5836, liliapdx.com

The interior of Cafe Olli is shown on Wednesday, Nov. 30, 2022 in Portland.  Vickie Connor/The Oregonian

No. 19: Cafe Olli ($$$)

Lots of new Portland restaurants have opened as “all-day cafes,” a buzzy new phrase hinting at an ambitious aim. Few have realized that goal like Cafe Olli, which opens at 9 a.m. six days a week and stays open until 9 p.m. for five of them (Sunday is just for brunch; the restaurant is closed on Mondays). Arrive early for great coffee and a flaky pastel de nata, the Portuguese egg custard tart, or drop by at dinnertime for some good pork still sizzling from its dip in the brick oven once belonging to Ned Ludd. Of all the many pizzerias to open since the pandemic, Cafe Olli might be the best, with super-thin, super-crisp pies topped with potatoes or Italian sausage or ricotta and wild mushrooms or the one every table around you seems to order, a pomodoro with bright tomato sauce and razor-thin garlic to which you are practically required to add the house-made stracciatella.

Order this: A pastel de nata by morning and a pomodoro pie (with stracciatella) at night.

Know this: Cafe Olli started as a pizza pop-up, and still uses its mobile oven for events, including a series of Friday dinners last summer at Division Winemaking’s new headquarters (2005 S.E. Eighth Ave.).

Try this next: Cafe Olli fans should put the dinner menu at Sweedeedee (5202 N. Albina Ave.), the scratch-made pasta spot Pastificio D’Oro (8737 N. Lombard Ave.) and the pizzas and tiramisu at No Saint (1603 N.E. Killingsworth St.) on their to-visit list.

Details: Cafe Olli serves breakfast, lunch and dinner from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday and brunch from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday at 3925 N.E. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., 503-206-8604, cafeolli.com

Chef Kevin Gibson is known for letting ingredients shine through on his Davenport menu. Stephanie Yao Long/The Oregonian

No. 18: Davenport ($$$)

Sometimes, simplicity is best. At least those were the words rattling around in my head while walking into one of Portland’s best restaurants for the first time in (gulp) four years. It wasn’t just COVID-19 that kept me away. Davenport had taken a year-plus hiatus during the pandemic after founding partner Kurt Heilemann suddenly died of a pulmonary embolism. When the restaurant finally reopened in mid-2021, longtime Portland chef Kevin Gibson had his hand back on the tiller, serving the same understated dishes that have been his hallmark for decades. Gibson’s cooking is as vibrant as ever, with a respect for ingredients that most restaurants only pretend. On our visit, cogwheel rings of fried delicata squash came showered with grated parmesan and flecks of mint, while grilled lamb came as a sort of kofta, spiced and ground, then served with couscous, red pepper harissa and a last-of-the-season tomato.

Order this: Oysters, scallops, a fried vegetable, some meat, good wine.

Know this: In the kitchen with Gibson that day? Caffe Mingo legend Jerry Huisinga, who “came out of retirement” to form a two-man All Star lineup in the Davenport kitchen.

Try this next: For dessert, head next door to the old Pix Patisserie building, where you’ll find two “Pix-O-Matic” 24-hour vending machines, and much more.

Details: Davenport serves dinner from 5 to 9 p.m. Wednesday-Saturday, 2215 E. Burnside St., davenportpdx.com

No. 17: Han Oak ($$$)

Season by season, menu change by menu change, Han Oak is slowly starting to resemble its old self, a place where the music is loud, kids run free and, after dark, chefs crack open beer cans with the precision flick of a dish towel. After dipping their toe into premium hot pot, then testing out a Korean BBQ concept that eventually spawned sister restaurant Jeju, the team at this modern Korean restaurant now hosts”gimbap parties” four nights a week. You’ll still need to make a reservation, but once you’re here, your table will fill with kimchi, curried potato salad, bulgogi, gochujang-crusted albacore, koji-cured pork shoulder and seaweed, rice paper and seasoned rice for making wraps. And once you’re stuffed, you might be asked to perform karaoke for the crowd.

Order this: Go for the gimbap party ($65) while it lasts.

Know this: Impromptu karaoke has carried over to chef Peter Cho and Sun Young Park’s new restaurant Jeju (626 S.E. Main St.), where I recently caught illustrator Carson Ellis and The Decemberists lead singer Colin Meloy joining forces on a cover of The Pogues “Fairytale of New York.”

Try this next: Some Han Oak classics — the dumplings, the wings — are now found at downtown’s Toki (580 S.W. 12th Ave.).

Details: Han Oak serves dinner from 5 to 10 p.m. Wednesday-Saturday at 511 N.E. 24th Ave., 971-255-0032, hanoakpdx.com

A plate of three panuchos and an order of cochinita pibil (background) at Ki'ikibáa, a Yucatecan restaurant in Northeast Portland. Dave Killen / The Oregonian

No. 16: Ki’ikibáa ($$)

Despite Portland’s surprisingly deep roster of Yucatecan carts and restaurants, Ki’ikibáa, the Northeast 82nd Avenue restaurant from former Angel Food & Fun chef Manny Lopez and Suny Parra Castillo, stands out from the crowd. The panuchos are the best in town, each gently crisp tortilla stuffed with black bean and topped with lettuce, pickled onion and a choice of meat, including the superlative cochinita pibil. Ditto for the Christmas-toned pozoles (red and green), and the relleno negro, a pork loaf formed, Scotch egg-style, around a hard-boiled egg, and served with shredded turkey in a savory black broth made from charred chilies that takes Lopez around a week to prepare. Some of these dishes aren’t available anywhere else in town. All are executed at a higher level than the competition. And that’s without even mentioning what might be Portland’s best burrito.

Order this: Salbutes, panuchos with cochinita pibil, pozole rojo or verde, relleno negro or blanco, carne asada burritos, tropical aguas frescas, any special.

Know this: Ki’ikibáa was our 2023 Restaurant of the Year, and wait times during peak service days at this true mom-and-pop restaurant can be hefty. Bring patience, or a book to read.

Try this next: Our second favorite Yucatecan place in town is La Mestiza (8525 N.E. Fremont St.), which sits just a stone’s throw away from Ki’ikibáa and happens to be owned by a family from the same central Yucatecan town as Lopez and Parra Castillo.

Details: Ki’ikibáa is open for lunch and dinner from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesday-Sunday at 3244 N.E. 82nd Ave., 971-429-1452

Nearly two decades in, Apizza Scholls remains Portland's best pizzeria. Vickie Connor/The Oregonian

No. 15: Apizza Scholls ($)

With apologies to a certain Italy-based pizza ranking group, Ken’s Artisan Pizza — while certainly world-class — is not our favorite pizzeria in Portland. That would be Apizza Scholls, where at 5 p.m. each day, the conjoined Southeast Hawthorne Boulevard storefronts fill up with happy families angling for a high-backed wood booth, a cold (root) beer and a crack at the vintage arcade games ‘round back. Brian Spangler’s menu is simple and uncompromising: A spot-on Caesar salad. The right olives. And that’s before you even get to the pizza: more New York than New Haven, despite the “apizza” name, thin, wide and crispy, some with red sauce, some white, all in perfect balance. Dip your toe into pizza Instagram these days and you’ll find plenty of posts trumpeting #CommunityNotCompetition, so apologies in advance for sewing discord. But on recent back-to-back visits, Ken’s was great, Apizza Scholls was next-level.

Order this: Solo, I’ll get a green olive and salami personal pizza at the bar and watch a game amid the SF Giants memorabilia. With friends, we’ll get as many of the classics as we can — split New York White and Tartufo Bianco pies, or half-half Apizza Amore (with capicola) and Amatriciana (with bacon) — and see if we can eat a slice of each before we tap out.

Know this: Brian Spangler has been running a calzone special Mondays through Thursdays for a while, but I first encountered it last year. It’s as good as you’d expect.

Try this next: Speaking of calzones, the two other versions to know are Red Sauce (4641 N.E. Fremont St.) and Gracie’s (7304 N. Leavitt Ave.). Meanwhile, other East Coast-inspired pies worth lining up for include Dimo’s (701 E. Burnside St.), Pizza Thief (2610 N.W. Vaughn St.) and Scottie’s (2128 S.E. Division St.).

Details: Apizza Scholls serves dinner from 5 to 9 p.m. daily at 4741 S.E. Hawthorne Blvd., 503-233-1286, apizzascholls.com

Gado Gado sits inside a former Vietnamese restaurant in Northeast Portland's Hollywood neighborhood. Mark Graves/The Oregonian

No. 14: Gado Gado ($$$)

Some restaurants need time to develop. Others need a tighter frame. Gado Gado might have needed both. After struggling to rein in its creativity early on, the Hollywood neighborhood favorite regrouped post-pandemic with a new specialty, rijsttafel — literally “rice table” — a Dutch-Indonesian dining format where lots of little dishes, many involving rice, land at the table at once. A late summer meal here included one siu mai, a panipuri puff, a single satay skewer and a bowl of shallot-topped rice, among other tasty small bites, plus three sambals, each spicier than that last. Two curries — a bagna cauda-esque coconut-clam and a red with blistered cherry tomatoes — each made a strong argument for ordering another round of the wonderfully flaky roti for dipping. Gado Gado is better now than it was five years ago, when it was named one of our best new restaurants of 2019. That’s a good thing.

Order this: The rijsttafel ($85) is the best way to take Gado Gado’s measure.

Know this: At Indonesian restaurants in The Netherlands, the rice table is a single course, with perhaps 20 small bowls landing on the table at once. Gado Gado’s comes as several rounds, sometimes one small bite at a time.

Try this next: Gado Gado owners Thomas and Mariah Pisha-Duffly have two other places, Oma’s Hideaway (3131 S.E. Division St.) and The Houston Blacklight (2100 S.E. Clinton St.), focused on their own brand of stoner bar food. For a more traditional Indonesian experience, try the understated — and underrated — Wajan (4611 E. Burnside St.). Meanwhile, new Gado Gado neighbor Xiao Ye (3832 N.E. Sandy Blvd.) is helping make the case for Hollywood as a destination dining neighborhood.

Details: Gado Gado serves dinner from 5 to 9 p.m. daily at 1801 N.E. Cesar E. Chavez Blvd., 503-206-8778, gadogadopdx.com

The rigatoni Amatriciana from Campana in Northeast Portland. Sean Meagher/The Oregonian

No. 13: Campana ($$$)

In hindsight, the menu at Woodlawn’s quietly ambitious Grand Army Tavern — split evenly as it was between plant-based snacks and house-butchered pork platters — was always a tough sell, unlikely to make carnivores or vegetarians happy. But it was doubly confusing once you learned that chef George Kaden had come to Portland after a long run at Hearth, often ranked among New York City’s top Italian restaurants. Campana started as a pop-up inside Grand Army Tavern, but quickly devoured the host, replacing the bar full time three months into the pandemic. Now it’s the best pasta restaurant in the city, and — after Renata’s closure and Ava Gene’s new direction — might be Portland’s best Italian restaurant, period.

Order this: Arrive before 6 p.m. for the screaming happy hour pasta deal, when Kaden’s rigatoni Amatriciana and penne alla vodka are just $16.

Know this: Did we mention the happy hour? It’s also available at the bar.

Try this next: Longtime standard bearer Nostrana (1401 S.E. Morrison St. #101) and the recently reopened Ava Gene’s (3377 S.E. Division St.) remains as gorgeous as ever. For good noodles and an affordable price, head to Montelupo (344 N.E. 28th Ave.) or its new Sellwood-Moreland focaccia shop (1613 S.E. Bybee Blvd.).

Details: Campana serves dinner from 5 to 9 p.m. Wednesday-Sunday at 901 N.E. Oneonta St., 503-841-6195, campanapdx.com

The whole trout board at Jacqueline, Portland's liveliest seafood restaurant. Stephanie Yao Long/The Oregonian

No. 12: Jacqueline ($$$)

Take away the $1 oysters. Take away the Dungeness crab toast. And you’d still be left with a pitch-perfect Portland seafood restaurant, a charming place that takes its bivalves and crustaceans seriously, but never itself. With Bill Murray’s iconic “Life Aquatic” character Steve Zissou gazing out from behind the bar, Jacqueline pairs raw hamachi with charred pickled pineapple and shrimp ceviche with ground cherries and mezcal. Even the noodles are tasty — of the many corn and chanterelle pastas I tried around town last year, the version with Jimmy Nardello peppers at Jacqueline was my favorite. And that’s before you get to the cedar plank trout, the lobster roll, grilled swordfish “al pastor” or other satisfying mains.

Order this: Lucky for us, those loss-leader oysters are still in place, and are still the best way to start a Jacqueline meal, assuming you can arrive before 6 p.m. Slurp down a dozen, add the Dungeness crab toast draped in Hollandaise sauce and go from there.

Know this: During the pandemic, spin-off concept Fairweather, briefly served one of our all-time favorite Portland brunches.

Try this next: The menu seemed to have been stripped down a bit during my most recent Flying Fish Co. (3004 E. Burnside St.) meal, but the winter patio and sustainable seafood market are still giving off a coastal vibe that’s hard to match.

Details: Jacqueline serves dinner from 5 to 9 p.m. Monday to Saturday at 2039 S.E. Clinton St., 503-327-8637, jacquelinepdx.com

Lumpia is served at Filipino restaurant Magna on Thursday, Nov. 18, 2021.  Vickie Connor/The Oregonian

No. 11: Magna Kusina ($$$)

Despite chef Carlo Lamagna’s name being attached to new projects from Beaverton to Denver, nearly every time I’ve eaten or even just walked by our 2021 Restaurant of the Year, he’s been inside, checking each dish before it heads out to the cozy dining room. That attention to detail is part of the reason Magna Kusina isn’t just a great Filipino restaurant for Portland, it’s part of a larger conversation that includes groundbreaking restaurants from Seattle to Washington, D.C. Here, veggies submerged in coconut milk and chicken heart skewers arrive alongside sizzling skillets of sisig, the hand-chopped fatty pork bits marinated in soy and calamansi, mixed with tiny chiles and egg then simmered until the edges form a crust worthy of Detroit-style pizza. At its best, it’s a textural nirvana, all crunch and succulent fat, and a showcase for the rich, funky, sour flavors that define a cuisine now squarely in the spotlight.

Order this: Lumpia, sisig and lechon (if it’s on special), a fruit-forward cocktail or cold Red Horse beer and the biko dessert.

Know this: Lamagna plans to debut his latest restaurant, Magna Kainan, in Denver later this year.

Try this next: Lamagna is the face of Portland’s booming Filipino food scene, which includes cafes, bakeries, our 2021 Cart of the Year Baon Kainan (1027 N.E. Alberta St.), former pop-up SunRice (now at the Moxy hotel, 585 S.W. 10th Ave.), and Lamagna’s own Magna Kubo (12406 S.W. Broadway St., Beaverton).

Details: Magna Kusina serves lunch from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. and dinner from 5 to 9 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday at 2525 S.E. Clinton St., 503-395-8542, magnapdx.com



Jeju: This Korean BBQ newcomer from the Han Oak team serves house-butchered chops with sides of buttered rice and rock-star karaoke — where do we sign up? 626 S.E. Main St.

Laurelhurst Market (No. 32 on this list): Portland’s first modern steakhouse highlights less expensive cuts in a tall-windowed dining room and sprawling pandemic-built patio. 3155 E. Burnside St.

Ox (see No. 7): Steaks, chorizo and halibut collar alike are bathed in flame on the wood-fired grill at this Argentine-inspired hotspot. 2225 N.E. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.

Ringside Steakhouse: Beloved for its sunken bar and elevated service, Portland’s signature steakhouse celebrates its 80th birthday in 2024. 2165 W. Burnside St.

St. Jack (see No. 6): No, it’s not a steakhouse. But you’ll be hard pressed to find a better steak frites than the one at this stylish French restaurant. 1610 N.W. 23rd Ave.

The bún bò Huế recipe from Cristina Luu, the late Ha VL and Rose VL owner. Stephanie Yao Long/The Oregonian

No. 10: Ha VL ($)

She was the “Ha” in Ha VL, the rose at Rose VL, and the chef behind some of the most famous Vietnamese soups in America. When Christina (Ha) Luu died last year, Portland lost a gracious figure who survived unfathomable hardship to raise her six sons while her husband was in prison in the decade after the fall of Saigon. But you can still taste her meticulous approach at the first soup restaurant she and husband William Vuong opened nearly 20 years ago. Long run by second son Peter Vuong, Ha VL serves two incredible soups, six days a week. The key is in the details: The perfectly browned chicken barely submerged in nourishing broth, the tender chunks of carrot and potato floating in coconut curry, niceties few restaurants have the time or patience for. Even with two spin-off locations in Rose VL (6424 S.E. Powell Blvd.) and newcomer Annam VL (3336 S.E. Belmont St.), Ha VL remains one of Portland’s most irreplaceable restaurants.

Order this: I’ve had many “favorite” Ha VL soups over the years, but the hủ tiếu “special” with its dainty quail eggs and golden crackling, is the one that calls me back.

Know this: Perhaps my favorite all-time Vuong-Luu collaboration was their take on cao lầu, a subtly sweet noodle and pork dish you toss with herbs to reveal a rich sauce underneath. It’s available Saturdays at Rose VL.

Try this next: Some of Portland’s best Vietnamese restaurants offer only a handful of dishes. Two worth trying are Thơm (3039 N.E. Alberta St.), with its sweet lacquered pork and vermicelli noodle bowl, and Tèo Bún Bò Huế (8220 S.E. Harrison St. #230), which doesn’t even offer a menu for its trio of soups.

Details: Ha VL serves breakfast and lunch from 8 a.m. until sold out Wednesday-Sunday at 2738 S.E. 82nd Ave. #102, 503-772-0103

The mango sticky rice sundae at Canard's Oregon City location. Destiny Johnson/The Oregonian

No. 9: Canard ($$$)

Plenty has changed at our 2018 Restaurant of the Year since last we checked in. There’s the second location in Oregon City, a refreshing pivot from the typical Portland restaurant expansions to Lake Oswego, Beaverton or the Vancouver Waterfront. The hours have changed, too. Instead of being open all day, the original Canard now focuses on dinner. But this restaurant and bar is still the best place to experience what it was like to eat at Le Pigeon in the early days, before the awards and expectations. Among the fixtures: The bistro staple oeufs en mayonnaise livened up with trout roe and smoky maple syrup, fantastic dry-fried chicken wings with truffle honey and buttermilk ranch and the duck stack, golden pancakes smothered in duck gravy, a fried duck egg and, for an additional $20, seared foie gras.

Order this: All who come to Canard must order the steam burger, a White Castle-inspired slider spiced with French onion soup mix, griddled with American cheese, spicy relish and yellow mustard on a fluffy Hawaiian roll. Visit during the 4 to 5 p.m. happy hour, when the burgers are $4 each.

Know this: Le Pigeon is irreplaceable and irreplicable, and Little Bird couldn’t last downtown, but Canard seems to be doing just fine.

Try this next: The Oregon City Canard (1500 Washington St.), with its gorgeous salads, fun cocktails, standards imported from the original plus a few house specials, is almost certainly the best restaurant in Clackamas County.

Details: Canard serves dinner from 4 to 10 p.m. daily at 734 E. Burnside St., 971-279-2356, canardpdx.com (the Oregon City location also serves lunch)

Kachka's signature dish, Herring Under a Fur Coat.  Stephanie Yao Long/The Oregonian

No. 8: Kachka ($$$)

The restaurant that taught America that Soviet-era food could be cool — aspic, bony fish and all — took a few years to settle into its new home. After moving to a standalone building in the Goat Blocks development in 2018, Kachka added more skewers, breads and a few ambitious dishes that felt designed to match the more upscale digs. But the classics were soon gathered under one roof now, including the signature dumplings, flavored vodkas and “seven-layer dip” of herring under a fur coat that had briefly stayed behind at Kachka’s since-closed original location. Today, updated dishes like the okroshka, and ornate pickle soup, or the khachapuri, a hulking Georgian bread boat, its pool of egg and cheese tossed tableside, feel right at home. Even the chicken Kiev — or, rather, a deep fried kotleta variation studded with croutons — has gone from a miss to a must-order.

Order this: Okroshka, herring under a fur coat, pelmeni, khachapuri, the kotleta and some horseradish vodka.

Know this: Kachka’s seasonal strawberry vodka infusions are worth marking your calendar each spring.

Try this next: Those without a reservation can get a taste of Kachka at Lavka, the restaurant’s little mezzanine deli.

Details: Kachka serves lunch from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and dinner from 4 to 9 p.m. (or later) daily at 960 S.E. 11th Ave., 503-235-0059, kachkapdx.com

Ox offers Argentine steakhouse flavors from a pair of James Beard Award-winning chefs Randy L. Rasmussen/The Oregonian

No. 7: Ox ($$$$)

Greg Denton and Gabrielle Quiñónez Denton’s Argentine-inspired blockbuster has never just been about the chorizo, steaks and halibut collars grilled over open flames in its central grill. Just as important are the bone-marrow clam chowder, the beef tongue with horseradish, the tripe and octopus — dishes that have practically become household names in Portland. If the dining room is full, as it often is, don’t hesitate to take a seat at the counter, where you can watch the firewood spark while tucking into the mixed Asado Argentino, a platter of short rib, skirt steak, chorizo, blood sausage, sweetbreads, fried potatoes and salad. It’s meant for two, though it could easily feed three ($120). And we’ll never say no to Ox’s desserts, particularly the hazelnut brown butter torte with its delicate chamomile ice cream and stick-to-your-teeth honeycomb candy.

Order this: Bone marrow clam chowder, tripe and octopus, the Asado Argentino, a pickle-spiked Dirty Grandma Agnes martini and a hazelnut brown butter torte.

Know this: Last September, the Dentons raised $15,000 for Maui wildfire relief through a star-studded chef dinner at Ox.

Try this next: Most of Portland’s South American options are food carts, but those looking for a sit-down dinner can head to the vegan Epif (404 N.E. 28th Ave.), downtown’s Lechon (113 S.W. Naito Pkwy), the Pearl District’s Andina (1314 N.W. Glisan St.) or North Portland’s Casa Zoraya (841 N. Lombard St.)

Details: Ox serves dinner from 5 to 10 p.m. daily at 2225 N.E. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., 503-284-3366, oxpdx.com

St. Jack's dining room in Northwest Portland.  Stephanie Yao Long/The Oregonian

No. 6: St. Jack ($$$$)

Before leaving Southeast Portland in 2014, St. Jack built its reputation as a crafty Portland take on Lyonnaise excess, all fried tripe and pig’s trotters and greens snipped from your waiter’s garden. But a funny thing happened on the way to west Slabtown: Chef Aaron Barnett visited Paris, and developed a fondness for the lighter side of French cooking at the newer bistros there. Eventually, he brought on John Denison, an American chef who spent time at those very restaurants, most notably Verjus, to reinvent St. Jack’s menu with dishes both traditional (a painstakingly rendered pâté en croûte) and more newfangled. Last year, Denison left to open a palace of his own, but the lighter touch remains in place amid the roasted bone marrow and black garlic escargot. A late-summer dish of whole charred Jimmy Nardello peppers with an ebulliently whipped tomato sabayon was one of the most surprising dishes of the year.

Order this: Chilled prawns with vadouvan curry, hand-chopped steak tartare with cured egg yolk and the mushroom vol-au-vent. Or keep things simple with the ever-popular steak frites.

Know this: Barnett recently closed a second St. Jack location in Lake Oswego and the Southeast Portland mussel bar La Moule. But the chef and his team still have their stamp on two of the more exciting menus in town — cocktail and spirits haven Scotch Lodge (see No. 29) and wine-focused newbie Heavenly Creatures (2218 N.E. Broadway).

Try this next: Check out what Denison is doing with raw oysters, aspic-trapped eggs and super-rich lobster rolls at seafood bar Câche Câche (1015 S.E. Stark St.).

Details: St. Jack serves dinner from 5 to 10 p.m. daily at 1610 N.W. 23rd Ave., 503-360-1281, stjackpdx.com

Langbaan's desserts are visually striking. Dave Killen/The Oregonian

No. 5: Langbaan ($$$$)

The main rhythms at Portland’s premier Thai restaurant remain the same as they have been for nearly a decade, from the collapsing coconut milk cups and betel leaf shrimp wrap amuses to the curry, meat and rice crescendo near the tasting menu’s end. But the surroundings sure have changed. Like St. Jack before it, Langbaan left its cramped Southeast Portland digs last year and headed west across the river to the former Ataula space. Instead of the old concrete bunker, the new space feels like eating inside the living room of a well-to-do Bangkok grandma, only one with a terracotta hearth roaring with Thai charcoal at its center. There’s more confidence behind the cooking as well — a recent soup had slips of eggplant nearly identical in texture to its neighboring smoked hamachi, a neat trick, while the jasmine rice is now made with drippings from an optional A5 wagyu supplement. Yes please.

Order this: The $125 tasting menu will fill you up, even if you don’t splurge on that A5 add-on.

Know this: On nights when Langbaan isn’t open, restaurant roommate Phuket Cafe — which otherwise occupies the mock Thai train car out front — takes over the dining room and bar.

Try this next: Restaurateur Akkapong Ninsom, known to all as “Earl,” is the hitmaker behind a half dozen Portland restaurants, including Eem (see No. 27), Hat Yai (1605 N.E. Killingsworth St. and 605 S.E. Belmont St.) and Paadee (6 S.E. 28th Ave.).

Details: Langbaan serves dinner from 6 to 8:45 p.m. Friday-Saturday and 5:30 to 8:15 p.m. Sunday at 1818 N.W. 23rd Place, 971-344-2564, langbaanportland.com

No. 4: Le Pigeon ($$$$)

One of the most important American restaurants of the past two decades — and a key factor in Portland’s rise from dining desert to foodie destination — Le Pigeon serves an elevated menu that’s about as French as the correct pronunciation of its name (i.e.: not very). Five years ago, you could still snag a coveted seat at the chef’s counter and order a burger and a Coors. These days, chef Gabriel Rucker’s flagship restaurant has gone tasting menu-only. But what the restaurant lost in spontaneity, it seems to have regained in creativity. Now under the watch of Canard chef de cuisine Dana Francisco, Le Pigeon seems to be entering a fruitful period, with the kitchen sending out one successful dish after another. Recent highlights included gently smoked trout with carrots and habanada, perfectly cooked scallops contrasted with earthy blood sausage and a savory pie stuffed with braised lamb neck, all leading to the signature foie gras profiterole, which remains as decadent as ever.

Order this: The restaurant offers two tasting menus, one vegetarian, the other decidedly not ($162 for six courses, including gratuity).

Know this: Rucker earned two James Beard awards for his work at Le Pigeon, the national Rising Star Chef of the Year honor in 2011, and the regional Best Chef: Northwest award in 2013.

Try this next: Former Le Pigeon right hand man Erik Van Kley has found safe harbor at the wine-focused Arden (417 N.W. 10th Ave.), one of the Pearl District’s top restaurants, period.

Details: Le Pigeon serves dinner from 5 to 10 p.m. Monday-Saturday at 738 E. Burnside St., 503-546-8796, lepigeon.com

Coquine sits on the shoulder of Mt. Tabor Stephanie Yao Long/The Oregonian

No. 3: Coquine ($$$)

Believe it or not, there was a time you could just walk up to Coquine, put your name on a list, take a quick hike up Mount Tabor, then return in time for a glass of white Burgundy and a great bowl of pasta at the bar. Those days are gone, at least for now. On our visit, the restaurant was down a cook, the new market-cafe expansion was closed and guests were only being seated in the original dining room, with several walk-in supplicants turned away. But make a reservation a week or so out and you’re in for a treat. French-trained chef Katy Millard’s cooking sits at the midpoint of comfort and precision, starting with a house-baked bread and French onion dip dotted with trout roe and finishing with an inverted pavlova stacked atop seasonal fruit at dessert. For what looks like a casual neighborhood hangout, there are finer things here you wouldn’t expect, like the candy and spirits trays at dessert, or the deep wine list from co-owner Ksandek Podbielski. Whatever Coquine sets its mind to, it tends to do it best.

Order this: Onion bread, an exquisitely cooked vegetable or two, a beautifully presented fish or braised meat, the seasonal pavlova and a selection from the candy tray.

Know this: Coquine’s new market cafe is open for coffee, pastries and pantry goods from 8 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. daily.

Try this next: Other restaurants at the intersection of wine and good food include OK Omens (1758 S.E. Hawthorne Blvd.) and newcomer L’Orange (2005 S.E. 11th Ave.); also try downtown’s lunch-oriented Maurice (921 S.W. Oak St.), which has a similarly Francophilic approach to all things delicious.

Details: Coquine serves dinner from 5 to 10 p.m. Wednesday-Saturday at 6839 S.E. Belmont St., 503-384-2483, coquinepdx.com

No. 2: Kann ($$$$)

At our 2022 Restaurant of the Year, star chef Gregory Gourdet has built his dream restaurant, a gold-accented fantasia of house plants, well-dressed diners and abstract art evoking a Caribbean sunset. Fizzy pink cocktails sail through the room as Gourdet and his team conjure a near-mythical vision of Haitian cuisine from behind the long chef’s counter, with dishes traditional and imagined charred to perfection on the kitchen’s roaring hearth. Here, taro root fritters, braised-then-fried griyo pork and soursop shave ice make a persuasive argument that Caribbean food deserves the same respect Portlanders give to Italian, Japanese or Thai. Inside Kann, Haiti didn’t just give us the word for barbecue — “barbacoa” being the Spanish transliteration of a native Taíno word — but innovated a modern Caribbean meat-smoking tradition that’s the envy of the world. As hard as it has been to get in, we’re lucky that it’s here.

Order this: Akra, plantain muffins, griyo, peanut greens, diri ak djon and the cauliflower or epis-brine chicken.

Know this: Cancellations happen, but the best way to secure your place at the restaurant is to set an alarm for noon on the first of each month, when reservations for the following month are released en masse.

Try this next: How about Sousòl (227 S.E. Sixth Ave.), the cocktail bar underneath Kann, with its pan-Caribbean bar snacks and nightclub-style vibe?

Details: Kann serves dinner from 4 to 10 p.m. Wednesday-Sunday at 548 S.E. Ash St., 503-702-0290, kannrestaurant.com

Nodoguro is Portland's finest restaurant. Vickie Connor/The Oregonian

No. 1: Nodoguro ($$$$)

Since launching Nodoguro nearly a decade ago, Ryan and Elena Roadhouse have popped up all over town, presented a “Twin Peaks”-themed dinner for director David Lynch in Los Angeles and crafted an izakaya menu for a conference of some of Europe’s most celebrated chefs. No one should be shocked, then, that after losing their home during the pandemic, the restaurant has resurfaced — given their global reputation, it might be more surprising that they stayed in Portland at all. But home and family are here, so the Roadhouses are too, once again serving their multi-course “sousaku ryori” (creative cuisine) menus in a tucked away Kerns neighborhood space. Nodoguro excels in the little details, the dab of apricot puree on a perfectly shucked oyster, the curry-scented rice hiding under a pile of delightful salmon roe, the miso butter cookie brought with hot tea at the end of a meal. When there’s sushi, this is the best sushi in Portland. Given the price — $250 per person, including gratuity but not drinks — and low number of seats, I used to be wary of giving Nodoguro the top spot on our annual rankings. But these days, when a date for two at a random Portland pasta place can easily breach $300, that price seems a little more reasonable for a chance to dine at Portland’s best restaurant, period.

Order this: Other than holding out for an intriguing theme, Nodoguro doesn’t offer much in the way of choice.

Know this: Eleusisway, Elena Roadhouse’s hypoallergenic products store, occupies the street-side storefront previously home to an artist book gallery. Find the restaurant down the long driveway at the right of the shop.

Try this next: Search coast to coast (L.A. to Chicago), you won’t find a restaurant like Nodoguro, but there are a handful of other restaurants that pair good sushi with intriguing hot dishes. Two worth trying are Takibi (2275 N.W. Flanders St.), the gorgeous restaurant at outdoor gear specialists Snow Peak’s North American headquarters, and Afuri (various locations), a Tokyo-based ramen shop known for its yuzu-spiked broth.

Details: Nodoguro serves dinner starting at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday-Sunday at 623 N.E. 23rd Ave., nodoguropdx.com

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About the Authors
Michael Russell
The Oregonian's chief restaurant critic and reporter since 2011, Michael Russell has been a Portland resident for even longer, and still enjoys researching the paper's annual surveys of new food carts, restaurants and more. For this guide, he sought out the best restaurants from Northwest, Southwest, Northeast, Southeast, North and South Portland — all six quadrants of the ever-blooming Rose City. He thanks his wife and kids for accompanying him on some of these eating adventures, and apologizes for being gone while researching others.

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