What I Ate: Portland, OR

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Before even leaving on this trip to Portland, I had nearly 30 foodie friendly restaurants in Portland I wanted to try! Just check out the custom google map I’ve created for the city. I had done a bunch of research to scope out some of the places I wanted to eat, which in this foodie mecca city, was not hard. And with only 4 days in the city, I had some lofty eating goals to accomplish. See where I was able to eat during my stay in Portland, Oregon.

It’s been a few years since my last trip to Oregon in 2013 and I have been seriously hankering to go back ever since. There is something alluring about the Pacific Northwest and Portland just happens to be the city a few of my college friends chose to move to. So that is a perfect excuse to go out and visit!

Here are the top restaurants I loved eating at in Portland, Oregon!

D.O.C — 5519 NE 30th Ave

This restaurant is really special. I was recommended to go here by two of the most foodie people I know. (Thanks Beth & Brian!) They’re actually from Wisconsin, but know all the best places to go to in any city, so if they recommend somewhere, I go there! This menu takes a modern Italian spin on farm-to-table cooking, featuring seasonal ingredients and a constantly rotating menu. I had an amazingly delicate and simultaneously rich end of summer risotto with sharp Parmesan cheese, but I have a feeling that no matter what you order, it will be incredible. The coolest thing about this dining experience though, is the set up of the restaurant. You actually enter the restaurant through the kitchen. I’ve never before seen that, and makes it feel as though you are eating in someone’s home. Very intimate and personalized experience.

Bamboo Sushi — Multiple Locations, 1409 NE Alberta Street

Certified as the first sustainable sushi restaurant in the country, Bamboo Sushi serves up seasonal, fresh fish that are harvested or fished in sustainable ways. They never serve fish on the endangered or “avoid” list, so you’ll see lots of MSC fish on their menu. There are a few locations around the city, but I went to the one on Alberta Street. The interior is swanky but the staff is friendly and approachable. For my starter I ordered the usuzukuri, a delicious white fish dish. The white fish was thinly sliced and served in ponzu sauce topped with fresno chiles, green onions and tobiko. I loved the flavor of this dish! For my entree, I ordered the Garden of Eden roll, which was one of the most complex flavored rolls I’ve ever eaten. In the center of the roll, there was spicy albacore, cucumber and apple and then it was topped with tuna tataki, basil and pickled mustard seeds and smoked aioli. The first two pieces I had, my mouth was so surprised by the flavor, that I didn’t know what I though about it. But as I continued to eat it, I grew to really like how much was going on and how unique the flavor profile was.

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Pok Pok — 3226 SE Division Street

A famous Portland foodie institution, now celebrity chef Andy Ricker has been featured on Top Chef and other Food Network shows. I actually ate here with Sam back in 2012, and have been itching to come back ever since. This place always has a wait for lunch or dinner, but if you come at an odd hour, you shouldn’t have a problem getting a table. Offering upscale Thai cuisine, the menu is filled with traditional dishes done with high quality ingredients. I ordered a bunch of different dishes the first time I went so that I could try a few things. But this time around, I just went for the most memorable: the chicken wings. I have been looking forward to ordering them all week, and thankfully, they are exactly as I remember — spicy, sticky, flavorful and sweet in perfect balance. The chicken is moist and tender, fried to perfect with a nice crispy skin. Best chicken wings I’ve ever had, hands down!

Tasty n Sons — 3808 N Williams St

My favorite brunch spot that I visited, Tasty n Sons is a trendy, always crowded industrial chic restaurant with a seriously creative and unique menu. There are some dishes they are serving up that I’ve never seen on a brunch menu, like sausage shakshuka or a burmese pork stew. It was hard for me to decide, but I settled for the moroccan chicken hash with a side of baked apple. The potatoes from the hash were doubled fried making a for crispy base for the dish. They were topped with shredded chicken that was seasoned with a Moroccan spice blend, as well as olives, bell pepper, cauliflower and a fried egg. The best part though was the bright, acidic harissa aioli which really lightened up the dish and added a slightly smokey heat. Then there was my baked apple side dish. Baked with fall spices like clove & cinnamon, the apple got super soft and then was broiled with cheddar cheese and bacon lardons. Pefection!

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Deschutes Brew Pub — 210 NW 11th Ave

Deschutes’s beer is surprisingly popular these days and are pretty widely available in Chicago. They actually had a pop up festival during the summer in my neighborhood. Needless to say, I was excited to check out their brewery and see what kinds of beers they had only available in Portland. I tried out a beer flight, followed by a tasty pub fare meal. Their menu seems basic at first glance, but I was surprised by how much I liked it. They’ve got some good combinations of flavors, and I was a big fan of their super cheesy grilled cheese (anything with chevre, I will order) and pretzel appetizer.

Bollywood Theatre — 2039 NE Alberta

A quirky order-at-the-counter joint, Bollywood Theatre serves up a small menu of done up Indian street food. They make a lot of the ingredients in house, such as their paneer. Labelled as some of the best paneer in the city (and greater Pacific Northwest) I knew that’s what I wanted to try. I grew a serious love for paneer during my travels, so I order the Paneer Makhani. While waiting for the dish, I wandered around the restaurant checking out all of their authentic Bollywood decor! The paneer itself did not disappoint — firm in texture with that signature little squeak and well salted milk. However, the “rich and creamy” tomato sauce was a under seasoned and watery. But I did appreciate the inclusion of fresh cilantro and raw spinach on top of the fish. It was a nice Northwest addition!

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Grassa — 1205 SW Washington Street

This is a great spot for a quick, delicious and fairly inexpensive handcrafted meal. You order at the counter and then your food is delivered to the table. I ordered the carbonara. The house made bucatini pasta was incredible, very fresh and perfect texture. It was tossed with a light cream sauce and chunks of crispy pork belly and pecorino cheese. The best part though was the fried egg that sat right on top, oozing it’s yolky contents all over my pasta. Yum!!

Gravy — 3957 Mississippi Ave

An unassuming little restaurant in the heart of Mississippi Ave, Gravy was a recommendation from my friend Hanna. I saddled up to the bar to be greeted by a friendly staff, regular customers on either side of me and ginormous portions of classic American brunch dishes. I opted for the Chile Verde with a side of biscuits and gravy (I’m really taking that diet seriously, can’t you tell) with absolutely zero regrets. The Chile Verde was awesome, like really delicious. The pork was falling apart tender and the chile sauce was mildly spiced but rich in flavor and texture. Definitely recommend slathering it in their house-made hot sauce.

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PaaDee — 6 SE 28th Avenue

Recommended to me by a friend who lived in Thailand and described this as “the most authentic Thai food I’ve had in the US”, I knew this place was worth a stop. I took my friend Hanna so that we could share a bunch of dishes. We started with the Kanom Gui Chai, a pan fried chive patty which had a mushy and crunchy fried texture and delicious flavor. Next came a few noodle dishes, like the Khao Soi and Kanom Jeen Gang Keaw. I really enjoyed the red curry flavor of the Khao Soi and the crunchy texture of the fried wanton on top was delicious. The final dish was the Gai Grop Sam Yan, a crispy fried chicken tossed with cashews and scallions. What I really appreciated about this restaurant was the no frills, classic and delicate approach to Thai flavors they took. It seems like these are family recipes that have been used for years, and the ingredients are well appreciated throughout the cooking process.

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Are you inspired to eat your way through Portland? Check out the interactive map below for all the restaurants I ate at (and some that I didn’t have a chance to eat at, but wanted to!) so you can plan out your itinerary with ease.

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Author: Megan Arz

I am a travel and food obsessed Midwesterner living in Chicago and dreaming of the world. I work as a full-time program manager for Greenheart Travel, but I am also committed to integrating the travel lifestyle into my every day routines. I am passionate about ethical travel, meeting new people, creating unique memories and eating local cuisine!

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