Before even leaving for Oregon, I had nearly 30 foodie friendly restaurants in Portland I wanted to try. Using my favorite food research tools like Thrillist and Eater, I had done a bunch of research to scope out some of the places I wanted to eat. In this foodie mecca city, it is not hard to find LOTS of good restaurants. The challenge is finding the time (and money!) to try them all!
With only 5 days in Portland Oregon, I had some lofty food goals to accomplish but I was able to eat at 15 delicious Portland eateries during my visit. See where I was able to eat during my stay in Portland, Oregon.
Here are the top 15 foodie restaurants to try while traveling 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.
Salt & Straw — 2035 NE Alberta Street
An instagrammers guide to Portland will certainly bring you to Salt & Straw, Portland’s homegrown ice cream shop. They use local dairy and fresh seasonal ingredients as the basis of their ice cream, and they’ve got some wacky savory flavors, including fennel & maple, and goat cheese habenero. I sampled a few ingredients and opted for the Strawberry, balsamic and pepper. The balance of the strawberry’s sweetness and the balsamic’s brininess was perfect, and the pepper added just a slight be of hit. My only compliant would be that the ice cream was slightly over churned and served a little bit too cold so it was hard to taste the flavor initially, but overall a delightful experience!
Petunia’s Pies & Pastries — 610 SW 12th Avenue
A cute little bakery in the heart of the Pearl district, Petunia’s feels like a step back in time to the 1950s. The employees are wearing little candy striper uniforms with an adorable the mint green and pink color scheme on the walls. You walk up to a bar that is filled with glass cloche covered baked goods like pie, cookies and fruit bars. They were out of the pie of the day, so I settled for a cookie sandwich. It was a double chocolate chip cookie with a thin mint buttercream frosting on the inside. Super sugary and rich, I could not have eaten more than one of these and definitely needed a coffee afterwards, but it was a nice sweet treat for the afternoon.
Bamboo Sushi — 409 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.
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. Perfection!
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!
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!!
Pinolo Gelato — 3707 SE Division Street
Just down the street from PokPok, this is a great stop if you are shopping along Division street. A simple interior, the shop serves up traditional Italian gelato, shovel spoon and all. I didn’t sample any because once I saw pistachio and stracciatella, I knew that’s what I would get. Those were some of my favorite flavors from my trip to Sicily. They were amazing. Better than Portland famous Salt & Straw (at least in my opinion). The pistachio was silky and smooth with that slightly sweet, slightly bitter taste of pistachio. And the dark chocolate in the stracciatella was absolutely spectacular. So bitter and sharp contrasted with the sweet cream ice cream base.
Random Order — 1800 NE Alberta Street
Portland has a thing for pies. People go out specifically to eat pie, and I passed multiple pie shops, that specialize in one type of dessert. It’s a little strange, but hey, who am I to judge which sugary treat someone prefers? But I figured I should do as the locals do, so I checked out one of these pie places! I settled on Random Order, which was just down the street from my friends house. It is a fairly standard, simple looking coffee shop, but then you see the 3 cases of pies. Yes, three. I’m not a huge fruit pie eater, so I opted for the bourbon pecan pie topped with a house made whip cream. While it wasn’t better than my aunt’s at Thanksgiving, I really enjoyed this pie. The crust was flaky and the sugar level was high, but well balanced with the nuts and bourbon flavor. Plus, the fresh whip cream cut through the sugary nicely.
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.
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.
Also, you might have seen my post from earlier this week about my doughnut adventures in Portland, but in case not, here is a summary of my stops at Voodoo and Blue Star.
VooDoo Donuts — 22 SW 3rd Avenue
This place has got wacky doughnut flavors (think cereal or peanut butter toppings) in big portion sizes, but it is a staple of Portland. The originally funky donut place, there is usually a wait for their fried dough, but the experience is well worth it.
Blue Star Donuts — Multiple locations, I went to Hawthrone location
A more simplistic and elevated take on doughnuts, Blue Star is the new kid on the block of the Portland doughnut scene. They offer unique flavor combinations, like blueberry bourbon, and their dough is more traditional. In my opinion, this was my favorite of the two doughnut places!