This Ethiopian and Eritrean restaurant in a cozy bungalow is truly a neighborhood spot -- friendly service, unassuming vibe, and great food. In a town that strives toward culinary diversity, Abyssinian Kitchen is a welcome addition to Portland's growing list of African cuisine. The lamb and other meat dishes are more than worthwhile, but it's the herbed and spiced veggies and lentils that keep us dropping by on whim after whim.
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Run by the proprietors of Northwest mainstay Ataula, Chesa is home to Spanish tapas and paellas backed by a substantial list of sherry. Chef José Chesa's highlight is certainly the paella, cooked in cast iron pans to a near-crisp in a custom charcoal oven. Pairings include rabbit and Iberico ham, squid and cuttlefish, and beyond. Don't completely stuff yourself with the savory, though; you'll want to leave room for a xurro at Chesa's next door companion, 180. These are the craft xurros you never knew you craved.
Born out of Portland's experimental food scene, Han Oak is a prix-fixe Korean restaurant that feels less like an uppity haven for people who call themselves "foodies" and more like a mellow inclusive speakeasy. The entrance is unmarked, and first-timers will tentatively walk in fearing they may have stumbled into a private party. But fear not -- that trepidation is erased once inside. You're greeted by a staff that appears to have been expecting you like an old friend. A classic film might be projected on the far wall, chefs chatting away with diners at the counter. Then there's the food -- a fresh take on traditional Korean blood sausage, an all-pleasing dumpling, and various plates of kimchi. And in a moment when pork belly is ubiquitous, Han Oak's salt baked preparation of the new classic stands out. You must plan ahead, though, as this weekend-only dinner and Sunday brunch service is reservation-only.
Southern Thai fried chicken brought to you by chef Earl Ninsom (Langbaan, PaaDee). Need we say more? OK, fine, we will. Hat Yai, unlike Ninsom's more formal restaurants, is a casual counter-service spot that often has a line out the door. The fried chicken combo plate with rich Malayu-style curry, sticky rice, and roti (pan-fried bread) is the place to start. Mix all the ingredients together for the ultimate dining pleasure and insight into what the hype is all about here.
Since its opening, Jacqueline has been winning the hearts of Wes Anderson fans with its décor. A portrait of Bill Murray in Life Aquatic garb graces the wall as if to lend his approval -- and we won't argue, especially when we're enjoying a happy hour of $1 oysters and cocktail of the day. Oysters come with various sauces in tincture pipettes for precise application. The cioppino ($30) is a bit spendy, though with half of a Dungeness crab among the ingredients, it's worth every spoonful.
Portland has been blessed as a second home for several successful Japanese restaurants, particularly ramen shops, and it's nothing short of a dream come true. Marukin made its first venture into the United States by opening two locations in Portland, one in the new food hall Pine Street Market and another next to city favorite Nong's Khao Man Gai. Marukin demonstrates simplicity -- the various broths, offered on a weekly schedule, and the hand-cut noodles are the focus here. For those who scoff at bowl of ramen because it doesn't have a pound of meat in it will be disappointed. And it’s for the better, 'cause this place often has a line and we don't want it grow much longer.
Formerly a pop-up restaurant, Nodoguro opened its brick-and-mortar location in May, continuing it’s intimate ticketed dinners for a serious omakase. The menus change frequently with seasonal offerings, imported ingredients, and the moods of the chefs -- the menu is finalized roughly 48 hours before your dinner date -- so each experience is made new and endlessly adventurous. At approximately $115, this meal is not for the faint of heart or pocketbook, but Nodoguro is a true treat for the sushi enthusiast or all-around foodie.
Finally, the south waterfront gets a new first-rate restaurant. Chef Jose Luis de Cossio, formerly of Peruvian powerhouse Andina, brings us the best cebiche around. Where Andina is large, Paiche is small -- in scale and the menu -- and it's this focus that causes even cebiche skeptics to crave Cossio's lightly cured seafood with sweet potato, onions, and cilantro soaking in leche de tigre. For a perfectly paired side dish, try the earthy causa tierra, sautéed potatoes with quinoa, and amaranth. Reservations are recommended.
What a year to open a restaurant called Poke Mon. It makes us wonder if the owners were in cahoots with the Pokémon GO creators to ensure maximum exposure upon opening. But damn, it worked because we found ourselves catching Pokémon while eating the equally hot dish of poke. Essentially, this place is a poke bar that offers mix and match variations on the traditional Hawaiian dish of raw fish marinated in shoyu sauce over rice. The result is a delicious bowl that transports you from the endless drab gray drizzle of the Northwest to the sublime temporary island rain of Hawaii. There's a bucket of fish at the end of this rainbow.
With old-school boom boxes on the walls and DJs spinning, Revelry feels decidedly like a late-night lounge. But don't let that distract you from the food. Seattle's James Beard nominees Rachel Yang and Seif Chirchi create elevated Korean street food-inspired eats that satisfy for an early dinner date or a group of friends on a late-night urban tour till closing time. While the highlight is the seaweed noodle with Dungeness crab in red curry, the most unique items on the menu are the savory pancakes, from jackfruit to kimchi to smoked oyster. Order them all and pass the plates around the table.
If you only had to commit to taking one bite of a menu item, how might you order? Would you be more daring? This question is at the heart of the new project from Greg Denton and Gabi Quiñónez Denton (Ox). Main dishes are indeed available -- the cuttlefish noodles and the ramen egg are superb -- but the experiments worth starting with are the bites. These aren't appetizers or small plates. These are, quite literally, bites. Truffle spaghettios, beef tongue masubi, salmon belly crudo with hibiscus ponzo... The extremely small portions allow both chefs and diners to experiment with new impactful flavors that may be too intense or rich for a main course. Come on, just take one bite.
From Joshua McFadden and Luke Dirks of Ava Gene's, and partner Sam Smith comes a sleek yet casual vegetable-focused Middle Eastern restaurant. For those who've discovered the joy in Ava Gene's salads and veggies (and cocktails), Tusk's focus will bring excitement and drooling. Enter first the vegetable garden with plates like cauliflower with raisins and Aleppo pepper then move on to the fried halloumi cheese and some of the best hummus you'll have. Don't fear the lamb tartare. A late-night menu, offered till midnight, includes hot wings with yogurt and a pita sandwich. The somewhat healthy spin on these late-night munchies don't make them any less satisfying.
1. Abyssinian Kitchen2625 SE 21st Ave, Portland
2. Chesa2218 NE Broadway St, Portland
3. Han Oak511 NE 24th Ave, Portland
4. Hat Yai1605 NE Killingsworth St., Portland
5. Jacqueline2039 Southeast Clinton Street, Portland
6. Marukin Ramen609 SE Ankeny St, Portland
7. nodoguro3735 SE Hawthorne Blvd, Portland
8. Paiche, Portland
9. Poke Mon1485 SE Hawthorne Blvd, Portland
10. Revelry210 Southeast Martin Luther King Junior Boulevard, Portland
11. superbite527 SW 12th Ave, Portland
12. Tusk2448 E Burnside St, Portland
Set in a refurbished bungalow, Abyssinian Kitchen is a charming restaurant serving up aromatic and tasty Ethiopian and Eritrean food. The standouts here are the 100% teff flour injera (spongy gluten-free flatbread), which is eaten with just about everything, and the spicy red lentils. While meat-lovers might favor the sautéed lamb at first, you’ll find yourself returning days later to satisfy a newfound craving for those little red legumes.
A newcomer from the palates behind Ataula, Chesa specializes in cast iron paellas steaming hot from a charcoal oven. These traditional rice dishes are made new with couplings like sherry-marinated rabbit and Iberico ham, squid and cuttlefish, and oxtail and prawns. While you wait for the entree, enjoy a few tapas and its impressive list of sherry.
Han Oak is a prix-fixe Korean restaurant that fits right into Portland's experimental food scene. Inside the unmarked restaurant, a friendly and unpretentious staff serves fresh takes on traditional Korean food including dumplings, various types of kimchee, and salt baked pork belly. The space feels very cozy and mellow, and the welcoming ambience seems to complement the exciting dishes perfectly.
Hat Yai is centered around mortar-and-pestle-ground Thai spice, and the fast-casual eatery on Northeast Killingsworth delivers it in specialty chicken dishes with the flavor and impact of a full-scale sit-down restaurant. The spot is named after a city on the border of Thailand's border with Malaysia, which is the inspiration for the preparation style here: spicy with lots of chili. The fried chicken is a must-order, the rice flour batter giving legs a golden crunch, while sprinklings of peppercorns and fired shallots give them extra punch. You can also have a half-bird with sticky rice, but non-poultry options like red chili-coconut curry with roti make a nice alternative. Sweet cocktails like a Tamarind Whiskey Smash and Asian import beers provide lubrication, and a few drinks might help you get creative in stacking plates to make room at the tiny tables.
A portrait of Bill Murray, as he appears in Life Aquatic, hangs above the wood-baked bar at Jacqueline, because, well, this is Portland and Wes Anderson makes great films. Seafood is taken seriously (couldn't you tell by the quicky fish mural?), and six kinds of oysters, raw and cured bites, and fried or seared shellfish await diners. Actual cooks will emerge from the kitchen to deliver a dramatic family-syle trout roasted on a cedar plank. The vegetable dishes are no afterthoughts, either, with cilatro-tangled Brussels sprouts tossed with fish sauce and crispy shallots, and honied yams served with watercress and smoked feta. French wines pair nicely with the plates, while complex cocktails like the red herring offer intriguing finishes (tequila blanco, chili liqueur, creme de cacao, coffee bean, mole bitters, whole egg).
Hailing from Tokyo, Marukin has chosen Portland as its first stateside home, and next door to none other than all-around favorite Nong’s Khao Mon Gai. Marukin's simplicity is notable -- the bowl is not overly loaded with meat and veggies, relying on the impeccably seasoned broth and handcrafted noodles to satisfy ramen lovers and convert those poor, sad, lonely ramen skeptics. In short, Portland’s noodle game just got bumped up a notch.
A wildly popular Japanese pop-up experience went brick-and-mortar in Hawthorne's Nodoguro, but that doesn't mean things are getting predictable. Ticketed themed omakase feasts are full of surprises, with frequently changing menus that cater to the truest of hardcore sushi fans. There are three central types of experiences: Sousaka, Hardcore (19 courses), and SupaHardcore (21 courses), where diners should expect both traditional sushi and out-there experimental plates.
It's no wonder chef Jose Luis de Cossio's Peruvian cafe is centered around ceviche: people love the lime-heavy fish dish that has become synonymous with Peru. The chef is no stranger to the nation's cuisine -- he led the kitchen at Lima's renowned La Mar and Portland's premier upscale Peruvian restaurant Andina, but traded in fancy and grand for thoughtful and small-scale at this petit stop in Lair Hill. When you're not lapping up his Hawaii- and Japan-sourced fish in leche de tigre, other options like kale-mushroom empanadas are on offer. But if a bowl of ceviche isn't a part of the order, you're not doing Paiche the right way.
This friendly, light-filled Hawthorne spot coincidentally opened the same week as Pokmémon Go exploded onto the world stage -- and its poke bowls are just as addictive as the game. The trendy Hawaiian dish -- a bowl of raw fish, rice, seaweed, vegetables, and sauce -- comes in a handful of signature varieties here, or can be customized with all your favorite fish and toppings. If you've got your eye on the signature menu, consider trying the Hawaiian Ahi Poke, full of fresh ahi, sweet onion, inamona, ogo, and a Hawaiian-style sauce with shoyu, ginger, sesame oil, and chili.
Simplicity shines at this small and minimalist East Portland hangout. Born in 2016 of two top-notch Seattle chefs, Revelry offers a simple menu of Korean staples -- mostly kimchi pancakes, rice bowls, and noodles topped with a choice of meat like seared pork or short ribs. They're pretty much just the lead-up to the main event: the drinks. They've got a solid selection of beers form Portland's favorite breweries and a handful of Asian brews, but most come here to photograph their delicate and beautifully garnished cocktails.
What is a superbite, you ask? The husband-and-wife team behind this restaurant devoted to them describe it as an amuse-bouche or hors d'oeuvres-style small plate that requires no more than three bites to consume. The morsels, which make up a third of the menu, are modern and sometimes unexpected: duck liver-scrambled eggs with caviar and chives or Spaghettios with fresh truffle, Irish butter and Parmesan. Cocktails like Shoulda Woulda Coulda -- which blends Fernet, rye, and French cider -- are just as bold. While larger plates are also on offer, a dinner composed of the namesake small plates is the most fun.
Named for the iconic Fleetwood Mac album, this airy eatery brings remixed Middle Eastern food to Kerns. Following Portland's penchant for farm-centric food, Tusk gets its ingredients from nearby farms like Ayers Creek to bring sharable plates of cured meats, roasted and picked veggies, and flatbread to the table. In addition to an ever-changing menu, you can also expect top-notch pastry desserts and spritzy cocktails.