The 12 Best New Bars and Restaurants in Portland


The 12 Best New Bars and Restaurants in Portland
The 12 Best New Bars and Restaurants in Portland

Andy Kryza/Thrillist
Andy Kryza/Thrillist

April showers may have brought May flowers, but those flowers are pretty much dead now. But who needs flowers when you've got wood-fired Italian masterpieces, kimchi hot dogs, and pizza that's more inspired by Wu Tang than the last Cappadonna album. These are the 12 best new restaurants that have blossomed since, well, the last time we did this. Please don't tell Cappadonna what we said and maybe we'll buy you a taco.

Andy Kryza/Thrillist

Lil' Wares

Smallwares chef Johanna Ware isn’t known to shy away from experimenting at her flagship spot. So when she opened a temporary joint in a little house across the street with the intent of screwing around with lunch convention, it was cause for celebration. Think chilled miso soup, a sandwich version of General Tso's, and a short rib-stuffed “burrito” that fuses Mexican with Chinese and French favorites thanks to au jus. And because Ware loves a good cocktail mash-up, there are boozy slushies. The joint might just be a summer thing. Let’s hope it’s an endless summer.


Renata opened up to much fanfare and a liiiiiiitle bit of controversy between local food organizations regarding premature proclamations of greatness. But now that this rustic Italian spot has transitioned from the year’s most anticipated opening (after many delays) to the year’s most buzzed-about eatery, the food can speak for itself. Oh, and it does. From wood-fired pizzas, to house-made charcuterie and pastas, to spit-roasted pork loin, this joint’s more than earned its reputation as the next Ava Gene’s.

Drew Tyson/Thrillist


Ladd’s Addition
After a hugely successful series of takeovers at Ned Ludd, the dudes behind the Wu Tang-themed P.R.E.A.M. have finally opened up their own den of wood-fired pies, thumping bass, and sometimes-forced hip-hop references. But, truth is, they could call it Barry Manilow’s House of Italian Pie so long as they were pumping out perfectly charred, chewy pies topped with everything from lardo to fennel sausage and fava greens. It’s a triumph. Ugh. Sorry.

Kung Pow!

Alphabet District
Portland isn’t exactly overflowing with great Chinese food, so when one of the city’s best, Shandong, announced that it was opening Kung Pow!, it was cause for excitement. It delivers. The “pow” is felt in spice, which punches up house-made noodle dishes like pork belly soup, battered flank steak, and clay pot pork. Save room for the fish balls, too. And the cherry chicken wings. Oh, screw it. Just over-order. You’ll be glad tomorrow morning.

Flickr/Chris (edited)

Big-Ass Sandwiches

North Tabor
Big-Ass has long been a favorite of the food cart scene, what with its gigantic gut-bombs stuffed with meat and fries, then drenched in cheese sauce just to extend the middle finger to health-conscious Portlanders a little higher. Now, it's got its own shop, which confirms long-held suspicions that these things taste even better with beer.


Pearl District
In a move designed specifically to disprove atheism, the team behind the Pearl’s outstanding pizza-and-cocktail oasis Oven & Shaker up and decided to make a bar focused on ham and cocktails. Lots of ham. From all over the world. And cocktails to pair with it. Oh, and there’s a burger made with pork and cheese. Because Hamlet was conceived in a glorious dream. And that dream has dry-cured into reality.

Andy Kryza/Thrillist

Kim Jong Grillin'

After a (far too long) hiatus following a fire, one of Portland’s best food trucks was resurrected last year. And now, it’s multiplied. Located on NE 42nd between NEPO 42 and Pollo Norte, KJG’s spreading the love of its incredible Korean BBQ even further, with the knockout Bibim Box -- rice, fried egg, and bulgogi FTW -- which is every bit the hangover buster the menu promises, and the kimchi- and mango-topped hot dog that remains one of the city's best food cart creations.

Shift Drinks

Fact: when you’re looking for a great bar, head to the one bartenders frequent. Shift Drinks takes that concept up a notch by establishing itself specifically as a place where service-industry folks can commingle in a cavernous room over great drinks, poured tableside with a focus on bartender-favorite ingredients. Case in point: the Greenseer, featuring cherry, two kinds of whiskey, fernet, and zero nonsense. This is your favorite bartender’s new favorite bar. And you should always trust your bartender.

The Commons

The Commons

One of Portland’s best breweries throws another notch in the Buckman-area brewing belt with the debut of its new tasting room, finally allowing us a chance to get the goods straight from the source, minus the awkward conversation about cellaring you have every time you get one at the bottle shop. The place is pretty sparse. Hell, it’s a warehouse. But as long as it's serving the Farmhouse Ale, ambiance isn’t even in our thoughts.

Portland Mercado

Portland Mercado

Finally, a great retort to California transplants who complain about Portland’s lack of “great” Latin food that isn’t “blow it out your ass, bruh.” The Mercado’s a wonderland, a gigantic one-stop shopping experience with some of Portland’s best South-of-the-border fare, from Colombian fried rice to Cubans, pupusas, Oaxacan street food, and the city’s best handcrafted chorizo. So, to borrow Portland’s most cliché comeback, go ahead and head back to the Mission, dude. We’ll just head down the street and graze.

Andy Kryza/Thrillist

Satellite Dream Pizza

One of Portland’s most underappreciated pizza places, American Dream expands its orbit to Sellwood with a quaint little shop offering up its trademark thin-and-loaded square-cut pies, calzones the size of a regulation football (pre-deflation), and a lineup of craft beer and cider. Sellwood needed great pizza. It got it.

Andy Kryza/Thrillist

Taco Pedaler

Sure, the name “taco pedaler” is kind of a lie now that the business has transitioned from shilling tacos on bikes to a brick-and-mortar, but really who cares? The $2.50 tacos are still incredible. Fried and stuffed dillas are like souped-up empanadas. And the Pedaler now offers up a great margarita. So maybe it’s safer that she’s not on a bike anymore.

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Andy Kryza is a senior editor at Thrillist who has been eating that calzone for the past three days... with no end in sight. Follow him to a personal trainer: @apkryza.

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1. Lil' wares 4537 NE Fremont St, Portland, OR 97213

Lil' wares serves up small plates meant to be shared, as well as a pretty tasty burger. The menu has an asian theme and the burger topped with kimchi, hoisin, pickles, red onion, and basil is a must try.

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2. Renata 626 SE Main St, Portland, OR 97214

Renata is one of Portland’s best Italian spots, serving up great wood-fired pizza, house-made charcuterie, pasta, spit-roasted pork loin, and more. The food at this farm-to-table restaurant speaks for itself, as does drinks menu. Renata boasts an excellent cocktail program, and it also offers a few of its own variations of the negroni.

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3. P.R.E.A.M. 2131 SE 11th Ave, Portland, OR 97214 (East Portland)

Pizza and Wu-Tang come together in this hip-hop inspired wood-fire pizza stop. Taking its name from a slogan of sorts (Pizza Rules Everything Around Me), they serve oven-charred pizzas topped with combos like fennel sausage with tomatoes, mustard greens, spring onions, and fried shallots -- plus a fun list of drinks and on draft beers and wines.

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4. Kung Pow! 500 NW 21st Ave, Portland, OR 97209 (Nob Hillalphabet Dist)

Portland doesn't have a lot of options when it comes to Chinese food, so feel free to over-order at Kung Pow!, no one is going to judge you. And if they do, you can just laugh at them over your copious amounts of house-made noodles with things like pork belly soup, battered flank steak, and clay pot pork. Totally worth it.

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5. Big-Ass Sandwiches 304 SE 2nd Ave, Portland, OR 97214 (Buckman)

Big-Ass Sandwiches delivers on their promise, loading bread bombs with a mountain of meat before cramming French fries for good measure.

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6. Hamlet 232 NW 12th Ave, Portland, OR 97209 (Pearl District)

The team behind Pearl's brought us this ham and cocktail concept. Lots of ham, actually, imported from all over the globe. It may not be the first combination you'd think of for a restaurant speciality, but have a shot of prosciutto and mezcal before you knock it. Picklebacks suddenly feel so irrelevant. The space has an L-shaped copper bar and leather banquettes along the wall, allowing you to socialize with other patrons over meat-centric plates or cozy up with a drinking companion.

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7. Kim Jong Grillin' Southeast Division St, Portland, OR 97206 (Downtown)

This popular Portland food cart is in its second life after burning to its end. The new cart serves the same classic Korean barbecue in Downtown, with menu items like bulgogi, spicy chicken and pork, and the KJG hot dog.

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8. Shift Drinks 1200 SW Morrison St, Portland, OR 97205 (Downtown)

Shift Drinks is a self-proclaimed "professional drinking establishment," a watering hole for local bartenders and service-industry folk who know what to look for in a good cocktail. The menu boasts a number of inventive (rotating) mixed drinks, several types of beer and wine, and season food specialties. The menu can get a bit noisy, but the great menu and the sophisticated vibe of the bar makes up for it.

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9. The Commons Brewery 1810 SE 10th Ave, Unit E, Portland, OR 97214

Though it's in the process of expanding, Commons still opens its doors Thursday to Sunday for a few hours to hold tastings and fill growlers. The unique, rustic style is an awkward juxtaposition, like an 18th-century farmhouse in the packing district, but the genuine affinity for craft brewing is infectious and you’ll soon be imagining wooden fences and open pastures.

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10. Portland Mercado 7238 SE Foster Rd, Portland, OR 97206 (Se Portland)

This indoor/outdoor market hosts eight food trucks and seven indoor tenants each day, serving and selling Latin American foods and goods. The food carts open at 10 am, but coffee is open earlier and beer is served later.

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11. Satellite Dream Pizza 6116 SE Milwaukie Ave, Portland, OR 97202 (Sellwoodmoreland)

This branch of the Portland original American Dream Pizza offer the same loaded pizzas and giant calzones stuffed with whatever you like. Add on the craft beers and ciders and you have the right idea of whats in store at this 'Dream.

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12. Taco Pedaler 2225 NE Broadway St, Portland, OR 97232 (Ne Portland)

This brick and mortar version of the original pedaler serves the same $2.50 tacos from Irvington, plus an important addition to the menu: margaritas.