Food & Drink

An editor's guide to eating around town

Published On 04/18/2013 Published On 04/18/2013

Portland's food scene is a beautiful thing, but it can also be confusing. There are more food carts than people. Chefs tattooed with butcher diagrams incongruously serve soy- & gluten-free vegan BLTs. Lucky you, then, that local editor Andy Kryza is here to help you bring home the real culinary bacon. Favorite Restaurant: It took Ox all of about five minutes to ascend to the top of Portland's meat scene, and for good reason: the Argentinian-style grill's perfectly cooked meats rank among the best in the region. Best Late-Night Eats: Late-night noshing around here is pretty much limited to diner grub and bacon-wrapped hot dogs (not that there's anything wrong with bacon-wrapped hot dogs), which is why Luc Lac totally rules. You can launch a preemptive strike on your hangover with cheap (and delicious) banh mi, pho, and other Vietnamese goodness until 4a. Best Cheap Eats: In the land of food carts (nearly 800 in operation), Cartopoa on SE Hawthorne is king. You can score killer burritos, poutine, and wood-oven pizza, but don't miss the pulled-pork-stuffed fried pies from legendary Whiffies. Best Sandwich: You gotta love a place whose name is also what people will call you once you eat there, and if you want a hamburger topped with pig fat, or griddled mortadella w/ provolone & peppers, you need to get to one of the two Lardos. Best Dish: Seafood joint Riffle NW does some of the craziest stuff with fish since Piranha 3D, but, unlike that movie, it's really good. Case in point: Oregon Coast Petrale Sole covered in urchin sauce and served alongside its own deep-fried skeleton. Which you actually eat. And is delicious. Best Italian: Concordia's Firehouse is actually in an old-school dalmatian shelter, and uses a cozy kitchen to fire out goods from all over the Boot. It's like a tour of Italy without having to work on some dude's farm. Best Thai: Hitting up Pok Pok's original location is a rite of passage (don't forget to have a tamarind whiskey sour), but lost in all of the media hoopla is the seriously incredible northern Thai at inconspicuous Samui Thai Kitchen. Just ask the owner to give you whatever she'd be having. It'll be weird, and it'll be delicious. Best Mexican: Eating untested Mexican is like playing Russian roulette with your stomach, so make haste to one of the two La Bonitas and get ready for the best carnitas and shredded beef in town. Adventurous types can get down on high-end lengua (tongue) and cabeza (face). Best Food Cart: Like I said, there're about 800 of these suckers in the city, but Grilled Cheese Grill heralded the golden age when it stuck a burger between two thick-cut grilled cheese sandwiches and called it the Cheezus. Best Burger: I have to break this one into categories. If you want the best traditional burger, hit up Stanich's. If you want something insane, go to Burnside Brewing and get the Friday-only Ultimate Burger: a patty cooked in duck fat, a burger-sized hunk of pork belly, and, depending on the season, either lobster or crab. Most Gut-Busting Dish: Big-Ass Sandwiches delivers on their promise, loading bread bombs with a mountain of meat before cramming French fries for good measure. But if you can eat the Quadzilla at Skyline, you're not even human -- I tried and failed, as you can watch above. Best Fine Dining: One of the best aspects of PDX's food scene is that most of our upscale places have rooms tucked away where you can just kick it and eat happy hour food. Case in point: Bluehour, where haute cuisine is served in a chandelier-filled dining room while the cocktail lounge produces cocktails and $5-$7 mini-entrees. Most Romantic: Raven & Rose is set in a super-intimate renovated carriage house that's on the historic registry. It's like taking your date back in time, but not literally, because then it would be totally illegal to date her. Best for Partying: Departure has one of the best rooftop patios in town, and the high-end Asian fusionery eventually morphs into a futuristic club full of randy minxes. Best for Work: Arabic fusion joint Levant has this badass private dining room that's perfect for small meetings. Best Lunch: Downtown's Hot Pot City may not have a website, but what they do have is an all-you-can lunch buffet that's under $10, making midday the ideal time to check out this cross between a Mongolian grill, a dim sum-ery, and a Korean BBQ. Best Brunch: Portland's so horny for brunch that most everywhere has a 2hr wait. Equinox is a hidden gem where you can score high-end eats and hair of the dog cocktails without the wait. Just don't tell anyone. Wait... dammit! Weirdest Food: The donut burger's become something of a weird staple, but Portland's The Original claims ownership of it, and's probably responsible for a spike in national diabetes. Best Wings: The name suggests you might find hippies chomping granola, but instead you'll find yourself chomping wings slathered in housemade sauces at Fire on the Mountain. El Jefe (the spiciest) is a thing of masochistic beauty. Best Donuts: See those people waiting in huge lines at Voodoo? Those are called tourists. And those are Froot Loops on top of a donut. Blue Star's dough rings come in flavors like Fried Chicken, and many of their sweets come with full shots of booze in the middle.

Previous Venue Next Venue Venue Description
1. Departure Restaurant & Lounge 525 SW Morrison St, Portland, OR 97204 (Downtown)

Located in the Nines Hotel, The Departure serves authentic pan-Asian cuisine -- such as sushi, dim sum, and kushiyaki, along with vegan and gluten-free items-- and creative cocktails in a scenic, double balconied setting with a great outdoor seating area and sweeping views of downtown PDX. Try the Tasho Macho, the venue's longest-surviving drink, which is an Asian fusion take on the Moscow mule.

Previous Venue Next Venue Venue Description
2. Ox 2225 NE Martin Luther King Blvd, Portland, OR 97212 (Ne Portland)

MLK Blvd smells a lot like grilled meat thanks to the arrival of Ox, the bovine baby of a husband-and-wife team that's dropping Argentinian techniques on meat charred on a Hades-hot, custom-made Grillworks wood-fired grill.

Previous Venue Next Venue Venue Description
3. Luc Lac Vietnamese Kitchen 835 SW 2nd, Portland, OR 97204 (Downtown)

Luc Lac sports an interior reflecting French influences and an expanded menu of recipes from a grandma nice enough to treat you to greens with Hennessy-seared cubes of tenderloin (Damn, you ballin’, nana!), and tomato fried rice or tamarind-lemongrass-broth-steamed mussels, aka Mike Katz if you steal his t-shirt.

Previous Venue Next Venue Venue Description
4. Cartopia 1200 SE Hawthorne Blvd, Portland, OR 97214 (Se Portland)

Cartopia is exactly as it sounds: a mecca of food trucks and foodies alike, all looking for the one that's going to do them in.

Previous Venue Next Venue Venue Description
5. Lardo 1212 SE Hawthorne Blvd, Portland, OR 97205 (Downtown)

Lardo is a cool low-key pork-centered sandwich shop, with a charming outdoor patio, a offers bunch of draft beer options as well. The star on the menu is the LPB Sandwich, which comes with lamb/pork/beef sausage, labneh, zaatar, cucumbers, fennel slaw, and pickled peppers. Whatever you order though, the fries here are an absolute must. The Lardo Fries, thin and crispy, topped with Parmesan and fried herbs, are a showstopper.

Previous Venue Next Venue Venue Description
6. Riffle NW 333 NW 13th, Portland, OR 97209 (Pearl District)

Seafood joint Riffle NW does some of the craziest stuff with fish since Piranha 3D, but, unlike that movie, it's really good. Case in point: Oregon Coast Petrale Sole covered in urchin sauce and served alongside its own deep-fried skeleton. Which you actually eat. And is delicious.

Previous Venue Next Venue Venue Description
7. Firehouse 711 NE Dekum St, Portland, OR 97211 (Concordia)

Occupying an old fire station, Firehouse's got a wood-fired oven, a rotisserie, and a grill firing up fresh Italian food.

Previous Venue Next Venue Venue Description
8. Samui Thai Kitchen 3616 SE Hawthorne Blvd, Portland, OR 97214 (Hawthorne Dist)

Samui is an island in southern Thailand, the region of the country that shares a border with Malaysia. The proximity of the two countries has resulted in a large crossover of cultural particularities, and cooking has certainly been influenced. The people at Samui Thai Kitchen decided to bring their favorite food from home all the way to Portland, turning out American favorites like pad Thai and drunken noodles alongside more authentic dishes like Massaman curry, green curry with beef filet, and soup nuer.

Previous Venue Next Venue Venue Description
9. La Bonita 2839 NE Alberta St, Portland, OR 97211 (Ne Portland)

With two locations in Portland, the family that owns & operates La Bonita must be on to something, right? Right. Find out for yourself as you make your way through their straight forward, no nonsense menu filled with Mexican classics from huevos rancheros to chicken tamales and chimichangas to what may be the best enchiladas in the whole damn city.

Previous Venue Next Venue Venue Description
10. Stanich's 4915 NE Fremont St, Portland, OR 97213

The unembellished exterior of this Roseway houses on of the city's most beloved sports bars, open since the 1940s. Despite the small space and the eerie graveyard in their backyard, veteran customers have been returning here on a regular basis to admire their wall-to-wall team pennants and sink their teeth into The Special, a portion-defying beef and ham cheeseburger with bacon, egg, and all the fixings your (very hungry) heart desires.

Previous Venue Next Venue Venue Description
11. Burnside Brewing Co 701 E Burnside St, Portland, OR 97214 (Lower Burnside)

Despite what the name may suggest, Burnside Brewing Co. isn't just about the beer. Yes, they've got plenty of it, with over 25 to choose from, including house beers, seasonal favorites, and permanent tap fixtures. But it isn't just about the booze here, as this spot also challenges typical notions about bar food by offering, alongside the expected burgers and fries, dishes like gnocchi, smoked salmon carpaccio, hanger steak, and a take on the Thai Massaman curry.

Previous Venue Next Venue Venue Description
12. 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.

Previous Venue Next Venue Venue Description
13. Skyline Restaurant 1313 NW Skyline Blvd, Portland, OR 97229 (Ne Portland)

Skyline offers diner-ish digs (Red-checked floor? Check!) where you can scarf your usual steak burger, but wash it down the right way thanks to an full bar rocking delicious cocktails.

Previous Venue Next Venue Venue Description
14. Bluehour 250 NW 13th Ave, Portland, OR 97209 (Pearl District)

One of the best aspects of PDX's food scene is that most of our upscale places have rooms tucked away where you can just kick it and eat happy hour food. Case in point: Bluehour, where haute cuisine is served in a chandelier-filled dining room while the cocktail lounge produces cocktails and $5-$7 mini-entrees.

Previous Venue Next Venue Venue Description
15. Raven & Rose 1331 SW Broadway, Portland, OR 97201 (Downtown)

Housed within a historical landmark, Raven & Rose serves upscale comfort food and a nearly overwhelmingly large wine list. The beautiful dining room is inspired by the Irish and British countryside, as does the menu. Take dining to the next level by experiencing a bison cheeseburger paired with a craft beer you can't pronounce.

Previous Venue Next Venue Venue Description
16. Levant 2448 E Burnside St, Portland, OR (Portland)

This restaurant specializes in creating modern twists on Middle Eastern cuisine, and the open kitchen and fireplace-style grills give chef & owner Scott Snyder freedom to get as creative as possible. Between the selection of house cocktails, draft and bottled beer, wine and non-alcoholic beverages, there's something for pretty much everyone here.

Previous Venue Next Venue Venue Description
17. Hot Pot City 1975 SW 1st Ave, Portland, OR 97201 (Downtown)

Downtown's Hot Pot City has an all-you-can lunch buffet that's under $10, making midday the ideal time to check out this cross between a Mongolian grill, a dim sum-ery, and a Korean BBQ.

Previous Venue Next Venue Venue Description
18. Equinox 830 N Shaver St, Portland, OR 97227

Equinox is a hidden gem where you can score high-end eats and hair of the dog cocktails without the wait. Just don't tell anyone. Wait... dammit!

Previous Venue Next Venue Venue Description
19. The Original 300 SW 6th Ave, Portland, OR 97204 (Downtown)

The donut burger's become something of a weird staple, but Portland's The Original claims ownership of it, and's probably responsible for a spike in national diabetes.

Previous Venue Next Venue Venue Description
20. Blue Star Donuts 1237 SW Washington St, Portland, OR 97205 (Downtown)

Not content with just Yakuza and Little Big Burger, the folks behind those spots now also have Blue Star Donuts, the latest entry into their 'establishments to make PDXers enormous' list. Blue Star offers up "donuts for adults," meaning that you should look elsewhere for sprinkles. Instead, here you'll find donuts with flavors like horchata glazed, chipotle chocolate ganache, and maple glazed & bacon.

Previous Venue Next Venue Venue Description
21. Pok Pok 3226 SE Division St, Portland, OR 97202 (Clintondivision)

The original Pok Pok, from Chef Andy Ricker, slings super-authentic and beyond-tasty Thai eats -- most notably, the famous chicken wings that are a must-order.

Previous Venue Next Venue Venue Description
22. Fire On The Mountain 4225 N Interstate Ave, Portland, OR 97215 (Overlook)

The hot and spicy wings at this joint claim to be the best "this side of Buffalo" -- check 'em out for yourself and see if they're right.

Clickbait