Portland's Best Restaurants: A Foodie's Guide

Portland's Best Restaurants: A Foodie's Guide

From Peruvian to Russian, Spanish to Indian, and everything in between, here's a list of great eateries to satisfy your every craving in the city of roses.

If you ever find yourself in Portland and wondering where to eat, or fussing over your choices because you want to eat in places that define Portland cuisine, then this guide is for you! We’ve gone around the four corners of Portland and done the research (burp!), because we know how it feels to have “culinary ADD”—where you want to eat everything all at once, even if you know it’s physically impossible.

Serving all types of cuisines, from $5 meals to $500, these restaurants all have one thing in common: a great meal.

Ataula

Source: http://www.pdxmonthly.com

In Catalan, "Ataula" means "come to the table." Featuring beautiful artwork, this Spanish gastropub puts a creative spin on traditional tapas, and maintains a friendly, comforting, playful vibe, as so evident with the names of the dishes. Ataula serves delicious small plates and Spanish favorites such as paella, and boasts of a lovely wine selection.

There's a huge variety of tapas here, which can be a delight to explore as everything is delicious! Order Bombas, which are beef and potato balls served with a spicy house sauce. The very addictive Lollipops are made out of flavorful chorizo. Try the Ataula Montadito, which features smoked salmon. Served on homemade coca bread (a Spanish flatbread) with marscapone yogurt and drizzled with truffle-infused honey, this is a sweet and savory treat! If you like fish, then you might enjoy the house-made nori-flavored rice crackers topped with battered tiny fishes and smoked trout eggs.

Of course, the star of the show is the Ataula Paella, and one bite is all it takes to convince me why this dish is so popular. While a lot of paella options stateside taste mushy, rather like risotto, the rice in this dish is well-cooked, but still has a bite to it, with enough saffron to flavor the rice wonderfully, but not make it overwhelming. Topped with mussels, clams, prawns, calamari, and lobster fumet, this is one dish that will stay with you for a long time.

Seafood lovers will also enjoy the Arros Negre, which is paella cooked in squid ink and safrron.

If you don't like rice, you can try the Rossejat, which uses toasted noodles instead, topped with chicken, chorizo, pimenton, and a roasted garlic aioli.

Wash it all down with Ataula's Sangria. It's a perfect drink that goes with everything.

Of course, one must not forget dessert! The Nuestra Crema Catalana is a chocolate custard with crema Catalan, served with a seasonal sorbet-- we had the raspberry, which tanginess complemented the chocolate beautifully. The brioche donuts with spiced sugar is a simple option, but quite heavenly. It goes really well with their coffee by Local Roasting Co.

They also make their own ice cream -- I highly recommend the Manchego flavor. It's almost-savory, but with enough sweetness to make a beautiful contrast, and very creamy.

Ataula
1818 NW 23rd Pl
Portland, OR 97210
Phone: (503) 894-8904
Website: http://www.ataulapdx.com/

Hours:
Tuesdays to Saturdays: 4:30pm – 10:00pm
Sundays and Mondays: Closed

Toro Bravo

Source: http://www.yelp.com

Toro Bravo is about as Spanish as Marie Antoinette. (Pulled pork sandwich and burgers on the menu?) Alright, the French queen is Roman Catholic, sharing the same religion as the majority of Spain, so maybe just a little… but I digress! Regardless of nationality, this restaurant serves damn good food, and it’s obvious with the lines beginning as early as 5:00pm since they opened in 2007.

Toro Bravo is a farm-to-table restaurant, and it relies strongly on local produce and the seasons. The menu may change regularly, but I assure you that you won’t be disappointed with the food.

Wake up your appetite with tapas, the small shining jewels of Toro Bravo’s crown. The grilled octopus with fried chickpeas is tasty and tender. Some of the other best-loved appetizers are the fresh steamed mussels in garlic butter and olive oil, and dates that are stuffed with chorizos and wrapped with bacon. Mmm.

But perhaps the biggest jewel in Toro Bravo’s crown is the house-smoked Coppa Steak served with a fabulous Salvitxada sauce. It is, without hyperbole, the best steak sauce ever. Made from, among other ingredients, tomatoes, garlic, and chilis, it is a lovely complement to the beef instead of masking the natural meaty flavor. The steak itself is wonderfully cooked: a little crusty on the edges, but tender and juicy on the inside. This rich, smoky meat is served with potatoes poached in olive oil and chopped olives.

Another interesting dish is the Drunken Pork. The succulent pork is enhanced by the tasty avocado salad it’s served with. If you love avocados, then you’ll surely love this. Also, don’t miss the squid ink pasta—with perfectly-seared scallops, hazelnuts, and a raw egg yolk, this dish is surely worth the black teeth and lips you’ll end up with after eating.

Toro is one of the most popular restaurants in Portland, so it might be wise to call in for a reservation. Either that, or go early and be prepared to fight for a spot.

Toro Bravo
120 NE Russell Street
Portland, OR 97212
Phone: (503) 281-4464
Website http://www.torobravopdx.com/

Hours:
Sundays to Thursdays: 5:00pm - 10:00pm
Fridays and Saturdays: 5:00pm - 11:00pm

Kachka

Source: http://www.yelp.com

Kachka opened just this year, and quickly became a strong contender on the Russian food scene in Portland. The place is kitschy and cozy, meant to resemble a dasha (a Russian country house). The scene feels like you’re going to have tea with your beloved babushka.

Make sure you’re open to try new things and experiment before you start ordering. Russian food consists of strong flavors and combinations you might not be used to, but you’ll be surprised that a few of these dishes might actually end up becoming favorites.

If it’s your first time here, then opt for the Zakuski experience. At $25 per person, you’ll get to try different small plates. It’s a great way for you to sample almost the entire menu! Favorites include the Baltic Sprat Buterbrodi: smoked sprats (tiny Baltic fish) on a piece of pumpernickel bread stuffed with hard-boiled egg and parsley mayo. It’s a savory, creamy treat. The colorful “Herring Under a Fur Coat” is actually a seven-layer salad: egg, mayo, onions, beet, carrots, herring, and potatoes. It tastes like a really yummy egg-potato salad, but the taste is a bit stronger and smokier than what you’re probably used to. The House Cured Duck Breast is a sweet and palatable treat with candied kumquat and coriander cream served with a buckwheat blini.

Speaking of blinis, if you plan on splurging, go for the Caviar and Roe Blinis. There are different caviars for you to choose from, even a Petrossian Tsar Imperial Ossetra at $83 per half-ounce. It is paired with yeasted blinis and challah bread, and served with butter, chives, and a sieved egg.

If you enjoy fish, go for the Fish Board for different smoked fish, among which are beet-cured salmon and Norwegian mackerel.

What is dining in a Russian restaurant without its dumplings? Try the Tvorog Vareniki, which are hearty farmer’s cheese and scallion dumplings. I prefer them pan-fried. The meaty Siberian Palmeni, stuffed with beef, veal, pork, and onion, is gorgeous with a silky, fancy broth. Both are must-tries.
For mains, order the Rabbit in a Clay Pot. It is sour and garlicky and a myriad of other flavors, so let’s just settle for indescribably good. Trust me, you’ll slurp down every last bit of it.

Wash everything down with house-infused vodkas that come in different flavors: dill, horseradish, and chamomile. Vodka flights are available if you want to try everything. Careful though: while this drink may smoothly go down your throat, it’s pretty strong.

Now for the sweet part: desserts! Don’t miss the Plombir Sandwiches, which are basically ice cream sandwiches but at a different level of yumminess. It's crispy wafers, hazelnuts, creamy Russian-style ice cream, and a black currant tea milk. The tartness of the black currants, the sweet caramel, and the rather sharp-tasting tea work together to launch you into heaven.

If you want something tangy, order the Sour Cherry Vareniki, which are Ukranian dumplings stuffed with sour cherries. If you like sour-ish desserts, then you will enjoy this.

The Bird’s Milk Cake is a rich concoction of amaretto-soaked sponge cake, with a vanilla-bean Bavarian cream, and glazed with chocolate. Divine.

Order hot Chinese black tea, the Yunnan Hong Cha, to go with your desserts. This earthy, robust black tea provides a good balance to the sweet flavors. Plus it’s good for your digestion.

Kachka
720 SE Grand Ave
Portland, OR 97214
Phone: (503) 235-0059
Website: http://kachkapdx.com/

Hours:
Daily: 4:00pm - midnight

Andina

Source: http://portlandfoodanddrink.com/

Andina’s is an upscale Peruvian restaurant located in Portland’s Pearl District. Serving Peruvian tapas and entrees, this is where you go when you want “A Taste of Peru in the Pearl.”

Andina’s brings fine-dining to a whole new level: the place is gorgeous, with big wooden beams and dramatic lighting, no matter what time you arrive. Showcasing magnificent Peruvian artwork, it feels like having a meal in a beautiful art museum. For each night of the week, there are different live musical acts playing Latin-influenced music. Andina’s may be one of the pricier restaurants in Portland, but most people would agree that, with the fabulous atmosphere, excellent food and great service, the experience is well worth it.

Your meal at Andina’s will begin with a complimentary basket of freshly-baked quinoa bread, served along with three chili-dipping sauces called ajíes. The sauces vary, but what we got were the ají de maracuya—which is a lovely sweet and hot sauce made of passion fruit, the ají Amarillo—green jalapeño cilantro that heats things up beautifully, and the ají de maracaya—a very aromatic habanero with herbs and toasted peanuts. Trust me, the sauces aren’t just for the bread— you will want to use them in your orders as well as they go well with practically everything.

The menu is quite extensive here, you might have trouble deciding what to order, but don’t hesitate to ask your server for recommendations. Andina’s has lots of options for gluten-free, vegan, and vegetarian customers as well.

Start with the anticuchos de corazón, or beef hearts. I’m not an organ meat person, but I was pleasantly surprised with these. The spicy salsa lends extra flavor and heat to the meat, and it’s quite tender, not chewy like I expected. Or go with the marinated octopus, which is magnificently seasoned and very, very soft. Don’t miss their empanadas (stuffed fried pastries) either.

Andina's serves a variety of exquisite and highly-acclaimed entrees: Arroz Con Pato (duck with Peruvian rice), Corderito De Los Andes (grilled lamb with delectable muffins made with mashed potato and cheese), and the Atún Con Tacu Tacu Y Aguaymanto (seared tuna with orange zest). But the grand prize goes to the Pescado al Rocoto Y Kión. This is a fish stew, cooked in a smoky pork broth with mushrooms and bok choy, served with quinoa rice. The fish is perfect—flaky yet succulent.

And of course, what’s a Peruvian restaurant without its Lomo Saltado? The steak here is lovely—juicy and tender— and is stir-fried with onions, garlic, and tomatoes. It is served with Yukon fried potatoes and garlic rice.

Want something sweet after your meal? Try the Canutos de Quinoa Y Maracuya! This dessert is kind of like a cannoli, but with crispy quinoa, and a subtle passion fruit cream filling. With a beautiful texture, and amazing flavors, it’s a truly fantastic way to end your meal.

Andina’s offers excellent wine and cocktail lists. Why not try a Pisco, which is the national drink of Peru? The Pisco Sour uses Don Cesar pisco liquor, and has a floating island made of egg white and bitters. One sip will whisk you to somewhere exotic. For an alcohol-free drink, I suggest the Chica Morada, which is blended purple corn with lime and pineapple. This drink is a great way to cool your burning palette.

TIP: Don’t have money to burn? Come over during lunch and happy hour (4:00pm – 6:00pm). The discounts on the tapas menu make dining here easier on the pocket.

Andina Portland
1314 NW Glisan Street
Portland, OR 97209
Phone: 503-228-9535
Website: http://www.andinarestaurant.com

Hours:
Lunch:
Daily: 11:30am – 2:30pm

Dinner:
Sundays – Thursdays: 5:00pm-9:30pm
Fridays and Saturdays: 5:00pm-10:30pm

Otto & Anita's Bavarian Restaurant

Source: http://www.foodspotting.com

Have a Bavarian feast at this little family-owned restaurant. Serving schnitzel and other traditional German dishes, this place got its name on the map with their Dill Pickle Soup. It may not look appetizing, being a bright green color and all, and besides, dill and pickle? But one sip of it and you’ll soon be licking the last drops from the bowl. Yes, it is that good.

Lunch is a simple event. They serve schnitzels with different sauces, such as caper-cream, wild mushroom, or flamed in brandy, which are served with spätzle and vegetables. Try the Zigeunerschnitzel which features a Gypsy-style sauce made with red wine and paprika, peppers, hams, and mushrooms. The Riesenschnitzel, which is made from veal and cooked in browned butter and served with potatoes and vegetables, makes for an unforgettable meal.

Dinner has a more expansive menu—aside from the schnitzels, there are different sausages, sandwiches, salads, and even steaks and pastas.

Try the Swiss-style chicken with Swiss cheese sauce on top. The breaded chicken breast is perfectly grilled, tender and juicy. It’s served with carrots, spinach and spätzle.

Steak lovers will love the Alpine Steak. An eight-ounce Filet Mignon with melted blue cheese and mushrooms on top, with a rich Burgundy wine sauce.

If you want seafood, the Bavarian-style Filet of Salmon would be a good choice, with a delicate shrimp and horseradish sauce. Or try the German-style herring, mixed with onions, apples, and sour cream.

Save room for dessert! Germany is known for their rich desserts, and you will not be disappointed here at Otto’s and Anita’s. The Black Forest Cake is chocolate heaven, beautifully-complemented with tart cherries. Sometimes, Anita makes her Strawberry Tart—try it! If you can, buy the whole cake! Made with fresh strawberries and whipped cream, this is a truly delightful treat. Also, try the Waldmeister-flavored soft serve for something new.

Otto’s & Anita’s Bavarian Restaurant
3025 SW Canby Street
Portland, OR 97219
Phone: 503-452-1411
Website: http://ottoandanitas.com

Hours:
Lunch: Tuesdays - Fridays: 11:00am – 2:00pm
Dinner: Tuesdays - Saturdays: 5:00pm – 9:00pm
Sundays and Mondays: Closed

Screen Door

Source: http://www.yelp.com

From one-pot Cajun cooking and country soul food to the more refined French and Creole dishes found in New Orleans, Screen Door is a marriage of hearty Southern cuisine and local fresh produce of the Northwest. Screen Door, a farm-to-table restaurant, is a strong advocate of sustainable farming methods, using only the best organic produce and meats. They use the freshest ingredients from the Northwest, prepared using traditional methods of the South.

Open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner daily, with weekend brunch, feast on the finest Southern comfort food here at Screen Door. Everything is finger-licking delicious!

If you like bacon (and who doesn’t like bacon?! Even non-meat eaters have their own version of bacon!), try Screen Door’s Maple Praline Bacon. It’s a perfect combination of sweet, smoky, and salty. It is the perfect side to everything—from waffles to pancakes to biscuits. Trust me, just order it.

For a Southern classic, try the crispy buttermilk-battered fried chicken. It's three huge portions of pasture-raised chicken breasts, perfectly seasoned and fried, with Tasso Ham gravy, mashed potato, and collard greens or coleslaw. The chicken batter has made the meat so very, very tender, and the flavorful gravy surprisingly doesn’t mask the flavor of the meat, but brings it out beautifully instead! And it’s boneless, so no messy fingers for this dish! This is comfort food at its finest, plus it’s available the whole day!

The brunch variety is served over crispy sweet potato waffles and maple syrup. It's a great combination, and without a doubt one of the best chicken and waffles I’ve ever tasted.

And I cannot rave enough about the biscuits drowning in sausage gravy. It also comes in a veggie gravy option for our meat-free-eating diners. The biscuits are buttery and flaky, and the sausage gravy is just amazing.

Source: http://www.yelp.com

Look at that gravy-covered goodness! Mm-mmm!

Meat lovers will love the famous Braised Pork Shoulder. Slow-braised until the meat is falling off the bone, you won’t even need a knife to eat this dish! Served with beans and spicy slaw, it will change your expectations of braised pork dishes.

The Shrimp and Grits features large pieces of succulent jumbo Gulf shrimp sautéed with tomato, garlic, and bacon, then served over creamy, buttery, smooth cheddar grits. Order it for brunch and they’ll serve it with a biscuit and eggs.

For lunch, you’ll want to order the Fried Oyster Po’Boy. Imagine a toasted French loaf stuffed full with oysters fried with a cornmeal crust, with bacon, fried onions, and eggs. It's served with your choice of siding: roasted potatoes, original grits, or cheddar grits.

Of course, let’s not forget about dessert! You will want the Ban-offee Pie with layers of yummy bananas and caramel, on a shortbread crust with pecan, then topped with whipped cream. For a traditional Southern dessert, order the Apple-Spice Jelly Roll. It's a spiced molasses cake with apple butter, served with a hot mulled cider sauce and homemade cream cheese-flavored ice cream. So rich and flavorful.

Screen Door serves excellent fare, with huge portions at reasonable prices. Bring a friend to share in the happiness, or if you’re eating alone, then hey, you’ve got enough leftovers to bring home!

Screen Door
2337 E Burnside Street
Portland, OR 97214,
Phone: 503-542-0880
Website: http://screendoorrestaurant.com

Hours:
Mondays - Fridays: 8:00am – 2:00pm, 5:30pm – 9:00pm
Saturdays and Sundays: 9:00am – 2:30pm, 5:30pm – 10:00pm

Smallwares

Source: http://www.yelp.com

Smallwares is a late-night fusion eatery with a bad-ass attitude that revels in its dishes’ “inauthenticity”. As the name implies, Smallwares serves small, carefully-crafted Asian fusion plates that are quite “Napoleonic”: small, but packs a lot of punch with flavors.

There's grilled octopus on top of a rich miso and pumpkin puree. Or Fried Kale with candied bacon, and cilantro in fish sauce. The tuna tartare on little rice cakes is yummy, and so are the chicken lollipops with Sriracha mayo.

However, one dish that really blew my mind was the seaweed salad. Wilted wakame seaweed are mixed with French green beans, orange slices, and roughly-chopped pistachio, with a yuzu kosho dressing (yuzu is a Japanese citrus fruit similar to a lemon). The dressing is citrus-y with a mild bitterness to it, then blended with chili peppers for a little heat. The flavors will play in your mouth along with the textures. Highly recommended!

Come during happy hour (every day from 5:00pm – 7:00pm) for $5 margaritas, and don’t miss the $6 small plates. The Chicken Pot Pie Bao with chive oil is a must try, along with the Zucchini Pancakes with lemon bonito and herb crème fraiche.

Smallwares
4605 NE Fremont St
Portland, OR 97213
Phone: 971-229-0995
Website: http://www.smallwarespdx.com/

Hours:
Mondays - Fridays: 5:00pm – 10:00pm (Bar open until midnight)
Saturdays and Sundays: 11:00am – 3:00pm, 5:00pm – 10:00pm (Bar open until midnight)

Maurice

Source: http://www.yelp.com

Maurice is a charming little café that serves light fare. Describing itself as a “pastry luncheonette”, Maruice is easily one of the city’s top places for a light lunch or dessert. Dishes are beautifully plated, and the restaurant pays attention to both savory and sweet delights. Bon Appetit has named it as one of their top 10 “Best New Restaurants” in 2014, and it’s easy to see why.

Like seafood? Start your meal with the Oyster and Cod Chowder. Smooth and creamy, it retains the fresh taste of the oysters. Follow it up with a piece of quiche. Go for the Duck Confit, Rutabaga, and Blue Chèvre quiche, served with a small green salad on the side. The Smoked Ham, Gooseberry, and Sage quiche is also a good choice. With a buttery crust, and a silky and fluffy delicate filling, Maurice’s quiches are to die for! You’ll want to try them all!

Maurice serves delectable sandwiches, too, like the open-faced creamy Bay shrimp sandwich shown in the picture above.

Wash your food down with their sangria. It's delish, and practically goes with everything.

Get the phenomenal Black Pepper Cheesecake with Grape Sorbet for dessert, it's peppery and almost savory at the same time, balanced by the zesty sorbet. Or if you have a thing for sour, tangy desserts, then you will love the Lemon Souffle Pudding Cake. It’s so tart, it’ll take you a couple of bites or so to get used to it. But hey, in this writer’s humble opinion, that’s how lemon desserts should be!

Finish your meal with their extensive selection of teas. I highly recommend the Oolong and Pu-Erh teas.

Maurice
921 SW Oak St
Portland, OR 97205
Phone: 503-224-9921
Website: http://mauricepdx.com/

Hours:
Tuesdays to Saturdays: 10:00am – 7:00pm
Sundays and Mondays: Closed

Bollywood Theater

Source: http://www.yelp.com

Both this Division Street restaurant and the branch in NE Alberta are Chef Troy MacLarty’s tribute to Indian street food. Formerly of Chez Panisse fame, the chef has created Bollywood Theater to be a fun, energetic place, with light and open spaces, cute and kitschy décor, and lots of outdoor seating. Serving unique dishes focusing on lovely spices and beautiful textures, Chef MacLarty certainly has a Indian blockbuster on his hands with the Bollywood Theater, complete with colorful costumes, and the whole song and dance routine.

Perhaps the most famous item on Bollywood Theater’s menu is the Kati Roll. This toothsome roll is so popular, the chef has mentioned that he makes “an average of 50,000 per year.” Flatbread rolls stuffed with pickled onions, coleslaw, chutney, and a choice of chicken, pork, and other meats, or just paneer, this roll is a dream come true.

Start your meal with Chaat, which are basically Indian-style nachos. They’re crunchy, sweet, and spicy!

Falafel lovers will enjoy Vada Pav, also known in India as “poor man’s burger.” It's a fried patty made out of spicy potatoes and chickpea, nestled between two pillowy buns. This meat-less delight is out of this world!

Another favorite are the curries! Try the Goan-style shrimp: fat jumbo shrimp in a tasty curry sauce made creamy by coconut milk, with onions, basil, and spinach served over saffron biryani rice. The Chicken Curry is packed with flavor, although the curry isn’t as rich and heavy as the norm. Order a side of paratha if you’re ordering curries—believe me, you will use it to wipe up every single drop of sauce on that plate!

Wash everything down with iced chai tea, or one of their lassi drinks to cool down your overheated palette.

Bollywood Theater SE
3010 SE Division St
Portland, OR 97202
Phone: 503-477-6699
Website: http://bollywoodtheaterpdx.com/

Hours:
Daily: 11:00am – 10:00pm

Sweedeedee

Source: http://www.yelp.com

This neighborhood breakfast and lunch place is light and charmingly quirky, with vintage table settings that are intentionally mismatched, and shelves of cassette tapes. Sweedeedee's breakfast fare is—opposed to other greasy, fatty options—simple, healthy, and delicious.

The Sweedeedee Breakfast Plate includes a baked egg, bacon, and toast, a piece of cheese, and comes with a side of green salad and fruits. Everything is fresh and delicious, as Sweedeedee uses carefully-sourced local ingredients. The bread, baked in-house, is sweet and airy, and comes with marionberry jam.

Another healthy option would be the Potato Plate that comes loaded with baked eggs and trout. The trout is delish, and I'd take it over bacon any day (Yes! Over Bacon!)

Do save room for dessert. Whatever you've heard about the Salted Honey Pie is probably true, and more. Don't miss it, and get a cup of their freshly-brewed coffee to go with it.

Sweedeedee
5202 N Albina Ave
Portland, OR 97217
Phone: 503-946-8087
Website: http://blog.sweedeedee.com/

Hours:
Mondays - Saturdays: 8:00am - 4:00pm
Sundays: 8:00am - 2:00pm

That's it, folks! Some of the best restaurants to be found in Portland. We hope this guide can serve as a stepping stone in exploring the culinary delights to be found in this city. There are still a lot of other independently-run restaurants around, so don't be afraid to explore!

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