Welcome to Portland: A Newcomer's Eating Tour
Welcome to Portland
From indulgent buttermilk-fried chicken to Spanish tapas, Portland will satisfy any type of food craving. Here, locally owned establishments are abundant and are often distinguished by high-quality Pacific Northwest ingredients. The food scene in Portland is a working body of restaurateurs, chefs, bakers, farmers and brewers all coming together to create a cutting-edge dining experience. We asked some experts for their top restaurants to visit in Portland. With the help of culinary instructors Chef Ron Costa and Chef Paul Folkestad and Kinfolk magazine editors Georgia Frances King and Gail O’Hara, we put together our must-hit spots for the ultimate culinary Tour de Portland.
By Kelsey Vala
1204 NW 21st Ave.
One of the most-esteemed restaurants in Portland is Paley’s Place, a restaurant credited with bringing the food scene to life in the Pacific Northwest almost 20 years ago. It embodies elegance and romance, and you’ll fall head over heels for this sophisticated establishment set in a restored Victorian house with a large, inviting white porch.
It’s fine dining that highlights the best of Northwest ingredients. One of the most-iconic dishes at Paley’s Place is the Escargot a la Bordelaise comprised of roasted bone marrow in a rich garlic sauce with escargot and served with brioche bread.
120 NE Russell St.
Tucked in a neighborhood of Northeast Portland is tapas mecca Toro Bravo. Chef-owner John Gorham wanted to offer a Spanish-inspired menu complete with small plates, an optional tasting menu and housemade charcuteria (chorizo, sobrasada and other Spanish meats).
And what would tapas be without something to drink? There’s an extensive sherry menu with a few sherry cocktails, as well as a wine list of Cavas, Riojas and a few Northwest sips. There’s typically a line waiting for the restaurant to open for dinner, but don’t let this be intimidating. All will be forgotten once you try the Squid Ink Pasta with hazelnuts, anchovy syrup and egg yolk, or choose the grilled octopus with fried chickpeas, pickled peppers and parsley.
5202 N Albina Ave.
Eloise Augustyn opened the screen door to Sweedeedee in the summer of 2012, and ever since, Portlanders have been falling for its charming and cozy atmosphere. Named after a love song, one can’t help but fall for the pickled produce lining the walls, the mismatched coffee mugs and the fresh flowers on each table. The food is delicious and simple, with ingredients sourced as locally as possible.
Go here for breakfast, lunch, or coffee and a slice of homemade pie (they are known for their salted honey pie and their fresh Oregon berry pies). For breakfast, order the Sweedeedee Breakfast Plate, complete with an egg, bacon, farm greens, homemade bread with preserves and a thick wedge of Grafton cheddar. For lunch, you can’t go wrong with their Salad Nicoise made with fresh tuna and greens.
1001 SE Water Ave #160
Clarklewis is a former warehouse turned sleek restaurant, and it is located in an industrial, up-and-coming district of Southeast Portland.
With Northwest cuisine at its core, Clarklewis also takes on influences from Italian and French cooking. The daily changing menu features fresh pastas and wood-fired entrees with an optional tasting menu as well. This establishment is extremely popular for happy hour in Portland.
Tasty n Sons
3808 N Williams Ave.
It is perhaps because of Tasty n Sons that brunch has become such a popular staple to Portlanders. Known for an exceptional brunch menu, Tasty n Sons takes inspiration from all over the world and adds an egg on top.
Tasty n Sons
The Breakfast Board is a smorgasbord of a boiled egg, chicken liver mousse, housemade bacon and beef jerky, pickled beets, and a yogurt cheese drizzled with olive oil. The Steak n Eggs are served in a cast-iron skillet atop a slightly sweet cornmeal pancake, and the whole thing is topped with a melty dollop of jalapeno butter. The warm, sugar-coated Chocolate Potato Doughnuts are a must. For more international breakfast fare, try the Kimchee Pancakes or the Burmese Red Pork Stew.
1752 SE Hawthorne Blvd.
If you’re looking for a sensory experience that’s unlike anything else you’ll find in Portland, then Castagna is worth a visit. Restaurateur Monique Siu and Executive Chef Justin Woodward bring modernist cuisine with a Northwest emphasis to the city.
With artful and imaginative precision, each captivating dish of the oft-changing prix fixe menu is made with pride. From roasted beets with cured beef, tarragon powder and pickled onions to elegantly plated yellowfoot chanterelles with pork and hop infusion, the awe-inspiring dishes are like edible paintings on the plate.
1111 E Burnside St.
For visitors to Portland, nothing beats the view from Noble Rot, a wine bar and restaurant with a fourth-floor view overlooking the hills and skyline of downtown Portland. The best part is the 3,000-square-foot rooftop garden, which supplies the restaurant’s evolving seasonal menu.
Try the salad, featuring the freshest mix of seasonal greens from the garden, enjoy a glass of wine from the 300+ wine selection, and appreciate the scenic vision of the City of Roses.
527 SW 12th Ave.
For a taste of Alpine cuisine, Gruner is an excellent option for Old-World comfort with a sophisticated and contemporary twist.
With a bit of inspiration from the cuisines of Germany, France, Northern Italy, Switzerland and the rest of Middle Europe, Gruner is more than your sauerkraut-and-schnitzel type of restaurant. And nothing could capture this better than the Roasted Beet Soup with creme fraiche and dill, or the Beef Cheeks braised with Hungarian paprika and served with potato dumplings.
The Country Cat Dinner House & Bar
7937 SE Stark St.
Chef Adam Sappington displays impeccable talent as he butchers, cures and smokes all the meat for The Country Cat in-house.
The Country Cat Dinner House & Bar
Take, for example, the whole hog plate featuring a little taste from head to tail of a heritage hog; the plate comes with brined and grilled loin, roasted belly, braised shoulder, and a golden fried croquette of head cheese on top. Sappington’s great-grandmother’s recipe for Cast-Iron Skillet Fried Chicken is another noteworthy staple in the restaurant. For brunch it’s served with Toasted Pecan-Bacon Spoonbread and drizzled with warm maple syrup.
2337 E Burnside St.
The infamous wait lines at Screen Door might seem intimidating, but one bite of fried chicken will tell you why this Southern-inspired restaurant is so popular.
When going to the most-indulgent brunch spot in Portland, why not feast on praline bacon waffles or the buttermilk-battered fried chicken? For brunch, three large pieces of fried chicken come dogpiled on a sweet potato waffle, and the knife stuck through the chicken keeps it from toppling over. For dinner, the generous portion of fried chicken is served with tasso ham gravy, mashed potatoes and collards.