813 S.W. Alder St., Downtown
We’d make dinner at Bullard a weekly ritual if we lived in PDX. Chef Doug Adams and his team churn out fresh local food and deliver it with a Texan twist (a tribute to Adams’s home state). If you’re like us, you’ll find it hard to choose from the menu—and there are no bad choices. But go for the full San Antonio chicken. It’s extra, extra juicy with crispy charred skin and served with fresh flour tortillas. Order a side of smoked beets or maple-roasted delicata squash and a Sazerac and you’re in for one hearty meal. Which is exactly what Bullard offers, with its dark-stained wood-and-leather banquettes: a cozy, indulgent escape. Photos courtesy of Jeremy Fenske.
65 S.E. Washington St., Buckman
Portland has a rich concentration of distilleries, and they've certainly made their mark on the American spirits scene. Get a sampling by heading to distillery row in Portland’s Central Eastside, where there’s an abundance of independent distilleries creating handcrafted, small-batch whiskeys, gins, liqueurs, and more. One standout is Westward, which started in 2004 and has since gained a huge following for its grain-to-glass single-malt whiskeys and other spirits. Cofounder Christian Krogstad considers every single grain that is malted, mashed, fermented, distilled, matured, and bottled. He and his team exude a true Portland maker ethos, evident in how they compliment their fellow local spirit makers. Take a tour here. It’s totally fun—and you’ll learn a ton.
734 E. Burnside St., Buckman
Canard opened in 2018 and almost instantly became one of the city’s most popular restaurants—if not the most popular. We get this is a bold claim to make in a city brimming with such culinary talent. But Canard is that good. And that buzz-worthy. And really, that unique. In fact, we’re confident enough to say that anything Canard’s chef and co-owner, Gabe Rucker, does is gastronomic gold. (A meal at one of Rucker’s other restaurants, Le Pigeon and Little Bird, proves our sentiment.) But there’s something decidedly different about Canard. It’s casual and eclectic. It’s also modestly priced. Our favorites—the fried chicken wings, the three-cheese cannelloni, and the calamari French bread pizza—are under $20. (Not to mention the buttery, soft, decadent burgers, which are cooked with steam and $6 each.) But prices aside, what attracts here is the combination of really good food, a curved bar perfect for both a crowd or a solo diner, and a stellar wine list.
2671 N.W. Vaughn St., Northwest
Our friend Georgia Lee Hussey took us to this vibrant distillery—and we’re still thanking her. Light pours into the front entrance and bar, bouncing off the sapphire-and-copper wallpaper and dazzling gin and whiskey bottles that look like shiny teardrop-shaped jewels. It’s an arresting space. But that’s not even half of its charm. Once Jesse Brantley, the head of sales, started our tour, we knew we were witnessing something different. Freeland Spirits is both founded and run by women (an anomaly in the distilling world). Founder Jill Kuehler, a leader in agricultural education, started the distillery as a way to celebrate and honor Oregon’s rich bounty of fresh grains, produce, and water. You’d think it would be an impossible task for someone with no distilling experience, but Kuehler did it—teaming up with master distiller Molly Troupe. The team has since landed on the radar of discerning spirits enthusiasts around the globe. You’ll want to spend several hours here. Take a tour to learn about Freeland’s history (which is artfully painted on the wall); smell the fresh anise, lavender, and mint; and learn about the cold-distillation process Troupe uses to preserve…
723 N.W. 18th Ave., Northwest
Owner Teri Gelber brings people together over tea. She blends small batches of organic botanicals and teas, all by hand, and sells them at her light-filled retail studio in Northwest Portland. Her loose-leaf combinations are whimsical and inventive, inspired by her experience working in the food world (she’s authored several cookbooks). The blends are named after songs plucked from nostalgic eras of music. There’s Tangled Up in Blue, an Earl Grey with Indian black tea, blue cornflowers, and bergamot oil. Green Green Grass of Home is a blend of Japanese sencha and Oregon mint. And the herbal Kozmic Blues marries licorice root, mint, and spices. Gelber packages her teas in tins made of 80 percent postconsumer recycled material.
1237 S.W. Jefferson St., Downtown
Chef Naoko Tamura has been cooking and serving authentic Japanese dishes to Portlanders for more than a decade. She uses only local, seasonal, organic ingredients. Lunch trays of shumai dumplings, Japanese fried chicken, and wild Alaskan salmon are complemented with rice, salad, pickles, and miso soup. In the evenings, the menu is a fixed traditional omakase dinner. The décor here, which was revamped by renowned architect Kengo Kuma in 2017, is nearly as impressive as the food. You’ll find thin, whorled bamboo screens decorating the ceiling and a mini zen garden. Photos courtesy of Jeremy Bittermann.
2448 E. Burnside St., Kerns
There aren’t enough superlatives for Tusk, the Middle Eastern–inspired spot from Luke Dirks and chef Joshua McFadden (the duo behind Ava Gene’s) and chef Sam Smith. As we sat at the corner bar seat and sipped a turmeric ginger bourbon cocktail and ate whipped hummus finished with Turkish chili pepper, we thought, How could it get better than this? Then the grilled eggplant arrived, savory and sweet, topped with green chermoula. The chicken skewer with yogurt and Aleppo pepper followed. And then the buttery black cod with Italian heirloom broccoli and fennel. And that’s when we knew we were having one of those meals that we’d remember for decades. Photos courtesy of AJ Meeker.
2410 E. Burnside St., Kerns
Banshee lives along an eclectic strip of Burnside Street, tucked between boutiques and restaurants. (It’s a stone’s throw from Tusk.) The focus here is vintage, but the owners do a stellar job at selecting items that have a modern bent and are in impeccable shape. Pristine blouses, knit skirts, vintage Levi’s. Everything here is seasonal, stylish, and considered. A mix of natural skin care, pottery, and accessories from local makers rounds out the mix.
Pasture is an ethically and sustainably focused produce purveyor and custom whole-animal butcher shop founded by John Schaible and Kei Ohdera. With a shared history cooking vegan food, the duo takes a holistic approach to their process, focusing on culling older dairy cows and promoting animal husbandry in their work. Schaible and Ohdera know every farmer they work with and the life of every animal they procure. We were fortunate to meet Schaible at Dame, where he and Ohdera were presenting a pop-up Pasture dinner series. He is incredibly knowledgeable about the food industry, the troubled conventional meat market, and the need to return to honoring the work of ethical farmers. As Schaible says, it’s paramount to “know your farmer, know your butcher, and know your pasture.”
1758 S.E. Hawthorne Blvd., Buckman
A natural wine bar. A restaurant. A really fun place to hang. OK Omens opened about a year ago and quickly became a Portland favorite. Sitting next door hot spot Castagna, this is chef Justin Woodward and sommelier Brent Braun’s casual neighborhood spot, with generous pours of natural wines and the small plates to go with: fresh Cheddar beignets (order two!), shiso-wrapped tuna tartare, and crispy-and-never-greasy fried chicken bites. And while OK Omens is an ideal spot for a date night or a nightcap, the casual open space and outdoor seating make it family-friendly, too.