417 N.W. 10th Ave., Downtown
A minimalist, welcoming restaurant and wine bar in the Pearl District, Arden specializes in natural wines, made with liquid that’s seen little to no adulteration and contains barely any additives (GMO yeast, coloring agents, thickeners—you name it). To accompany the wines, a seasonal menu is offered à la carte or as a four-course prix fixe.
2930 N.E. Killingsworth St., Northeast
Dame is quaint and intimate. A meal here feels like having dinner at a friend’s (a friend who has an extensive natural wine collection). Jane Smith opened the restaurant several years ago with the intention of providing warm, impeccable service and food and wine that honor natural ingredients. Portland chef Patrick McKee (who’s also the chef at Estes) prepares comfort dishes, including an outstanding cacio e pepe. Enjoying a plate of the creamy, peppery pasta classic with a glass of red in Dame’s cozy, dark-blue dining room is the most comforting way to spend a rainy Portland night.
750 S.W. Alder St., Downtown
For their third Portland restaurant, chef Vitaly Paley and his partner and wife, Kimberly Paley, bring global influences to their menu. There’s a pan-roasted chicken chkmeruli inspired by the Paleys’ time in Telavi, Georgia. Kebabs with sweet herb salad hearken back to their travels in Turkey. And comforting, classic spaghetti pomodoro winks at both Italy and New York City, where rich red-sauce Italian dishes abound. Rosa Rosa also serves a hearty brunch that includes a traditional Turkish breakfast meant to be shared: eggplant caviar, roasted tomatoes, smoked fish, baklava, boiled eggs, and more. Come hungry.
1801 N.E. Cesar E. Chavez Blvd., Richmond
Gado Gado’s kitschy colorfully patterned wallpaper, bright tiling, and vintage framed posters make it a fun respite from the neutrals and minimalism that reign in the Portland restaurant scene. And then there’s the food. Rich, satisfying umami rice noodles with curry, shellfish broth, and a whole blue crab. Grilled halibut with chili leaves. And gado gado, a traditional Indonesian salad topped with a spicy peanut sauce. Everything is an expression of founders Thomas and Mariah Pisha-Duffly’s personal connection to Southeast Asia—and it’s divine.
4636 N.E. 42nd Ave., Northeast
Mae should be high on the list for any trip to Portland. Southern chef Maya Lovelace turned her pop-up supper club into a permanent location in the city’s northeast. Tucked behind Lovelace’s popular restaurant Yonder (a gem of a spot that serves a modern twist on the South’s classic meat and three), Mae is the place to slow down and indulge in prix fixe seasonal feasts and natural wines. The interiors read like a dining room at an old estate, and the menu of zucchini and buttermilk soup and Appalachian lavender grits with pickled cherry chicken jus and roasted peppers had us wanting to book our return flight to Portland before we’d even left.
960 S.E. 11th Ave., Buckman
Ask a Portlander about Kachka and they’ll prelude their accolades with a smile. Chef Bonnie Morales’s food has been on the hearts, minds, and palates of every foodie in and out of town for the past five years. Every dish is inspired by Russia and former Soviet Republics. Mustard-marinated cabbage schnitzel, perfectly fried to a light crisp. Pan-fried cherry-filled Ukrainian vareniki. Decadent shakh plov, an Azerbaijani rice dish with eggplant and garlic, wrapped in flatbread and served with zaprana compound butter. The flavors are bold, rich, and deeply comforting. Meals here call for longer stays to enjoy the food, distinctive drinks, and camaraderie encouraged by Morales and her husband and co-owner, Israel. Photos courtesy of Carly Diaz.
15 N.W. 4th Ave., Downtown
The best view in all of Portland—even on a cloudy day. On the rooftop of the Hoxton Hotel, Tope is an impeccable, stylish, greenery-filled respite serving impressive street-style tacos and stellar tequila and mezcal cocktails. We came up here for lunch—mushroom tacos with chipotle purée, king salmon ceviche, freshly made celery soda, creamy guacamole—and were reluctant to leave. Why would we want to? The space is open and bright, the vibe is incredibly friendly, and again: that view. This is an ideal spot for those long Friday lunches that blend into happy hour.
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.
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.
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.