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.
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.
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.
Little Bird Bistro
215 S.W. 6th Ave., Downtown
In the PDX, this little bistro is known to be the spot for fun late-night dining and lazy Sunday lunches. The menu is always on point, with the butter poached cod salad and octopus terrine being two of our favorites. If you're feeling adventurous, go for the scotch egg.
5425 N.E. 30th Ave., Concordia
This teensy restaurant in Concordia is so cozy that it feels more than a friend's dining room than an award-winning restaurant—though there's no question once your food arrives. Chef Naomi Pomeroy grew up in the area, but with a mother and grandmother who lived in France and New Orleans, her cooking style skews decidedly French. She’s also a James Beard Award-winner (she was a finalist three times), and we’ve yet to try a dish on her prix-fixe menu that wasn't worth writing home about.
Lovely’s Fifty Fifty
4039 N. Mississippi Ave., Boise
There’s a sizeable cohort of Portlandians who'll argue that Lovely Fifty-Fifty serves the best pizza in town. Their pies (each of which is big enough to serve two people) are cooked in the restaurant’s wood-fired oven, which makes the entire restaurant smell pretty great. While several of the pizzas—try the roasted potato with caramelized onions and gorgonzola—feature more adventurous toppings, it’s the kind of place that’s welcoming to the entire family. Fair warning: Kids go crazy for the homemade ice cream.
5202 N. Albina Ave., Humboldt
You’ll find Sweedeedee in a cute little pocket of North Portland, occupying a corner unit and adorned with yellow striped awning: The inside, with open shelves and mismatched stools, is just as adorable. The menu here is all about the oven; they bake their own bread (which gets turned into excellent sandwiches) and are famous in the neighborhood for delicious pies and baked goods. It’s impossible to pick favorites, but if we had to, it would be the breakfast burrito, honey cake with fruit and cream, salted honey pie, and the good buddy sandwich.
Hopworks Urban Brewery
2944 S.E. Powell Blvd., Creston-Kenilworth
In addition to serving award-winning microbrews, Hopworks is famous around town for their die-hard commitment to sustainability. They’ve been USDA-certified organic since 2002, and recently they achieved a longtime goal of officially becoming a certified B-Corp. As breweries go, it’s also remarkably kid-friendly: The menu has plenty of easy pizza and sandwich options, and things never get too rowdy.
5325 E. Burnside St., North Tabor
This spot has a definite neighborhood feel to it, but it’s famous across the city for its burger, which is served on a brioche bun with a generous helping of bacon jam (the jam can, and probably should, be ordered with any of the sandwiches on their menu). The casual vibe makes it exceptionally kid-friendly—there are plenty of high chairs to be found at weekend brunch.
3226 S.E. Division St., Richmond
Andy Ricker’s Thai food is the stuff of legend at this point (with one outpost in Brooklyn and another in Downtown Manhattan), but it’s more than worth than seeking it out in Portland where the empire first began. The original location itself is notoriously dive-y, with multicolored twinkle lights on the ceiling and brightly patterned tablecloths covering the crowded tables. As ever, the papaya salad and the chicken wings are the must-orders, though you can’t go wrong with any of the traditional dishes here.