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.
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.
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.
738 E. Burnside St., Buckman
Le Pigeon, the sister restaurant of Little Bird, is a dinner-only French-inspired bistro opened by chef Gabe Rucker in 2006. It's become a local favorite thanks to dishes like salmon poke with curry aioli, duck breast with fava bean hummus and spicy tahini, and basil ricotta tortellini. You can also opt for the chef's five- or seven-course tasting menu.
727 S.E. Washington St., Buckman
Taqueria Nueve first opened in 2000, then shut its doors in 2008—a disappointment for many Portlanders—but it reopened in 2013 with the same great Mexican fare (the ambience is perfect, too). Although it’s perfectly family-friendly, you could also come here with a group of friends for happy hour.
1752 S.E. Hawthorne Blvd., Buckman
The kitchen here is run by talented Executive Chef Justin Woodward, who previously had stints at Noma in Copenhagen, San Sebastian's Mugaritz, and with pastry chef Alex Stupak at NYC's WD-50. Woodward's tasting menu, which typically highlights fresh vegetables and fish, is perfect for a special date night, as is the excellent wine list. (Next door to the restaurant is the more casual OK Omens, which has indoor/outdoor seating, a happy hour, and an à la carte dinner menu—plus excellent natural wines.)