The best restaurants in Portland, Oregon, are some of the best in America, period. Why? Chefs and restaurant owners come to Portland to take chances and innovate. Its eclecticism is owed to the city’s eager embracing of broad, diverse cuisines.
As for the weirdness, that stems from the city itself: Portland boasts odd statistics, such as the most strip clubs per capita in the nation, or the highest prevalence of man buns and mustaches. There’s also the smallest urban park, measuring at a two-foot radius, in the middle of a crosswalk.
While strolling through all the weirdness, it’s only a matter of time before something catches your eye—and your nose—and makes your stomach growl.
Whether you’re hunting for one of the 500 food carts open at any single moment in the city, or a more formal brick-and-mortar dining experience, these restaurants in Portland will give your tastebuds as thrilling an experience as the rest of the city.
Best Clucking Good Portland Chicken Eatery: Bae’s
Folks are downright serious about their chicken. Original, baked, crispy, smoked, grilled…and, of course, classic nuggets.
What’s the secret to a great-tasting, lip-smacking chicken dinner? Some opinions state the marinade or brine makes it perfect, while others argue white or dark meat seals the deal. There are also theories that salt and sugar rubs make a palatable difference.
As one of the very best restaurants in Portland, Bae’s combines all these opinions to craft, hands down, the best fried chicken you’ll ever find in this city.
The menu has chicken selections for every appetite. Traditional sides include mac-and-cheese, collard greens, Texas toast, waffle fries, skillet corn, and coleslaw.
Bae’s also makes a fantastic chicken sandwich that warrants an article all its own. Remember when people got in fights at the Popeye’s Drive-thru…for a chicken sandwich? Shoulda gone to Bae’s.
One-Hit Wonders: Best Restaurants in Portland with Limited Menus
With two decades under its belt as a Portland food lover’s staple, Whole Bowl has expanded its locations to include Brooklyn, New York, and Cincinnati, and Ohio.
The original site, a small pushcart on Glisan Street in the Pearl district, has grown into over a dozen stores.
The menu consists of one item: a bowl. It includes brown rice, black beans, cheddar cheese, salsa, sour cream, fresh cilantro, avocado, and any combination thereof.
But what really makes this dish is its generous layer of Tali sauce, named after the owner and inventor.
The temptation to know more about Tali sauce will envelop your curiosity, but gentle warning, fair foodie: all you’ll get out of your Bowlista when you ask what the sauce is, is “it’s a lemon-garlic sauce.” There are actual websites dedicated to mastering Tali sauce, but alas, the secrets will remain elusive.
Honestly, it doesn’t matter what it is. It’s simple, it’s delicious and healthy—and it’s remark-a-bowl.
Nong’s Kao Man Gai
Similar to Whole Bowl’s approach of the one-item menu, Nong’s keeps things simple, but adds a protein into the mix.
Kao Man Gai gets its name from a Thai dish consisting of chicken and rice. Nong’s prepare their version by poaching organic chicken breast in their bombastic homemade stock until the meat is melt-in-your-mouth tender.
Served with fresh cooked white rice, Kao Man Gai is wrapped in butcher paper and tied with a string. A small side of their fantastic chicken broth with tender jewels of steamed zucchini accompanies the order. And of course, a sauce made with ginger, garlic, and chiles that makes it Nong’s.
Support one of Portland’s most famous eateries by checking out all things Nong’s here: the menu, the kickin’ apparel, and their off-the-chain Bloody Mary and Lychee Margarita mixes. Best of all: they ship.
How would some designer ramen sound?
You design your own bowl of ramen at Boke Bowl. This affordable pop-up-turned-restaurant is affordable, environmentally friendly, and heavy on flavor and texture. And everything edible that goes in your customized bowl is locally farm-to-table fresh.
You start by choosing from slow-smoked pulled pork, aromatic duck dashi, caramelized fennel, and nuggets of Asian-inspired fried chicken.
The tantalizing deep broth is earthy and robust. Choose a rice bowl or noodles and add avocado, poached egg, pork belly, fried pears, pickled cucumbers, and a host of other housemade delights.
Discover Boke’s entire selection of steamed buns—including PB&J—and you’re hooked! Curry bowls are available to order too.
On Thursday nights from 4-8 pm, it’s Boke Bird: you can add Korean fried chicken or tofu to your designer ramen.
Steam Bun Runner Up:
KIM JONG SMOKEHOUSE @ Pine Street Market
This eatery features Korean-style street food inspired by Southern-style BBQ smoking techniques.
The bun is pillowy and cradles your choice of Galbi Short Rib, Cured Smoked Salmon, King Oyster Mushroom, Tofu, Pulled Pork, or Honey Gochujang Chicken.
Then they stuff the borders of your protein with cucumber bon chan, sesame seeds, and a choice of one of four homemade Kim Jong sauces.
Best “I Feel So Worldly” Restaurants in Portland
With 2 locations in the Northeast and Southeast quadrants of Portland, Hat Yai is the Portland restaurant to visit when you’re craving Thai street food.
You can’t go wrong with an order of the signature Hat Yai fried chicken with a side of sticky rice. Definitely add extra pickles, garlic sauce, and a side (or two) of Roti, their superior warm flatbread.
The chicken is notably crunchy and a bit caramelly. Fried shallot curls are incorporated into the batter for maximum flavor. As for texture, the chicken’s garlicky-sweet coating will deliver pure joy to your mouth.
The Brisket Curry is Nobel Prize-worthy, and the Muu Hong—braised pork belly and shoulder with a fried egg—will have you shouting, “How was I unaware of this pairing of texture and flavor? Where have you been all my life?”
When it comes to Thai restaurants in Portland, the legendary Thai Peacock is the Holy Grail.
Serving dishes like their praise-worthy Larb, Pad Thai, and Marinated Beef Salad, the endless selections are tantalizing to the last bite. Save room for crispy banana rolls with coconut ice cream.
Thai Peacock hand-mixes each signature cocktail using fresh, exotic juices and premium spirits. The Tamarind Whiskey Sour includes Even William White whiskey, Chinese 5 Spice, and fresh lime.
And the Bangkok Mule (yes, served in a copper mug) blends Thai rum, coconut sake, ginger beer, and fresh lime.
For the non-spirited, ask for a refreshing Peacock Thai Iced Tea. It’s the best version of this iconic drink on the planet.
Pre- and post-Covid, Luc Lac was (and will be again) the spot to grab a late lunch or even later dinner after some weekend clubbing.
Under normal operational hours, doors remain open until 4:00 am on dancehall nights. Needless to say, Luc Lac is packed until the bouncers wrangle its patrons to the front door come closing time.
Yes, Luc Lac’s Vietnamese street food is that good.
So good, in fact, that when Luc Lac underwent a full renovation in 2014 and covered its windows, it sent people into a panic. Only later would the hangry PDX “Luc Lackers” find out their beloved Portland eatery wasn’t closing for good, but simply making the place roomier to seat more of the masses.
Luc Lac has remained one of the best restaurants in Portland since its doors swung open in 2011. One bit of Luc Lac’s generous and ingredient-centric selection of Banh Mi sandwiches, Pho, Rice Plates, and Vermicelli Bowls will explain the restaurant’s mantra: “Often imitated, never duplicated.”
By the way, it’s always good to order the Blood of Tiger cocktail with tiger prawn tequila, Can Chua mix (tamarind soup), lime, High Life, and a dried shrimp rim.
Or you can get busy slurping on the jumbo Sunday Service Slushee, a frozen mimosa with sparkling rose cognac and watermelon-mandarin juices. Take Monday off.
If you get a taste for Beijing food, swing by Danwei Canting at the intersection of SE Stark & SE Division near SE 8th Avenue.
This Portland eatery’s name translates to “Work Unit Restaurant,” a tribute to where Chinese workers ate their meals up until around the mid-1990s.
The owner’s impetus for Danwei Canting was to introduce PDX food lovers to a snapshot of Beijing’s food and energy, and they do not disappoint.
Get your heat on with an order of The General’s Chicken. Wok-fried chicken with garlic, scallions, ginger, and chili sauce, served with sticky rice, is a standout starter.
You’ll have to remember what your parents told you about fairness and sharing if you order the Pork Roll starter with scallion pancake, braised pork, sweet chili sauce, radish, and cucumber. Actually, you’d better order two.
Pair Danwei’s Cumin-crusted Lamb Burger with an order of Street Fries (crispy potatoes tossed with Sichuan peppercorn, chilies, cilantro, and scallions) piping hot from the fryer.
Wash it all down with a frosty glass of Yanjing, Master Gao, or Tsingtao beer on tap. Then ask your friends to leave you be until it’s time for a Honey-Lavender Ice Cream Sandwich with Lemon Cookies.
Danwei Canting also has a baijiu library. Not quite a vodka, not quite tequila, this fruity and somewhat nutty “clear liquor” is a Chinese distilled spirit. Danwei Canting offers a wide selection, including popular baijiu from Vinn, Ming River, Moutai, Red Star Erguotou, and Mianzhu Daqu distilleries.
Also, flight tastings are available for those who need to be in the know.
The open kitchen at Grassa, a Portland eatery for all things Italian, is always bustling with pasta makers and chefs working in tandem to create tasty and authentic dishes.
First and foremost, sink your teeth into Grassa’s Carbonara. It’s got the perfect culinary chemistry: bucatini pasta (tubular spaghetti), pancetta, fried egg, and pecorino cheese.
For a heartier balance of flavor, attempt the Texas Stroganoff with burnt brisket ends, crimini mushrooms, buttered noodles, and mustard crema.
And if you’re in a going-all-the-way mood, the Pizza Pocket Ravioli blends whipped ricotta and mozzarella tucked into miniature pasta pillows, garlic knot breadcrumbs, and spicy tomato sauce.
All the pasta is homemade and hand-cut. Hand-picked wines fully complement the cuisine, and the cocktails are sublime.
Get in line early; Grassa attracts a crowd. Be prepared to make new friends, since the open picnic-style seating forces you to strike up a conversation with strangers. Saluti!
Best Portland Americana Eateries
Breaking Fast, Instead of Bad
Pine State Biscuits
Picture it: a hot, steaming biscuit, fresh from the oven. Are you the butter-and-eat-it type? Apple butter or marmalade? Or perhaps you’d prefer a mountain of piping hot white sausage gravy, generously ladled overtop.
Now, what about adding a piece of fried chicken, pickles, and some melty cheddar cheese to that biscuit?
Meet Pine State’s signature breakfast sandwich, the Reggie.
But it’s the homey feel of this Pint State Biscuits that will really mesmerize your senses. The irresistible scents of fresh biscuits and coffee have made it a favorite Portland eatery since 2006.
Grilled marinated steak and onions biscuit? Yes! Pulled pork and Carolina slaw? Mm-hmm. Over-easy egg with braised greens and hot sauce? That’s Reggie’s friend, Regina.
Ever had a wedge salad on a biscuit? You can eat one at this innovative breakfast joint.
And vegans, rejoice: the meatless sausage patty, tofu bacon, and plant-based cheese biscuit topped with shitake mushroom gravy will blow your mind.
Pine State Biscuits also offers biscuit meal kits so you can have the perfect football brunch kick-off party or cozy holiday breakfast with the family.
If the line at Pine State Biscuits is too long and you’re on the verge of slapping somebody from hunger, walk across the street to Genie’s!
Voted numerous times as the must-stop for breakfast, Genie’s is a quaint slice of yesteryear.
Omelets, classic tw0- and three-egg breakfasts with the meats, huevos rancheros, benedicts, a kick-ass breakfast sandwich with a phat checklist of options, and griddle goodies to satisfy all the pancake lovers…if it’s Genie’s, it’s breakfast.
And brunch! Bottomless coffee and the full bar features house-infused vodkas galore. Doors open at 8:00 am, close at 3:00 pm, seven days a week.
Fuller’s Coffee Shop
Long before the food revolution began in Portland, Fuller’s was on the scene starting in 1947.
It has moved location once, but nothing else about this beloved restaurant has changed. It serves a standard breakfast and lunch in the style of classic bygone American diners.
Fuller’s is a place to sit a spell, read the newspaper, and have a coffee. Pony up to the counter—by the way, the whole restaurant is one big counter—and relive the classics.
The chicken fried steak, club sandwich, Monte Cristo, Pigs in a Blanket, blueberry pancakes, and Georgia’s Potatoes Deluxe are continually rotating from the kitchen to the customers.
Order breakfast all day, starting at 7:00 am. The loaves of bread are homemade, but make sure to be in a seat by closing at 3:00 pm. Avoid visiting on a Monday; Fuller’s closes up shop for the entire day.
Best Midday “Take My Hunger Away” Restaurants in Portland
Little Big Burger
The burger market, saturated with the fast-food giants, is a hard nut to crack. But every once in a while, a concept arrives on the scene that smashes the glass ceiling, ratchets up the flavor profiles, and gives the “big box” burger competitors a run for their money.
Such is the case with Little Big Burger. The play on words is intentional. Imagine your perfect burger, stacked high with ingredients but reduced to four bites.
Would you like a hamburger or cheeseburger? Choose the former, and LBB will make it using 1/4 lb of fresh Cascade farms natural beef, lettuce, pickle, red onion, and Camden’s Catsup on a freshly baked brioche bun.
Choose the latter, and you’re guaranteed a flavor explosion. Chévre, crumbled bleu, Tillamook sharp cheddar, Tillamook Swiss, or Tillamook pepper jack: you choose which cheese you want dripping down the sides of your LBB.
As far as taste, every LBB burger is scratch-made. So when they scream your name and hand you the greasy brown paper bag, expect a hot, mouthwatering burger.
Always leave extra room in your paper bag for LBB’s signature Truffle Fries. LBB crams as many shoestring skin-on potatoes, tossed in white truffle oil and kosher salt, into the paper carton as possible.
Each order also comes with LBB’s homemade Fry Sauce. Ask for extra: it’s the perfect companion for every crunchy Truffle Fry bite you’ll experience.
Can you handle a Root Beer Float with Tillamook vanilla bean ice cream and Barq’s root beer? LBB makes those too!
Ask the staff about The Firebird, The Chicken Burger, and The Beyond (plant-based) Burger if you’re in the mood for an upgraded LLB experience.
Since opening in 2010, Little Big Burger has been an exemplary part of Portland’s eatery culture. Move over, Mickey D’s.
Meet Smokehouse Tavern. It’s like going to church…but everything’s about barbecue.
A Google reviewer stated the following: “You know when food is so good, you just can’t talk for a moment?” Enough said.
First bites include their wedge salad, deviled eggs, and fries with gravy. For entrees, good luck choosing between their pulled pork, brisket, smoked salmon, chicken, hotlinks, brisket burnt ends, or spare ribs.
Meals are served with pickles and onions, white bread, and your choice of two sides. And don’t think the hard decisions stopped with the meats. Side options include macaroni salad, braised collard greens, potato salad, mac and cheese, baked beans, coleslaw, and cornbread with honey butter.
Don’t take too long to decide: Smokehouse Tavern is only open from 3 to 9 pm, and is closed on Mondays.
Remember “profane and curmudgeonly” detective William “Bunk” Moreland on the critically acclaimed television show The Wire? Bunk restaurants in Portland honor his name.
As to the why, it isn’t all that clear. But that doesn’t matter. All hail, Bunk!
Bunk is famous for their Pork Belly Cubano. Their selfie-worthy sandwiches have garnered national media attention from The Food Network, Food & Wine Magazine Travel + Leisure.
Rainier beer tallboys can be seen dotting every table, and Bunk’s signature ICEBERG, a pint of Rainer with a float of a homemade frozen margarita, is a showstopper sipper.
Bunk also offers a kid menu, making it fun for all ages.
An Amazing Indian Joint: Swagat
The best thing about Indian food is its remarkable ability to provide the mind and body with a sensation of comfort that other international foods can’t quite attain. Swagat raises the bar, and does so in three locations.
The Tandoori mixed grill arrives sizzling hot to the table, combining lamb, chicken, shrimp, and halibut marinated in yogurt and herbs. The piping hot naan comes non-stop.
Swagat’s dosa (lentil flour crepes) are stuffed with curries or vegetables and served with chutney and sambar, a tamarind-based stew. Vegan versions are also available.
Save room for the house dessert, gulab jamun, a fried pastry ball smothered in honey and rosewater.
Off-the-Chain Mexican Restaurants in Portland
You’re going to have to go day-tripping down to a town called Woodburn for Mexican food. Woodburn is home to Oregon’s infamous outlet mall, about 45 minutes south.
There’s also Lupita’s, Los Cabos, and Los Machetes…and that’s just the tip of the iceberg of the authentic Mexican cuisine Woodburn offers.
And, after you’ve gotten your taco on, rest easy: there’s a Day’s Inn at the heart of the town.
Best Pizza Parlors in Portland
To be honest, the list for best pizza eateries in Portland would stretch the length of the 187-mile Willamette River.
That said, there are five standouts for fantastic pies and slices. Each restaurant has a specific claim to fame that gives them a leg up on other pizzerias.
Nestled in the heart of Portland’s warehouse-turned-urban-chic Pearl District, The Star offers award-winning deep-dish pizza.
Not just any deep-dish pizza, though: transformative, old-style, Chicago deep-dish pizza.
The Star also serves up a thin crust pizza that will have you questioning how every bite is more delicious than the next.
Design your deep-dish pizza, or choose the Little Star with fresh spinach blended with ricotta and feta cheeses, mushrooms, onions, and roasted garlic.
If you’re more of a “thin cracker crust” pizza lover, holler for a Hoyt Street pie. It has a walnut-pesto base with zucchini, fresh tomatoes, and balsamic glaze.
The bar is mad stocked, so you’ll have no issues finding a cocktail, local craft beer, or wine with your name on it.
Happy Hour with banging bites and drink selections, lunch specials, loyalty rewards program, and delivery available puts The Star at superstar status.
One of the unique features of Virtuous Pie is their respect for plant life. Navigate the menu based on your diet. The expansive allergen, vegetarian, and vegan filters allow you to customize a diet-centric pie, or order a Virtuous Pie specialty pizza worry-free.
The Super Funghi pie introduces the mouth to cashew mozzarella, herbed-potato cream, and a day of foraging for wild mushrooms.
Alternately, the Stranger Wings offers up a unique combination of Bianca, spicy buffalo cauliflower, crisp fried shallots, blue cheese drizzle, and scallion.
Or try the Ultraviolet: walnut and arugula pesto, cashew mozzarella, oven-dried tomatoes, kale, caramelized onion, and pine nuts.
East Glisan Pizza Lounge
About six minutes just outside of Portland’s city limits, on the corner of NE 81st Avenue and NE Glisan, sits an old-time pizza parlor you’ll regret missing.
From their specialty pies to the Detroit-style Sicilian pizza, to the most delicious handmade cocktails from some of Portland’s finest mixologists, there is a slice for all the carnivores and herbivores alike.
Funnily enough, what makes East Glisan Pizza Lounge such a top-tier pizza place isn’t even pizza: it’s their homemade lasagna.
For the Dessertarians in Your Group
Serious sweet tooths will have to award this Portland eatery the title of best sugar rush.
While Papa Haydyn is also a full restaurant, it’s the dessert case that creates a stir when you arrive.
The vast array of treats and sweets quickly distracts you, and will have you thinking about dessert before dinner. And after.
Do not pass on The Cherry Forest, Bourbon Ball, Carrot Cake, and Georgian Peanut Butter Mousse Torte. And then order every other dessert, just because.
This frozen treat palace deserves a spot in your itinerary of the best restaurants in Portland for two reasons.
First, they offer an ice cream named Chocolate AF. As you can imagine, it is loaded. With. Chocolate. Ganache, chocolate swirls, dark chocolate add-ins…if there was such a thing as too much chocolate, this dessert would be it.
The second thing that makes Fifty Licks one of the best restaurants in Portland is the owner, Chad Draizin.
A self-proclaimed nerd on a mission to combine his love of food science with ice cream, he’s dominating the gourmet ice cream market in Portland.
Mango Sticky Rice and Golden Milk not only taste like their names, but are also 100% vegan. French Toast, Horchata, Hood Strawberry, and (for the purists) Vanilla AF: it doesn’t matter what Chad scoops. Fifty Licks is terrific AF.
Pip’s Original Doughnuts & Chai
This mom & pop Portland eatery spins a super fresh take on the modern donut.
They’re small and bite-sized, but still feature a center hole. You can get them rolled in or stuffed with cinnamon sugar, raw honey and sea salt, Nutella and sea salt, or even candied maple bacon.
Beyond the doughnuts, their selection of Chai is something to behold. Smokey Robinson Campfire Chai elicits a smoke flavor, along with cinnamon, clove, and vanilla. Warm up with Heart of Gold; toasted coconut, turmeric, ginger, clove, and green tea.
Can’t decide? Try 6 ounces of each with a flight of Pip’s Chai for $12.95. Dip and pop those Pips.
Experience the Best Restaurants in Portland
There is an old German proverb which defines the Portland eatery scene to a T: “Eating and drinking holds body and soul together.”
For decades, Portland restaurateurs and entrepreneurs have found unique, interesting, and delicious formulas with which to strengthen the bond of body and soul, and bring the community together to feast.
The best restaurants in Portland offer a vast and eclectic selection of foods from around the world, from small pop-ups, to food carts, to comfy full-service brick-and-mortars.
Head out and enjoy all the rich complexities that dining in the west coast’s weirdest city has to offer.
Foodies in need of more bucket list-worthy dining should check out the best restaurants in San Diego.