Portland has a plethora of amazing restaurants across a spectrum of styles, cultures, and, importantly, price points. Unfortunately but unavoidably many of Portland’s best restaurants are also its priciest. However, there are a number of ways to try some of the more expensive restaurants in Portland without breaking the bank, such as happy hours, themed nights, and lunch specials. Here are some ways to eat (somewhat) cheaply at these iconic restaurants.
Earl Nimsoms’ Thai dinner series Langbaan is one of the hottest dining experiences in town, with guests making reservations months in advance, or getting lucky with a day-of cancellation. If you do manage to score a reservation, the dinner, though worth the wait and price, isn’t cheap. Those wanting a more accessible taste should head to Ninsom’s flagship restaurant Paadee, which Langbaan operates out of. The Thai dishes served in the concrete room draped with plants and wooden lanterns are no less inventive, or delicious, than the ones at Langbaan, and during lunchtime you can get in for an entree and an appetizer and get out for less than $20.
6 SE 28th Avenue
A Portland institution with its brick fireplace, white tablecloths, and multiple wine shelves, the Ringside Steakhouse can get pricey, especially if you’re ordering some vintage wine and a house dry-aged steak. Luckily, there are a few other options, including a ridiculously underpriced, late-night happy hour when burgers, steak bites, clam strips, and gnocchi with beef meatballs are all priced under $5, and a prime rib dip sandwich is just $5.75. Of course, you’re not getting the high-end steaks as on the normal menu, but stop by on Mondays for a three-course prime rib dinner with salad, potatoes, and crème brûlée for dessert for just $35.
2165 W Burnside Street
Naomi Pomeroy’s communal dinner series Beast was revolutionary in Portland’s dining scene, helping to popularize the format as well as re-introducing the glories of foie gras and other indulgent meats to a city that was more well known for its vegetarian scene. Today, dinner in the cozy space can be out of reach for some, with its $125 price tag. Instead, stop in for an amazing brunch, only on Sundays, with Pomeroy’s signature style. It’s $40 for three courses and well worth it. There’s also the option of Expatriate, just across the street, with more casual bar eats from Pomeroy, as well as exceptional cocktails.
5425 NE 30th Avenue
The spacious Nostrana, with its soaring ceilings, iron chandeliers, and towering bar, is one of the city’s most celebrated Italian restaurants. It’s also one of the priciest—unless you’re going after 9 p.m. when you can find $5 pizzas, $6 glasses of wine, and even the famous tomato-butter sauce pasta for only $9. It’s a great way to try Cathy Whims’ groundbreaking Italian food while staying on a budget.
1401 SE Morrison Street #101
Justin Woodward’s minimalist dining hall Castagna offers a selection of tasting menus of creative, modernist dishes highlighting the Northwest, but it ranges from $55 to $165 for a tasting menu, and that’s without wine. But since Cafe Castagna closed, reopening as the breezy, bright OK Omens, you can find Woodward’s food and a carefully cultivated wine list at staggeringly affordable prices, especially when you go in for late-night happy hour with $6 glass pours of stellar wines and bar bites like fried chicken caesar salads.
OK Omens 1758 SE Hawthorne Boulevard
The cozy, brick-lined Le Pigeon regularly tops the lists of Portland’s best restaurants for its indulgent French-American cuisine, but it’s a hard place to visit without dropping some cash. Luckily, it joined in the plethora of wine-bar openings this year, launching Canard right next door. It’s not dive-bar prices, but the Parisian-styled cafe does offer some of chef Gabriel Rucker’s iconically decadent cuisine, including transcendent foie gras dumplings and the already-famous duck stack pancakes, for less than you’d pay at Le Pigeon.
Canard 734 E Burnside Street
A mainstay on the Eater 38 list, the James Beard Award-nominated Coquine is one of the city’s most lauded eateries, serving New American cuisine with a French twist in an airy gold, white, and blue hued dining room. Though the dinner menu can get a bit pricey, the lunch special is a great way to sample chef and owner Katy Millard’s food at an affordable price—offered Monday through Friday, grab a soup or salad, a choice of any main dish (which can change daily) and one of those legendary smoked almond chocolate chip cookies, all for $26.
6839 SE Belmont Street