In 2016, downtown Portland became home to some of Portland’s biggest names in a sprawling food hall. First conceived as a restaurant incubator of sorts, the Pine Street Market gave new and existing restaurants the opportunity to evolve in a large space with access to new customers and lower rent than a traditional restaurant. Now, Pine Street Market has become a stalwart among tourists and locals alike.
Smack-dab in the middle of a city overflowing with great eats and drinks, Portland’s first food hall in the historic Baggage and Carriage Building is something of a cross between a food cart pod and a casual food court. Home to Portland’s original Old Spaghetti Factory from 1969 to 1981 and a string of infamous Portland nightclubs in the early ‘80s, the location is now kind of the best of both worlds. With booze at practically every establishment, ordering a drink from the food hall’s various stalls turns any dining crawl into a pub crawl, without ever leaving the building.
For those looking to taste the entire market in one go, a group of six adult people with adult-sized stomachs is likely the best move. That way, you can divide and conquer, bringing back plates to enjoy family-style at one of the large community tables. Since the lineup of restaurants rotates periodically, experiences may vary depending on when you visit.
James Beard award-winning chef Ken Forkish blends New York with Italy in his lineup of savory pizza pies. Checkerboard serves individual slices of cheese, traditional Margherita, pepperoni, fennel sausage, and a couple other pies depending on the day. Start your meal with pizza appetizers, ordering a slice of each and sharing amongst the group. While the slices heat up, the unbearably hungry can snack on one of the pizza stand’s outstanding pastries, like its flaky and buttery croissants, morning buns, or breads — supplied by Forkish’s Trifecta Tavern and Bakery (for now). A pro knows a lot of food is ahead, however; so instead of filling up on bread early on, take a few pastries home for breakfast the next day.
Pine Street Market’s Marukin Ramen was one of the first of the Tokyo chain’s stateside locations. One taste is all it takes to understand what all the fuss is about: Marukin’s noodles are handmade at the Ankeny location, and ramen dishes include rich bone or soymilk broths and tofu from Portland’s own Ota. The restaurant accrues dependably long lunch-time lines, so bigger groups can send a sacrifice to wait in line while others order pizza. Though the ramen selections change throughout the week, Marukin offers its deeply spicy and fatty tonkotsu red daily, only improved with the addition of fried leeks, chashu pork, and the house-made chili blend. Orders of gyoza pork dumplings and traditional Japanese pickled vegetables are a total bonus; get them. And don’t miss their extensive selection of Japanese whiskeys, sakes, or beer to keep the party going. Check their menu online here beforehand to ensure there are no surprises.
Bless Your Heart (BYH) Burgers
Brought to Pine Street by restaurant genius John Gorham of the acclaimed Toro Bravo Group, BYH Burgers serves some of the tastiest burgers in town; its simple and classic menu is like a welcome slice of Americana. Veer from the ordinary and order the LL Cool J, loaded with guacamole, bacon, and ranch. Those ready to rumble should also order a side of Down and Dirty fries, smothered in griddled onions, peppers, mushrooms, beer cheese sauce, ranch, and barbecue seasoning. There aren’t many fast food establishments where you can order cocktails with your burger, but cocktail wizard Jamal Hassan has put together a collection of ‘90s inspired cocktails, like Sex on the Coast, his version of Sex on the Beach—with vodka, peach, fresh OJ, real cranberry, and crushed ice.
Kure Juice Bar
Time for a breather and a detox: After a meal of pizza, burgers, and ramen, head straight to Kure. The menu is stacked with vegan, gluten-free-friendly fare, like protein-packed meal shakes, green juices, tonic shots, and smoothies. A highlight is the Sparkle Pony — not for its five-year-old-birthday-party of a name, but for the knockout combination of dragon fruit, avocado, pineapple, dates, coconut yogurt, coconut water, and sweet blue cream.
Kim Jong Smokehouse
A collaboration between three Portland chefs, Kim Jong Smokehouse opened with an innovative menu of Korean staples with Southern-style BBQ smoking techniques. Years later, Top Chef contestant BJ Smith is the only one still connected to the restaurant, but Kim Jong Smokehouse continues to deliver. Go for a bibimbap overflowing with scorched rice, sweet potato noodles, and seasoned vegetables, topped with a fried egg and a choice of house-smoked protein and house-made sauce. As for proteins, one could never go wrong with the galbi short ribs, but the salmon, succulently prepared and classically Northwest, is a winner with a rich and balanced kimchi mayo. Add a Korean beer or soju on the side and take your lunch or dinner to the next level.
This stall’s signature Spanish-style rotisserie chicken — a recipe that was 18 months in the making — is all juicy meat on the inside and crispy skin on the outside. For those with heartier appetites, the Winner Winner Chicken Dinner is just as described, served with a choice of dipping sauces like romesco or bravo aioli, boldly spiced potatoes bravas, and a radicchio salad with aged manchego, olive tapenade, sherry vinaigrette, and garlic bread crumbs. People bursting at the seams by this point may want to opt for lighter fare, like jamon croquettes or rotisserie cauliflower; the latter is made just like their rotisserie chicken. Add on a cocktail like the Moscow on the Hudson, complete with a colorful Rioja float; The Old Cubana, showcasing white run, crème de peche, lime, and Cava; and a personal favorite, the Herring Hall Sour, made with bourbon, sherry, carrot, lemon, egg white, and salt.
The market’s newest addition, this Latin American street food restaurant serves an array of tacos, arepas, burritos, and plates atop of, inside of, or alongside freshly made tortillas from Portland’s best, Three Sisters Nixtamal. The popular “taco trio” offers a trifecta of flavors, including a pork belly taco with pickled onions and cilantro lime verde sauce, a smoky chicken taco with plantain sauce and cabbage slaw, and a beef brisket taco with black beans, plantain sauce, and smoked gouda. The Buenos Aires Spritz, Jamaican Tonic, or seasonal boozie slushie all work as liquid companions.
Wiz Bang Bar
Finally, at the end of the road, Wiz Bang Bar serves hand-dipped cones with Magic Shell coatings — think Dairy Queen on steroids. From Portland’s ice cream legends Salt & Straw, Wiz Bang Bar’s shell coatings harden over soft-serve flavors like classic vanilla custard, or plant-based roasted strawberry coconut; the shells themselves are also upscale, with flavors like single-origin chocolate, salted caramel white chocolate, and strawberry honey balsamic. For those with a serious sweet tooth, opt for the Rocky Road Hot Fudge Magic Cone. Be forewarned, it’s a serious shot of sugar: The black cocoa waffle cone comes with a dollop of marshmallow fluff, a swirl of chocolate soft serve, a drizzle of hot fudge, and is topped off with house-made gooey brownie bites, and party nuts.
Coming soon, Ablis Experience CDB Infusions will open where Olympia Provisions once had a stand, billing themselves as the “world’s first functail lounge,” whatever that means. But for now, congratulations. You’ve eaten your way through Pine Street Market. Now, feel free to lie down in Riverfront Park and drift off happily into a food coma.