Planning a new restaurant is a tenuous process in Portland right now: While the dissemination of vaccines and the new administration have given some restaurant owners hope, the industry doesn’t feel exactly stable. Nonetheless, people have forged ahead and already opened new restaurants in 2021, from delivery-only fried chicken spot Prey + Tell to highly anticipated Han Oak sibling Toki. And there’s more to come: Pandemic-era blockbuster pop-ups are eyeing restaurant locations, food cart Nacheaux is moving into a bar space, and long-awaited restaurant Piccone’s Corner should finally open its doors in 2021. Unlike past years, there isn’t a massive line of chefs and restaurateurs announcing projects opening this year — in fact, chef like Gregory Gourdet has pushed the permanent opening of his current yurt-based pop-up Kann until 2022 — but a few noteworthy openings are still coming. Here are just a few of the restaurants we’re looking forward to in 2021:
What it is: Finding exceptional Vietnamese food in North Portland is a challenge, with its small number of pho shops and banh mi cafes. But Lúa, a restaurant from the team behind Lotus Kitchen, will serve hard-to-find dishes like banh mi chao, as well as soups with house-made noodles and boba with fresh-rolled tapioca pearls.
Where it is: 3971 N Williams Avenue, Suite 103
When it’ll open: Ideally in February, though co-owner Alvin Wang says it comes down to city permits
Read more: A Vietnamese Restaurant Serving House-Made Noodles Is Coming to North Portland [EPDX]
What it is: Another Vietnamese restaurant, Friendship Kitchen is a laid-back banh mi and cocktail spot in the Ocean building on NE Glisan. Owner Trang Nguyen wants Friendship Kitchen to be a warm, exciting restaurant centered on female chefs and makers, while also highlighting her culinary style and Vietnamese staples. The restaurant will serve banh mi filled with five-spice beef and cheddar, cocktails with names like White Men Tears, and bún bò Huế.
Where it is: 2333 NE Glisan Street
When it’ll open: Nguyen is shooting for mid-February
Read more: This Incoming Vietnamese Restaurant Will Serve Bún Bò Huế with Lychee Whiskey Cocktails [EPDX]
What it is: For those seeking healthy takeout, Gabriel Pascuzzi’s Mama Bird is a godsend, with grilled chicken and vegetables that have a refreshing element of creativity and finesse. He went deeper into the health food game with his pop-up, Feel Good, which tackled actually interesting grain bowls. The pop-up will land in its own space this year.
Where it is: 1120 SE Belmont Street
When it’ll open: Pascuzzi is hoping to open the restaurant in the first quarter of 2021.
Read more: Gabriel Pascuzzi Will Turn His Grain Bowl Pop-Up, Feel Good, Into a SE Belmont Restaurant [EPDX]
What it is: Bartender Estanislado Orona is an unsung hero of the Portland cocktail scene. He’s worked behind the bar at places like Raven and Rose, Botanist, and Ash Bar, and has competed in cocktail competitions. This year, however, he’ll open his own bar, one with a refreshing sense of voice: Orona’s Bar Midnight will specialize in cocktails made with wines — fortified, aromatized, and sparkling.
Where it is: 3341 SE Belmont Street
When it’ll open: Early March
Read more: A Sultry, Wine-Centric Cocktail Bar Will Open on SE Belmont This Year [EPDX]
What it is: Food cart Nacheaux became a hotspot in Southeast for its elaborate, ever-changing slew of sweets, burritos, and tacos, pulling from Southern American and Latin American cooking traditions. This year, Anthony and Stephanie Brown are moving into a more permanent space: Nacheaux will open in the former Alameda Brewing location alongside Blind Ox on NE Fremont. There, the Browns will continue to serve the dishes that made them a hit — including new additions like etouffee. Down the line, the Browns will also launch a number of delivery-only restaurants specializing in things like desserts and tacos.
Where it is: 4765 NE Fremont Street
When it’ll open: March
Read more: Breakout Food Cart Star Nacheaux Will Soon Open a Restaurant [EPDX]
What it is: Back in 2018 — we were so young then — Tasty was the name in the Portland brunch game. Tasty n Sons on Williams and Tasty n Alder downtown, owned by restaurateurs John and Renee Gorham, attracted hoards on weekend mornings for breakfast tapas and patatas bravas, with knockout bloody marys to boot. But after the Gorhams gave up their restaurants and left Portland, it was unclear if Tasty would return in any form. Turns out, it will reopen in Lake Oswego with restaurant group Chefstable and two former employees running the show; perhaps most noteworthy, Katherine Benvenuti —star baker of the tragically closed Bakery at Bar King — will be handling the baking program.
Where it is: Lake Oswego, on the corner of SW Boones Ferry and Kruse Way
When it’ll open: Spring 2021
Read more: The ‘Tasty’ Restaurant Group is Coming Back, Opening a New Location in Lake Oswego [EPDX]
Smith Teamaker’s NW 23rd Cafe
What it is: Smith Teamaker is one of Portland’s most noteworthy tea companies, and its incoming cafe will be more than a place to sip chai and iced peppermint — chef Karl Holl, known for the dazzling pop-up at Park Avenue Fine Wines, will be creating a vegetarian menu for the space, often using the cafe’s teas.
Where it is: NW 23rd and Glisan
When it’ll open: Spring 2021
Read more: Smith Teamaker Plans a New Cafe on NW 23rd With Star Chef Karl Holl [EPDX]
What it is: It’s been more than a year, but the restaurant-meets-butcher-shop Piccone’s Corner is planning on opening its NE Sandy spot in 2021. Austin Piccone, who raises hogs, will provide meats and house charcuterie for the butcher counter, while an onsite osteria uses Piccone and other local farmers’ wares in the kitchen, with pastas, snacks, and salads.
Where it is: 3434 NE Sandy Blvd
When it’ll open: 2021
Read more: A New Heritage Butcher Shop and Italian Restaurant Is Coming to NE Sandy [EPDX]
What it is: A breakout pandemic-era hit, Jerry’s Pizza owner Jerry Benedetto has been making Chicago tavern-style pizza out of his home kitchen, hawking pies via Instagram. With a 15-month waiting list, Benedetto’s pies have become a phenomenon with Midwestern expats and pizza aficionados, who can’t find those specific thin-crust pies at many other pizzerias throughout Oregon. Benedetto reports that he has quit his day job to focus on his pizza, and is planning on opening some sort of brick-and-mortar this year.
Where it is: Unclear — yet.
When it’ll open: See above
Read more: This Chicago Transplant Started Quarantine Learning to Make the Pizza of His Youth. Now He’s Filling Orders. [WWeek]
What it is: Last year, chef Diane Lam took over the kitchen at the Mississippi bar Psychic to sell noodle soups and Cambodian fried chicken. While Sunshine Noodles has gone on hiatus, she’s focused on her delivery-only fried chicken shop, Prey + Tell, but she says Sunshine will return in some form later this year.
Where it is: Unclear
When it’ll open: Unclear
Read more: Noodle Bar Pop-Up Sunshine Noodles Returns, Taking Over the Kitchen at Mississippi Bar Psychic [EPDX]
What it is: A new development on NE Alberta, Alberta Alley comes from Portland-raised football player Ndamukong Suh, who has been influencing Portland’s restaurant scene under the radar — Suh is a part-owner in places like Super Deluxe and Baes. Alberta Alley, which will house six separate storefronts and a shared open-air dining space, has already signed on Portland brands like Deadstock Coffee and Papi Chulo’s, and it’ll be interesting to see who else lands in that building down the line.
Where it is: 3003 NE Alberta Street
When it’ll open: 2021
Read more: Taqueria Papi Chulo’s and Coffee Brand Deadstock Are Coming to a New Development on NE Alberta [EPDX]
In-N-Out and Shake Shack
What it is: We feel obligated to include these two burger chains with massive, international followings, which will be opening multiple locations in the greater Portland area in 2021. In-N-Out’s Portland-area locales — slated for the Beaverton area and Bridgeport — will be the first in the greater Portland area; Shake Shack’s two Portland locations — planned for Cedar Hills and downtown Portland — will be the state’s first Shake Shack restaurants.
Where they are: 1016 W Burnside Street (Shake Shack downtown); within Cedar Hills Crossing, 3205 SW Cedar Hills Blvd (Shake Shack Cedar Hills); 10565 SW Beaverton-Hillsdale Highway, Beaverton (In-N-Out Beaverton); 17070 SW 72nd Avenue (In-N-Out Bridgeport)
When it’ll open: 2021-2022
Read more: Shake Shack and In-N-Out Are Going All-In on Portland-Area Expansion [EPDX]