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The Most Exciting Neighborhoods for Dining in 2021, According to Portland Food Writers

Portland is full of amazing food neighborhoods, from Beaverton to the far reaches of Lents

Kalbi, poke, mac salad, and rice sit in a takeout container at GrindWitTryz
The Alberta Arts area is full of incredible restaurants like Hawaiian spot GrindWitTryz
GrindWitTryz [Official]

Each December, Eater Portland ends the year by reflecting on the last twelve months of dining in a series we call Year in Eater. We reach out to Portland food writers and influencers for their perspectives on major trends, impressive newcomers, and standout meals, and share their responses in a single package. Look back on past years here.

“Any neighborhood that didn’t involve me sitting on my couch watching TV while eating takeout.”
-Krista Garcia, Eater Portland contributor

“SE 82nd Avenue cart pods. The Core, definitely. And Cartlandia. And now the Eastport Food Carts, where Off the Leash is located which made the best Chicago-style hot dog I’ve ever eaten in Portland and tying those I’ve eaten in Chicago. A few other cart pods have also opened up on 82nd this year which I am eager to check out too, especially the Yard at Montavilla.”
-Bill Oakley, fast food influencer

Foster-Powell, which has really come into its own and I think will continue to flourish… As compared to other parts of the city that area feels like it has gotten more of a revitalization than full-on gentrified.”
-Janey Wong, Portland Mercury food and drink columnist

“I’m biased because it’s in my backyard, but I don’t think you can beat the lineup in Foster-Powell when it comes to casual and delicious restaurants, bars, and cafes: Off the Griddle, Assembly Brewing, Taqueria Nayar, Portland Mercado, Pizzeria Otto, Henry Higgins, Space Monkey, Carnelian Coffee, Bread and Roses, 5 & Dime, Favela Brazilian Cafe, Unlimited IPA… you get the idea.”
-Blair Stenvick, Portland Mercury arts & culture editor

“I enjoyed the summer vibrancy of the outdoor dining on the 28th Street/Burnside restaurants, but I also foresee a “rebirth” of life coming back to Downtown Portland, as more interesting restaurants/businesses that catch my eye (Toki, Ramen Ryoma, Moxy Hotel, Tokyo Sando, Abigail Hall, etc) have been opening new concepts and locations there lately.”
-Katrina Yentch, Eater Portland contributor

“I feel like I’m betraying my neighborhood by not saying Alberta, though I know plenty of other writers are going to mention it (love you, Proud Mary; love you, Grind Wit Tryz; love you, Mole Mole). However, if I’m being *completely* honest, I am always most delighted by making a day out of a visit to SE Clinton. Fair Weather’s brunch menu was my all-time favorite spot to eat breakfast, and I’m so sad it’s essentially gone (though I am very grateful to see Jacqueline back in business). Magna has absolutely hit its stride, and I always have a great meal there. Lokanta’s menu is jam-packed with bangers, and I love to order a bunch of dips to-go to live off of for a week. As a big ol’ natural wine nerd, I have a crush on Bar Norman; and, because I contain multitudes, I also love Dots, especially at the end of the night. Plus, now Quaintrelle is down there?! The second I can find a house I can actually afford on Clinton, I’m buying it.”
-Brooke Jackson-Glidden, Eater Portland editor

“As someone who doesn’t have a car, getting out to NW 23rd can be a process, but it’s totally worth the trek. Bing Mi’s jian bing, Smith Teamaker’s tea-infused noodle bowl, and Top Burmese’s samosas and khao soi are all excellent.”
-Waz Wu, Eater Portland contributor

“The Alberta District has a really nice variety of places right now—pasta and cocktails at Gumba, mole and pozole at Mole Mole, tapas including the excellent Tortilla Española 2.0 at Urdaneta, pho and bún at Thơm, and coffee and hotcakes at Proud Mary.”
-Katherine Chew Hamilton, Portland Monthly food editor

“NE Alberta had the arrival of promising entrants such as Gumba and GrindWitTryz (both of which went from food cart to brick-and-mortar), YaYa Cantonese BBQ, Le Clos, Thom, and food cart Mole Mole Mexican Cuisine. And there are the NE Alberta stalwarts that survived the pandemic such as Urdaneta, Pine State Biscuits, and DarSalam. And not quite on NE Alberta but nearby are Ripe Cooperative (with its pressed sandwiches and pastas); Expatriate (one of the finest bars in the country) with its fried chicken sandwich (my favorite in PDX), burger and “OMG” nachos; and underrated Dame.”
-Gary Okazaki (“Gary the Foodie”), renowned globe-trotting eater

“I’ve spent a lot of time personally eating and exploring out in Beaverton. Good food in Beaverton is of course nothing new, but there’s a couple of places — 1st Street Pocha, Chettinad Cuisine, Sushi Ki-Ichi, Doja Tea Lounge, Fills Donuts (which is technically Lake Oswego) — that I keep going back to in order to try more and more from these menus, and finding more stuff along the way.”
-Jordan Michelman, Sprudge co-founder and beverage writer

“I recently dined at various Vancouver restaurants to update the map. I really enjoyed spending time in downtown Vancouver again.”
-Rachel Pinsky, Eater Portland contributor, Washington correspondent

“This is a hard one—I stayed in almost every quadrant of the city in 2021, which meant I got to explore areas I’ve never really spent time in (like Lents), as well as ones I hadn’t properly visited since the pandemic started. I wandered Mississippi and Williams, hitting nearly every spot there. I mined St Johns’ incredible dining scene, and hit up almost every place in Nob Hill while I was there. In the end, though, the place I’m always happiest to be out and about is my home neighborhood of Buckman. Even in 2021 you can make a perfect night there, starting with drinks at Scotch Lodge, dinner at Normandie or Le Pigeon (which may technically be Kerns), and finishing with more drinks at Rum Club before making the questionable decision of a final round at the Slammer Tavern.
-Alex Frane, Eater Portland guest editor and contributor