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A bowl of offwhite soup is topped with bacon bits and potato-chip-looking flakes, sitting on a wooden table at Cafe Olli next to a slice of pizza and a pickled vegetable salad.
A selection of dishes from Cafe Olli.
Brooke Jackson-Glidden/Eater Portland

The 38 Essential Restaurants and Food Carts in Portland

The city’s most astounding restaurants, food carts, bars, and more

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A selection of dishes from Cafe Olli.
| Brooke Jackson-Glidden/Eater Portland

With its tangle of rivers, bevy of urban farms, and surplus of talented chefs, Portland is a dining city to its core. At food carts, subterranean bars, and white-tablecloth restaurants, chefs gather some of the region’s finest ingredients to transform into immaculate sushi, handmade pastas, and imaginative pintxos. For a city its size, Portland’s restaurant scene is impressively multifaceted — traditional and offbeat, covering hundreds of cuisines from various countries and regions around the world. The through line comes from the city’s collaborative nature, a desire to work with other farmers, producers, and even competitors to make something fun and new.

Each quarter, Eater Portland updates the Eater 38, a list of exceptional restaurants and food carts that define what it means to eat here. The list sticks to businesses that have been open in Portland for at least a year, and that add something distinct and invaluable to the dining scene at large. In particular, the restaurants and bars that this map celebrates are those that have gone above and beyond in a period when doing the bare minimum is herculean.

This update, Cafe Rowan, Jin Jin, Tercet, and Berlu leave the map. In their place, Cafe Olli, Kaede, and Street Disco make their Eater 38 debuts, and Mucca returns to the map. For some of the most exciting new restaurants and carts in Portland, check out the Eater Portland Heatmap.

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Eater maps are curated by editors and aim to reflect a diversity of neighborhoods, cuisines, and prices. Learn more about our editorial process. If you buy something or book a reservation from an Eater link, Vox Media may earn a commission. See our ethics policy.

Casa Zoraya

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Since Zoraya Zambrano and her children, Gary and Gloria Marmanillo, opened Casa Zoraya back in 2018, this Peruvian spot has been Piedmont’s under-the-radar gem: Ceviches land at the table like a work of art, fried calamari adding crunch to a bed of fresh seasonal seafood tossed with a summery leche de tigre. Arroz Chaufa, a Peruvian fried rice dish, gets an upgrade with a passionfruit reduction, which adds dose of acidity and sweetness. And the pisco sours feel like they’re shipped straight from Lima, best sipped on Casa Zoraya’s back patio on nice days.

Ceviche carretillero with salmon in a white bowl on a wooden table top
Ceviche carretillero with salmon
Brooke Jackson-Glidden/EPDX

Hat Yai

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Akkapong Earl Ninsom did it again: After treating Portland to deftly executed Thai cooking at Langbaan and Paadee, the chef —alongside co-founder and co-owner Alan Akwai — created a casual southern Thai compatriot on Northeast Killingsworth with hardcore devotees. Hat Yai’s shallot-fried chicken, salty and crunchy, pairs exceptionally well with Malayu-style curry and crispy roti, all available in the popular combo No. 1. And yet, diners will be rewarded for straying from the top billing: The restaurant’s searingly spicy kua gling ground pork is abundant with aromatics and alliums, and the dtom som shrimp combines seafood with meaty oyster mushrooms in a broth pleasingly sour with tamarind and ginger.

A tray of chicken and roti with a small sauce container and a bowl of soup from Hot Yai
Hat Yai chicken and roti
Nick Woo/EPDX

Gabbiano's

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In a period of time where so many Portland restaurants are overwhelmingly earnest, Killingsworth neighborhood Italian American joint Gabbiano’s exudes a good-hearted ridiculousness, a commitment to the bit that feels truly refreshing. Fried mozzarella shot glasses filled with marinara? For sure. Caprese Negronis with sundried tomato Campari and mozzarella ball garnishes? Totally. But if Gabbiano’s were simply a gimmick, it wouldn’t appear on this map; each dish has a true sense of deliciousness, from frisbee-sized discs of juicy chicken Parm in a bright pomodoro, or a pork chop coated in a spice blend evocative of Italian sausage, paired with a summery stonefruit agrodolce. Not every restaurant needs to be serious; this city needs its silly little corners, and Gabbiano’s is one of them.

Baon Kainan

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Ethan and Geri Leung went from popping up in Seattle to opening this casual Alberta food cart, which offers a simultaneously inventive and accessible take on Filipino staples. Every dish has an incredible depth of flavor, whether it’s the lingering note of seafood and floral acidity in a shrimp-topped arroz caldo, or the tamari-rich adobo, which hits the grill for a touch of char and smoke. Brunches include sticky-sweet tocino and satisfyingly simple garlic rice, each dish popping with acid and salt.

Chefs Geri and Ethan Leung peek out of the window of their Portland food cart, Baon Kainan, holding takeout containers of biko and adobo.
Chefs Geri and Ethan Leung at Baon Kainan.
Molly J. Smith/Eater Portland

Pasture PDX

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Farm-to-table is likely the most pervasive of the Portland culinary cliches; every restaurant in town touts some version of its ethos, name-dropping a few farms or grabbing a few seasonal items from the farmers market. But Pasture owners Kei Ohdera and HJ Schaible take their emphasis on responsible sourcing to a new level, seeking out and developing relationships with regenerative farms for whole-animal butchery inside the restaurant. The result: Straight-up delicious sandwiches, ranging from beef mortadella to achingly tender pastrami, served with accompaniments like house pickled peppers. It’s not just walking the walk of sustainability; it’s making it feel accessible (and delicious).

Two halves of a pastrami sandwich sit on top of each other at Pasture PDX.
A pastrami sandwich from Pasture.
Pasture

Mole Mole Mexican Cuisine

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Each day, during lunch hours, Alberta locals line up at this orange-and-green cart in pursuit of chiles en nogada stuffed with ground pork and bowls of lipstick-red pozole, accompanied by prickly pear agua fresca and horchata. The cart’s menu is extensive, with everything from soy curl burritos to cochinita pibil, but it should be no surprise that this cart’s particular specialty is its moles: a sweet and nutty mole negro, an herbaceous and vegetal mole verde. The cart’s fuchsia mole rosa, a rarity at Portland Mexican restaurants made with earthy beets and hibiscus flowers, is available as a coating for tender enchiladas or simply paired with fresh salmon, a smart choice of protein for the sweet-earthy beet sauce. The artful plating — colorful ceramic bowls, garnished with flowers — sets each dish over the top, making this one of the city’s finest Mexican carts.

Chiles en nogada, chips with bean dip, and chicken enchiladas with three moles. Plus jamaica and champurrado
Chiles en nogada, chips with bean dip, and chicken enchiladas with three moles.

Urdaneta

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At this intimate pintxo bar, Javier and Jael Canteras have developed a reputation for straight-up goofy dishes winking at Northern Spanish flavors, like a bikini (ham and cheese sandwich) made with American and jamon serrano, or an octopus a la brasa with chorizo XO. That being said, the traditional Spanish dishes on the menu remain true to the originals, whether it’s crispy-on-the-outside, gooey-on-the-inside croquetas de jamon, or a blackened slice of Basque cheesecake. The restaurant’s selection of vermouth and sherry would make any Iberian proud.

An assortment of five creative pintxos on a wooden board.
Pintxos at Urdaneta.
Urdaneta

Lovely's Fifty Fifty

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In a North Mississippi pizza cafe that feels casual but intimate, pizzaiola Sarah Minnick embraces paradoxes: She took something brimming with childhood charm — pizza and ice cream — and gave it a high-end twist. Ever-changing pizzas are a garden of edible flowers and mushrooms, atop an airy-but-sturdy pizza dough made with Oregon whole grains; they’re accompanied by salads and soups made with peak-season produce. While the menu changes on an almost weekly basis, Minnick’s culinary creativity and attention to detail remains constant. If someone is defining Portland’s distinct pizza style, it’s Minnick.

A picture of a whole pie covered in seasonal vegetables at Lovely’s Fifty Fifty.
A seasonal pie from Lovely’s Fifty Fifty.
Nick Woo/Eater Portland

Cafe Olli

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From morning Danish to evening meatballs, breakfast porridge to after-dinner creme brulee, Northeast MLK’s Cafe Olli is a haven for gorgeous pastries, char-dotted pizzas, and bubbling pastas al forno, all entering and emerging from the wood-fired oven at the center of the space. Oregon produce plays a major role in dictating rotating menus, though a few dishes have become beloved constants: the simple breakfast sandwich, featuring a juicy house-made sausage patty and a fluffy milk bun; pizza pomodoro, showcasing the flavor of the hearth as much as the tomato and grain in the dough. However, Cafe Olli’s charm is in those fleeting seasonal portraits, from deep-autumn butternut squash soup brightened with hazelnut gremolata to springtime lamb legs with a halo of optimistic greens. Dessert is mandatory.

A chef places pieces of cheese on uncooked pizza dough at Cafe Olli.
A pizza mid-construction at Cafe Olli.
Thom Hilton/Eater Portland

Portland’s status as a pizza city is, frankly, not worthy of debate any longer; enough international pizza experts have confirmed our pizzaiolos are world class. As such, standing out within an already saturated, talent-packed market is difficult. And yet, this unassuming cart off Northeast Sandy, run by Roberto Hernandez Guerrero, adds a fresh voice to the city’s pizza scene, one that takes an exceptional crust — Neapolitan in approach, soft and char-kissed with a good rise — and combines it with a Latin American culinary palette. The genius appears on the specials board: black garlic supporting the gentle funk of local huitlacoche, a corn smut grown in Gresham; nutty Oaxacan mole rojo juxtaposed with a mild huancaina; chorizo and corn over a comforting poblano crema. For something more classic, the cart’s simple, cheery margherita is a simple pleasure, missing nothing.

A man carries a margherita pizza out of Reeva.
Margherita Pizza at Reeva.
Carla J. Peña/Eater Portland

Dirty Lettuce

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Alkebulan Moroski is exacting with the meat-free proteins at their vegan restaurant, Dirty Lettuce: The chef goes down to the very foundations of the protein structure, mimicking the balance of fat and muscle that gives chicken its juiciness or pork ribs that “fall off the bone” quality. But at the core of Dirty Lettuce is an allegiance to the true Southern classics, be it a Cajun mac and cheese that boggles the mind with its faux sausage, or a fried “chicken” with a crackly skin indistinguishable from the real thing. The mission is to make vegan comfort food that feels true to the original, in an effort to get people more interested in eating less meat — non-judgmental, but intent on excellence. And trust us: Eating those garlic mashed potatoes won’t feel like any sort of sacrifice, even without the dairy.

Two takeout boxes of fried and barbecue vegan meats from Dirty Lettuce, with sides of black-eyed peas, greens, and jambalaya
An assortment of takeout from Dirty Lettuce
Waz Wu / EPDX

Langbaan

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Akkapong Earl Ninsom is the restaurateur behind several stars in Portland’s culinary constellation, but Langbaan — his supper club within Northwest Portland’s Phuket Cafe — is the brightest. Here, tasting menus pull inspiration from regions, time periods, and styles of dining throughout Thailand’s culinary history, though a few dishes remain as constants as menus change: Jewels of cara cara orange mingle with plump shrimp and peanuts, cradled in a betel leaf with fish sauce caramel, while a crispy rice cup supports Hokkaido scallop, coated in a sweet coconut cream. Every meal ends with a dessert from pastry chef Maya Erickson, one of the city’s finest.

Two hands plate shrimp on a betel leaf at Langbaan in Portland, Oregon.
A chef plates miang som at Langbaan.
Carla J. Peña/Eater Portland

St. Jack

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Nothing feels as celebratory as a meal at St. Jack, where diners marvel at plates in a humming dining room, glasses of Champagne bubbling on tables. The simple classics are done astoundingly well here: The restaurant’s knockout chicken liver mousse is velveteen and has a sweetness reminiscent of rich ice cream, and a simple plate of steak frites comes with an on-point shallot-red wine demi-glace and tangy bearnaise. And when chef Aaron Barnett drifts into more experimental territory, diners are rewarded with foie gras terrine accompanied by cocoa nibs and date puree, or dollops of caviar accompanied by crunchy pommes dauphine “churros.”

A server pours wine into glassware at St. Jack.
Mushroom vol-au-vent, pate en croute, and foie gras tart at St. Jack.
Carla J. Peña/Eater Portland

Han Oak

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Han Oak has shape-shifted throughout its tenure in Kerns, but its latest iterations exude the relaxed, convivial intimacy that has made the restaurant a favorite both among the city’s locals and on the national stage. The style of service changes seasonally, but currently, the restaurant is throwing a DIY gimbap party: Chef Peter Cho snaps open cans of Cass with dish rags while servers deliver platters of house cured or marinated meats for guests to wrap into hand rolls, while they pick at banchan like a house-brined corned beef soo yook. Everything is expertly executed, but the sense of simple fun is never lost — the core tenet of a successful Portland restaurant.

Wooden tables sit inside a robin’s egg blue building, which opens onto Han Oak’s courtyard
The dining room at Han Oak
Dina Avila/EPDX

Arden Restaurant Portland

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Once home to Top Chef contestant Sara Hauman, this stylish Pearl District restaurant is now the turf of longstanding Portland chef Erik Van Kley, a talent with a singular perspective on classic Pacific Northwestern ingredients. In a recent dish, the chef took inspiration from both Portland’s love of foie gras and the abundance of chanterelles spotted within the state’s damp forest floors, but not in the typical torchon or risotto preparation, respectively — rather, the foie ended up in a tea sandwich with onion jam, with roasted chanterelle soup for dipping. The playfulness of Van Kley’s culinary style was also apparent in a past version of the restaurant’s pierogies, hidden under a thicket of truffles, hot sauce adding pops of orange to a creme fraiche; the flavor is immediately recognizable, the truffle adding a fun air of froofiness to the chive creme fraiche. All of the food works well with the exceptionally detailed wine list, which includes a few long-cellared options hailing from the Willamette Valley.

Roast chicken, burrata salad, and more from Arden.
An array of dishes from Arden.
Molly J. Smith/Eater Portland

República

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At this Pearl District tasting menu restaurant, brass lamps illuminate sleek white tables, the restaurant’s kitchen a stage observed by a handful of seats stretching down the restaurant. Here, the team delivers the nuance of Mexican cuisine in an imaginative, compelling way, while acknowledging and interrogating the impact of colonialism. Menus change frequently, but in a past meal, chef Jose “Lalo” Camarena served steak aguachile with explanation of the Japanese influence; on the palate, it murmured of tartare and tataki, mustard notes blending with mirin, tobiko providing a pop of brine among the tomato water. Crack — diners smacked open a mushroom cloud of masa crisp to reveal “what the Spaniards brought and tried to destroy,” pork and amaranth, the latter referencing the religiously and culturally significant crops, burned by colonizers. In the resulting dish, pork is rich and loud in the face of a salsa mocajete sweet with heirloom tomatoes. And alongside the dishes, beverage director Miguel Marquez gives the wines selected the same level of context, provided with each tasting pour.

A República duck dish with mole blanco and mole negro, with nasturtium and black truffle.
Duck with duo moles and black truffle.
Brooke Jackson-Glidden/Eater Portland

Maurice

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Jazz plays while pots of pu-erh and mugs of coffee land at tables around this charming French-Scandinavian cafe in downtown Portland. Recent visits to Maurice harken back to its early days, where scones and cookies bookend savory meals of cottage-cheese-topped smorrebrod or fluffy quiches with the subtle flavor of brie and shallots. Meals at Maurice feel luxurious in their simplicity, thanks to its leisurely pace and minimalist plates, be it a bowl of mussels enlivened with mint or a briny brandade served with rose potatoes and baguette. As usual, fika here — peppery cheesecakes, souffle pudding cakes fragrant with meyer lemon — are a must. Note: Maurice will offer a bistro menu through January, returning to its traditional menu in February.

An open-faced sandwich topped with cheese, thinly shaved vegetables, and fruit preserves sits on an ornate piece of china next to a cup of coffee at Maurice.
Smorrebrod with cottage cheese and preserved lemon at Maurice.
Brooke Jackson-Glidden/Eater Portland

The shelves of this candlelit Burnside restaurant support bottles of fine olive oil and canned tomatoes, the foundations of the pasta dishes that emerge from its kitchen. Meals start with antipasti, in particular an array of surprisingly spiced marinated vegetables and pickles — mushrooms are juicy with a hint of cinnamon in the brine, for instance. Octopus is meaty and savory with lovely char, with olives providing an oceanic echo. From there, a parade of pastas show range: Fettuccine arrives coated in a thick, dreamy lemon cream, almost a Bizarro World alfredo, while perfectly al dente radiatori collect bits of saffron-scented lamb among their folds. Visitors should not miss the restaurant’s cabbage, charred within an inch of its life with a custardy center.

A plate with crostini, pickled carrots and beets, and arancini.
Antipasti from Luce.
Dina Avila/Eater Portland

Le Pigeon

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Gabriel Rucker, in his years at Le Pigeon, often molds the casual or unexpected into a fine dining format, from fried chicken to coconut shrimp. More than 15 years after its opening, Le Pigeon is as inventive as ever. Past dinners have involved braised goat sopes invigorated by nectarines pickled with aji amarillo and purple sorrel, or kanpachi tartare accompanied by a pool of calamansi creme anglaise. While Le Pigeon’s tasting menus have always shape-shifted over the years, the finale — a foie gras profiterole — remains, a testament to Rucker’s cheeky culinary style. Tasting menus are available vegetarian, as well, for indoor dining by reservation only.

A piece of fish sits on a mound of calamari couscous
A dish from Le Pigeon’s Jupiter Hotel Next menu
Le Pigeon

Nong's Khao Man Gai

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The original carts are gone, but Nong's Khao Man Gai’s restaurant space on Southeast Ankeny is still kicking, serving chef Nong Poonsukwattana’s signature dish: a deceptively simple take on Hainanese chicken. Ask five acolytes their favorite part of the dish and each will offer a different answer: the soul-satisfying broth, the truly perfect rice, Nong's ginger-heavy sauce, or the chicken itself, skins or no. Poonsukwattana’s story is one of dogged perseverance; that has not changed.

Two dishes with chopsticks sit side by side on a wooden table top. Both dishes have chicken sat on top a mound of white rice with a side of sauce, soup, and greens.
The signature dish at Nong’s Khao Man Gai
Katie Acheff

Normandie

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Casual diners in T-shirts and jeans sit at teal tables in this airy, cool dining room, surrounded by stormy blue walls printed with seahorses. The decor reflects the restaurant’s vaguely nautical theme, which the kitchen enforces with dishes like Pacific Northwestern oysters with granita, or poached prawns accompanied by Dungeness crab and fish sauce vinaigrette. Pickled Asian pear and green apple granita provide acidity to hamachi crudo, grounded with chile oil. Despite the seafood focus, land-locked dishes are no afterthought, especially Parisian gnocchi in a short rib ragu brightened with meyer lemon marmalade.

A lobster roll topped with roe.
Normandie’s trout-roe topped lobster roll.
Janey Wong/Eater Portland

Erica's Soul Food

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In a sunny yellow cart in Southeast Portland, next to a restaurant worker hangout, Erica Montgomery tosses wings in maple barbecue sauce while peanuts boil on the stove. Montgomery caught the attention of greater Portland thanks to her Atlanta-style hot lemon pepper wings: One bite into a crispy-but-saucy wing induces a tangy pop of acid, blended with a gentle-but-present heat that coats the mouth. The menu rotates consistently, exploring the nuances of soul food —  one week, the chef may smother chicken thighs in mushroom gravy; another, she may top sweet potato waffles with hot fried chicken or pair shrimp and grits with gouda and roasted tomatoes. Wings are a must, no matter what.

A bowl of tomato-tossed shrimp sits on a bowl of grits at Erica’s Soul Food in Portland, Oregon.
Shrimp and grits at Erica’s Soul Food.
Carla J. Peña/Eater Portland

Scotch Lodge

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Scotch Lodge, when it opened in 2019, was easily one of the most exciting new bars in Portland — not just for the hard-to-find whisky selection and creative cocktails, but for its menu of inventive bar snacks. The kitchen has retained some of those standouts: A soft shell crab sandwich gets its energy from a white kimchi slaw, and fried Brie sticks rolled in pumpernickel crumbs will rule over any mozzarella stick you’ve ever eaten. But, maybe unexpectedly, Scotch Lodge is also one of the city’s finest spots for pastas — pappardelle tossed in a luscious seaweed butter with lardons of candied duck, for instance. The bar menu is, of course, an exceptional compatriot to the kitchen’s offerings.

The bar at Scotch Lodge, illuminated by hanging globe light fixtures.
The interior of Scotch Lodge
Jordan Hughes/Scotch Lodge

Gregory Gourdet’s reputation within Portland dining was already well established before he opened his first restaurant — the Top Chef regular and James Beard Award-winning cookbook author had been making shaved ice-topped desserts and Christmas ducks at Departure for years before he opened this resoundingly lauded Southeast Portland restaurant. Now, the stylishly appointed, energetic Kann is the hottest reservation in town, groups gathering at round tables to share peanut creamed greens and coffee-rubbed rib-eyes. Kann feels like Gourdet’s culinary biography, and there are echoes of his past lives throughout the menu: The duck, for instance, swaps the more Peking-style version from Departure for a cane syrup glaze with pineapple and tamarind, pulling from the Haitian culinary tradition of his heritage. And those granitas accompany delicately cured kanpachi or chocolate-coated banana mousse cake at the beginning or end of the meal. Plan ahead — reservations disappear minutes after they drop.

A plate of sliced beef sits on a table at Kann in Portland, Oregon.
A beef rib from Kann.
Nick Woo/Eater Portland

Mucca Osteria

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This downtown Portland Italian restaurant could earn its spot on the map based on hospitality alone, harkening back to an era of dining when servers in ties and vests refilled the water glasses after a sip or two and warm focaccia landed on tables just a few moments after guests placed orders. The food meets the quality of the service, whether it’s a mount of burrata nestled in ribbons of 500-day prosciutto or sea scallops accompanied by dollops of caramelized shallots and chive blossoms, placed over a swipe of Parmesan fonduta. Pastas are made in house, with gentle bite and egg yolk-silky texture.

Two scallops sit on a blue plate next to a swipe of cheese sauce, with little dots of saffron gel, garlic blossoms, an orange-hued shallot relish, and olive oil powder. This dish was served at Mucca in downtown Portland, Oregon.
Scallops at Mucca.
Brooke Jackson-Glidden/Eater Portland

Bake on the Run

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Mother-son duo Bibi and Michael Singh celebrate the cuisine of Guyana, underrepresented not only in Portland’s restaurant scene but also the country’s, at their Southeast Stark food cart within the rising star pod Lil’ America. Here, the Singhs emphasize the culinary influences on the South American country — particularly the Indian and Chinese influences — with dishes like a creamy house dal and chow mein made with imported Guyanese noodles; however, the true draw of this cart is its namesake, the “bakes.” Fluffy pockets arrive filled with everything from salt cod to Nutella, though the bake stuffed with chana aloo, layers of garlic and ginger intermingling with Guyanese curry powder and tender chickpeas, is Portland food cart dining at its finest.

A hand holds a stuffed fry bread filled with salted cod.
A filled bake from Bake on the Run.
Dina Avila/Eater Portland

It’s hard to understate how influential this Buckman Russian restaurant is: When Bonnie and Israel Morales opened Kachka in 2014, it ushered in the great Slavic American culinary renaissance, as restaurants around the country popped up celebrating the cuisines of the former Soviet Republics. Today, the restaurant is stronger than ever: Kachka’s zakuski cover tables, caviar and roe scattered between plates of multi-colored pickles and fish-topped toasts. Bowls of juicy Siberian pelmeni bathe in butter and vinegar, a dollop of smetana sour cream on top for good measure. Tender rabbit swims in a braising liquid of cherries, porcini, and garlic, ideally served alongside cabbage rolls filled with beef, pork, and lamb. Drinkers should opt for a few pours of the restaurant’s fun house-infused vodkas, available in flights or single pours.

The sprawling dining room at Kachka
The sprawling dining room at Kachka
Dina Avila/EPDX

Nimblefish

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Cody Auger’s Southeast Hawthorne sushi counter has become nationally acclaimed for Edomae-style sushi: delicate, cured slivers of fish, potent and pristine in flavor and texture. The chefs here introduce so many nuances of each fish that are often lost: cold-smoked, salt-and-pepper-cured saba is salty and sweet and smoky in individual acts. Hotate from Northwestern Japan gets a spritz of yuzu, its perfume-y citrus complementing the creaminess of the scallop. And, outside the world of seafood, A5 wagyu is hit with a hand torch so the fat renders silken, but doesn’t cook; the result is a delicate, decadent bite of beef that’s hard to forget. Reservations for the restaurant’s omakase are available via Resy.

A piece of nigiri from Nimblefish
A piece of nigiri from Nimblefish
Nimblefish/Official

Murata Restaurant

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When identifying Portland’s “essential” restaurants, it seems only fitting to include Murata, downtown’s Japanese stalwart. Since 1988, Portlanders have stepped into its tatami rooms for dinners of miso soup, tonkatsu, and broiled mackerel, pots of soothing zosui filled with ribbons of egg, chirashi sporting generous slices of salmon and scallop. Murata is old-school in the best way, a style of Japanese restaurant becoming rarer and rarer with time; sitting in its dining room, mulling over crispy tempura or chicken teriyaki, induces a reinvigorating nostalgia hard to find elsewhere.

Two pieces of nigiri from Murata.
Sushi from Murata.
Seiji Nanbu/Eater Portland

Chef Fatou Ouattara has become the city’s unofficial West African culinary ambassador, hosting cooking classes and selling sauces out of her Southeast Division restaurant. In a dining room lined with art, occasionally hosting spoken word poets and DJs, diners tear apart intricately spiced samosas and dunk them into Ouattara’s tomato and mustard-based sauces, balancing their acidity with ample use of alliums. Any meal should involve one of the restaurant’s stews — menus change, so one day, that might be Senegalese, peanut butter-rich mafe yapp, while other visits may involve fall-apart tender goat in a tomato-y base. Sides of supremely flavorful jolof rice and springy fufu are both musts.

A whole fried fish lies on a platter covered in tomatoes, peppers, and onions at Akadi.
Whole fish at Akadi.
Molly J. Smith/Eater Portland

Excellent Cuisine Chinese Food Restaurant

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The legacy of the space now home to Excellent Cuisine — a Southeast Division dim sum hall, loud and bustling on Saturday mornings — is a hard one to live up to; Wong’s King’s status as Chinese food royalty in Portland is well known. But the piping hot, delicately folded dim sum served here is at a caliber that may supersede its predecessor. Wrappers of har gow retain the right spring, teeth ripping through to a core of juicy shrimp. Chiu Chow dumplings are clearly hand-made, filled generously but not too tightly for the right consistency after a steam, while red rice rolls are satisfyingly springy with a deep shrimp flavor. Sunny egg tarts, jiggling mango pudding set in duckling molds, and glistening buns make for a fine finish, easy to savor.

Lo gai mai, Chiu Chow, and shu mai dumplings at Excellent Cuisine, served with chile oil
A variety of dim sum dishes from Excellent Cuisine
Brooke Jackson-Glidden/Eater PDX

Oma's Hideaway

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Going to this Southeast Division Southeast Asian restaurant always feels like a party, from the first popping boba Jell-O shot to the Fruity Pebble rice crispy treat eaten on the way out. In a funky dining room decked out in marine wallpaper, diners dunk impossibly flaky roti canai in an earthy squash curry, slurp decadent laksa broth from a bowl piled with rice noodles and shrimp, and gnaw on baby back ribs sticky with fish sauce caramel. The true move here is to order anything out of the charcoal oven, in particular the succulent, lacquered char siu, available as a platter or as the star of the wonton mee.

On a red tablecloth, a pile of sweetbreads topped with an egg, a stir-fry of vegetables, a burger, and a cocktail all sit at Oma’s Hideaway.
Crispy curry sweetbreads on a pandan waffle sit among other plates at Oma’s Hideaway.
Molly J. Smith / EPDX

Jacqueline

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When Jacqueline opened on Southeast Clinton, it slowly became known as a Pacific Northwestern seafood restaurant, a place for $1 oysters and Dungeness crab toast. Both are still available at Jacqueline today — the former during happy hour, the latter on the dinner menu. However, this restaurant is far more than its blockbusters. Meals here should start with a flurry of raw dishes, like hamachi crudo, matched with the caramelized char of grilled pickled pineapple and the salty funk of mam nem. From there, lean heavily into vegetables, whether it’s a winter citrus salad with briny olives or the rich savoy cabbage with earthy salsa macha and huitlacoche butter. The restaurant’s family-style tasting menu, at $90 per person, is worth every cent.