In a city known for its many doughnuts, ice cream, and even patisseries, waiting for souffles and semifreddos in a restaurant can seem like an unnecessarily premature and unexciting way to end the night. But diners waving away dessert menus may be ignoring some of the best confections in Portland. This map features full-fledged restaurants that offer some of the most satisfying desserts in the city, featuring a diversity of goods from Basque cheesecake and Cuban flan to butterscotch budino and profiteroles.Read More
11 Portland Restaurants Where Dessert Steals The Show
Find the restaurants hiding Portland's best sweet treats
Triple Chocolate Cake at Papa Haydn
Although Papa Haydn, an old school Portland institution, is famed for its extensive pastry case, the triple chocolate cake stands out from the rest due to its relative simplicity. Diners looking for an elevated version of a nostalgic, birthday-party-style chocolate cake should look no further. The restaurant has several other cakes worth sampling, and the old-school NW location has plenty of room for groups looking to skip straight to dessert.
Paris-Brest at Canard
Delicate choux pastry is piped into a circle — representing a bicycle wheel in the Paris-Brest-Paris race — to create this dessert found at patisseries all over France. At the French-ish bistro Canard, the dessert is a menu staple that’s stuck around for the long haul, getting the occasional refresh with new toppings. Recently, diners have enjoyed it with chocolate mousse piped inside, finished with cherries and a white cocoa crumb.
Fois Gras Profiteroles at Le Pigeon
It can be argued that Le Pigeon, a tiny, intimate restaurant almost hidden away on busy Burnside, is one of Portland’s most quintessential restaurants. James Beard-winning chef Gabriel Rucker always finds a way to give traditional French fare a Portland twist, pairing beef bourguignon with Pacific Northwest produce like corn and green beans. The foie gras profiteroles — cream puffs that are sliced and filled with foie gras ice cream — are no exception to this rule; the caramel-drenched puffs are considered one of the city’s most iconic dishes.
Sour Cherry Vareniki at Kachka
A meal at Kachka, an airy, expansive restaurant that manages to be a cross between Portland’s new architecture and a Russian grandmother’s dining room, is a celebration of Slavic food through and through. Although diners can order Russian drinking food and booze like “herring under a fur coat” (a Russian seven-layer dip) and horseradish-infused vodka, the dumplings are a perennial favorite. When pan-fried, the sour cherry vareniki taste like little bites of fresh deep-fried cherry pie.
Butterscotch Budino at Nostrana
Iconic in its simplicity, the butterscotch budino at Cathy Whims’ lauded Italian restaurant borrows from another female powerhouse chef — Pizzeria Mozza co-owner Nancy Silverton and pastry chef Dahlia Narvaez’s budino has earned praise for its silky smooth texture and perfect sweet-salty balance. Luckily, Portlanders don’t have to make the trip to Los Angeles to try it. Nostrana recommends pairing with a glass of semi-dry Marsala oro for maximum enjoyment.
“Kinda Like a McFlurry” at OK Omens
OK Omens hit the scene as the now-closed Castagna’s hipper, cooler younger sister, skipping tweezer food and prix fixe menus in favor of bottles of natural wine and fried chicken dusted with Sichuan peppercorn. The dessert menu here can be overshadowed by the impressive and reasonably priced wine and fun dinner menu, but a meal at Ok Omens isn’t complete without something sweet. The pastry menu is equally as creative, offering a take on McDonalds’ famed McFlurry made with house-made ice cream, butterfingers, and chocolate.
Flan at Pambiche
Dining at Pambiche always feels like a mini-vacation, thanks to its generous sidewalk seating and colorful interior set to a soundtrack of traditional Cuban music. The extensive dessert menu completes the restaurant’s vacation vibe, featuring cakes made with tropical flavors like guava, pineapple, lime and more. The flan, however, is a traditional Cuban caramel custard with silken texture — even considering its simplicity, it’s the star of the dessert menu.
Tarta de Queso at Urdaneta
There are several places that serve good cheesecake in Portland, but only one that does it in the style of Spain’s Basque region: Urdaneta. At first, Urdaneta’s version looks like a mistake, with no crust, a deflated center, and a burnt, blackened exterior — but every bite is silky soft, with just the right amount of tartness. Urdaneta’s intimate, cozy setting feels like the right fit for the fluffy cake, especially with a glass of rare sherry.
Es Cendol at Wajan
Cendol, a cold, soupy dessert popular across Southeast Asia, does well to temper the spicy flavors of Wajan’s rendang sapi or udang belado at the end of a meal. Pandan-flavored, worm-shaped jellies float in palm sugar-sweetened coconut milk, ready to be slurped, under a mound of shaved ice. The optional topping of diced jackfruit adds another layer to the dessert’s textural profile.
Candy Tray at Coquine
Coquine, a celebrated neighborhood spot on SE Belmont, offers some of Portland’s most “grown-up” cuisine with dishes like a milk-braised sugo and a classic roast chicken for the table to share. Although its menu can seem traditional, Coquine adds unique touches like offering a “dim-sum style” candy tray. Diners can choose from a selection of sweets like pate de fruit and the famed smoked almond, salted caramel, and chocolate chip cookies to end their meal.
Pineapple Egg Yolk Buns at HK Cafe
Dining at HK Cafe can be an overwhelming experience; there are long waits and big crowds (especially on the weekends), and dim sum carts can sometimes zip by your table at the speed of lightning, making it hard to navigate the restaurant’s extensive offerings. But those willing to brave the chaos are rewarded with some of the city’s best dim sum. For dessert, diners must order the pineapple egg yolk buns — the buns don’t contain any pineapple (instead, the name refers to the sugar-crusted topping, which is meant to resemble the outside of a pineapple), but are filled with warm, creamy custard that explodes in your mouth with every bite.