If it isn’t obvious at this point, eating healthy doesn't have to be boring. In Portland, the idea of dry chicken over brown rice with over-steamed broccoli turns the stomachs of chefs just like it does eaters, but eating fried chicken and ramen every day isn’t sustainable either. For that reason, several chefs have started serving knockout healthy dishes at their restaurants — even plain-old chicken and veggies — with the same care they give a beef bourguignon, tonkotsu broth, or bolognese. Accordingly, the below map pays honor to some of the best restaurants for healthy and delicious plates in Portland, from brunch to date night. (Note: The points on this map guide are not ranked; rather, they're organized geographically.)Read More
Healthy Portland Restaurant Plates That Don’t Feel Like a Bummer
Eating healthy shouldn’t suck
Ceviche Carretillero at Casa Zoraya
This homey and friendly Peruvian cafe makes a handful of fresh fish ceviches, but the ceviche carretillero is the standout, with the fish of the day, sweet potato, hominy, and just a bit of fried calamari. Those intimidated by the fried fish can skip the calamari with the simple ceviche pescado.
Acai Bowl at Carioca Bowls
There are a bajillion different places to get smoothie bowls in Portland, but Alberta’s Carioca Bowls, with its Trader-Joe’s-hippie-tiki vibes and thorough selection of acai bowls, is one of the top spots to find one. With the antioxidant-rich fruit adding a ton of flavor to the base, toppings like peanut butter, pumpkin seeds, and pistachios add nutrients, crunch, and flavor to each bowl.
Iceberg Salad at Yonder
Most probably don’t think they’ll find something healthy at a restaurant known for its fried chicken, but Yonder’s iceberg salad is quite possibly the best thing on the menu. With sumac pecans adding some protein and shaved veggies adding color contrast and crunch, it’s a reminder that Lovelace has always been a wizard with produce. Sure, it has some pickled ramp ranch and sourdough croutons, but it’s healthy enough — those who are more interested in the concept of a healthy lunch can add a fried chicken thigh on top for good measure.
Cioppino at Cabezon Restaurant
For something warm, hearty, and comforting, this cozy Rose City staple’s seafood stew is stocked with super fresh clams, Dungeness, wild white shrimp, shellfish, and other seafood in a lighter, tomato-based broth. The restaurant’s fish stock is also house-made, which cuts down on the weirdo preservatives found in boxed fish stocks.
Poke at Smokin Fire Fish
While there are several notable poke shops across Portland, this casual Broadway Hawaiian restaurant is an under-the-radar hotspot for poke and other classic Hawaiian fare. Smokin Fire Fish’s ahi pokes range from versions tossed in sweet shoyu and gochujang to the super-simple 1949, which is simply marinated in shoyu, served with sweet onion, green onion, sea salt, and ogo seaweed.
Grilled Chicken and Vegetables at Mama Bird
Chicken and veggies: The stereotypical low-carb meal that haunts every diet survivor’s dreams. However, this new wood-fired restaurant in Slabtown is making a stellar version of the dish, with pineapple-brined chicken and sauces like smoked garlic miso and vadouvan curry. The restaurant always has a rotating selection of grilled vegetables and a number of strong salads, to fill out the meal and bring some vitamins to the table.
Thali Plate at The Sudra
Splitting a thali at this casual Kerns vegan restaurant is a smart move for a mid-week date night. Super flavorful lentil kofta or tofu palak “paneer” come with black-eyed pea korma, lentil-tamarind stew, and various small salads and chutneys, all with layers of complicated spice and healthy protein. For single diners with small appetites, it’s hard to beat the restaurant’s roasted cauliflower with sweet-and-sour bell peppers.
Brunch at Tusk
Co-owned by Joshua McFadden, Portland's prince of produce (and the chef behind Ava Gene's), the bright and cheery Tusk makes an astonishingly flavorful, yet vegetable-driven, brunch, with plates like house-made hummus with house-made flatbread, and dishes of baked eggs with chickpeas, corn polenta with quince and carrots, and mezze-style platters of eggs, fruit, and olives. Plus, the menu has a few booze-free cocktails to sip in the airy space with Los Angeles vibes.
Chicken and Rice with Steamed Vegetables at Nong's Khao Man Gai
Nong’s Khao Man Gai should be a totally boring health food: Poached chicken and rice? Pass. But the tender poach on the chicken, the aromatic notes of Thai herbs permeating the meat and accompanying broth, and the flavor-packed ginger sauce make this one of Portland’s essential dishes, healthy or not. Those avoiding carbs can get a paleo version of the dish, which swaps the rice for steamed vegetables, or just add a side of vegetables to get some more green on the plate.
Tum and Laab at PaaDee
Building a healthy dinner out is fairly easy at chic Thai restaurant Paadee — sticking to the laab and tum menus is easy, with a variety of tangy and umami-rich salads to peruse. The simple som tum issan, with papaya and Thai eggplant, is a nice complement to lab khai jiew, a chopped thai omelet with curry rice crumbles. It’s very hard to go wrong.
Za’atar Bowl at La Luna Cafe
This pseudo-subterranean, artsy cafe is a people-pleaser — hardcore brunchers will still find their stacked Benedicts and syrup-dripping waffles, but their health-conscious compatriots won’t end up stuck with a boring yogurt parfait. All of the restaurant’s bowls are creative and veggie-heavy, but the za’atar bowl stands out, with za’atar-roasted vegetables, carrot top pistou, lentils, and goji-tahini cream. It’s killer with a baked egg; it’s even better with added Laurelhurst market lamb sausage.
Salads at Departure Restaurant + Lounge
There are a few restaurants with stellar seasonal salads on their menu — Park Avenue Fine Wines, Ava Gene’s, etc. — but the salads designed by culinary director Gregory Gourdet are often some of the strongest elements of any meal at the futuristic rooftop restaurant. Avoiding dairy and animal protein, the kitchen staff often uses things like cashews and coconut to add creaminess, with flavorful powerhouses like shiso, chile, and yuzu.
Bowls at Fermenter
It might feel tempting to call the Buckman vegan cafe Fermenter “simple” — it only has a few items on its menu, and the restaurant has very few seats — but each dish is wildly intricate, involving house-fermented pickles and krauts and Oregon-grown quinoa. The spicy cabbage and tempeh bowl, which comes with house black bean tempeh, spicy cabbage, and miso, is a highlight.
Chirashi at Nimblefish
This Hawthorne sushi counter is a favorite for Edomae-style fish, and its chirashi is one of the city’s best for the quality of seafood. It’s on the pricier side and the fish rotates seasonally, but the elegantly, generously sliced pieces of fish always impresses. There are several other lovely chirashi spots across the city, for those looking for something closer to home.