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A picture of a margherita pizza at Life of Pie
A margherita pizza from Life of Pie, which clocks in at $7.
Brooke Jackson-Glidden

17 Go-to Spots for Affordable Dining in Portland

Find the city's best inexpensive meals, from fried chicken to banh mi

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A margherita pizza from Life of Pie, which clocks in at $7.
| Brooke Jackson-Glidden

In the not-too-distant past, Portland was famous for incredible food deals at bars, restaurants, and food carts. Today, various consequences of the pandemic have made it much harder to stretch a dollar. Restaurants have been accumulating massive amounts of debt just to stay afloat, supply chain failures are affecting the costs of wholesale food, and restaurant workers have learned that they can’t work sustainably at the wages they were making before the pandemic. These factors have, understandably, raised the cost of a meal. Consumers should recognize that affordable food — whatever that means — is an extra level of service that restaurants can choose to provide, but shouldn’t always be expected to.

With that in mind, there are still a number of affordable dining options in the Portland area. Many chefs and owners believe in making food accessible to a larger population and recognize that the pandemic left many people financially struggling. Access to delicious, high-quality food should be available to all people, and many in the restaurant industry design their menus to make that possible.

This map showcases restaurants, food carts, and bars slinging filling meals like sandwiches, fried chicken, noodle soups, and more for under $12. New additions with the latest update include Momo Master, Taste Tickler, and the brand new Irving Street Tapas. Note that happy hours are only included if they are frequent and long-running; if you’re looking for happy hours specifically, we have a map for that. The restaurants on this map are not ranked; rather, they are organized geographically.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

1. Irving Street Tapas

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701 NW 13th Ave
Portland, OR 97209

This brand new Pearl District restaurant expands the definition of tapas to include small plates from many different cuisines around the globe. The goal is to offer diners small plates ranging from $4 to $10 dollars, making it very easy to build a full meal under $12 — for instance, a Spanish meal of $4 soft potato croquettes and $8 garlicky gambas al ajillo, or a combination of the $6 peri-peri chicken and the $5 beef-filled sambusas “bravas.” Co-owners Ajay Narayan and Paresh Warke have experience cooking in kitchens across the world, and are bringing flavors from their backgrounds in India to the table, as well, from vegetable samosas to their take on a pudina chicken. The restaurant is open for onsite dining.

2. Los Gorditos

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922 NW Davis St
Portland, OR 97209
(503) 445-6289
Visit Website

The local Mexican restaurant group started as a food cart on 50th and Division, and now has six locations across Portland, including food carts and restaurants. Every Gorditos location is casual and counter-service, and none of them break the bank, even for the enormous “garbage burritos” which stuff three types of meats, rice, beans, salsa, onions, sour cream, and cheese in a single, herculean tortilla for less than $11. It’s not just for meat eaters, though — Los Gorditos also has a sizable vegan menu at each spot with a variety of protein options to satisfy all diets. Los Gorditos is open for walk-in and online ordering. Some locations offer outdoor dining.

3. Wolf and Bear's

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3925 N Mississippi Ave
Portland, OR 97227
(503) 453-5044
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With two hippie-friendly food cart locations in Portland, Wolf and Bear’s vegetarian-pleasing menu is never too far away. Tender falafel, house-made hummus, roasted red peppers, grilled onions, and eggplant are wrapped in a warm pita for $8.50, while the super-smooth hummus bowl is just $6.50. Wolf and Bear’s offers walk-up and online ordering.

4. Life of Pie Pizza

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3632 N Williams Ave
Portland, OR 97219
(503) 719-7321
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Outside of happy hour, a margherita pizza for one at the casually rustic Life of Pie costs $12, but during happy hour, that drops down to just $7. The best part? Happy hour runs every day for seven whole hours, from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. It’s best eaten on the patio of the restaurant with a cold beer, as the extra-thin crust doesn’t hold up to travel for long. Happy hour margheritas are available for outdoor dining and pick-up. Call-in orders are welcome.

5. Alberta Market

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909 NE Alberta St
Portland, OR 97211

The iconic Alberta Market convenience store is a North Portland staple for its fried chicken wings, which have hovered at a nearly unbelievable price since opening. The wings are wonderfully crispy and golden, but no order is complete without a side of jojos, the large wedges of fried potatoes. Four wings and jojos clocks in at just $5.50. The market is walk-in only.

6. Pepper Box Cafe

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932 SE Morrison St
Portland, OR 97214
(503) 841-5004
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For Southwestern flavors like sopapillas and migas, the colorful Pepper Box Cafe is the place to visit for breakfast and lunch. The real deal here is the $5.25 Primo breakfast taco, an egg-and-pastrami taco with pickled hot peppers, onions, pepper jack cheese, and chipotle crema. It’s a potent cure-all for rough mornings after a night out. If that’s not decadent enough, the massive New Mexico-style smothered breakfast burrito is still just $6. Pepper Box Cafe is open for dine-in, as well as walk-up and call-in takeout orders.

Eggs, pastrami, and chipotle crema cover a charred flour tortilla at Pepper Box.
Primo taco at Pepper Box
Nick Woo

7. The Taste Tickler

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1704 NE 14th Ave
Portland, OR 97212
(503) 282-3681
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This classic old Portland shop on Broadway has been passed down from owner to owner for decades, largely without changing the simple and honest sandwich menu that has made the Taste Tickler a cult favorite among Portlanders. In its current form, the sandwich shop serves ten-inch subs laden with options ranging from ham and salami to BBQ chicken or bulgogi. Each ten-inch sub costs around $10, but for the truly thrifty, the move is to splurge for the fourteen-inch sub, which is massive enough to constitute two meals. The shop also offers filling bento boxes for under $10. The Taste Tickler is open for walk-up and call-in orders seven days a week.

8. PDX Sliders

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1605 SE Bybee Blvd #5714
Portland, OR 97202
(971) 717-5271
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The sandwiches at these two laid-back counter-service locations in Southeast barely count as sliders — at around $6 each, they’re practically the size of an average burger, especially with options like the Steel, a double cheeseburger that easily dwarves the average burger patty in town and comes in at $6.75. Those who want fries can add them for a few more dollars and stay around $10, as well as the recommended allowance of sodium for the week. PDX Sliders is open for indoor and outdoor dining, and customers can order in person or over the phone for takeout.

9. Momo Master

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1533 NE Alberta St
Portland, OR 97217
(503) 997-6901
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This new food cart off Alberta serves perfectly plump Nepalese dumplings alongside Kenyan coffee, merging the flavors of the two cuisines in a totally unique way. The titular momos are rich and filing and come with a small side of Kenyan tomato curry for dipping. At just $8 for six momos, they’re an accessible entry point to the worlds of Nepalese and Kenyan cuisines. Orders can be placed at the cart.

10. Basilisk

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820 NE 27th Avenue
Portland, OR

This micro counter-service restaurant in the hip, industrial Zipper complex serves a mammoth fried-chicken sandwich for $10; the crispy behemoth may be the best version of the quintessential sandwich in Multnomah County. For those who want some spice in their life, the Nashville-style hot chicken comes decently close to the real thing, served searingly hot on a thick slice of white bread with pickles, also for $10. Orders can be placed in person or online, check the website for wait times.

11. Portland Cà Phê

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2815 SE Holgate Blvd
Portland, OR 97202

This Vietnamese coffee shop from roaster Kimberly Dam generated serious buzz when it opened in April 2020, slinging cà phê sữa đá, ube and cardamom-flavored lattes, and inventive pastries. Like other restaurants on this map, the move here is sandwiches, in this case bánh mì. Provided by Dam’s mother’s House of Bánh Mì, the sandwiches are just $6, with several grilled meat options and two different tofu choices available for vegetarians. The bánh mì come slathered with rich egg butter, pickled vegetables, cucumbers, and soy sauce — perfectly refreshing on a hot day. Orders can be placed in person or online.

12. An Xuyen Bakery

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5345 SE Foster Rd
Portland, OR 97206
(503) 788-0866
Visit Website

This cramped, family-owned bakery packs its shelves with all sorts of baked goods, from Thai green tea cakes and Chinese almond cookies to steamed bao and fluffy wrapped hot dogs. The show-stealer is the bánh mì sandwich on fluffy house-baked bread, which is one of the city’s best. Options like pork belly, bbq pork, and pâté will satisfy those who eat meat, while a few vegetarian options round it out for those who don’t; none of them are over $5.

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And we back and we back.

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13. Tambayan Restaurant

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6014 SE Foster Rd
Portland, OR 97206
(503) 777-4217
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Serving Filipino plates long before the cuisine's recent rise in buzz, Tambayan knocks out a fleet of hulking $7.99 combo plates, with options like fried chicken and sweet longganisa sausages, served with a fried egg and a nourishing garlic rice that'd slay a vampire. The vibe is low-key cafe, with the food being the main draw. Orders can be placed over the phone or in person.

A plate of lumpia, adobo, and more from Portland Filipino restaurant Tambayan
A table full of dishes from Tambayan
Mattie John Bamman

14. Portland Mercado

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7238 SE Foster Rd
Portland, OR 97206
(971) 200-0581
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This map could have been entirely filled just by the vividly colored food carts at Portland Mercado. Whether it’s the meat-stuffed arepas at La Arepa, the empanadas at Qué Bacano!, or the tortas at the new Principe Maya, it’s easy to visit every day of the week and find a different lunch for under $10. It’s also an integral part of the Latin-American community here in Portland.

15. Kenny's Noodle House

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8305 SE Powell Blvd
Portland, OR 97266
(503) 771-6868
Visit Website

A cozy, busy little diner just past 82nd Avenue on SE Powell, Kenny’s Noodle House is all about the soups — steaming bowls of wontons, noodles, pork bits, and bok choy, not to mention the dozens of other varieties of noodle soups. Basically everything here clocks under $10, even the “large” size bowls which are more than enough for the average diner. There’s also customizable congee, dumplings, and vegetables, making it an easy meal to share. Orders can be placed over the phone or in person.

16. Phở DaLat Restaurant

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10232 NE Sandy Blvd
Portland, OR 97220
(503) 252-1536

A relaxed, spacious diner, Phở Dalat is a reliable stop for one of Portland’s most ubiquitous dishes, especially for those on their way to or from the airport. The bowls of beef broth, tender noodles, and accoutrements like tripe, round steak, and tendon are all around $10, including its signature Phở Dalat Dac Biet, with all sorts of beef bites includes steak, flank, and brisket. Orders can be placed over the phone or in person.

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Rainy days #portland

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17. Birrieria PDX

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16544 SE Division St
Portland, OR 97236
(971) 336-6804
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It may be physically impossible to leave this Centennial birria cart hungry. With a foundation of tender, methodically spiced birria, the menu of this cart ranges from crunch wraps with hot cheetos, to traditional quesabirria oozing with cheese, to ramen made with the braised beef’s consomme — all of them under $10. For $11, customers can get a smattering of various birria treats like vampiros, quesatacos, and mulitas, with a side of consomme for dipping. The cart has some picnic tables outside for those who want to eat there, but expect a wait on the weekends.

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1. Irving Street Tapas

701 NW 13th Ave, Portland, OR 97209

This brand new Pearl District restaurant expands the definition of tapas to include small plates from many different cuisines around the globe. The goal is to offer diners small plates ranging from $4 to $10 dollars, making it very easy to build a full meal under $12 — for instance, a Spanish meal of $4 soft potato croquettes and $8 garlicky gambas al ajillo, or a combination of the $6 peri-peri chicken and the $5 beef-filled sambusas “bravas.” Co-owners Ajay Narayan and Paresh Warke have experience cooking in kitchens across the world, and are bringing flavors from their backgrounds in India to the table, as well, from vegetable samosas to their take on a pudina chicken. The restaurant is open for onsite dining.

701 NW 13th Ave
Portland, OR 97209

2. Los Gorditos

922 NW Davis St, Portland, OR 97209

The local Mexican restaurant group started as a food cart on 50th and Division, and now has six locations across Portland, including food carts and restaurants. Every Gorditos location is casual and counter-service, and none of them break the bank, even for the enormous “garbage burritos” which stuff three types of meats, rice, beans, salsa, onions, sour cream, and cheese in a single, herculean tortilla for less than $11. It’s not just for meat eaters, though — Los Gorditos also has a sizable vegan menu at each spot with a variety of protein options to satisfy all diets. Los Gorditos is open for walk-in and online ordering. Some locations offer outdoor dining.

922 NW Davis St
Portland, OR 97209

3. Wolf and Bear's

3925 N Mississippi Ave, Portland, OR 97227

With two hippie-friendly food cart locations in Portland, Wolf and Bear’s vegetarian-pleasing menu is never too far away. Tender falafel, house-made hummus, roasted red peppers, grilled onions, and eggplant are wrapped in a warm pita for $8.50, while the super-smooth hummus bowl is just $6.50. Wolf and Bear’s offers walk-up and online ordering.

3925 N Mississippi Ave
Portland, OR 97227

4. Life of Pie Pizza

3632 N Williams Ave, Portland, OR 97219

Outside of happy hour, a margherita pizza for one at the casually rustic Life of Pie costs $12, but during happy hour, that drops down to just $7. The best part? Happy hour runs every day for seven whole hours, from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. It’s best eaten on the patio of the restaurant with a cold beer, as the extra-thin crust doesn’t hold up to travel for long. Happy hour margheritas are available for outdoor dining and pick-up. Call-in orders are welcome.

3632 N Williams Ave
Portland, OR 97219

5. Alberta Market

909 NE Alberta St, Portland, OR 97211

The iconic Alberta Market convenience store is a North Portland staple for its fried chicken wings, which have hovered at a nearly unbelievable price since opening. The wings are wonderfully crispy and golden, but no order is complete without a side of jojos, the large wedges of fried potatoes. Four wings and jojos clocks in at just $5.50. The market is walk-in only.

909 NE Alberta St
Portland, OR 97211

6. Pepper Box Cafe

932 SE Morrison St, Portland, OR 97214
Eggs, pastrami, and chipotle crema cover a charred flour tortilla at Pepper Box.
Primo taco at Pepper Box
Nick Woo

For Southwestern flavors like sopapillas and migas, the colorful Pepper Box Cafe is the place to visit for breakfast and lunch. The real deal here is the $5.25 Primo breakfast taco, an egg-and-pastrami taco with pickled hot peppers, onions, pepper jack cheese, and chipotle crema. It’s a potent cure-all for rough mornings after a night out. If that’s not decadent enough, the massive New Mexico-style smothered breakfast burrito is still just $6. Pepper Box Cafe is open for dine-in, as well as walk-up and call-in takeout orders.

932 SE Morrison St
Portland, OR 97214

7. The Taste Tickler

1704 NE 14th Ave, Portland, OR 97212

This classic old Portland shop on Broadway has been passed down from owner to owner for decades, largely without changing the simple and honest sandwich menu that has made the Taste Tickler a cult favorite among Portlanders. In its current form, the sandwich shop serves ten-inch subs laden with options ranging from ham and salami to BBQ chicken or bulgogi. Each ten-inch sub costs around $10, but for the truly thrifty, the move is to splurge for the fourteen-inch sub, which is massive enough to constitute two meals. The shop also offers filling bento boxes for under $10. The Taste Tickler is open for walk-up and call-in orders seven days a week.

1704 NE 14th Ave
Portland, OR 97212

8. PDX Sliders

1605 SE Bybee Blvd #5714, Portland, OR 97202

The sandwiches at these two laid-back counter-service locations in Southeast barely count as sliders — at around $6 each, they’re practically the size of an average burger, especially with options like the Steel, a double cheeseburger that easily dwarves the average burger patty in town and comes in at $6.75. Those who want fries can add them for a few more dollars and stay around $10, as well as the recommended allowance of sodium for the week. PDX Sliders is open for indoor and outdoor dining, and customers can order in person or over the phone for takeout.

1605 SE Bybee Blvd #5714
Portland, OR 97202

9. Momo Master

1533 NE Alberta St, Portland, OR 97217

This new food cart off Alberta serves perfectly plump Nepalese dumplings alongside Kenyan coffee, merging the flavors of the two cuisines in a totally unique way. The titular momos are rich and filing and come with a small side of Kenyan tomato curry for dipping. At just $8 for six momos, they’re an accessible entry point to the worlds of Nepalese and Kenyan cuisines. Orders can be placed at the cart.

1533 NE Alberta St
Portland, OR 97217

10. Basilisk

820 NE 27th Avenue, Portland, OR

This micro counter-service restaurant in the hip, industrial Zipper complex serves a mammoth fried-chicken sandwich for $10; the crispy behemoth may be the best version of the quintessential sandwich in Multnomah County. For those who want some spice in their life, the Nashville-style hot chicken comes decently close to the real thing, served searingly hot on a thick slice of white bread with pickles, also for $10. Orders can be placed in person or online, check the website for wait times.

820 NE 27th Avenue
Portland, OR

11. Portland Cà Phê

2815 SE Holgate Blvd, Portland, OR 97202

This Vietnamese coffee shop from roaster Kimberly Dam generated serious buzz when it opened in April 2020, slinging cà phê sữa đá, ube and cardamom-flavored lattes, and inventive pastries. Like other restaurants on this map, the move here is sandwiches, in this case bánh mì. Provided by Dam’s mother’s House of Bánh Mì, the sandwiches are just $6, with several grilled meat options and two different tofu choices available for vegetarians. The bánh mì come slathered with rich egg butter, pickled vegetables, cucumbers, and soy sauce — perfectly refreshing on a hot day. Orders can be placed in person or online.

2815 SE Holgate Blvd
Portland, OR 97202

12. An Xuyen Bakery

5345 SE Foster Rd, Portland, OR 97206

This cramped, family-owned bakery packs its shelves with all sorts of baked goods, from Thai green tea cakes and Chinese almond cookies to steamed bao and fluffy wrapped hot dogs. The show-stealer is the bánh mì sandwich on fluffy house-baked bread, which is one of the city’s best. Options like pork belly, bbq pork, and pâté will satisfy those who eat meat, while a few vegetarian options round it out for those who don’t; none of them are over $5.

5345 SE Foster Rd
Portland, OR 97206

13. Tambayan Restaurant

6014 SE Foster Rd, Portland, OR 97206
A plate of lumpia, adobo, and more from Portland Filipino restaurant Tambayan
A table full of dishes from Tambayan
Mattie John Bamman

Serving Filipino plates long before the cuisine's recent rise in buzz, Tambayan knocks out a fleet of hulking $7.99 combo plates, with options like fried chicken and sweet longganisa sausages, served with a fried egg and a nourishing garlic rice that'd slay a vampire. The vibe is low-key cafe, with the food being the main draw. Orders can be placed over the phone or in person.

6014 SE Foster Rd
Portland, OR 97206

14. Portland Mercado

7238 SE Foster Rd, Portland, OR 97206

This map could have been entirely filled just by the vividly colored food carts at Portland Mercado. Whether it’s the meat-stuffed arepas at La Arepa, the empanadas at Qué Bacano!, or the tortas at the new Principe Maya, it’s easy to visit every day of the week and find a different lunch for under $10. It’s also an integral part of the Latin-American community here in Portland.

7238 SE Foster Rd
Portland, OR 97206

15. Kenny's Noodle House

8305 SE Powell Blvd, Portland, OR 97266

A cozy, busy little diner just past 82nd Avenue on SE Powell, Kenny’s Noodle House is all about the soups — steaming bowls of wontons, noodles, pork bits, and bok choy, not to mention the dozens of other varieties of noodle soups. Basically everything here clocks under $10, even the “large” size bowls which are more than enough for the average diner. There’s also customizable congee, dumplings, and vegetables, making it an easy meal to share. Orders can be placed over the phone or in person.

8305 SE Powell Blvd
Portland, OR 97266

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16. Phở DaLat Restaurant

10232 NE Sandy Blvd, Portland, OR 97220

A relaxed, spacious diner, Phở Dalat is a reliable stop for one of Portland’s most ubiquitous dishes, especially for those on their way to or from the airport. The bowls of beef broth, tender noodles, and accoutrements like tripe, round steak, and tendon are all around $10, including its signature Phở Dalat Dac Biet, with all sorts of beef bites includes steak, flank, and brisket. Orders can be placed over the phone or in person.

10232 NE Sandy Blvd
Portland, OR 97220

17. Birrieria PDX

16544 SE Division St, Portland, OR 97236

It may be physically impossible to leave this Centennial birria cart hungry. With a foundation of tender, methodically spiced birria, the menu of this cart ranges from crunch wraps with hot cheetos, to traditional quesabirria oozing with cheese, to ramen made with the braised beef’s consomme — all of them under $10. For $11, customers can get a smattering of various birria treats like vampiros, quesatacos, and mulitas, with a side of consomme for dipping. The cart has some picnic tables outside for those who want to eat there, but expect a wait on the weekends.

16544 SE Division St
Portland, OR 97236

Related Maps