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Janken’s steak tartare, which comes with milk bread toasts.
Steak tartare at Janken.
Thomas Teal/Eater Portland

The Hottest New Restaurants and Food Carts in Portland, December 2022

Black-truffle-studded steak tartare, juicy char siu, and other noteworthy dishes from new spots around town

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Steak tartare at Janken.
| Thomas Teal/Eater Portland

As a city rife with turnover, sitting comfortably on the culinary cutting edge, Portland sees restaurants open doors with regularity, hoping to make a splash in a town that’s overabundant with talent for its size. Some of those newcomers become the talk of the town quickly, among food writers or neighborhood regulars in search of something special.

Thus, we present the Eater Heatmap, which covers some of the exciting restaurants that have opened in the past six months. Know of a spot that should be on our radar? Send us a tip by emailing pdx@eater.com.

Note: Health experts consider dining out to be a high-risk activity for the unvaccinated; it may pose a risk for the vaccinated, especially in areas with substantial COVID transmission.

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Pastificio d’Oro

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Many Portland restaurants make pasta in house; few truly make it by hand, without extruders. At this St. Johns restaurant, in the former Gracie’s Apizza space, Chase Dopson rolls out dough with a plain-old pin, cutting tagliatelle and stamping out anolini for bowls of beautiful pasta. Pastifico d’Oro has a strong handle on the sophisticated simplicity of Italian food — dishes that may seem unadorned, but rely on hours of simmering, proofing, sweating, kneading, growing. Any visit may involve squash-stuffed tortelli tossed in cultured butter and sage, ribbons of pasta dressed in ragú, pillowy-not-gummy gnocchi with Castelmagno cheese sauce and hazelnuts. Sit out on the patio, or within the intimate restaurant space.

Masala Lab PDX

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This Indian American brunch spot from the man behind food cart Desi PDX knocked it out of the park within its first days open. The MLK space gives off the vibe of an early 2000s breakfast cafe, with pops of orange and wooden booths. Shrimp swim in a chile-laden tikka mole, sitting on a thick-grained grit with a hint of savory coconut, alongside tart pickled radishes and stewed greens. Well-seasoned fried chicken comes with a dunk of green chutney on a crispy pakora waffle. And for dessert, slices of sweet mango cake get a drizzle of rhubarb syrup, best enjoyed alongside a cup of spiced coffee.

Heavenly Creatures

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The candle-lit and boisterous dining room of this Broadway restaurant evokes memories of Barcelona wine bars, glasses of wine held in one hand while another swipes a potato chip through a cloud of aerated Camembert. Heavenly Creatures comes from chef Aaron Barnett and sommelier Joel Gunderson, the opening team at Eater 38 stalwart St. Jack; Barnett seems looser and more relaxed here, serving casual, sometimes rustic, primally tasty dishes. A fat slab of crusty bread slathered in tonnato with capers and yellowtail is a Bizarro World bagel with lox and schmear, while a grilled pork iberico balances a salty hit of anchovy with a garnish of fresh mint. That Camembert is a must-order.

Scholar

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This Northeast Broadway Italian restaurant has only been open since late August, but walking past, you’d think it’s been in the neighborhood forever: Surrounded by brick walls and tableside lamps, couples and groups of friends laugh and toast over the jazz playing on the speakers, as kale Caesars and chicken Parmesan land among their plates. Many of the dishes remain rooted in tradition, with a few smart tweaks — a lamb ragù announces itself with the wafting scent of pecorino, in a surprisingly bright tomato sauce bolstered with hunks of lamb. But the wildest dish on the menu — crispy-fried chicken livers tossed in a bracing Buffalo sauce, served on a bed of buttery polenta — is the clear star.

Jojo (the Restaurant)

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While Jojo’s bright-blue Southeast Powell cart had already developed a rabid following for its fried chicken sandwiches and crispy potato wedges, the restaurant — a stylish, ’70s-retro-vibed spot in the Pearl District — is a step above the original cart, with an expanded menu including a variety of memorable additions. The cocktails have a silliness that matches the Jojo menu and owner Justin Hintze’s voice, whether it’s a Hypnotiq-spiked, lemon vodka drink with the vegetal sweetness of carrot, or a chocolate-banana milkshake with Cocoa Pebbles cereal milk and a dose of Green Chartreuse. The vegan menu items are just as tasty as the longstanding hits, if not more: Spicy jojos dressed in Nashville hot “dust” and a vegan cheese sauce are satisfyingly messy and maximalist, and the hulking slabs of fried tofu on the sandwiches are crunchy with a fluffy, spongy interior. And with desserts like vanilla bean pavlova accompanied by Key lime curd and cola-macerated cherries, it’s really hard to leave without a bite of something sweet.

Jacob & Sons

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Don’t get too confused by the setup at this Northwest Portland Jewish deli; while dine-in is off the table for now, it’s still open for delivery and takeout orders of next-level pickles and cured meats. Owner Noah Jacob spent time at California deli Wise Sons before opening this catering-company-turned-restaurant, where he now serves super dilly matzo ball soups with the tiniest hint of ginger alongside a knockout Reuben with plenty of house kraut and pastrami. We mean it, though — don’t leave without a quart of pickles, especially half-sours when available.

Opening just under the wire, this Pearl District pan-Asian spot could be one of the best restaurants to open this year. The space is stunning, all soft tones and low lighting with a sprawling cherry tree at the center of the dining room. Steak tartare arrives at the table looking flashy, petals of shaved black truffle showing off. The truffle flavor in the final dish is subtle, with a real elegance; onions marinated in paprika oil round out the dish, giving it a strong base note of allium. Short ribs, tucked in folded bao buns, are simultaneously juicy and silky, with a brightness provided by shiso. And the restaurant’s triumphant Peking duck, arriving at the table with steamer basket of chun bing, is all about its skin, potato-chip-crispness giving way to a ribbon of luscious rendered fat. Stick around for one of Gabriella Martinez’s desserts, like her cheesecake-studded bingsu.

Fortune BBQ Noodle House

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In the glass case of this tiny Montavilla storefront, glistening ducks hang from wire hooks alongside lengthy cuts of char siu and whole racks of spare ribs. The Chinese barbecue here is astoundingly succulent, lacquered in sticky-sweet glaze that traps in moisture. It’s available on a rice plate, by the pound, and resting on a pile of noodles in a bowl of soup. When opting for the soup, it’s imperative to add a few of the restaurant’s dumplings, stuffed with plump shrimp.

Gregory Gourdet’s long-anticipated Haitian restaurant has finally opened, and it has exceeded expectations. Diners walk under a row of pothos plants before sitting down at round white tables, drinking cocktails covered in edible flowers. Any meal at Kann should start with butterfish accompanied by a chilly granita, layered with acidity and the tiniest hint of smoke from the hearth. Glazed duck is sticky with a cane syrup glaze, with notes of pineapple and tamarind lingering among its hearty savory notes. But it’s the peanut creamed greens, earthy and slightly sweet with mounting heat, that are perhaps the hardest to forget. Reservations can be tough to nab, but they’re available online.

Old Pal

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Upon first glance, this Sunnyside restaurant reads as a casual, neighborhood spot for a glass of wine and some tinned fish — and it can be that, for those seeking a happy hour moment. But the kitchen produces some dishes that punch far above their weight. Here, fashionable Southeasters dunk the lightest, tiniest gougeres into beer jam; they snack on savory, caraway-heavy kraut and citrusy pickled wax beans between sips of a skin contact pinot gris. Tall mounds of butter lettuce, tossed with sherry vinaigrette and tarragon, land at tables alongside plates of firm burrata surrounded by habanada peperonata. And for a grand finale, crisped pillows of ricotta gnocchi show off the season’s spoils, with foraged mushroom Bolognese and porcini cream. Sit outside on the sidewalk, or grab a seat the marble bar.

Menya Hokusei

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This ramen shop, hidden underneath the Hawthorne Bridge, isn’t the most intricately adorned spot in town, but it doesn’t matter — Menya Hokusei is focused on its noodles, and it shows. The ramen noodles here are made in house with Oregon grains, flecks of bran adding bite to each noodle. The broths here are precise and restrained without losing depth, in particular the mushroom-y umami Hokusei shoyu, a beef-and-chicken stock topped with shaved truffles and a slab of buttery rib-eye. For something more traditional, the restaurant’s miso is a fan favorite, with house-made, medium-thick massaged noodles.

Lilia Comedor

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At the newest spot from the team behind República, Pacific Northwestern cuisine is filtered through a Mexican American lens, translating into dishes like trout crudo nestled in a sweetly acidic Concord grape aguachile, or a chanterelle enchilada draped with silky guajillo adobo. Dishes here are highly seasonal, which means the hazelnut crumble perched atop a corn crème brûlée one week might be seen in a different dessert the next. Seats at the bustling chef’s counter are often open for walk-ins, giving diners the chance to see the heart of Juan Gomez’s domain — the restaurant is named after the former República sous chef’s late mother.

Street Disco

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This Foster-Powell pop-up-turned-restaurant exudes a laid-back energy that is reflected in their food. Servers deliver glasses of Slovenian rosé and chilled red to tables as diners wait for meatballs studded with pine nuts or chicories dressed in a celeriac dressing. Dishes at Street Disco are creative without overloading plates with unnecessary ingredients, making for a breezy dining experience from the first plate of oysters to the grand finale braised lamb neck. Reservations are available online.

Maisha PDX

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Historically, trying to find Kenyan food in Portland has been almost impossible — that fact proved particularly frustrating for Tachibana Sheikh, who spent his childhood in Kenya before his family made its way to the United States. Now, he runs his own Kenyan cart in Sellwood’s Piknik Park pod, stuffing pockets of mandazi with a salty-sour yellow curry and scooping a collard greens dish known as sukuma wiki over ugali, a savory maize flour porridge. Some of the dishes on the menu borrow from Somalian culinary traditions, considering his family’s roots there; bariis, a richly spiced rice dish, arrives with bananas and a pile of savory beef suqaar, made with faux beef. The kicker: The whole cart is vegan.

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Pastificio d’Oro

Many Portland restaurants make pasta in house; few truly make it by hand, without extruders. At this St. Johns restaurant, in the former Gracie’s Apizza space, Chase Dopson rolls out dough with a plain-old pin, cutting tagliatelle and stamping out anolini for bowls of beautiful pasta. Pastifico d’Oro has a strong handle on the sophisticated simplicity of Italian food — dishes that may seem unadorned, but rely on hours of simmering, proofing, sweating, kneading, growing. Any visit may involve squash-stuffed tortelli tossed in cultured butter and sage, ribbons of pasta dressed in ragú, pillowy-not-gummy gnocchi with Castelmagno cheese sauce and hazelnuts. Sit out on the patio, or within the intimate restaurant space.

Masala Lab PDX

This Indian American brunch spot from the man behind food cart Desi PDX knocked it out of the park within its first days open. The MLK space gives off the vibe of an early 2000s breakfast cafe, with pops of orange and wooden booths. Shrimp swim in a chile-laden tikka mole, sitting on a thick-grained grit with a hint of savory coconut, alongside tart pickled radishes and stewed greens. Well-seasoned fried chicken comes with a dunk of green chutney on a crispy pakora waffle. And for dessert, slices of sweet mango cake get a drizzle of rhubarb syrup, best enjoyed alongside a cup of spiced coffee.

Heavenly Creatures

The candle-lit and boisterous dining room of this Broadway restaurant evokes memories of Barcelona wine bars, glasses of wine held in one hand while another swipes a potato chip through a cloud of aerated Camembert. Heavenly Creatures comes from chef Aaron Barnett and sommelier Joel Gunderson, the opening team at Eater 38 stalwart St. Jack; Barnett seems looser and more relaxed here, serving casual, sometimes rustic, primally tasty dishes. A fat slab of crusty bread slathered in tonnato with capers and yellowtail is a Bizarro World bagel with lox and schmear, while a grilled pork iberico balances a salty hit of anchovy with a garnish of fresh mint. That Camembert is a must-order.

Scholar

This Northeast Broadway Italian restaurant has only been open since late August, but walking past, you’d think it’s been in the neighborhood forever: Surrounded by brick walls and tableside lamps, couples and groups of friends laugh and toast over the jazz playing on the speakers, as kale Caesars and chicken Parmesan land among their plates. Many of the dishes remain rooted in tradition, with a few smart tweaks — a lamb ragù announces itself with the wafting scent of pecorino, in a surprisingly bright tomato sauce bolstered with hunks of lamb. But the wildest dish on the menu — crispy-fried chicken livers tossed in a bracing Buffalo sauce, served on a bed of buttery polenta — is the clear star.

Jojo (the Restaurant)

While Jojo’s bright-blue Southeast Powell cart had already developed a rabid following for its fried chicken sandwiches and crispy potato wedges, the restaurant — a stylish, ’70s-retro-vibed spot in the Pearl District — is a step above the original cart, with an expanded menu including a variety of memorable additions. The cocktails have a silliness that matches the Jojo menu and owner Justin Hintze’s voice, whether it’s a Hypnotiq-spiked, lemon vodka drink with the vegetal sweetness of carrot, or a chocolate-banana milkshake with Cocoa Pebbles cereal milk and a dose of Green Chartreuse. The vegan menu items are just as tasty as the longstanding hits, if not more: Spicy jojos dressed in Nashville hot “dust” and a vegan cheese sauce are satisfyingly messy and maximalist, and the hulking slabs of fried tofu on the sandwiches are crunchy with a fluffy, spongy interior. And with desserts like vanilla bean pavlova accompanied by Key lime curd and cola-macerated cherries, it’s really hard to leave without a bite of something sweet.

Jacob & Sons

Don’t get too confused by the setup at this Northwest Portland Jewish deli; while dine-in is off the table for now, it’s still open for delivery and takeout orders of next-level pickles and cured meats. Owner Noah Jacob spent time at California deli Wise Sons before opening this catering-company-turned-restaurant, where he now serves super dilly matzo ball soups with the tiniest hint of ginger alongside a knockout Reuben with plenty of house kraut and pastrami. We mean it, though — don’t leave without a quart of pickles, especially half-sours when available.

Janken

Opening just under the wire, this Pearl District pan-Asian spot could be one of the best restaurants to open this year. The space is stunning, all soft tones and low lighting with a sprawling cherry tree at the center of the dining room. Steak tartare arrives at the table looking flashy, petals of shaved black truffle showing off. The truffle flavor in the final dish is subtle, with a real elegance; onions marinated in paprika oil round out the dish, giving it a strong base note of allium. Short ribs, tucked in folded bao buns, are simultaneously juicy and silky, with a brightness provided by shiso. And the restaurant’s triumphant Peking duck, arriving at the table with steamer basket of chun bing, is all about its skin, potato-chip-crispness giving way to a ribbon of luscious rendered fat. Stick around for one of Gabriella Martinez’s desserts, like her cheesecake-studded bingsu.

Fortune BBQ Noodle House

In the glass case of this tiny Montavilla storefront, glistening ducks hang from wire hooks alongside lengthy cuts of char siu and whole racks of spare ribs. The Chinese barbecue here is astoundingly succulent, lacquered in sticky-sweet glaze that traps in moisture. It’s available on a rice plate, by the pound, and resting on a pile of noodles in a bowl of soup. When opting for the soup, it’s imperative to add a few of the restaurant’s dumplings, stuffed with plump shrimp.

Kann

Gregory Gourdet’s long-anticipated Haitian restaurant has finally opened, and it has exceeded expectations. Diners walk under a row of pothos plants before sitting down at round white tables, drinking cocktails covered in edible flowers. Any meal at Kann should start with butterfish accompanied by a chilly granita, layered with acidity and the tiniest hint of smoke from the hearth. Glazed duck is sticky with a cane syrup glaze, with notes of pineapple and tamarind lingering among its hearty savory notes. But it’s the peanut creamed greens, earthy and slightly sweet with mounting heat, that are perhaps the hardest to forget. Reservations can be tough to nab, but they’re available online.

Old Pal

Upon first glance, this Sunnyside restaurant reads as a casual, neighborhood spot for a glass of wine and some tinned fish — and it can be that, for those seeking a happy hour moment. But the kitchen produces some dishes that punch far above their weight. Here, fashionable Southeasters dunk the lightest, tiniest gougeres into beer jam; they snack on savory, caraway-heavy kraut and citrusy pickled wax beans between sips of a skin contact pinot gris. Tall mounds of butter lettuce, tossed with sherry vinaigrette and tarragon, land at tables alongside plates of firm burrata surrounded by habanada peperonata. And for a grand finale, crisped pillows of ricotta gnocchi show off the season’s spoils, with foraged mushroom Bolognese and porcini cream. Sit outside on the sidewalk, or grab a seat the marble bar.

Menya Hokusei

This ramen shop, hidden underneath the Hawthorne Bridge, isn’t the most intricately adorned spot in town, but it doesn’t matter — Menya Hokusei is focused on its noodles, and it shows. The ramen noodles here are made in house with Oregon grains, flecks of bran adding bite to each noodle. The broths here are precise and restrained without losing depth, in particular the mushroom-y umami Hokusei shoyu, a beef-and-chicken stock topped with shaved truffles and a slab of buttery rib-eye. For something more traditional, the restaurant’s miso is a fan favorite, with house-made, medium-thick massaged noodles.

Lilia Comedor

At the newest spot from the team behind República, Pacific Northwestern cuisine is filtered through a Mexican American lens, translating into dishes like trout crudo nestled in a sweetly acidic Concord grape aguachile, or a chanterelle enchilada draped with silky guajillo adobo. Dishes here are highly seasonal, which means the hazelnut crumble perched atop a corn crème brûlée one week might be seen in a different dessert the next. Seats at the bustling chef’s counter are often open for walk-ins, giving diners the chance to see the heart of Juan Gomez’s domain — the restaurant is named after the former República sous chef’s late mother.

Street Disco

This Foster-Powell pop-up-turned-restaurant exudes a laid-back energy that is reflected in their food. Servers deliver glasses of Slovenian rosé and chilled red to tables as diners wait for meatballs studded with pine nuts or chicories dressed in a celeriac dressing. Dishes at Street Disco are creative without overloading plates with unnecessary ingredients, making for a breezy dining experience from the first plate of oysters to the grand finale braised lamb neck. Reservations are available online.

Maisha PDX

Historically, trying to find Kenyan food in Portland has been almost impossible — that fact proved particularly frustrating for Tachibana Sheikh, who spent his childhood in Kenya before his family made its way to the United States. Now, he runs his own Kenyan cart in Sellwood’s Piknik Park pod, stuffing pockets of mandazi with a salty-sour yellow curry and scooping a collard greens dish known as sukuma wiki over ugali, a savory maize flour porridge. Some of the dishes on the menu borrow from Somalian culinary traditions, considering his family’s roots there; bariis, a richly spiced rice dish, arrives with bananas and a pile of savory beef suqaar, made with faux beef. The kicker: The whole cart is vegan.

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