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A whole blackened fish sits on a blue plate at Kann, with a lei of herbs and edible flowers.
A whole fish at Kann.
Eva Kosmas Flores

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

The highly anticipated Haitian restaurant from a Top Chef star, a hidden ramen shop topping bowls with shaved truffle, and other noteworthy new spots to try around town

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A whole fish at Kann.
| Eva Kosmas Flores

As a city rife with turnover and 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.

The pandemic has been a particularly brutal for the restaurant industry: The lingering presence of COVID-19 has forced chefs and restaurant owners to think on their feet, creating brand-new business models with barely any capital. Some people, who had big restaurant plans in 2020, had to push back their opening dates. However, those that were able to open often created experiences and dishes that somehow remained creative during a morose, exhausting time.

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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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

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. Plump shrimp swim in an earthy 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.

Tartuca

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This brick-walled, intimate spot exudes mid-week date night energy. Italian orange wine flows while couples dip crostini into flaky branzino dip, subtly briny with a zing of lemon. Juicy harukei turnips sit on a jammy collection of melted alliums, before a soft-crusted pizza lands at the table, topped with mushrooms and coppa. The orecchiette, tossed in green garlic pesto, gets a sweet dose of preserved lemons chef Jamie Wilcox harvested from her partner’s parents’ property years ago. This place may feel casual and inviting, but it’s clear the team here is passionate about what they do.

A bowl of noodles is covered in green flecks and charred raab at Tartuca in Portland, Oregon.
Orecchiette with green garlic pesto and preserved lemon.
Brooke Jackson-Glidden/Eater Portland

La Fondita/Taqueria Los Ponchos

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These two businesses, which run side-by-side at a shared address, are the homes of two facets of República’s team. To the left, Doña Chapis, previously spotted flipping tortillas on República’s comal, runs La Fondita; she does the same here, grabbing handfuls of masa to press for tacotes and quesadillas. She passes the tortillas, wrapped warm in a cloth napkin, across the counter to diners, who sop up smoky-sweet mole the color of clay or a brick-red pozole topped with thin slices of watermelon radish. To the right, the Torres family runs Taqueria Los Ponchos; many Torreses have worked in the República kitchen. A projector plays black-and-white movies on the white cement walls next to a long bar, where bartenders shake Oregon strawberries with hibiscus and lemon verbena. This is, truly, a taco bar, where shots of mezcal arrive alongside thin multicolored masa tortillas, filled with rich, fall-apart pieces of cabeza or shavings of al pastor from the trompo (a rarity in Portland proper). The result: A full day’s worth of top-tier Mexican dining.

Dolly Olive

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The newest restaurant from the Sesame Collective group, Dolly Olive hews more Italian, serving handmade pastas tossed with pesto and spring peas alongside glasses of Sicilian white wine. Some of the restaurant’s finest dishes emerge from the grill, like a thick slab of cauliflower balanced on a pile of farro, zippy with sun-dried tomato citronette. Another stunner: A tentacle of octopus, with just the right touch of bite, complemented by a rosé salsa verde. Just be sure to save room for dessert, like a glass of amaro and a trio of pistachio, cherry, and chocolate vegan gelatos.

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, which arrives accompanied by watermelon granita, layered with heat and the tiniest hint of smoke. A shockingly savory berry salad with young coconut and tomatoes precedes a whole branzino, hiding a layer of tender and potently flavorful stewed vegetables. 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.

Walking into Tanaka, you’re hit with the almost overwhelming smell of baking bread, buttery and toasty, while Motown plays over the speakers. Visitors pick from a case of pastries before landing at the counter, where they order hot sandwiches layered with a hunk of juicy katsu-fried meat. However, the sweets steal the show: The fruit and cream sandwiches exude the simple comfort of a strawberry shortcake, stiff vanilla chantilly cream suspending hunks of strawberry between two pieces of milk bread. For something a touch fussier, the yuzu tart is like the best lemon meringue pie you’ve ever had, with just a touch of perfume-y sweetness and the genius addition of micro-shiso for an herbal touch.

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 looking for a relaxed happy hour moment. But the kitchen produces some dishes that punch far above their weight. Here, fashionable Southeasters dunk the lightest, tiniest gougeres into green garlic aioli; 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 stone fruit and pickled blueberries. And for a grand finale, crisped pillows of ricotta gnocchi show off the season’s spoils, with burst sungold tomatoes and chunks of al dente summer squash. 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.

Tasty Corner Chinese Restaurant

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This shiny, new, minimally adorned downtown Chinese restaurant opened relatively quietly, but it has already become popular among Portland State University students seeking chile oil wontons and General Tso’s. The restaurant’s Sichuan standards are the true draw here: Tasty Corner’s rendition of mapo tofu may be one of the city’s best, whole salted black beans mingling with Sichuan peppercorn and ginger. Tasty Corner’s Chongqing chicken is also superb, a lightly dredged chicken velveted within an inch of its life, tossed with whole chiles and dry-fried green beans. For something simpler, the restaurant’s pea tips, simply stir-fried with plenty of garlic, add a nice, lightly sweet counterbalance to some of the spiced dishes.

Dough Zone

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This Seattle chain of Chinese restaurants opened its first Portland location in April, and a few months in, it feels like the sprawling waterfront restaurant has found its stride. Soup dumplings are impeccably constructed and satisfyingly savory, filled with Berkshire-Duroc pork — a heritage breed that has a darker, richer flavor. Dan dan noodles are chewy and tossed in a sauce tingly with ma la. Dishes made with dough are, of course, the move here, but the accordion-cut cucumbers are a refreshing addition ideal for summer.

Siam Umami

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Tucked away from Naito Parkway on South Corbett, Siam Umami’s approach to Thai food — in a city like Portland, rife with regional and hyper-specific Thai restaurants — falls under the royal Thai category, serving little violet flower-shaped dumplings and bite-sized balls of shrimp and carrots in a yolk-yellow webbing. The standout dish is likely its coconut-water-braised pork belly, its umami-laden richness cut by the addition of zucchini pickles. Siam Umami is open for onsite dining, as well as delivery.

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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. Plump shrimp swim in an earthy 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.

Tartuca

A bowl of noodles is covered in green flecks and charred raab at Tartuca in Portland, Oregon.
Orecchiette with green garlic pesto and preserved lemon.
Brooke Jackson-Glidden/Eater Portland

This brick-walled, intimate spot exudes mid-week date night energy. Italian orange wine flows while couples dip crostini into flaky branzino dip, subtly briny with a zing of lemon. Juicy harukei turnips sit on a jammy collection of melted alliums, before a soft-crusted pizza lands at the table, topped with mushrooms and coppa. The orecchiette, tossed in green garlic pesto, gets a sweet dose of preserved lemons chef Jamie Wilcox harvested from her partner’s parents’ property years ago. This place may feel casual and inviting, but it’s clear the team here is passionate about what they do.

A bowl of noodles is covered in green flecks and charred raab at Tartuca in Portland, Oregon.
Orecchiette with green garlic pesto and preserved lemon.
Brooke Jackson-Glidden/Eater Portland

La Fondita/Taqueria Los Ponchos

These two businesses, which run side-by-side at a shared address, are the homes of two facets of República’s team. To the left, Doña Chapis, previously spotted flipping tortillas on República’s comal, runs La Fondita; she does the same here, grabbing handfuls of masa to press for tacotes and quesadillas. She passes the tortillas, wrapped warm in a cloth napkin, across the counter to diners, who sop up smoky-sweet mole the color of clay or a brick-red pozole topped with thin slices of watermelon radish. To the right, the Torres family runs Taqueria Los Ponchos; many Torreses have worked in the República kitchen. A projector plays black-and-white movies on the white cement walls next to a long bar, where bartenders shake Oregon strawberries with hibiscus and lemon verbena. This is, truly, a taco bar, where shots of mezcal arrive alongside thin multicolored masa tortillas, filled with rich, fall-apart pieces of cabeza or shavings of al pastor from the trompo (a rarity in Portland proper). The result: A full day’s worth of top-tier Mexican dining.

Dolly Olive

The newest restaurant from the Sesame Collective group, Dolly Olive hews more Italian, serving handmade pastas tossed with pesto and spring peas alongside glasses of Sicilian white wine. Some of the restaurant’s finest dishes emerge from the grill, like a thick slab of cauliflower balanced on a pile of farro, zippy with sun-dried tomato citronette. Another stunner: A tentacle of octopus, with just the right touch of bite, complemented by a rosé salsa verde. Just be sure to save room for dessert, like a glass of amaro and a trio of pistachio, cherry, and chocolate vegan gelatos.

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, which arrives accompanied by watermelon granita, layered with heat and the tiniest hint of smoke. A shockingly savory berry salad with young coconut and tomatoes precedes a whole branzino, hiding a layer of tender and potently flavorful stewed vegetables. 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.

Tanaka

Walking into Tanaka, you’re hit with the almost overwhelming smell of baking bread, buttery and toasty, while Motown plays over the speakers. Visitors pick from a case of pastries before landing at the counter, where they order hot sandwiches layered with a hunk of juicy katsu-fried meat. However, the sweets steal the show: The fruit and cream sandwiches exude the simple comfort of a strawberry shortcake, stiff vanilla chantilly cream suspending hunks of strawberry between two pieces of milk bread. For something a touch fussier, the yuzu tart is like the best lemon meringue pie you’ve ever had, with just a touch of perfume-y sweetness and the genius addition of micro-shiso for an herbal touch.

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 looking for a relaxed happy hour moment. But the kitchen produces some dishes that punch far above their weight. Here, fashionable Southeasters dunk the lightest, tiniest gougeres into green garlic aioli; 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 stone fruit and pickled blueberries. And for a grand finale, crisped pillows of ricotta gnocchi show off the season’s spoils, with burst sungold tomatoes and chunks of al dente summer squash. 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.

Tasty Corner Chinese Restaurant

This shiny, new, minimally adorned downtown Chinese restaurant opened relatively quietly, but it has already become popular among Portland State University students seeking chile oil wontons and General Tso’s. The restaurant’s Sichuan standards are the true draw here: Tasty Corner’s rendition of mapo tofu may be one of the city’s best, whole salted black beans mingling with Sichuan peppercorn and ginger. Tasty Corner’s Chongqing chicken is also superb, a lightly dredged chicken velveted within an inch of its life, tossed with whole chiles and dry-fried green beans. For something simpler, the restaurant’s pea tips, simply stir-fried with plenty of garlic, add a nice, lightly sweet counterbalance to some of the spiced dishes.

Dough Zone

This Seattle chain of Chinese restaurants opened its first Portland location in April, and a few months in, it feels like the sprawling waterfront restaurant has found its stride. Soup dumplings are impeccably constructed and satisfyingly savory, filled with Berkshire-Duroc pork — a heritage breed that has a darker, richer flavor. Dan dan noodles are chewy and tossed in a sauce tingly with ma la. Dishes made with dough are, of course, the move here, but the accordion-cut cucumbers are a refreshing addition ideal for summer.

Siam Umami

Tucked away from Naito Parkway on South Corbett, Siam Umami’s approach to Thai food — in a city like Portland, rife with regional and hyper-specific Thai restaurants — falls under the royal Thai category, serving little violet flower-shaped dumplings and bite-sized balls of shrimp and carrots in a yolk-yellow webbing. The standout dish is likely its coconut-water-braised pork belly, its umami-laden richness cut by the addition of zucchini pickles. Siam Umami is open for onsite dining, as well as delivery.

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