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A bowl of offwhite soup is topped with bacon bits and potato-chip-looking flakes, sitting on a wooden table at Cafe Olli next to a slice of pizza and a pickled vegetable salad.
Potato-celery soup with sunchoke chips at Cafe Olli.
Brooke Jackson-Glidden/EPDX

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

A Chinese restaurant specializing in a Yunnanese soup, a homey cafe serving tortellini and pavlova, and other noteworthy new spots to try around town

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Potato-celery soup with sunchoke chips at Cafe Olli.
| Brooke Jackson-Glidden/EPDX

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. However, 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 fun and 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. Per usual, this map is not ranked; it’s organized geographically.

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.

1. Burma Joy

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1305 NW 23rd Ave
Portland, OR 97210
(503) 206-8560
Visit Website

While Top Burmese, the Portland restaurant specializing in the cuisine of Myanmar, likes to explore Indian influence on the culinary traditions of the country, Burma Joy — its more youthful sister restaurant — investigates the Chinese techniques and ingredients in Burmese food. What that means: Burma Joy specializes in soothing noodle soups, ranging from the garlicky kyay oh with quail eggs to noodles tossed in a five-spice-based curry. The highlight seems to be the Majesty Noodles, in which squiggles of glass noodles curl around wood-ear mushrooms in a broth swirling with paprika and turmeric. Burma Joy is open for onsite dining, takeout, and delivery.

A bowl of chickpeas from Burma Joy in Portland, Oregon.
A chickpea salad from Burma Joy in Northwest Portland.
Burma Joy [Official]

2. Sunshine Noodles

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2175 NW Raleigh St Suite 105
Portland, OR 97210

Diane Lam’s pop-up-turned-restaurant, Sunshine Noodles, finally feels like it’s in a space where it belongs: an energetic noodle bar with glowing neon lights and makrut lime leaf gimlets. The beef noodle stew lands squarely between bo kho and minestrone, a deeply comforting place to be — hunks of brisket and tender carrots bathe in a deep tomato broth, with a tingle of jalapeño heat. Her new version of Phnom Penh noodles, dryer that the version at Psychic Bar, coats each egg noodle in an umami-laden sauce bright with white pepper, specks of ground pork and green onion circling fat little wontons and shrimp. And lort cha, short pin noodles tossed with holy basil and sticky sweet soy, is simply takeout gold. Order it for delivery or takeout, or dine onsite.

3. Somtum Thai Kitchen

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1924 SW Broadway Second floor
Portland, OR 97201
(503) 545-3261
Visit Website

Downtown Isan restaurant Somtum Thai Kitchen holds exactly zero punches: the wallop of bird’s eye chile in a tangle of yum woon sen, a glass noodle salad; the smack of white pepper in gaeng om kai, a chicken stew filled with Thai eggplant; the heavily savory notes in a pork larb; the sweet funk of fermented fish dressing in a corn-papaya salad. It has some of the boldest Thai flavors in town, and likely the spiciest. As such, it has rapidly shot up to Thai restaurant royalty in Portland.

4. Ramen Ryoma

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1037 SW Morrison St
Portland, OR 97205
(503) 221-5685
Visit Website

While downtown Portland is home to a few flashy noodle bars — Afuri with its yuzu-laced shio, for instance — Ramen Ryoma’s new location gives off the casual-yet-polished feel of a great neighborhood ramen spot. Ramen Ryoma specializes in Sapporo-style ramen, with its slightly heftier noodles and miso base, available in a variety of preparations. For the true Hokkaido experience, the shop’s butter and corn version is a comforting standby; spice aficionados may prefer the spicy umami ramen, which comes with a dollop of chile-laced ground pork. But one of Ramen Ryoma’s best features is its fall-apart, delicately sliced chashu, which evokes memories of the famous Tampopo pork-slicing scene. It’s open for onsite dining.

5. Poboyz Cajun Creole Kitchen

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132 SW 3rd Ave
Portland, OR 97204
(503) 206-7304
Visit Website

Former University of Oregon football player Randall Willhite started slinging po’boys out of a downtown Portland cart in 2019, but now, he’s graduated to a full-blown restaurant just down the street. In a dining room with black-painted wood paneling and a mirrored backbar, Willhite serves dishes like jambalaya, shrimp and grits, and etouffee inspired by lessons and conversations he had with Louisiana culinary greats. The shrimp po’boys here are exactly what you want them to be: Filled with perfectly cooked shrimp fried in a well-seasoned, crunchy batter, with a briny remoulade that smacks of paprika. That hit of paprika can also be found in Poboyz’s fine jambalaya, which gets a hit of sweetness from a handful fo diced yellow bell peppers. Poboyz is open for onsite dining and takeout.

A bowl of jambalaya with hunks of sausage, topped with green onions, from Poboyz restaurant in Portland, Oregon.
Sausage jambalaya from Poboyz. Poboyz, which started as a cart, now serves Cajun-Creole fare out of a new downtown Portland restaurant.
Brooke Jackson-Glidden/EPDX

6. Cafe Olli

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3925 NE Martin Luther King Jr Blvd
Portland, OR 97212

At Cafe Olli, the only piece of Ned Ludd that remains is its hulking brick oven, looming large behind the pale wood chef’s counter and white paper lanterns. It dominates the cafe’s menu, as well: pizzas with leopard-print char, beautiful baked eggs, and dark rustic loaves emerge from its gaping maw from breakfast to dinner. It’s hard to go wrong here — a slice of thick square pizza topped with whipped ricotta and bacon, a satin-smooth celery and potato soup finished with caramel-hued sunchoke chips, meticulously hand-made tortellini en brodo, rich dark chocolate pavlova. Any order, however, must include the whey soda, light and tangy, almost like a creamy limeade. Cafe Olli is open for onsite dining and takeout.

7. Feel Good PDX

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1120 SE Belmont St
Portland, OR 97214
(503) 719-6511
Visit Website

If his grilled chicken restaurant has shown us anything, it’s that Gabe Pascuzzi has a singular ability to take something simple and make it feel special. Grain bowls are generally pretty tired, often sacrificing finesse in favor of a low calorie count. However, at Feel Good, Pascuzzi’s latest shop, salads are so deeply flavorful and methodically constructed, it’s hard to compare them to what you’d find at a Sweetgreen. Charred pineapple ties the earthiness of roasted sweet potato to a sliver of raw grapefruit; meaty smoked beets come with a touch of fresh dill, almost like a slice of lox. Whatever those salads land on — quinoa, greens, even the abomination that is cauliflower rice — ends up being exciting. Feel Good is open for takeout and delivery.

A bowl of charred vegetables, radishes, and tofu sits on a table at Feel Good
A bowl from Feel Good.
Feel Good [Official]

8. Morchella

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1315 NE Fremont St
Portland, OR 97212
(503) 764-9941
Visit Website

This restaurant from chef Cameron Lee Dunlap is an exploration of wild and foraged foods beyond the usual suspects (looking at you, morels). Yes, you’ll find a creamy, subtly tangy chanterelle soup that is shockingly vegan, but also the restaurant’s house salad is a nutty and peppery mix of oxeye daisy greens, sheep sorrel, and chicory, sourced by the restaurant’s two on-staff foragers. Morchella’s venison steak comes on a thick, reduced, demi-glace-esque stock, with charred dandelion greens and soft sunchokes. And for dessert, vegan hazelnut panna cotta with compressed pear and yellow birch syrup. This is truly wild food, but on the plate, it fits right in. Morchella is open for indoor dining.

9. Qiao Noodle House

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1409 NE Weidler St
Portland, OR 97232
(971) 319-6159
Visit Website

In the Yunnan province of China, crossing-the-bridge noodles are ubiquitous: A cauldron of steamy broth, served with myriad little trays of meat, noodles, quail eggs, wood-ear mushrooms, vegetables, and tofu skins to add when the time seems right. They’re harder to find in the United States, especially Portland, and luckily, this new Northeast Portland restaurant serves an impeccable version of the dish: bouncy rice noodles swirl in a broth fortified with chicken bones and Sichuan peppercorn, with the added bonus of chiles in the “hot and spicy” version of the broth. Appetizers here are no afterthought, either: popcorn chicken velveted to the point of melt-in-your-mouth tenderness, cucumbers tossed in a chile-peanut dressing, or a cilantro-laden tofu skin salad. Qiao is open for takeout or onsite dining.

10. Wild Thing PDX

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1477 NE Alberta St #100
Portland, OR 97211

The premise behind Wild Thing is one that has been in vogue around the country (in places like LA and New York, in particular): going all-in on vegetables in a way that feels interesting and fun, lowering the carbon footprint of a restaurant without sacrificing actual flavor or culinary creativity. Enter: Wild Thing, the restaurant from Arden’s Kelsey Glasser and former Tusk chef de cuisine Sam Smith. Here, bowls of brown rice or tri-colored quinoa come topped with smoky cauliflower, or tender stewed white beans, or ginger-y beets. The use of earthy spices like paprika or cumin give the vegetables a nice depth, which balances the pop of acid provided by turmeric pickles. Plus, thanks to Glasser, the restaurant’s bottle selection is a who’s who of Oregon’s hottest winemakers, from Maloof to Golden Cluster.

11. Mole Mole Mexican Cuisine

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2231-2237 NE Alberta St
Portland, OR 97211
(503) 498-1749
Visit Website

The sheer output of Mole Mole is absolutely absurd: This tiny Alberta food cart makes everything from pozole rojo to mole to shrimp burritos, not to mention a full slate of tacos on tortillas striped with char from the comal. Any dish drenched in Mole Mole’s mole negro — be it an enchilada, a burrito, or taco — is a winner. Mole Mole is open for onsite dining at the cart, as well as takeout.

12. Thơm Portland

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3039 NE Alberta St
Portland, OR 97211
(971) 255-1947
Visit Website

The menu at this new Alberta Vietnamese restaurant is tiny — it doesn’t offer much more than vegan and beef pho, bun thit nuong, and five-spice chicken and rice. However, the things it does it does very well: The pho bo broth here is supremely beefy and just a touch sweet, complemented by thinly sliced brisket and springy meatballs. Thom is open for indoor and outdoor dining, as well as takeout.

13. Baon Kainan

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4311 NE Prescott St
Portland, OR 97218

Seattle expats Ethan and Geri Leung just opened their new Filipino cart in August, smothering fries in beefy kare kare and topping jackfruit-and-mushroom sisig with a plump soft-boiled egg. But the cart’s simplest dish — its chicken adobo — may be the city’s finest version of the Pinoy staple: The Leung’s juicy chicken comes coated in a tamari-vinegar sauce, best paired with the cart’s garlic rice. Those seeking something to sip will find things like black tea sweetened with calamansi simple syrup, and every meal should involve a square of Geri Leung’s salty-sweet ube bibingka.

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1. Burma Joy

1305 NW 23rd Ave, Portland, OR 97210
A bowl of chickpeas from Burma Joy in Portland, Oregon.
A chickpea salad from Burma Joy in Northwest Portland.
Burma Joy [Official]

While Top Burmese, the Portland restaurant specializing in the cuisine of Myanmar, likes to explore Indian influence on the culinary traditions of the country, Burma Joy — its more youthful sister restaurant — investigates the Chinese techniques and ingredients in Burmese food. What that means: Burma Joy specializes in soothing noodle soups, ranging from the garlicky kyay oh with quail eggs to noodles tossed in a five-spice-based curry. The highlight seems to be the Majesty Noodles, in which squiggles of glass noodles curl around wood-ear mushrooms in a broth swirling with paprika and turmeric. Burma Joy is open for onsite dining, takeout, and delivery.

1305 NW 23rd Ave
Portland, OR 97210

2. Sunshine Noodles

2175 NW Raleigh St Suite 105, Portland, OR 97210

Diane Lam’s pop-up-turned-restaurant, Sunshine Noodles, finally feels like it’s in a space where it belongs: an energetic noodle bar with glowing neon lights and makrut lime leaf gimlets. The beef noodle stew lands squarely between bo kho and minestrone, a deeply comforting place to be — hunks of brisket and tender carrots bathe in a deep tomato broth, with a tingle of jalapeño heat. Her new version of Phnom Penh noodles, dryer that the version at Psychic Bar, coats each egg noodle in an umami-laden sauce bright with white pepper, specks of ground pork and green onion circling fat little wontons and shrimp. And lort cha, short pin noodles tossed with holy basil and sticky sweet soy, is simply takeout gold. Order it for delivery or takeout, or dine onsite.

2175 NW Raleigh St Suite 105
Portland, OR 97210

3. Somtum Thai Kitchen

1924 SW Broadway Second floor, Portland, OR 97201

Downtown Isan restaurant Somtum Thai Kitchen holds exactly zero punches: the wallop of bird’s eye chile in a tangle of yum woon sen, a glass noodle salad; the smack of white pepper in gaeng om kai, a chicken stew filled with Thai eggplant; the heavily savory notes in a pork larb; the sweet funk of fermented fish dressing in a corn-papaya salad. It has some of the boldest Thai flavors in town, and likely the spiciest. As such, it has rapidly shot up to Thai restaurant royalty in Portland.

1924 SW Broadway Second floor
Portland, OR 97201

4. Ramen Ryoma

1037 SW Morrison St, Portland, OR 97205

While downtown Portland is home to a few flashy noodle bars — Afuri with its yuzu-laced shio, for instance — Ramen Ryoma’s new location gives off the casual-yet-polished feel of a great neighborhood ramen spot. Ramen Ryoma specializes in Sapporo-style ramen, with its slightly heftier noodles and miso base, available in a variety of preparations. For the true Hokkaido experience, the shop’s butter and corn version is a comforting standby; spice aficionados may prefer the spicy umami ramen, which comes with a dollop of chile-laced ground pork. But one of Ramen Ryoma’s best features is its fall-apart, delicately sliced chashu, which evokes memories of the famous Tampopo pork-slicing scene. It’s open for onsite dining.

1037 SW Morrison St
Portland, OR 97205

5. Poboyz Cajun Creole Kitchen

132 SW 3rd Ave, Portland, OR 97204
A bowl of jambalaya with hunks of sausage, topped with green onions, from Poboyz restaurant in Portland, Oregon.
Sausage jambalaya from Poboyz. Poboyz, which started as a cart, now serves Cajun-Creole fare out of a new downtown Portland restaurant.
Brooke Jackson-Glidden/EPDX

Former University of Oregon football player Randall Willhite started slinging po’boys out of a downtown Portland cart in 2019, but now, he’s graduated to a full-blown restaurant just down the street. In a dining room with black-painted wood paneling and a mirrored backbar, Willhite serves dishes like jambalaya, shrimp and grits, and etouffee inspired by lessons and conversations he had with Louisiana culinary greats. The shrimp po’boys here are exactly what you want them to be: Filled with perfectly cooked shrimp fried in a well-seasoned, crunchy batter, with a briny remoulade that smacks of paprika. That hit of paprika can also be found in Poboyz’s fine jambalaya, which gets a hit of sweetness from a handful fo diced yellow bell peppers. Poboyz is open for onsite dining and takeout.

132 SW 3rd Ave
Portland, OR 97204

6. Cafe Olli

3925 NE Martin Luther King Jr Blvd, Portland, OR 97212

At Cafe Olli, the only piece of Ned Ludd that remains is its hulking brick oven, looming large behind the pale wood chef’s counter and white paper lanterns. It dominates the cafe’s menu, as well: pizzas with leopard-print char, beautiful baked eggs, and dark rustic loaves emerge from its gaping maw from breakfast to dinner. It’s hard to go wrong here — a slice of thick square pizza topped with whipped ricotta and bacon, a satin-smooth celery and potato soup finished with caramel-hued sunchoke chips, meticulously hand-made tortellini en brodo, rich dark chocolate pavlova. Any order, however, must include the whey soda, light and tangy, almost like a creamy limeade. Cafe Olli is open for onsite dining and takeout.

3925 NE Martin Luther King Jr Blvd
Portland, OR 97212

7. Feel Good PDX

1120 SE Belmont St, Portland, OR 97214
A bowl of charred vegetables, radishes, and tofu sits on a table at Feel Good
A bowl from Feel Good.
Feel Good [Official]

If his grilled chicken restaurant has shown us anything, it’s that Gabe Pascuzzi has a singular ability to take something simple and make it feel special. Grain bowls are generally pretty tired, often sacrificing finesse in favor of a low calorie count. However, at Feel Good, Pascuzzi’s latest shop, salads are so deeply flavorful and methodically constructed, it’s hard to compare them to what you’d find at a Sweetgreen. Charred pineapple ties the earthiness of roasted sweet potato to a sliver of raw grapefruit; meaty smoked beets come with a touch of fresh dill, almost like a slice of lox. Whatever those salads land on — quinoa, greens, even the abomination that is cauliflower rice — ends up being exciting. Feel Good is open for takeout and delivery.

1120 SE Belmont St
Portland, OR 97214

8. Morchella

1315 NE Fremont St, Portland, OR 97212

This restaurant from chef Cameron Lee Dunlap is an exploration of wild and foraged foods beyond the usual suspects (looking at you, morels). Yes, you’ll find a creamy, subtly tangy chanterelle soup that is shockingly vegan, but also the restaurant’s house salad is a nutty and peppery mix of oxeye daisy greens, sheep sorrel, and chicory, sourced by the restaurant’s two on-staff foragers. Morchella’s venison steak comes on a thick, reduced, demi-glace-esque stock, with charred dandelion greens and soft sunchokes. And for dessert, vegan hazelnut panna cotta with compressed pear and yellow birch syrup. This is truly wild food, but on the plate, it fits right in. Morchella is open for indoor dining.

1315 NE Fremont St
Portland, OR 97212

9. Qiao Noodle House

1409 NE Weidler St, Portland, OR 97232

In the Yunnan province of China, crossing-the-bridge noodles are ubiquitous: A cauldron of steamy broth, served with myriad little trays of meat, noodles, quail eggs, wood-ear mushrooms, vegetables, and tofu skins to add when the time seems right. They’re harder to find in the United States, especially Portland, and luckily, this new Northeast Portland restaurant serves an impeccable version of the dish: bouncy rice noodles swirl in a broth fortified with chicken bones and Sichuan peppercorn, with the added bonus of chiles in the “hot and spicy” version of the broth. Appetizers here are no afterthought, either: popcorn chicken velveted to the point of melt-in-your-mouth tenderness, cucumbers tossed in a chile-peanut dressing, or a cilantro-laden tofu skin salad. Qiao is open for takeout or onsite dining.

1409 NE Weidler St
Portland, OR 97232

10. Wild Thing PDX

1477 NE Alberta St #100, Portland, OR 97211

The premise behind Wild Thing is one that has been in vogue around the country (in places like LA and New York, in particular): going all-in on vegetables in a way that feels interesting and fun, lowering the carbon footprint of a restaurant without sacrificing actual flavor or culinary creativity. Enter: Wild Thing, the restaurant from Arden’s Kelsey Glasser and former Tusk chef de cuisine Sam Smith. Here, bowls of brown rice or tri-colored quinoa come topped with smoky cauliflower, or tender stewed white beans, or ginger-y beets. The use of earthy spices like paprika or cumin give the vegetables a nice depth, which balances the pop of acid provided by turmeric pickles. Plus, thanks to Glasser, the restaurant’s bottle selection is a who’s who of Oregon’s hottest winemakers, from Maloof to Golden Cluster.

1477 NE Alberta St #100
Portland, OR 97211

11. Mole Mole Mexican Cuisine

2231-2237 NE Alberta St, Portland, OR 97211

The sheer output of Mole Mole is absolutely absurd: This tiny Alberta food cart makes everything from pozole rojo to mole to shrimp burritos, not to mention a full slate of tacos on tortillas striped with char from the comal. Any dish drenched in Mole Mole’s mole negro — be it an enchilada, a burrito, or taco — is a winner. Mole Mole is open for onsite dining at the cart, as well as takeout.

2231-2237 NE Alberta St
Portland, OR 97211

12. Thơm Portland

3039 NE Alberta St, Portland, OR 97211

The menu at this new Alberta Vietnamese restaurant is tiny — it doesn’t offer much more than vegan and beef pho, bun thit nuong, and five-spice chicken and rice. However, the things it does it does very well: The pho bo broth here is supremely beefy and just a touch sweet, complemented by thinly sliced brisket and springy meatballs. Thom is open for indoor and outdoor dining, as well as takeout.

3039 NE Alberta St
Portland, OR 97211

13. Baon Kainan

4311 NE Prescott St, Portland, OR 97218

Seattle expats Ethan and Geri Leung just opened their new Filipino cart in August, smothering fries in beefy kare kare and topping jackfruit-and-mushroom sisig with a plump soft-boiled egg. But the cart’s simplest dish — its chicken adobo — may be the city’s finest version of the Pinoy staple: The Leung’s juicy chicken comes coated in a tamari-vinegar sauce, best paired with the cart’s garlic rice. Those seeking something to sip will find things like black tea sweetened with calamansi simple syrup, and every meal should involve a square of Geri Leung’s salty-sweet ube bibingka.

4311 NE Prescott St
Portland, OR 97218

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