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A plate of octopus with white beans at Street Disco.
Octopus at Street Disco.
Nick Woo/Eater Portland

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

A wine bar serving fluffy, aerated Camembert, a restaurant drizzling adobo over chanterelle enchiladas, and other noteworthy new spots to try around town

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Octopus at Street Disco.
| Nick Woo/Eater Portland

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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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.

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. But 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 must-order.

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.

Dolly Olive

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The newest restaurant from the Sesame Collective group, Dolly Olive hews more Italian, serving house-made pastas tossed with French butter 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 accompanied by a chilly 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 capture 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 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 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 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.

Tasty Corner Chinese Restaurant

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This 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.

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 an earthy 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 bone marrow topped with beef tataki. Dishes at Street Disco are creative without overloading plates with unnecessary ingredients, making for a breezy dining experience from the first plate of chicories 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 filled with hunks of starchy plantains 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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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.

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. But 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 must-order.

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.

Dolly Olive

The newest restaurant from the Sesame Collective group, Dolly Olive hews more Italian, serving house-made pastas tossed with French butter 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 accompanied by a chilly 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 capture 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 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 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 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.

Tasty Corner Chinese Restaurant

This 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.

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 an earthy 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 bone marrow topped with beef tataki. Dishes at Street Disco are creative without overloading plates with unnecessary ingredients, making for a breezy dining experience from the first plate of chicories 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 filled with hunks of starchy plantains 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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