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A picture of a Sugarpine Salad with pickled rhubarb, snap peas, radishes, and edible flowers.
The Sugarpine Salad at Sugarpine.
Foundry 503

Where to Find Salads That Reign Supreme in Portland

Salads don’t have to be boring — in fact, some are the ideal encapsulation of seasonal produce

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The Sugarpine Salad at Sugarpine.
| Foundry 503

Constructing a salad may seem a simple task, but composing a truly memorable one — in which each ingredient sings on its own while simultaneously working in delicious harmony with the others — is an understated feat. Whether they serve as a counterbalance to a menu’s heavier fare or do the heavy lifting of being a complete meal all on their own, salads are well-suited to showcase Oregon’s seasonal bounty of produce. Piling high mountains of crisp vegetables and accouterments with pops of color, these Portland restaurants elevate what could be a menu afterthought into an art form.

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.
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G-Love New American Kitchen

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Portland’s “reverse steakhouse” puts vegetables at the forefront, as exemplified by the menu standout ensalata bomba. Garnished with edible flowers, the full-sized salad is available during dinner, while a “baby” version is included on the happy hour menu. Pleasant pops of aged gouda appear throughout, bringing a deeply savory element to the otherwise zingy and light dish anchored by baby lettuces.

SomTum Thai Kitchen

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Tucked inside a house on the Portland State University campus, this restaurant focusing on Isan cuisine takes its name from som tum, or papaya salad. Whereas most Thai restaurants have a standard version of the dish, Som Tum Thai Kitchen’s variations include salted duck egg, field crabs, and vegetarian. In the tum khao pod, corn shaved off the cob provides a sweet respite from the spicy components of the salad. As with all of Som Tum’s dishes, the salad can be ordered to the heat level of your choice, from mai ped (not spicy) or “baby spicy” (mild) all the way up to the discretionary ped paak heak (super Thai hot).

Sweedeedee

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The case at this sweet Albina restaurant is often filled with gorgeous marinated salads — tender carrots tossed with almonds and cumin, cauliflower blended with hazelnuts and chiles, piles of barley hiding bright, seasonal slices of asparagus. The salads here rotate based on what’s in season, but they often show off God-tier olive oils and utilize — not overuse — a splash of high-quality vinegar. Eat them there, or take them home for your own salad additions.

Eem - Thai BBQ & Cocktails

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Ordering a salad may not immediately cross your mind at a restaurant that specializes in Thai barbecue, but there are no duds at this celebrated Thai destination from Earl Ninsom (Paadee, Langbaan, Phuket Cafe), Matt Vicedomini (Matt’s BBQ, Matt’s BBQ Tacos), and Eric Nelson (Shipwreck). If the very spicy papaya salad sounds too intimidating for your tastebuds, the field greens salad, in which a concentration of pickled shallot, toasted coconut, and apple crowns a nest of field greens, is a safe but solid bet.

Feel Good

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Gabriel Pascuzzi, the owner of grilled chicken spot Mama Bird, opened this bowl restaurant in Buckman in 2021, after starting the business as a pandemic pop-up. All of the bowls are available as salads with a mixed green base, but the bowl toppings themselves are hearty and interesting enough to make any salad a full-on meal: In the Smokey Roots, a blend of smoked beets, charred onion, sautéed kale, and roasted carrots are almost meaty, especially with the added touch of garlic sumac yogurt. For something a touch lighter, the Painted Hills uses a bright collection of charred broccoli and pineapple with fresh grapefruit, jicama, and avocado, all dressed in a jalapeno cilantro vin. The restaurant also offers add-ons like Ota tofu and poached chicken breast.

Nostrana

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At James Beard-nominated chef Cathy Whims’s Nostrana, one of the city’s pillar Italian restaurants, a humble salad stands up to Neapolitan pizzas and pastas made in the Italian tradition. A list of salads would hardly feel complete without the cult favorite Insalata Nostrana, a radicchio salad simply dressed with Caesar-style dressing and a liberal dusting of Parmigiano, punctuated with rosemary-sage croutons. The potential bitterness of the radicchio is soothed by the balance of salt and fat, making it a nice complement to most of the restaurant’s pizzas or pastas.

Wild Thing

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Chef Dominique Rodriguez runs the kitchen at this Alberta bowl bar, which goes far beyond a few scoops of canned corn and raw broccoli: We’re talking ufra sweet potato, turmeric pickled vegetables, smoky paprika cauliflower, plus heartier add-ons like stewed white beans. In place of dressings like ranch or blue cheese, Wild Thing’s dressings are more like sauces, with options like hazelnut red pepper romesco or green tahini miso. Those who want to leave it to the professionals can opt for the Wild One, mixed greens topped with ginger-y beets, lemony Brussels sprouts, sumac cabbage, and more.

Basilisk

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Anchoring the triangular dining complex known as the Zipper since 2016, this fried chicken joint is a tried-and-true standby for its fried chicken sandwiches. The boneless fried chicken thigh is also available in a salad, where it lies on a bed of spring mix with ginger-garlic marinated noodles, spicy radish, and a soft-boiled egg. Go as light or heavy-handed with the dressing as you choose — sesame vinaigrette comes on the side.

Bluto's

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Rick Gencarelli (Grassa, Lardo) stands to have another hit on his hands with this new-ish restaurant serving wood-fired Greek cuisine. Named after the Animal House character immortalized by John Belushi, the spot hovers on the nicer end of fast-casual. A well-rounded game plan for first-timers: select an item or two from each of the menu’s main sections — souvlaki, salads, vegetables, and “stuff,” a catch-all section for miscellaneous items like a moussaka hand pie. From the salad section, the beets and bulgur option is a standout: morsels of tender golden beets are waiting to be unearthed from a mess of bulgur, avocado, and pickled raisins, which is prettily adorned by fans of pink radish. The restaurant also serves a fun rendition of a wedge salad, doused in “ranchziki” with pickled onions and bacon.

Oma's Hideaway

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This Division Street restaurant is most known for its lacquered, charcoal-roasted meats, but those seeking refuge from the meaty can find something special in the restaurant’s raita salad. Thinly sliced vegetables like cucumbers and radishes arrive studded with crispy chickpeas, tossed in a light ginger-cumin yogurt dressing with Sichuan chile oil. Produce in the salad changes from time to time, based on what’s available — currently, it’s adding a touch of sweetness with the addition of apples and peaches.

The eclectic restaurant’s Bellflower salad will make anyone who doesn’t think a salad counts as an entree a believer. Topped with a choice of chicken tenders in peanut sauce or fish sauce glaze, or similarly dressed Ota tofu, the salad contains a laundry list of fruits and vegetables, adding toasted rice powder, crispy shallots, and coconut for an extra dimension of texture and flavor. Malka is currently open for takeout only.

Rangoon Bistro

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Although Alex Saw, David Sai, and Nick Sherbo serve Burmese food, their commitment to local ingredients runs deep, stemming partly from their origin as a stand at the King Farmers Market. The restaurant’s thokes, or salads, are a crash course for anyone unfamiliar to the Southeast Asian cuisine. The lahpet thoke, made from fermented tea leaves, is not just a menu staple but ubiquitous in Myanmar. And while there’s a convincing argument to be made for ordering the tohu thoke, which showcases a house-made Burmese chickpea tofu, it would be wise to make a beeline towards whatever seasonal thoke is on the menu. 

Sugarpine Drive-In

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This Troutdale ice cream stand and restaurant perched on the edge of the Sandy River changes its menu often, swapping out autumnal delicata and kabocha squash salads for spring-y strawberries and Tokyo turnips. Any time of year, however, the restaurant serves its Sugarpine Salad, a combination of herbed quinoa and chickpeas, whipped feta, house-made green goddess dressing, and a rainbow of pickled, raw, and roasted vegetables that change with the seasons. It’s easily one of Portland’s best salads, and it’s not even served in Portland city limits.

G-Love New American Kitchen

Portland’s “reverse steakhouse” puts vegetables at the forefront, as exemplified by the menu standout ensalata bomba. Garnished with edible flowers, the full-sized salad is available during dinner, while a “baby” version is included on the happy hour menu. Pleasant pops of aged gouda appear throughout, bringing a deeply savory element to the otherwise zingy and light dish anchored by baby lettuces.

SomTum Thai Kitchen

Tucked inside a house on the Portland State University campus, this restaurant focusing on Isan cuisine takes its name from som tum, or papaya salad. Whereas most Thai restaurants have a standard version of the dish, Som Tum Thai Kitchen’s variations include salted duck egg, field crabs, and vegetarian. In the tum khao pod, corn shaved off the cob provides a sweet respite from the spicy components of the salad. As with all of Som Tum’s dishes, the salad can be ordered to the heat level of your choice, from mai ped (not spicy) or “baby spicy” (mild) all the way up to the discretionary ped paak heak (super Thai hot).

Sweedeedee

The case at this sweet Albina restaurant is often filled with gorgeous marinated salads — tender carrots tossed with almonds and cumin, cauliflower blended with hazelnuts and chiles, piles of barley hiding bright, seasonal slices of asparagus. The salads here rotate based on what’s in season, but they often show off God-tier olive oils and utilize — not overuse — a splash of high-quality vinegar. Eat them there, or take them home for your own salad additions.

Eem - Thai BBQ & Cocktails

Ordering a salad may not immediately cross your mind at a restaurant that specializes in Thai barbecue, but there are no duds at this celebrated Thai destination from Earl Ninsom (Paadee, Langbaan, Phuket Cafe), Matt Vicedomini (Matt’s BBQ, Matt’s BBQ Tacos), and Eric Nelson (Shipwreck). If the very spicy papaya salad sounds too intimidating for your tastebuds, the field greens salad, in which a concentration of pickled shallot, toasted coconut, and apple crowns a nest of field greens, is a safe but solid bet.

Feel Good

Gabriel Pascuzzi, the owner of grilled chicken spot Mama Bird, opened this bowl restaurant in Buckman in 2021, after starting the business as a pandemic pop-up. All of the bowls are available as salads with a mixed green base, but the bowl toppings themselves are hearty and interesting enough to make any salad a full-on meal: In the Smokey Roots, a blend of smoked beets, charred onion, sautéed kale, and roasted carrots are almost meaty, especially with the added touch of garlic sumac yogurt. For something a touch lighter, the Painted Hills uses a bright collection of charred broccoli and pineapple with fresh grapefruit, jicama, and avocado, all dressed in a jalapeno cilantro vin. The restaurant also offers add-ons like Ota tofu and poached chicken breast.

Nostrana

At James Beard-nominated chef Cathy Whims’s Nostrana, one of the city’s pillar Italian restaurants, a humble salad stands up to Neapolitan pizzas and pastas made in the Italian tradition. A list of salads would hardly feel complete without the cult favorite Insalata Nostrana, a radicchio salad simply dressed with Caesar-style dressing and a liberal dusting of Parmigiano, punctuated with rosemary-sage croutons. The potential bitterness of the radicchio is soothed by the balance of salt and fat, making it a nice complement to most of the restaurant’s pizzas or pastas.

Wild Thing

Chef Dominique Rodriguez runs the kitchen at this Alberta bowl bar, which goes far beyond a few scoops of canned corn and raw broccoli: We’re talking ufra sweet potato, turmeric pickled vegetables, smoky paprika cauliflower, plus heartier add-ons like stewed white beans. In place of dressings like ranch or blue cheese, Wild Thing’s dressings are more like sauces, with options like hazelnut red pepper romesco or green tahini miso. Those who want to leave it to the professionals can opt for the Wild One, mixed greens topped with ginger-y beets, lemony Brussels sprouts, sumac cabbage, and more.

Basilisk

Anchoring the triangular dining complex known as the Zipper since 2016, this fried chicken joint is a tried-and-true standby for its fried chicken sandwiches. The boneless fried chicken thigh is also available in a salad, where it lies on a bed of spring mix with ginger-garlic marinated noodles, spicy radish, and a soft-boiled egg. Go as light or heavy-handed with the dressing as you choose — sesame vinaigrette comes on the side.

Bluto's

Rick Gencarelli (Grassa, Lardo) stands to have another hit on his hands with this new-ish restaurant serving wood-fired Greek cuisine. Named after the Animal House character immortalized by John Belushi, the spot hovers on the nicer end of fast-casual. A well-rounded game plan for first-timers: select an item or two from each of the menu’s main sections — souvlaki, salads, vegetables, and “stuff,” a catch-all section for miscellaneous items like a moussaka hand pie. From the salad section, the beets and bulgur option is a standout: morsels of tender golden beets are waiting to be unearthed from a mess of bulgur, avocado, and pickled raisins, which is prettily adorned by fans of pink radish. The restaurant also serves a fun rendition of a wedge salad, doused in “ranchziki” with pickled onions and bacon.

Oma's Hideaway

This Division Street restaurant is most known for its lacquered, charcoal-roasted meats, but those seeking refuge from the meaty can find something special in the restaurant’s raita salad. Thinly sliced vegetables like cucumbers and radishes arrive studded with crispy chickpeas, tossed in a light ginger-cumin yogurt dressing with Sichuan chile oil. Produce in the salad changes from time to time, based on what’s available — currently, it’s adding a touch of sweetness with the addition of apples and peaches.

Malka

The eclectic restaurant’s Bellflower salad will make anyone who doesn’t think a salad counts as an entree a believer. Topped with a choice of chicken tenders in peanut sauce or fish sauce glaze, or similarly dressed Ota tofu, the salad contains a laundry list of fruits and vegetables, adding toasted rice powder, crispy shallots, and coconut for an extra dimension of texture and flavor. Malka is currently open for takeout only.

Rangoon Bistro

Although Alex Saw, David Sai, and Nick Sherbo serve Burmese food, their commitment to local ingredients runs deep, stemming partly from their origin as a stand at the King Farmers Market. The restaurant’s thokes, or salads, are a crash course for anyone unfamiliar to the Southeast Asian cuisine. The lahpet thoke, made from fermented tea leaves, is not just a menu staple but ubiquitous in Myanmar. And while there’s a convincing argument to be made for ordering the tohu thoke, which showcases a house-made Burmese chickpea tofu, it would be wise to make a beeline towards whatever seasonal thoke is on the menu. 

Sugarpine Drive-In

This Troutdale ice cream stand and restaurant perched on the edge of the Sandy River changes its menu often, swapping out autumnal delicata and kabocha squash salads for spring-y strawberries and Tokyo turnips. Any time of year, however, the restaurant serves its Sugarpine Salad, a combination of herbed quinoa and chickpeas, whipped feta, house-made green goddess dressing, and a rainbow of pickled, raw, and roasted vegetables that change with the seasons. It’s easily one of Portland’s best salads, and it’s not even served in Portland city limits.

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