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A blue table with quiche, deviled eggs, stuffed mushrooms, loaves, and fruit salad from Elephant’s Deli
Dishes at Elephant’s Deli
Elephant’s Deli/Official

A Guide to Eating and Drinking in South Waterfront

Take a culinary stroll through Portland’s scenic and fast-developing South Waterfront

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Dishes at Elephant’s Deli
| Elephant’s Deli/Official

Portland has undergone changes deep and broad over the last 20 years, but perhaps no neighborhood would be as unrecognizable to a 1990s time traveler as the South Waterfront. Seemingly overnight, former heavy industry facilities and barge moorings have given way to sleek high-rises, a tranquil waterfront park, an eye-catching aerial tram up to OHSU, a futuristic Bridge of the People, and, yes, a growing number of exciting dining and drinking choices. Explore this walkable map, organized geographically from north to south, as the neighborhood continues to evolve.

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. Please be aware of changing local rules, and check individual restaurant websites for any additional restrictions such as mask requirements. Find a local vaccination site here.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

Al Hawr

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Al Hawr dishes up some of the best Lebanese food in the Pacific Northwest, offering a harmony of the cuisine’s essential components: creamy hummus, fluffy pita, piquant olive oil, tender beets, and delicate grape leaves, each supporting flavorful chicken, lamb, and veggie falafel entrees. The dessert menu might be the real stand-out, however, with the cheesy pistachio pastry knafeh and cotton candy topped ice cream. Dine in the richly decorated dining room or order takeout.

Burrito Bar | Food cart

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Portland may not yet have “a taco truck on every corner” but we’re closer to the dream each year. The Burrito Bar cart in the new pod on S Gaines and Moody — not to be confused with an identically named brick-and-mortar spot in the Pearl — serves tacos, of course, but the main attractions are the generous burritos and bowls. Every menu option is highly customizable, but those hitting their decision-fatigue wall for the day can happily let the chef decide. Burrito Bar is typically open for lunch only, Monday through Friday.

Frank Wine Bar

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Frank Wine Bar opened in 2013 and is already something of a foundational establishment in the South Waterfront. Even on sleepier nights, Frank has the warmth and organic energy of a long-time neighborhood gathering place. Enjoy complimentary popcorn and creative tasting flights while waiting for a table — the exceptionally curated wine by the glass list is worth the wait. The food is in service of the wine — consider the charcuterie or daily soup over the somewhat forgettable entrees. Or skip dining in and grab a bottle from the bottle shop — Oregon wines are supplemented by a thoughtful selection of smaller European labels, including wine from exciting regions in Croatia and Hungary.

Umai Japanese Twist

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Portland’s ramen renaissance continues apace with this 2020-launched food cart specializing in Japanese comfort food. Rich, balanced tonkotsu ramen is hard to pass up, but other standouts include the panko-fried oysters and nasu miso eggplant. Generous portions and fast turn-around make Umai Japanese Twist an ideal lunch break destination. Eat at one of their tall stools adjoining the cart or grab a hearty Tokyo curry to go for just $8.

Oracle Coffee Company

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Such are the coffee riches Portlanders enjoy that the city has lapped plenty of similar-sized towns with a higher number of stellar vegan-only coffee shops and other burgs that have decent coffee spots entirely. Oracle features local roasters — Terrain, Bold Bean, and Blueprint — and carefully crafts the expected assortment of espresso drinks along with an uncommonly rich tea selection. No dairy here — the politely vegan-curious will receive friendly guidance from their barista on whether to opt for oat, almond, soy, or coconut milk. A small food menu includes baked goods from Shoofly Vegan Bakery.

Elephants on Corbett

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Elephants on Corbett may just be one outpost of the local Elephants deli empire, but the bustling market-slash-bar-slash-pizzeria serves a vital grab-and-go niche in the South Waterfront neighborhood. Nab a breakfast burrito on the way to work, order a signature deli sandwich for lunch, or pick up a pizza on the way home for the family. The main floor can be a bit cramped for dining in during peak times, but the upstairs special events space is often open for general dining when not rented out. The bar serves reasonably priced beer, wine, and cocktails — including cocktails to go.

Thai PK

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Epitomizing the neighborhood Thai restaurant with a menu the size of a young adult novel, Thai PK reliably delivers staples like spring rolls, crab Rangoon, tom yum soup, a range of Thai curries, and, of course, pad thai. All of these will satisfy, but the seafood specialties are the most memorable, including salmon panang curry, crispy tilapia green apple salad, and spicy catfish. Open for dine-in or takeout.

A plate of pad Thai
Thai PK
Thai PK Restaurant

Cafe Du Berry

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In an ever-changing neighborhood, Cafe du Berry has been holding it down in the South Waterfront for nearly 40 years. Steps away from Willamette Park, this comfortable bistro has been a popular breakfast destination for Portlanders from all parts of town. Billing itself as a “French country restaurant,” a kitchen offering dishes like spaghetti and hamburgers isn’t particularly Gallic — escargot and French onion soup excepting — but why nit-pick when you can pause a leisurely stroll along the South Waterfront Greenway with a steak sandwich and fresh salad in Cafe du Berry’s verdant back patio? Check out its Instagram for semi-regular free wine tastings.

McMenamins Fulton Pub & Brewery

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The Fulton Pub has anchored the southern end of the waterfront for nearly 100 years and has been in the steady hands of McMenamins since 1988. Featuring the expected elevated pub fare heavy on Northwest ingredients found throughout the Northwest franchise, the Fulton location sets itself apart through especially cozy charm. The small dining room, limited but lovely street-side seating, and less-than-ample street parking all but telegraph that this is a neighborhood joint and not necessarily a destination — all the better for locals enjoying a leisurely Terminator stout or seasonal cider. Yes, Keanu Reeves drank here once, and, yes, your bartender will tell you all about it.

Hop Capital Brewing

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Taking over the site of the beloved, departed Etc...Eatery, Hop Capital Brewing opened its doors in 2021, the first expansion of the Yakima, Washington brewery. Accurately named — Yakima produces almost three-quarters of America’s hops — but non-hopheads will be happy to see the draft list features porters, stouts, wheat beers, and other options beyond IPAs. Food highlights include beer-battered shrimp tacos, beet salad, and a loaded fries plate that pulls no punches. Knock back suds indoors or in either covered or uncovered patio seating.

Al Hawr

Al Hawr dishes up some of the best Lebanese food in the Pacific Northwest, offering a harmony of the cuisine’s essential components: creamy hummus, fluffy pita, piquant olive oil, tender beets, and delicate grape leaves, each supporting flavorful chicken, lamb, and veggie falafel entrees. The dessert menu might be the real stand-out, however, with the cheesy pistachio pastry knafeh and cotton candy topped ice cream. Dine in the richly decorated dining room or order takeout.

Burrito Bar | Food cart

Portland may not yet have “a taco truck on every corner” but we’re closer to the dream each year. The Burrito Bar cart in the new pod on S Gaines and Moody — not to be confused with an identically named brick-and-mortar spot in the Pearl — serves tacos, of course, but the main attractions are the generous burritos and bowls. Every menu option is highly customizable, but those hitting their decision-fatigue wall for the day can happily let the chef decide. Burrito Bar is typically open for lunch only, Monday through Friday.

Frank Wine Bar

Frank Wine Bar opened in 2013 and is already something of a foundational establishment in the South Waterfront. Even on sleepier nights, Frank has the warmth and organic energy of a long-time neighborhood gathering place. Enjoy complimentary popcorn and creative tasting flights while waiting for a table — the exceptionally curated wine by the glass list is worth the wait. The food is in service of the wine — consider the charcuterie or daily soup over the somewhat forgettable entrees. Or skip dining in and grab a bottle from the bottle shop — Oregon wines are supplemented by a thoughtful selection of smaller European labels, including wine from exciting regions in Croatia and Hungary.

Umai Japanese Twist

Portland’s ramen renaissance continues apace with this 2020-launched food cart specializing in Japanese comfort food. Rich, balanced tonkotsu ramen is hard to pass up, but other standouts include the panko-fried oysters and nasu miso eggplant. Generous portions and fast turn-around make Umai Japanese Twist an ideal lunch break destination. Eat at one of their tall stools adjoining the cart or grab a hearty Tokyo curry to go for just $8.

Oracle Coffee Company

Such are the coffee riches Portlanders enjoy that the city has lapped plenty of similar-sized towns with a higher number of stellar vegan-only coffee shops and other burgs that have decent coffee spots entirely. Oracle features local roasters — Terrain, Bold Bean, and Blueprint — and carefully crafts the expected assortment of espresso drinks along with an uncommonly rich tea selection. No dairy here — the politely vegan-curious will receive friendly guidance from their barista on whether to opt for oat, almond, soy, or coconut milk. A small food menu includes baked goods from Shoofly Vegan Bakery.

Elephants on Corbett

Elephants on Corbett may just be one outpost of the local Elephants deli empire, but the bustling market-slash-bar-slash-pizzeria serves a vital grab-and-go niche in the South Waterfront neighborhood. Nab a breakfast burrito on the way to work, order a signature deli sandwich for lunch, or pick up a pizza on the way home for the family. The main floor can be a bit cramped for dining in during peak times, but the upstairs special events space is often open for general dining when not rented out. The bar serves reasonably priced beer, wine, and cocktails — including cocktails to go.

Thai PK

A plate of pad Thai
Thai PK
Thai PK Restaurant

Epitomizing the neighborhood Thai restaurant with a menu the size of a young adult novel, Thai PK reliably delivers staples like spring rolls, crab Rangoon, tom yum soup, a range of Thai curries, and, of course, pad thai. All of these will satisfy, but the seafood specialties are the most memorable, including salmon panang curry, crispy tilapia green apple salad, and spicy catfish. Open for dine-in or takeout.

A plate of pad Thai
Thai PK
Thai PK Restaurant

Cafe Du Berry

In an ever-changing neighborhood, Cafe du Berry has been holding it down in the South Waterfront for nearly 40 years. Steps away from Willamette Park, this comfortable bistro has been a popular breakfast destination for Portlanders from all parts of town. Billing itself as a “French country restaurant,” a kitchen offering dishes like spaghetti and hamburgers isn’t particularly Gallic — escargot and French onion soup excepting — but why nit-pick when you can pause a leisurely stroll along the South Waterfront Greenway with a steak sandwich and fresh salad in Cafe du Berry’s verdant back patio? Check out its Instagram for semi-regular free wine tastings.

McMenamins Fulton Pub & Brewery

The Fulton Pub has anchored the southern end of the waterfront for nearly 100 years and has been in the steady hands of McMenamins since 1988. Featuring the expected elevated pub fare heavy on Northwest ingredients found throughout the Northwest franchise, the Fulton location sets itself apart through especially cozy charm. The small dining room, limited but lovely street-side seating, and less-than-ample street parking all but telegraph that this is a neighborhood joint and not necessarily a destination — all the better for locals enjoying a leisurely Terminator stout or seasonal cider. Yes, Keanu Reeves drank here once, and, yes, your bartender will tell you all about it.

Hop Capital Brewing

Taking over the site of the beloved, departed Etc...Eatery, Hop Capital Brewing opened its doors in 2021, the first expansion of the Yakima, Washington brewery. Accurately named — Yakima produces almost three-quarters of America’s hops — but non-hopheads will be happy to see the draft list features porters, stouts, wheat beers, and other options beyond IPAs. Food highlights include beer-battered shrimp tacos, beet salad, and a loaded fries plate that pulls no punches. Knock back suds indoors or in either covered or uncovered patio seating.

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