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ackee & saltfish served on a plate alongside avocado and fried dumplings at Yaad Style Jamaican Cuisine
Ackee and saltfish at Yaad Style Jamaican Cuisine
Ron Scott / EPDX

Where to Find Stellar Caribbean Food in Portland

From Cuban ropa vieja to Jamaican festivals

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Ackee and saltfish at Yaad Style Jamaican Cuisine
| Ron Scott / EPDX

Portland is home to great restaurants of every stripe, but classic Caribbean cuisines are largely underrepresented in the local restaurant market. Sure, Portland has several restaurants representing Mexico, Central American countries, and much of South America, but the cuisines of the islands scattered through the Caribbean sea are limited to a handful of restaurants and food carts throughout the greater Portland area.

However, that has started to change in recent years, especially when it comes to Cuban cuisine: cocktail bar Palomar, rooftop restaurant Havana Cafe, and vegan cafe Miami Nice have joined longer-standing Cuban spots like Pambiche, and Puerto Rican pop-ups like Aybendito have added more Puerto Rican options beyond places like Boriken Restaurant in Southwest Portland. The handful of hidden gems found throughout Portland and the Greater Portland Metro offer great renditions of Jamaican, Puerto Rican, and Cuban cuisines: From steamy and warm empanadas to full plates of pork, fish, beef, or jerk chicken, these are the Caribbean restaurants every Portlander should know. For more options throughout Central and South America, feel free to check out the larger Latin American cuisine map. Note that the points on this map guide are not ranked; rather, they’re organized geographically.

A number of Portland restaurants have resumed dine-in service. The level of service offered is indicated on each map point. However, this should not be taken as endorsement for dining in, as there are still safety concerns: for updated information on coronavirus cases in your area, please visit the Oregon Health Authority’s COVID update page. Studies indicate that there is a lower exposure risk when outdoors, but the level of risk involved with patio dining is contingent on restaurants following strict social distancing and other safety guidelines.

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Jamaica House

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Operating out of a quaint home in St. Johns, Jamaica House serves a tight menu of Jamaican staples. This jerk joint is a fixture in the neighborhood, where the cooker outside teases cyclists and pedestrians from a distance, as the smoky jerk aromas get tossed by the wind in all directions. The jerk chicken here is the clear winner, with a bouquet of wood smoke and dry-rubbed earthy flavors. Jamaica House is now doing dine-in service as well as takeout, with outdoor picnic table seating, as well.

The exterior or the restaurant is seen with a large hand painted sign that reads Jamaica House
Jamaica House
Ron Scott/EPDX

Jamaican Homestyle Cuisine

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Jamaican Homestyle Cuisine adds yet another quality option for Jamaican dishes in Portland. After having little luck finding Jamaican food in Portland, Keacean Phillips decided to open a Jamaican food cart in 2014, and eventually found her way into a restaurant thereafter. Customers here have plenty of options for spicy and flavorful chicken or beef as well as curry goat and oxtail. The move is to order the saucy, fall-off-the-bone oxtails with a side of hazelnut-brown fried festivals. The restaurant is open for takeout and delivery via Grubhub, Caviar or Postmates.

Yaad Style Jamaican Cuisine

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Yaad Style has been putting out a full roster of Jamaican dishes on MLK Blvd since its opening date in the fall of 2016, but last year it came under new ownership. The quality and execution however, have not declined in the slightest. This menu stretches beyond typical jerk chicken plates and includes Jamaica’s national dish: ackee and saltfish. The traditional breakfast dish combines ackee, a tree fruit originating in West Africa, and salted cod, all fried up together with peppers, onions, and spices. This dish — along with most Jamaican dishes in general — is served alongside “rice and peas,” dumplings, and seasonal veggies. The restaurant is open for takeout and delivery, with very limited dine-in options.

Havana Cafe

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Sharing a rooftop patio with cocktail bar Botanist, Havana Cafe became a summertime hotspot with its menu of sandwiches and Cuban plates. Pablo Portilla, who opened a cart of the same name years ago, is now perched in the Pearl serving his killer lechon con mojo, garlicky and supremely tender pork with rice and beans. Any dish utilizing that lively mojo is sure to please. The restaurant is open for indoor and outdoor dining and takeout.

Pambiche

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Certainly the patriarch of the Caribbean food scene here in Portland, Pambiche continues to draw customers to its dine-in and patio service on Glisan, in the eastern end of Kerns. Owner John Maribona has been dazzling diners with rich and flavorful dishes from his own family recipes for two full decades now. Suffice it to say that all the items here are solid and time-tested, but it might just be the empanadas made in-house that would bring customers back for return visits. The rich and layered ropa vieja is worth an order, as well. Pambiche is also open for takeout.

Pulled pork is swimming in gravy beside rice and salad
Plato Cubano at Pambiche
Ron Scott/EPDX

Miami Nice

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Some of Cuba’s most delicious foods — Cubano sandwiches, croquetas, picadillo empanadas — are reliant on cheese or animal protein, be it in the form of ham, beef, or Swiss cheese. Miami Nice, however, specializes in completely vegan versions of these dishes, from cubanos stacked with mojo jackfruit and house-made meat-free ham, to crispy-fried empanadas filled with a briny soy picadillo. Miami Nice is open for outdoor seating, takeout, and delivery.

Love Belizean

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This SW Broadway spot is one of the only places to find Belizean food in Portland, with bottles of Marie Sharp’s hot sauce next to a menu of warm yellow curry, coconut rice, and red beans. The Belizean chicken is a favorite, fall-off-the-bone and perked up with vinegary onions. The restaurant is open for takeout and delivery.

Bake on the Run - Authentic Guyanese Masterful Cuisines

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Bake on the Run one of the only options for Guyanese food, and it doesn’t disappoint. Guyana doesn’t always get considered in a conversation about Caribbean food, but its cuisine is very closely related to Trinidadian and Barbadian cuisines. The big hit here is the bake: a semi-sweet puff bread which is stuffed with savory options such as salted cod and eggs, or sweet choices like Nutella or berries. It can be found among the other carts at the Hawthorne Asylum food cart pod and is open Thursday through Tuesday from 11:30 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Portlanders might draw a line in the sand defending their favorite Cuban spot, and most are either in favor of Cubo or Pambiche. Cubo has been a contender in this space for a decade now and shows no signs of slowing down. It’s located on trendy Hawthorne Boulevard, and boasts a bright and colorful menu of Cuban treats, including tropical fruit-filled cocktails and mini-empanadas filled with guava and cream cheese. The spicy mojo shrimp — served with plantains, rice, and beans — is a particular standout. Cubo offers plenty of outdoor-only seating for the time being, but would-be diners should plan on a short wait for a table potentially stretching to a longer wait on warm weekends. Takeout is available, alongside delivery via Postmates.

Shrimp is seen with a spicy red sauce atop rice and served with beans on the side in a bowl
Spicy Mojo Shrimp
Ron Scott/EPDX

Palomar

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Portland has a number of Cuban restaurants, but Palomar is one of the city’s only Cuban bars. Owner Ricky Gomez shakes and blends daiquiris of all styles here, from the subtle and sophisticated to the fruity and frozen, as well as mojitos, cuba libres, and other cocktails with Caribbean roots. Out of the kitchen, however, Palomar serves crispy-fried croquetas de jamon, smoky and bright camarones criollos, and a gorgeous, rich version of rabo encendido, or braised oxtails. Palomar is open for dine-in with combination air scrubbers and HEPA13 filters.

Ricky Gomez pours a martini into a coupe glass behind the white-and-turquoise bar at Palomar
Owner Ricky Gomez pours a drink at Palomar
Dina Avila/EPDX

Boriken Restaurant

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Out on the west side, Boriken has been serving outstanding Puerto Rican fare since late 2014. It might just be the only restaurant in town where someone can find mofongo: fried green plantains mashed with garlic, salt, and olive oil combined with meat or seafood. Diners can pick through the extensive menu and enjoy classic Puerto Rican dishes such as pernil and meat-stuffed turnover pastries called empanadillas. Delivery and to-go options are available, while dine-in service has also resumed. Outdoor patio seating is available, as well.

Mofongo is pictured on a table at Boriken Restaurant
Mofongo @ Boriken
Ron Scott/EPDX

Bistro Cubano

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This newcomer delivers some fresh Cuban flavors in the heart of Oregon City. This small corner restaurant gives diners a feeling of cozy warmth and and features an array of cocktails to sip alongside spicy Cuban cuisine. The standout dish in this south-of-the-city restaurant is certainly the panko-breaded mahi-mahi, which is basted with a turmeric coconut milk reduction, and roasted with potato, stewed tomato, and garlic.

fish is seen swimming in a coconut milk reduction with tomatoes
Mahimahi at Bistro Cubano
Ron Scott/EPDX

Jamaica House

Operating out of a quaint home in St. Johns, Jamaica House serves a tight menu of Jamaican staples. This jerk joint is a fixture in the neighborhood, where the cooker outside teases cyclists and pedestrians from a distance, as the smoky jerk aromas get tossed by the wind in all directions. The jerk chicken here is the clear winner, with a bouquet of wood smoke and dry-rubbed earthy flavors. Jamaica House is now doing dine-in service as well as takeout, with outdoor picnic table seating, as well.

The exterior or the restaurant is seen with a large hand painted sign that reads Jamaica House
Jamaica House
Ron Scott/EPDX

Jamaican Homestyle Cuisine

Jamaican Homestyle Cuisine adds yet another quality option for Jamaican dishes in Portland. After having little luck finding Jamaican food in Portland, Keacean Phillips decided to open a Jamaican food cart in 2014, and eventually found her way into a restaurant thereafter. Customers here have plenty of options for spicy and flavorful chicken or beef as well as curry goat and oxtail. The move is to order the saucy, fall-off-the-bone oxtails with a side of hazelnut-brown fried festivals. The restaurant is open for takeout and delivery via Grubhub, Caviar or Postmates.

Yaad Style Jamaican Cuisine

Yaad Style has been putting out a full roster of Jamaican dishes on MLK Blvd since its opening date in the fall of 2016, but last year it came under new ownership. The quality and execution however, have not declined in the slightest. This menu stretches beyond typical jerk chicken plates and includes Jamaica’s national dish: ackee and saltfish. The traditional breakfast dish combines ackee, a tree fruit originating in West Africa, and salted cod, all fried up together with peppers, onions, and spices. This dish — along with most Jamaican dishes in general — is served alongside “rice and peas,” dumplings, and seasonal veggies. The restaurant is open for takeout and delivery, with very limited dine-in options.

Havana Cafe

Sharing a rooftop patio with cocktail bar Botanist, Havana Cafe became a summertime hotspot with its menu of sandwiches and Cuban plates. Pablo Portilla, who opened a cart of the same name years ago, is now perched in the Pearl serving his killer lechon con mojo, garlicky and supremely tender pork with rice and beans. Any dish utilizing that lively mojo is sure to please. The restaurant is open for indoor and outdoor dining and takeout.

Pambiche

Certainly the patriarch of the Caribbean food scene here in Portland, Pambiche continues to draw customers to its dine-in and patio service on Glisan, in the eastern end of Kerns. Owner John Maribona has been dazzling diners with rich and flavorful dishes from his own family recipes for two full decades now. Suffice it to say that all the items here are solid and time-tested, but it might just be the empanadas made in-house that would bring customers back for return visits. The rich and layered ropa vieja is worth an order, as well. Pambiche is also open for takeout.

Pulled pork is swimming in gravy beside rice and salad
Plato Cubano at Pambiche
Ron Scott/EPDX

Miami Nice

Some of Cuba’s most delicious foods — Cubano sandwiches, croquetas, picadillo empanadas — are reliant on cheese or animal protein, be it in the form of ham, beef, or Swiss cheese. Miami Nice, however, specializes in completely vegan versions of these dishes, from cubanos stacked with mojo jackfruit and house-made meat-free ham, to crispy-fried empanadas filled with a briny soy picadillo. Miami Nice is open for outdoor seating, takeout, and delivery.

Love Belizean

This SW Broadway spot is one of the only places to find Belizean food in Portland, with bottles of Marie Sharp’s hot sauce next to a menu of warm yellow curry, coconut rice, and red beans. The Belizean chicken is a favorite, fall-off-the-bone and perked up with vinegary onions. The restaurant is open for takeout and delivery.

Bake on the Run - Authentic Guyanese Masterful Cuisines

Bake on the Run one of the only options for Guyanese food, and it doesn’t disappoint. Guyana doesn’t always get considered in a conversation about Caribbean food, but its cuisine is very closely related to Trinidadian and Barbadian cuisines. The big hit here is the bake: a semi-sweet puff bread which is stuffed with savory options such as salted cod and eggs, or sweet choices like Nutella or berries. It can be found among the other carts at the Hawthorne Asylum food cart pod and is open Thursday through Tuesday from 11:30 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Cubo

Portlanders might draw a line in the sand defending their favorite Cuban spot, and most are either in favor of Cubo or Pambiche. Cubo has been a contender in this space for a decade now and shows no signs of slowing down. It’s located on trendy Hawthorne Boulevard, and boasts a bright and colorful menu of Cuban treats, including tropical fruit-filled cocktails and mini-empanadas filled with guava and cream cheese. The spicy mojo shrimp — served with plantains, rice, and beans — is a particular standout. Cubo offers plenty of outdoor-only seating for the time being, but would-be diners should plan on a short wait for a table potentially stretching to a longer wait on warm weekends. Takeout is available, alongside delivery via Postmates.

Shrimp is seen with a spicy red sauce atop rice and served with beans on the side in a bowl
Spicy Mojo Shrimp
Ron Scott/EPDX

Palomar

Portland has a number of Cuban restaurants, but Palomar is one of the city’s only Cuban bars. Owner Ricky Gomez shakes and blends daiquiris of all styles here, from the subtle and sophisticated to the fruity and frozen, as well as mojitos, cuba libres, and other cocktails with Caribbean roots. Out of the kitchen, however, Palomar serves crispy-fried croquetas de jamon, smoky and bright camarones criollos, and a gorgeous, rich version of rabo encendido, or braised oxtails. Palomar is open for dine-in with combination air scrubbers and HEPA13 filters.

Ricky Gomez pours a martini into a coupe glass behind the white-and-turquoise bar at Palomar
Owner Ricky Gomez pours a drink at Palomar
Dina Avila/EPDX

Boriken Restaurant

Out on the west side, Boriken has been serving outstanding Puerto Rican fare since late 2014. It might just be the only restaurant in town where someone can find mofongo: fried green plantains mashed with garlic, salt, and olive oil combined with meat or seafood. Diners can pick through the extensive menu and enjoy classic Puerto Rican dishes such as pernil and meat-stuffed turnover pastries called empanadillas. Delivery and to-go options are available, while dine-in service has also resumed. Outdoor patio seating is available, as well.

Mofongo is pictured on a table at Boriken Restaurant
Mofongo @ Boriken
Ron Scott/EPDX

Bistro Cubano

This newcomer delivers some fresh Cuban flavors in the heart of Oregon City. This small corner restaurant gives diners a feeling of cozy warmth and and features an array of cocktails to sip alongside spicy Cuban cuisine. The standout dish in this south-of-the-city restaurant is certainly the panko-breaded mahi-mahi, which is basted with a turmeric coconut milk reduction, and roasted with potato, stewed tomato, and garlic.

fish is seen swimming in a coconut milk reduction with tomatoes
Mahimahi at Bistro Cubano
Ron Scott/EPDX

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