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Colorful sign for the Portland Mercado surrounded by buildings and food carts.
Portland Mercado in southeast Portland.
Nathan Williams

Where to Eat and Drink in Foster-Powell

Explore the multitude of cuisines found in one of Portland’s most dynamic neighborhoods

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Portland Mercado in southeast Portland.
| Nathan Williams

For decades, the Foster-Powell triangle has welcomed generations of international and domestic transplants, growing into one of Portland’s most dynamic neighborhoods. Bound by three arterials — Foster, Powell, and SE 82nd — “FoPo” stretches between Inner Southeast’s nationally celebrated restaurant scene, the heart of Portland’s East and Southeast Asian cuisine along SE 82nd, and the wide-ranging fare along SE Foster, anchored by the Portland Mercado. This multifaceted neighborhood features a thrilling array of dining options at all price points. The map below highlights culinary traditions of nearly a dozen countries — including Afghanistan, Peru, and Vietnam — and is just the starting point for exploring Foster-Powell. Per usual, this map is not ranked; it’s organized geographically.

Health experts consider dining out to be a high-risk activity for the unvaccinated; the latest data about the delta variant indicates that it may pose a low-to-moderate risk for the vaccinated, especially in areas with substantial transmission. The latest CDC guidance is here; find a COVID-19 vaccination site here.

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Year of the Fish

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For a town boasting some of the nation’s best fresh seafood, Portland is curiously light on fish and chips options compared with Seattle or the Oregon coast. Located in Carts on Foster in the far northwest angle of the FoPo triangle, Year of the Fish offers creamy clam chowder for a cold rainy day and responsibly sourced fresh oysters; however, the core mission here is fish and chips, fried to the ideal crispy-moist balance. The cod is a solid option, but when fresh halibut is in season, few will regret spending a little extra to enjoy the north Pacific’s subtly sweet crown jewel. The cart and pod offers covered outdoor seating.

Bari Food Cart

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Portland is no stranger to Italian food carts, but too often a paper plateful of pasta thwarts the grab-and-go nature of street food. Enter: panzerotti, a fried mini-calzone from Apulia (the “heel of the boot”) and the house specialty at Bari. The fillings range from classic mozzarella, mortadella, and tomato, to more creative specials like smoked salmon; it’s hard to wrong, thanks to the dough itself, almost croissant-like in its lightness. Covered outdoor seating available.

Favela Brazilian Cafe

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Suited to a neighborhood that’s a bit of everything, Favela is at once a café, a Brazilian market, and a self-described “intergenerational community gathering space.” Favela features community events like movie nights, live music, Portuguese language workshops, and one-of-a-kind gatherings like “Hot Dog Sip and Paint,” along with a menu of sweet Brazilian coffee drinks — such as cafe doce de leite, or butter caramel coffee. For something heartier, Favela offers a small menu of simple sandwiches, fruits, and desserts, as well as the light-and-cheesy pão de queijo, or Brazilian cheese bread. Open for dine in or takeout via online order.

Assembly Brewing

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It’s common knowledge that Portland is chockablock with outstanding breweries, but only one of them serves pizza elite enough to regularly crack “best of Portland” pizza lists. Add that it might just be the best Detroit-style pizza in the city, and suddenly Assembly Brewing is on the cusp of must-visit terrain. The tap list is about half IPAs, with a smattering of stouts, ambers, and other less hoppy suds. For those looking to snack without weighing themselves down with the brick of a Detroit style slice, the juicy pepperoni rolls transcend your typical bar app and highlight the ingredients that make the pizza so stellar — vegetarians can opt for the equally excellent spinach and artichoke rolls. Open for indoor and outdoor dining as well as takeout.

Rose VL Deli

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Not to be confused with sister lunch spot HA & VL on SE 82nd, Rose VL Deli opened in 2015 and has already been showered with local and national adoration, winning James Beard semifinalist status. In a sunny, white cafe space off Powell Boulevard, Rose VL serves a rotating selection of soups throughout the week. Each day’s selections have their partisans, though Friday’s triple-header is tough to beat: the sour-acid bún riêu (shrimpcake noodle soup in a tomato broth), the platonic ideal of comfort food via bún thang (shredded chicken noodle soup), or the umami bomb bún nước lèo cá đồng sóc trắng (fermented fish noodle soup). Rose VL is nominally open for dine-in until 4 p.m., but soups typically sell out hours earlier. 

Da' Hui Bar & Grill

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Da’ Hui is an honest-to-goodness Hawaiian bar and grill with plenty of ramshackle driftwood and velvet painting charm. The drink menu features stiff tropical standards like Mai Tais, Zombies, and Blue Hawaiians, but the real star here is the food, highlighted by the luscious 10-hour-smoked Kalua pig and fried Spam. All entrees come with mac salad, naturally. Da’ Hui is open for indoor dining and takeout.

Salt & Pepper

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Inside the small-but-amply-stocked El Campesino grocery lies the unassuming Salt & Pepper, unaffiliated with the popular SE Belmont cart of the same name. A short flight of stairs leads up to a sparse dining area, where the Peruvian and Mexican food — each in their own menus rather than Mexican-Peruvian fusion — is the focus. Citrus-drenched ceviche is simply but tastefully presented alongside hearty sides of potato and corn, an entrée on its own or a shared opener to one of the richly seasoned beef dishes like seco norteño or the cau cau tripe stew. Salt & Pepper is open for dine-in or pre-ordered takeout online.

Close-up of ceviche topped with onion slices and cilantro.
Ceviche at Salt & Pepper
Nathan Williams

5 & Dime

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Taking over the site of a beloved neighborhood pub, 5 & Dime is putting in the work to fill that void. A too-cute bodega theme was dropped in favor of a classic mid-century Nighthawks aesthetic. Skilled bartenders slinging classic mixed drinks alongside rotating themed cocktail menus (‘90s pop songs, fantasy novels), pop-ups from guest chefs, a deep tap list, Blazers games on the TV, and energetic support of local mutual aid efforts are all signs of a bar on its way to becoming a neighborhood staple. Open for indoor drinking and dining.

If the food carts are the heavy-lifting muscles of the Portland Mercado, Barrio might just be the heart. It’s the sort of bottle shop and wine bar easy to step into and hard to leave. The Mercado building housing Barrio still feels freshly-constructed, but this small bar has already acquired the organically cluttered patina of a neighborhood gem that’s been around for decades. Warm, friendly bartenders chat with regulars as they pour South American vintages — along with a healthy range of Oregon wines, a handful of local brews, and seasonal sangrias. Takeout options include a michelada kit with precise instructions. The Barrio is open for indoor sipping or outdoor gathering by the pod’s new firepits.

Colorful “Bienvenidos” welcome sign for the wine bar Barrio
Barrio wine bar
Nathan Williams

Principe Maya

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Launched in 2015, the Portland Mercado has quickly become an indispensable Southeast Portland gem, featuring a wine bar, coffee shop, carniceria, and nine food carts representing different corners of Latin American cuisine — including Principe Maya. Opened by chef Edilberto Puch after he experienced a pandemic layoff, Principe Maya’s Yucatecan offerings are grounded in the peninsula’s “three sisters”: corn, beans, and squash. Highlights include brazo de reina, corn dough filled with boiled eggs and ground pumpkin seed, and polcan, masa balls stuffed with beans, epazote, onion, chives, and ground pumpkin seed. The Mercado offers covered outdoor and indoor seating.

La Hidalguense

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While most carts in Foster-Powell cluster together in busy pods, La Hidalguense is a gastronomic island in a stretch of SE Foster surrounded by insurance offices and dive bars. The three taco special, including rice and beans for just $6, might just be the best deal in Portland, with expertly cooked to order meats served on house-made tortillas that would be a treat all on their own. Outside the world of tacos, the signature dish at La Hidalguense is the unforgettable guajolote: a fried torta housing cheese, boiled egg, and hot dogs sliced lengthwise.

Chungdam Korean Fusion

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Sharing a strip mall with the utilitarian WinCo grocery and adjoining a Pizza Hut, Chungdam epitomizes the spirit of Foster-Powell. The name is a bit misleading; if anything it fuses Korean with more Korean, from dishes like soondubu jjigae, tofu and your choice of protein served in a spicy, fishy broth, to Korean fried chicken and LA-style short ribs. Imbibers can enjoy an herbaceous rice wine like bekseju or one Chungdam’s bottled Korean or American lagers, serenaded by the continuous loop of K-Pop on the dining room’s TVs.

Tastes of Afghan

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Near the north entrance of the bustling Eastport Food Carts on SE 82nd, Tastes of Afghan encompasses influences from all of the country’s neighboring cultures: Persian, Chinese, Mongolian, as well as south Asian. The cart executes better-known dishes like butter chicken and chicken tikka with care, though the move is to go for Taste of Afghan’s specialties — the sweet and savory harmony of Afghani pulao, tender steamed mantoo dumplings, and a cup of dogh, a tangy mint and cucumber yogurt drink. Indoor seating available, as well as covered outdoor seating with firepits.

Tastes of Afghan cooks standing in the window of their food cart
Tastes of Afghan food cart
Nathan Williams

Year of the Fish

For a town boasting some of the nation’s best fresh seafood, Portland is curiously light on fish and chips options compared with Seattle or the Oregon coast. Located in Carts on Foster in the far northwest angle of the FoPo triangle, Year of the Fish offers creamy clam chowder for a cold rainy day and responsibly sourced fresh oysters; however, the core mission here is fish and chips, fried to the ideal crispy-moist balance. The cod is a solid option, but when fresh halibut is in season, few will regret spending a little extra to enjoy the north Pacific’s subtly sweet crown jewel. The cart and pod offers covered outdoor seating.

Bari Food Cart

Portland is no stranger to Italian food carts, but too often a paper plateful of pasta thwarts the grab-and-go nature of street food. Enter: panzerotti, a fried mini-calzone from Apulia (the “heel of the boot”) and the house specialty at Bari. The fillings range from classic mozzarella, mortadella, and tomato, to more creative specials like smoked salmon; it’s hard to wrong, thanks to the dough itself, almost croissant-like in its lightness. Covered outdoor seating available.

Favela Brazilian Cafe

Suited to a neighborhood that’s a bit of everything, Favela is at once a café, a Brazilian market, and a self-described “intergenerational community gathering space.” Favela features community events like movie nights, live music, Portuguese language workshops, and one-of-a-kind gatherings like “Hot Dog Sip and Paint,” along with a menu of sweet Brazilian coffee drinks — such as cafe doce de leite, or butter caramel coffee. For something heartier, Favela offers a small menu of simple sandwiches, fruits, and desserts, as well as the light-and-cheesy pão de queijo, or Brazilian cheese bread. Open for dine in or takeout via online order.

Assembly Brewing

It’s common knowledge that Portland is chockablock with outstanding breweries, but only one of them serves pizza elite enough to regularly crack “best of Portland” pizza lists. Add that it might just be the best Detroit-style pizza in the city, and suddenly Assembly Brewing is on the cusp of must-visit terrain. The tap list is about half IPAs, with a smattering of stouts, ambers, and other less hoppy suds. For those looking to snack without weighing themselves down with the brick of a Detroit style slice, the juicy pepperoni rolls transcend your typical bar app and highlight the ingredients that make the pizza so stellar — vegetarians can opt for the equally excellent spinach and artichoke rolls. Open for indoor and outdoor dining as well as takeout.

Rose VL Deli

Not to be confused with sister lunch spot HA & VL on SE 82nd, Rose VL Deli opened in 2015 and has already been showered with local and national adoration, winning James Beard semifinalist status. In a sunny, white cafe space off Powell Boulevard, Rose VL serves a rotating selection of soups throughout the week. Each day’s selections have their partisans, though Friday’s triple-header is tough to beat: the sour-acid bún riêu (shrimpcake noodle soup in a tomato broth), the platonic ideal of comfort food via bún thang (shredded chicken noodle soup), or the umami bomb bún nước lèo cá đồng sóc trắng (fermented fish noodle soup). Rose VL is nominally open for dine-in until 4 p.m., but soups typically sell out hours earlier. 

Da' Hui Bar & Grill

Da’ Hui is an honest-to-goodness Hawaiian bar and grill with plenty of ramshackle driftwood and velvet painting charm. The drink menu features stiff tropical standards like Mai Tais, Zombies, and Blue Hawaiians, but the real star here is the food, highlighted by the luscious 10-hour-smoked Kalua pig and fried Spam. All entrees come with mac salad, naturally. Da’ Hui is open for indoor dining and takeout.

Salt & Pepper

Inside the small-but-amply-stocked El Campesino grocery lies the unassuming Salt & Pepper, unaffiliated with the popular SE Belmont cart of the same name. A short flight of stairs leads up to a sparse dining area, where the Peruvian and Mexican food — each in their own menus rather than Mexican-Peruvian fusion — is the focus. Citrus-drenched ceviche is simply but tastefully presented alongside hearty sides of potato and corn, an entrée on its own or a shared opener to one of the richly seasoned beef dishes like seco norteño or the cau cau tripe stew. Salt & Pepper is open for dine-in or pre-ordered takeout online.

Close-up of ceviche topped with onion slices and cilantro.
Ceviche at Salt & Pepper
Nathan Williams

5 & Dime

Taking over the site of a beloved neighborhood pub, 5 & Dime is putting in the work to fill that void. A too-cute bodega theme was dropped in favor of a classic mid-century Nighthawks aesthetic. Skilled bartenders slinging classic mixed drinks alongside rotating themed cocktail menus (‘90s pop songs, fantasy novels), pop-ups from guest chefs, a deep tap list, Blazers games on the TV, and energetic support of local mutual aid efforts are all signs of a bar on its way to becoming a neighborhood staple. Open for indoor drinking and dining.

Barrio

If the food carts are the heavy-lifting muscles of the Portland Mercado, Barrio might just be the heart. It’s the sort of bottle shop and wine bar easy to step into and hard to leave. The Mercado building housing Barrio still feels freshly-constructed, but this small bar has already acquired the organically cluttered patina of a neighborhood gem that’s been around for decades. Warm, friendly bartenders chat with regulars as they pour South American vintages — along with a healthy range of Oregon wines, a handful of local brews, and seasonal sangrias. Takeout options include a michelada kit with precise instructions. The Barrio is open for indoor sipping or outdoor gathering by the pod’s new firepits.

Colorful “Bienvenidos” welcome sign for the wine bar Barrio
Barrio wine bar
Nathan Williams

Principe Maya

Launched in 2015, the Portland Mercado has quickly become an indispensable Southeast Portland gem, featuring a wine bar, coffee shop, carniceria, and nine food carts representing different corners of Latin American cuisine — including Principe Maya. Opened by chef Edilberto Puch after he experienced a pandemic layoff, Principe Maya’s Yucatecan offerings are grounded in the peninsula’s “three sisters”: corn, beans, and squash. Highlights include brazo de reina, corn dough filled with boiled eggs and ground pumpkin seed, and polcan, masa balls stuffed with beans, epazote, onion, chives, and ground pumpkin seed. The Mercado offers covered outdoor and indoor seating.

La Hidalguense

While most carts in Foster-Powell cluster together in busy pods, La Hidalguense is a gastronomic island in a stretch of SE Foster surrounded by insurance offices and dive bars. The three taco special, including rice and beans for just $6, might just be the best deal in Portland, with expertly cooked to order meats served on house-made tortillas that would be a treat all on their own. Outside the world of tacos, the signature dish at La Hidalguense is the unforgettable guajolote: a fried torta housing cheese, boiled egg, and hot dogs sliced lengthwise.

Chungdam Korean Fusion

Sharing a strip mall with the utilitarian WinCo grocery and adjoining a Pizza Hut, Chungdam epitomizes the spirit of Foster-Powell. The name is a bit misleading; if anything it fuses Korean with more Korean, from dishes like soondubu jjigae, tofu and your choice of protein served in a spicy, fishy broth, to Korean fried chicken and LA-style short ribs. Imbibers can enjoy an herbaceous rice wine like bekseju or one Chungdam’s bottled Korean or American lagers, serenaded by the continuous loop of K-Pop on the dining room’s TVs.

Tastes of Afghan

Near the north entrance of the bustling Eastport Food Carts on SE 82nd, Tastes of Afghan encompasses influences from all of the country’s neighboring cultures: Persian, Chinese, Mongolian, as well as south Asian. The cart executes better-known dishes like butter chicken and chicken tikka with care, though the move is to go for Taste of Afghan’s specialties — the sweet and savory harmony of Afghani pulao, tender steamed mantoo dumplings, and a cup of dogh, a tangy mint and cucumber yogurt drink. Indoor seating available, as well as covered outdoor seating with firepits.

Tastes of Afghan cooks standing in the window of their food cart
Tastes of Afghan food cart
Nathan Williams

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