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Saleeg, fattoush, meze, and tabouli all sit on a table at Queen Mama’s Kitchen.
An assortment of dishes at Queen Mama’s Kitchen.
Brooke Jackson-Glidden/Eater Portland

Where to Eat and Drink in Downtown Portland

Where to get a quick work lunch or a bite post-Powell’s

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An assortment of dishes at Queen Mama’s Kitchen.
| Brooke Jackson-Glidden/Eater Portland

Downtown Portland is home to a wide variety of dining experiences, from street food to fancy restaurants, with everything from Isan Thai to Sichuan to Belizean cuisine represented.

When locals advise out-of-towners, they often dissuade them from spending much time downtown — “it’s not an accurate representation of the city” is the usual argument. However, to deny Portland’s downtown as a part of the city is to erase some of its longest-standing restaurants, some of its most interesting historic places, and some of its most beautiful buildings. Of course, if you visit Portland and only spend time downtown, you’re not seeing a full picture of Portland — this guide should give you what you need for a holistic look at the city.

This map has a stickler’s definition of downtown: nothing west of 405, and nothing north of Burnside. For restaurant options in the nearby Pearl, this map should do just fine; find options in nearby Old Town here.

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Maurice

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If Måurice isn’t Portland’s best downtown lunch spot (it might very well be), then it’s easily its most charming. Kristen D. Murray and her crew take seasonal ingredients and spin them into gold-standard salads, gorgeous smørrebrød, and airy quiches. Visitors should sample a few fika — the black pepper cheesecake, in particular, is an iconic Portland dish — as well as any seafood dishes on the menu. Note: The restaurant is running a bistro-themed menu through January 2024.

Located across the street from Waterfront Park, Lechon’s sprawling interior, replete with aquariums filled with jellyfish, attracts tourists and locals for its happy hour and festive energy. The dinner menu serves satisfying South American fare like Peruvian lomo saltado, grilled octopus with chorizo, and achiote-marinated lamb chops, eaten alongside the restaurant’s cocktails — nonalcoholic or otherwise.

Toki Restaurant

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Peter Cho and Sun Young Park, the owners of the oft-praised Han Oak, made the jump across the river with this casual, all-day Korean spot. It’s the kind of restaurant that works in a number of different scenarios: bacon, egg, and cheese bao for weekend brunch; Korean fried chicken wings and bibimbap for Friday night takeout; or dine-in feasts of bo ssam, beef and vegetable mandu, and hand-pulled noodles tossed in chile oil. Pair any meal with soju or makgeolli, or cocktails made with both.

Queen Mama's Kitchen

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This ornate, gold-and-blue-hued restaurant started as the area’s only explicitly Saudi Arabian cart, and it remains one of the few options for the country’s cuisine in the city. Owner Maha Alhabi serves a rotating special on a daily basis: Thursday dinners involve saleeg, a Saudi Arabian take on risotto with juicy roast poultry and Egyptian rice, while Friday’s smoky lamb mandi is fragrant with cardamom and dried lime. Meals should start with the restaurant’s take on stuffed grape leaves, bright with citrus and pomegranate molasses, as well as meze classics like a smoky baba ghanoush and silken hummus. After dinner, the restaurant’s coffee service, served in shiny brass dallahs with dates for sweetness, can arrive alongside a slice of cheesecake drizzled in pistachio sauce.

A blue plate with small containers of hummus, baba ghanoush, and stuffed grape leaves at Queen Mama’s Kitchen in Portland, Oregon.
Meze from Queen Mama’s.
Brooke Jackson-Glidden/Eater Portland

Sun Rice

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Tucked inside the lobby of Portland’s Moxy hotel, Sun Rice specializes in silogs, Filipino breakfasts incorporating garlicky rice and fried eggs. Protein choices range from Pinoy classics like chicken adobo and lechon kawali, as well as fun one-off specials like corned beef and seared albacore steaks in coconut sauce. For something a little more portable, opt for Sun Rice’s breakfast slider, a Hawaiian roll loaded with a fried egg, bacon, a hash brown patty, Tillamook cheddar, and tocino yogurt.

A crispy pork belly rice bowl at Sun Rice within the Moxy Hotel. The bowl comes with tomatoes and shallots, garlic rice, lechon kawali, and a sunny-side-up egg.
Pork belly rice bowl at Sun Rice.
Brooke Jackson-Glidden/Eater Portland

Stretch the Noodle

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This sweet downtown Portland food cart lives up to its name: Chefs stretch chewy noodles of various shapes and sizes each day from within the Midtown Beer Garden pod. Some come tossed in chile oil; others arrive piled high with herbs in a delicate beef broth. Each noodle order, however, should also come with a set of fat shrimp dumplings, if available.

Bullard Tavern

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Bullard Tavern exudes the vibes of an investment banker’s mountain lodge in an oddly soothing way, but the menu feels like something out of a ’60s supper club with a Texan twist — think: seafood towers, wood-grilled salmon with smoked jalapeño-caper relish, smoked beef carpaccio. Plus, the restaurant’s bar is a party, with large-format margaritas, flights of picklebacks, and an assortment of boilermakers. The restaurant’s beef rib, served with guac and house flour tortillas, is a fun choice for special occasions.

Mucca Osteria

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This Southwest Morrison Italian restaurant feels well-suited for anniversary dinners and celebrations, with its prix fixe menu and attentive servers. The restaurant’s antipasti is stacked with stunners, from the globe of burrata nestled in prosciutto to the seared scallops topped with shallot relish. It’s best to finish up with a bowl of house-made pasta, be it tortelli filled with mushrooms and ricotta or bright-yellow egg yolk tagliatelle in wild boar ragu. 

Sichuan Taste Chinese Restaurant

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It’s fun to see a true Sichuan restaurant open within the heart of the city, one offering bowls of peppery broth and tender bullfrog, savory-spicy dry pot with prawns, or piles of seafood and offal under a handful of sesame seeds, cilantro, and chiles. Any of the frog dishes here are stellar, springy and tender but not rubbery, as well as the eggplant with the satisfying funk of century egg.

Southpark Seafood

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This Salmon Street seafood restaurant is a common stop ahead of shows at the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall, where families splurge on Pacific Northwestern oysters, shellfish-loaded cioppino, or grilled swordfish. The wine list is stocked with Oregon bottles, including many that complement the main menu; during happy hour, glasses of wine are available for $6, which means a glass of rosé and a shrimp cocktail clocks in under $20.

Luc Lac Vietnamese Kitchen

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Back in the day, this trendy Vietnamese restaurant would be thumping music until 4 a.m., churning out bowls of late-night pho and banh mi to bar-crawlers on Saturday nights. These days, it’s a far less rowdy operation, with the restaurant’s dining room and patio shutting down before midnight. Still, the lines curling around the corner don’t lie: Luc Lac is as good as ever, from the vermicelli tossed with grilled pork and herbs to the bobbing meatballs in a steamy bowl of pho. The restaurant’s namesake dish, hunks of beef tenderloin tossed in a buttery Hennessy sauce, remains a favorite. 

Behind The Museum Cafe

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Quite literally behind the Portland Art Museum, this tea shop and cafe is a sweet respite in an unexpected locale. Sip on delicate genmaicha between bites of salmon onigiri, or simply opt for a matcha set and a handful of sweets. It’s open for indoor and outdoor dining, as well as takeout and delivery.

Higgins Restaurant & Bar

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Higgins is one of this town’s classic refined dining restaurants, known for its Northwestern fare. Menus regularly shift with the seasons, from winter cioppino filled with Pacific seafood to summer Oregon bay shrimp salads with salsa verde. The restaurant’s in-house charcuterie remains a constant year-round, best ordered as a part of its grand platter.

Love Belizean

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This restaurant serves dishes like yellow-hued coconut curry and stewed red beans, but it’s all about the Belizean chicken: saucy, braised thighs with chiles and onions, though its skin stays surprisingly crispy. It’s well complemented by the shop’s various house-made habanero sauces. 

Murata Restaurant

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Murata has held its spot on Market Street since 1988, the epitome of an old-school Japanese restaurant in the best way. Devotees nab open tatami rooms where they tuck into homey orders of broiled mackerel or ochazuke. The real highlight at Murata, however, has to be its sushi — the restaurant’s set dinners, chef’s choice combinations preceded by miso and small snacks, epitomize why the restaurant has survived the last 30-plus years. Keep an eye on the specials board, as well.

Tasty Corner Chinese Restaurant

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This Southwest Portland Chinese restaurant is a prime spot for mala-tingly mapo tofu, house-made hand-shaven noodles, and cumin lamb, served alongside serviceable cocktails and Chinese American standards like General Tso’s. Anything in the Sichuan canon is a safe bet, though the restaurant’s dumplings and wontons are also impressive here, as well.

Som Tum Thai Kitchen

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There is plenty of fantastic Thai food in Portland, but this under-the-radar Isan restaurant on the Portland State University campus punches above its weight. Sirapob Chaiprathum, who goes by Q, pounds bright and complex papaya salads using things like field crabs and Laotian fish sauce, while pots of simmering broths waft galangal-and-lemongrass-scented steam. Those seeking the comfort of pad Thai or crab fried rice will find it here, but for the full experience, the restaurant’s sampler platters, named for Thai temples, are great for groups. 

Duck House Chinese Restaurant

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Since it opened in 2016, Duck House has been a mainstay for slick dan dan noodles, plump xiao long bao, and juicy wontons in chile oil among both Portland State University students and Chinese food aficionados. Most of the noodles, Sichuan dishes, and dumplings will please a crowd, but the one thing you won’t find at Duck House, ironically, is duck.

Maurice

If Måurice isn’t Portland’s best downtown lunch spot (it might very well be), then it’s easily its most charming. Kristen D. Murray and her crew take seasonal ingredients and spin them into gold-standard salads, gorgeous smørrebrød, and airy quiches. Visitors should sample a few fika — the black pepper cheesecake, in particular, is an iconic Portland dish — as well as any seafood dishes on the menu. Note: The restaurant is running a bistro-themed menu through January 2024.

Lechon

Located across the street from Waterfront Park, Lechon’s sprawling interior, replete with aquariums filled with jellyfish, attracts tourists and locals for its happy hour and festive energy. The dinner menu serves satisfying South American fare like Peruvian lomo saltado, grilled octopus with chorizo, and achiote-marinated lamb chops, eaten alongside the restaurant’s cocktails — nonalcoholic or otherwise.

Toki Restaurant

Peter Cho and Sun Young Park, the owners of the oft-praised Han Oak, made the jump across the river with this casual, all-day Korean spot. It’s the kind of restaurant that works in a number of different scenarios: bacon, egg, and cheese bao for weekend brunch; Korean fried chicken wings and bibimbap for Friday night takeout; or dine-in feasts of bo ssam, beef and vegetable mandu, and hand-pulled noodles tossed in chile oil. Pair any meal with soju or makgeolli, or cocktails made with both.

Queen Mama's Kitchen

This ornate, gold-and-blue-hued restaurant started as the area’s only explicitly Saudi Arabian cart, and it remains one of the few options for the country’s cuisine in the city. Owner Maha Alhabi serves a rotating special on a daily basis: Thursday dinners involve saleeg, a Saudi Arabian take on risotto with juicy roast poultry and Egyptian rice, while Friday’s smoky lamb mandi is fragrant with cardamom and dried lime. Meals should start with the restaurant’s take on stuffed grape leaves, bright with citrus and pomegranate molasses, as well as meze classics like a smoky baba ghanoush and silken hummus. After dinner, the restaurant’s coffee service, served in shiny brass dallahs with dates for sweetness, can arrive alongside a slice of cheesecake drizzled in pistachio sauce.

A blue plate with small containers of hummus, baba ghanoush, and stuffed grape leaves at Queen Mama’s Kitchen in Portland, Oregon.
Meze from Queen Mama’s.
Brooke Jackson-Glidden/Eater Portland

Sun Rice

Tucked inside the lobby of Portland’s Moxy hotel, Sun Rice specializes in silogs, Filipino breakfasts incorporating garlicky rice and fried eggs. Protein choices range from Pinoy classics like chicken adobo and lechon kawali, as well as fun one-off specials like corned beef and seared albacore steaks in coconut sauce. For something a little more portable, opt for Sun Rice’s breakfast slider, a Hawaiian roll loaded with a fried egg, bacon, a hash brown patty, Tillamook cheddar, and tocino yogurt.

A crispy pork belly rice bowl at Sun Rice within the Moxy Hotel. The bowl comes with tomatoes and shallots, garlic rice, lechon kawali, and a sunny-side-up egg.
Pork belly rice bowl at Sun Rice.
Brooke Jackson-Glidden/Eater Portland

Stretch the Noodle

This sweet downtown Portland food cart lives up to its name: Chefs stretch chewy noodles of various shapes and sizes each day from within the Midtown Beer Garden pod. Some come tossed in chile oil; others arrive piled high with herbs in a delicate beef broth. Each noodle order, however, should also come with a set of fat shrimp dumplings, if available.

Bullard Tavern

Bullard Tavern exudes the vibes of an investment banker’s mountain lodge in an oddly soothing way, but the menu feels like something out of a ’60s supper club with a Texan twist — think: seafood towers, wood-grilled salmon with smoked jalapeño-caper relish, smoked beef carpaccio. Plus, the restaurant’s bar is a party, with large-format margaritas, flights of picklebacks, and an assortment of boilermakers. The restaurant’s beef rib, served with guac and house flour tortillas, is a fun choice for special occasions.

Mucca Osteria

This Southwest Morrison Italian restaurant feels well-suited for anniversary dinners and celebrations, with its prix fixe menu and attentive servers. The restaurant’s antipasti is stacked with stunners, from the globe of burrata nestled in prosciutto to the seared scallops topped with shallot relish. It’s best to finish up with a bowl of house-made pasta, be it tortelli filled with mushrooms and ricotta or bright-yellow egg yolk tagliatelle in wild boar ragu. 

Sichuan Taste Chinese Restaurant

It’s fun to see a true Sichuan restaurant open within the heart of the city, one offering bowls of peppery broth and tender bullfrog, savory-spicy dry pot with prawns, or piles of seafood and offal under a handful of sesame seeds, cilantro, and chiles. Any of the frog dishes here are stellar, springy and tender but not rubbery, as well as the eggplant with the satisfying funk of century egg.

Southpark Seafood

This Salmon Street seafood restaurant is a common stop ahead of shows at the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall, where families splurge on Pacific Northwestern oysters, shellfish-loaded cioppino, or grilled swordfish. The wine list is stocked with Oregon bottles, including many that complement the main menu; during happy hour, glasses of wine are available for $6, which means a glass of rosé and a shrimp cocktail clocks in under $20.

Luc Lac Vietnamese Kitchen

Back in the day, this trendy Vietnamese restaurant would be thumping music until 4 a.m., churning out bowls of late-night pho and banh mi to bar-crawlers on Saturday nights. These days, it’s a far less rowdy operation, with the restaurant’s dining room and patio shutting down before midnight. Still, the lines curling around the corner don’t lie: Luc Lac is as good as ever, from the vermicelli tossed with grilled pork and herbs to the bobbing meatballs in a steamy bowl of pho. The restaurant’s namesake dish, hunks of beef tenderloin tossed in a buttery Hennessy sauce, remains a favorite. 

Behind The Museum Cafe

Quite literally behind the Portland Art Museum, this tea shop and cafe is a sweet respite in an unexpected locale. Sip on delicate genmaicha between bites of salmon onigiri, or simply opt for a matcha set and a handful of sweets. It’s open for indoor and outdoor dining, as well as takeout and delivery.

Higgins Restaurant & Bar

Higgins is one of this town’s classic refined dining restaurants, known for its Northwestern fare. Menus regularly shift with the seasons, from winter cioppino filled with Pacific seafood to summer Oregon bay shrimp salads with salsa verde. The restaurant’s in-house charcuterie remains a constant year-round, best ordered as a part of its grand platter.

Love Belizean

This restaurant serves dishes like yellow-hued coconut curry and stewed red beans, but it’s all about the Belizean chicken: saucy, braised thighs with chiles and onions, though its skin stays surprisingly crispy. It’s well complemented by the shop’s various house-made habanero sauces. 

Murata Restaurant

Murata has held its spot on Market Street since 1988, the epitome of an old-school Japanese restaurant in the best way. Devotees nab open tatami rooms where they tuck into homey orders of broiled mackerel or ochazuke. The real highlight at Murata, however, has to be its sushi — the restaurant’s set dinners, chef’s choice combinations preceded by miso and small snacks, epitomize why the restaurant has survived the last 30-plus years. Keep an eye on the specials board, as well.

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Tasty Corner Chinese Restaurant

This Southwest Portland Chinese restaurant is a prime spot for mala-tingly mapo tofu, house-made hand-shaven noodles, and cumin lamb, served alongside serviceable cocktails and Chinese American standards like General Tso’s. Anything in the Sichuan canon is a safe bet, though the restaurant’s dumplings and wontons are also impressive here, as well.

Som Tum Thai Kitchen

There is plenty of fantastic Thai food in Portland, but this under-the-radar Isan restaurant on the Portland State University campus punches above its weight. Sirapob Chaiprathum, who goes by Q, pounds bright and complex papaya salads using things like field crabs and Laotian fish sauce, while pots of simmering broths waft galangal-and-lemongrass-scented steam. Those seeking the comfort of pad Thai or crab fried rice will find it here, but for the full experience, the restaurant’s sampler platters, named for Thai temples, are great for groups. 

Duck House Chinese Restaurant

Since it opened in 2016, Duck House has been a mainstay for slick dan dan noodles, plump xiao long bao, and juicy wontons in chile oil among both Portland State University students and Chinese food aficionados. Most of the noodles, Sichuan dishes, and dumplings will please a crowd, but the one thing you won’t find at Duck House, ironically, is duck.

Related Maps