In a time when many Portland neighborhoods seem to be morphing into carbon copies of each other, Cully has managed to hold securely to its distinct personality, despite being on the food world’s radar for a few years now. That’s not to say you won’t find hip vegan cafes or pizza joints from media darling chefs here — you will — but they find balance with a refreshing diversity of cuisines that reflect the character and heart of this Northeast Portland neighborhood.Read More
Where to Eat and Drink in Cully
From pitch-perfect hummus to Laotian fried rice
Santo Domingo Taqueria
Opened in 2006, Santo Domingo Taqueria is the dream of Abraham Carrasco and Gloria Martel, a husband-wife team who bring a taste of their Oaxacan hometown to Portland. The space is modest and sparse, but what really matters is on the plate. The chilaquiles are considered the best in town by many, and any dish that features the crispy-edged and caramelized chorizo is sure to delight.
This bright yellow Nepalese food cart with a rainbow of accent colors serves momos — dumplings — steamed to order, with a choice of a mild or spicy curry-style sauce. All of the momos are satisfying, but the the vegan lentil-and-Himalayan-spice-stuffed momo is a must-try.
42nd Ave Fish and Chips
42nd Avenue Fish and Chips feels like it belongs in rural Louisiana, with the sizzle and scent of cornmeal-crusted catfish in the frier and a quirky cookspace that straddles the line between a home and commercial kitchen. This fish shop offers a range of seafood and sides, as well as a pastry case full of moist house-made goodies that includes ‘better than sex’ cake — diners will have to taste it to believe.
Every neighborhood has a jerk; Cully is lucky that it has a Pizza Jerk. Tommy Habetz’s colorful spot slings East Coast-style pies, with tiny slices of pepperoni that curl up at their crisp edges to cradle just the right amount of pepperoni sweat. This causal pizza spot offers three varieties of a deeper dish, Detroit style pie as well.
Miss Zumstein Bakery, Coffee Shop, Cakes & Desserts
This quaint neighborhood bakery is a classic spot for grab-and-go breakfasts and afternoon desserts, from its eggy potato tarts to its cinnamon-spiced carrot cake, rustically slathered in cream cheese frosting. In the mornings, quiches and biscuits pair beautifully with Extracto espresso drinks.
Spare Room Restaurant & Lounge
Does the Spare Room have incredible food? Not necessarily. But with almost every item clocking in under $10, it’s a Cully dive bar gem. Monday night bingo makes for excellent people-watching, with karaoke and live music providing entertainment the rest of the week. Drinks are strong and cheap and breakfast is served all day, every day of the week.
Beloved Southern chef Maya Lovelace dives deep into fried chicken at her airy counter service spot, but the restaurant is far more than a poultry counter: Some of Lovelace’s best dishes hide on her lists of sides, including her lima beans and rice. The catfish is another stunner, well paired with a perky iceberg salad; plus, the specials board is often loaded with produce-heavy salads, goofy one-off sandwiches, and no-joke desserts.
To many, Cully Central symbolizes a new era for the neighborhood, serving Laotian cuisine with a hipster edge. One part brightly lit sports bar and one part Chuck E. Cheese, the real draw here is the Nam Khao, a Lao dish of delightfully crispy rice with tiny flecks of pork — the pinnacle of fried rice. Cully Central also has an impressive array of local beers and ciders on tap.
Mgwalexs Hawaiian Grill
Mgwalexs Hawaiian Grill could win an award for strangest build-out of a food cart in Portland. To place orders, customers enter through a door next to the cart and find themselves in a makeshift room that feels like a secret. Customers head through yet another door for booth seating, to enjoy some of the best chicken teriyaki and garlic chicken around.
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A self described healthy ‘snack shop,’ Tiny Moreso is appropriately tucked in next to (COM)Motion, an inclusive community yoga and dance studio. Tiny Moreso features smoothies, juices, sandwiches, soups, and snacks, and everything on the menu is vegan and gluten-free. Even though the menu is ever-expanding, it’s still the deceptively creamy rawdelicious vegan cheesecakes that make this vegan cafe, and its lovely instagram feed, stand out from the rest.
On first glance Samo’s looks like any other market with a small deli counter. But this bright and clean cafe’s menu rivals even the fanciest Middle Eastern restaurants in town, thanks to chef Sam Moussa, who bought the bistro and market from its former owner in October 2018. His Mediterranean dishes are bright and balanced, notably the hummus with beef and the kebabs, dolloped with his fluffy and bold toum garlic sauce.
Beeswing is a popular and much lauded brunch spot, thanks to its newspaper lined walls, distinctive lattes and winning brunch dishes. The fried chicken at Beeswing is so beloved that it often sells out, so fried chicken fans should get there early. The Korean take on eggs Benedict, with glistening pork belly on a crispy scallion pancake, is another brunch hit, as well as the fantastically floral honey-lavender scone. There is nothing else like it in the city.
Peter's Bar and Grill
Peter’s Bar is the perfect neighborhood bar, with regulars abound. The staff is gracious and attentive, managing both rooms of this split bar with ease. The Star Quarterback burger very well might be the best bar burger in Portland, with perfectly seasoned meat smothered in caramelized onions, special sauce, and American cheese. It’s messy, but worth it.