Eating out in Portland is hard.
That was the complaint of a recent transplant to the City of Roses which is becoming known as the city for people who love to eat and drink.
There are an overwhelming number of places to choose from in this city of ambitious chefs, eaters and drinkers. On one block, you could eat your way around the globe with Russian, Iraqi or Ethiopian food. In between, eateries push the progressive edge of haute cuisine and the eat local food movement.
Two years ago, the Washington Post ranked Portland the No. 1 Best Food City in the U.S. writing, “With the possible exception of New Orleans, no American city obsesses more about food – buying it, cooking it, eating it, talking about it.”
The only thing between you and the gastronomic adventure of a lifetime is a roughly six-hour drive. Here are a few thoughts on where to park your fork when you get there.
To thoroughly partake of the lively libations scene, download a ride-sharing app for Lyft or Uber and be transported around town without a care.
Breakfast is out in Portland; brunch is in, most likely because people stay up late filling their gullets. Brunch is better timed for a rested digestive system.
Tin Shed Garden Cafe Expect a long wait, but pint-sized grapefruit mimosas, bloody marys and an outdoor patio with a fire make it worth it. Fuel up on scrambles, potato cakes and dishes like the Tim Curry: roasted sweet potato, seasonal greens and tofu in coconut-curry sauce.
Gravy A solid breakfast and lunch choice with lots of dishes under $12.
Pine State Biscuits Spawned by three homesick Southern boys, Pine State Biscuits is a mainstay with multiple locations serving up its time-tested recipe for flaky, buttery, bready goodness. Of course there’s gravy, but you’ll also find sweets like toaster pastries filled with blackberries, blueberries, lavender and lemon zest.
Slappy Cakes Kids love this restaurant, which features DIY pancakes on individual table-top griddles. Various kinds of batter are made daily, and there are many toppings to finish off your creation, from the obvious chocolate chips to a savory mornay sauce.
Guilder The focus of this stop is great coffee, but the food is nothing to sniff at. Check out dishes like the Red Flannel Hash, a fried egg with beets, potatoes, greens and chive yogurt.
Dinner in Portland is relaxed, colorful and fun, but be prepared for lines and wait times. You’ll find lots of vegan and vegetarian options, but carnivorous appetites get equal attention.
Ox Be sure to make a reservation if you plan to eat at this Argentine-inspired restaurant, winner of the 2017 James Beard Award for Best Chef Northwest. A go-to place for steak and fire-grilled meats served up with chimichurri and bread. Or maybe you prefer squid and octopus salad.
Kachka An ode to Soviet-era food, this Russian restaurant features an amazing array of exotic house-infused vodkas (think horseradish or buckthorn berries) along with dishes like Siberian dumplings, herring dip and rabbit in a clay pot: a hindquarter braised in smetana with porcini, sour cherries and garlic.
Laurelhurst Market Voted Oregon’s Best Steakhouse in 2017, Laurelhurst Market encompasses a steakhouse, butchery stocked by local farmers and sandwich shop. For dinner, start with chicken liver mousse or marrow bones and move on to bigger things like cocoa-and-chicory-rubbed hanger steak.
Jackrabbit Meat. Lots of meat, including an entire pig’s head, can be found at this restaurant opened by “Top Chef Masters” winner Chris Cosentino on the ground floor of a downtown boutique hotel. Cocktails such as Fallen Roses, made with Pimm’s No. 3, ginger beer and bubbles, shouldn’t be overlooked.
Bar Bar A renovated church in the Mississippi District is home to a cozy live music scene that was built, owned and operated by musicians. Find food and drink in this adjoining bar, serving burgers, salads and drinks.
Shalom Y’all Israeli street food like falafel, hummus and freekah tabouleh salad in a small, fun atmosphere with diverting cocktails like the Death in Tel Aviv martini.