Brunch at Beast in Portland
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The Best Restaurants In Portland To Try Now

(Last Updated On: March 29, 2020)

The phrase “best restaurants in Portland” is purely subjective. After all everyone has their own idea of what makes a great restaurant. For some its a combination of ambiance, service and food quality.

While others will settle for a hole in the wall if they have good tater tots! (Tater tots are huge in Portland by the way). This list is compiled from my own personal opinion after living in Portland for nearly eight years.

So, if you find yourself visiting Portland, you should check out one of these restaurants in between tasting the best coffee the city has to offer, exploring all the cool spots to get that instagram worthy photo and embracing the unique and weird things that make Portland hip.

1. Pok Pok

Pok Pok is a must try when visiting Portland. This restaurant consistently ranks on Portlander’s top recommended restaurants to visitors.

Boar collar and mustard greens in ice at Pok Pok NW in Portland

The late reality TV travel and food connoisseur Anthony Bourdain has even made a stop to visit Pok Pok. He tasted the the most popular dish on the menu, fish sauce wings. I know it sounds, well, not very good, but I can assure they are delicious.

Wings from Pok Pok Restaurant In Portland, Oregon
Wings from Pok Pok Restaurant In Portland, Oregon

The Pok Pok wings have become so popular that owner and chef Andy Ricker has even opened up a few Pok Pok Wing restaurants catered to serving up the wings to-go style, along with a few other signature dishes.

Pok Pok wings with a cranberry drinking vinegar cocktail

When visiting I recommend venturing to Pok Pok’s original location on SE Division Street so that you can soak up the small, cozy and dimly lit space. On weekends, lines can form at this location because it is so popular. So, if lines aren’t your thing, you can venture to the NW Portland location which only reserves half of their seats to allow for plenty of walk-ins.

2. Departures: One of the best restaurants in Portland, for sure!

Departures makes my best restaurants in Portland list for three reasons. First it has a stunning view. The restaurant is located in Portland’s central downtown pioneer square neighborhood and Departures is on the top floor of the Nines hotel. In warmer weather there is patio seating outside so you can dine with a view.

Coffee following lunch at Departures in downtown Portland
Coffee apres lunch at Departures in Portland, OR

The second reason Departures is one of the best restaurants in Portland is the food quality. If you are a fan of the Bravo Top Chef reality TV Cooking show than you are sure to recognize the head chef, Gregory Gourdet.

Me and my mom at Departures restaurant
(Me, alongside my mom eating on the rooftop of Departures restaurant in downtown Portland)

Chef Gourdet is the head of culinary cuisine here and he has some fun signature dishes. My recommendation is to order the ishiyaki steak that comes sizzling atop a warm stone. It’s a pretty cool dish. Small, but well done, and in my opinion a must try.

The third reason I recommend Departures restaurant is because it has a noteworthy happy hour. If you come during happy hour you can get to try some wonderful food, with a stunning view for literally half the price.

3. Nodoguro

For the ultimate big splurge and an evening you will not forget, I recommend Nodoguro. Located on SE Belmont Street in Portland, this multi-course Japanese farm to table dinner is perfect for special occasions.

In true Portland hipster fashion, this restaurant has some novelty to arranging a reservation. Here is what I mean:

Front entrance of nodoguro
Front entrance to Nodoguro restaurant in SE Portland

First off, in order to get a seat at the table you must sign up for Nodoguro’s newsletter. A newsletter will be sent once a month informing interested patron’s of the exact moment when reservations will open.

Nodoguro restaurant portland
Chef’s preparing food in front of us at Nodoguro

The newsletter will give very specific instructions such as “on May 25th at 4:17pm PST reservations will open up for next month.”

Once you have been given the special time, you need to act fast to sign up for a reservation.

menu at Nodoguro Portland
Menu and table setting at Nodoguro

This in my opinion is part of the fun of arranging for a fun night of prix-fixed food. But if you are visiting from out of town and want a reservation the key is to plan ahead.

I say this is a splurge because the 15 course tasting menu runs $125 per person. That is also excluding any drinks that you may want to accompany your meal.

Nodoguro offers a wide variety of Japanese saki as well as beer and wine.
Nodoguro offers a range of Japanese alcoholic saki beverages

I know that is very high, and that’s why I say this is a splurge, and a fun thing to do for a special occasion.

My husband and I went through all of this rigmarole to get a reservation last year, and honestly it exceeded expectations.

Nodoguro restaurant Portland
Dinning room at Nodoguro restaurant

We ate all of the courses. Now, did I LOVE everything? No, of course not. There are going to be somethings that you just try for the experience.

Me eating a smelt fish
(Me, about to eat a deep fried smelt fish with curry seasoning.)

But maybe you will like everything?

A sampling of food at Nodoguro in Portland
A sampling of some of our dinner at Nodoguro

4. Tasty N’ Alder

Without a doubt Tasty n’ Alder is one of the best restaurants in Portland and also one of my favorite places to go to brunch.

Tasty n’ Alder is the idealistic picture of a Portland hipster cool brunch spot. A 9:00AM opening means get in line at 8:30…8:45AM if your pushing it.

My mom and I having brunch at Tasty N' Alder Portland OR
My mom and I at Tasty n’ Alder in Portland OR

Once inside the cheerful, airy and light filled space provides the perfect start to your weekend brunch. I should also mention that you can come here for lunch and dinner, but brunch is king.

A few of my favorite things to get at Tasty n’ Alder are the chocolate potato donuts and the biscuit breakfast sandwich. Honestly you can’t go wrong. One of the most popular brunch items on the menu is the bim bop bacon and eggs.

Chocolate Potato donuts at Tasty and Alder
Chocolate Potato donuts at Tasty n’ Alder Portand, OR

One thing you should know about Tasty n’ Alder is that fare is served up family style, which means that all items are meant to be shared, and will come out on a first serve basis.

Biscuit sandwich Tasty n' Alder Portland Oregon
Breakfast sandwich at Tasty N’ Alder

However, I have been plenty of times and have ordered the traditional way, planning to consume everything I ordered on my own. Which is fine too.

5. Andina

Andina is a Peruvian restaurant located in Portland’s NW Pearl district neighborhood on the very cool 13th Street. This area has a lot of shops and restaurants housed in old industrial warehouse buildings that have since been converted for commercial use.

Andina Portland
Me with a fun drink at Andina in Portland

Andina is a classic white tablecloth elegant dining experience, but without stuffiness. A few nights during the week, usually Friday and Saturdays, live music is known to light up the dinner hour.

Appetizer at Andina in Portland, Oregon
Appetizer at Andina in Portland, Oregon

Classic Peruvian dishes and imported beers can be found on the menu. I have been here a handful of times and it never disappoints. It is fairly easy to get a reservation as well.

6. Jacqueline

For a true taste of pacific northwest fare look no further than Jacqueline. A true hidden gem located on SE Clinton St. on Portland’s east side, just a block away from the ever so popular restaurant mecca of Portland, Division Street.

Front door of Jacqueline PDX restaurant
Front door of Jacqueline PDX restaurant

But if you just wander over to SE Clinton Street on the corner of SE 21st and Clinton lies Jacqueline. The first time I had dinner here it was a typical pacific northwest rainy evening.

Menu Jacqueline Restaurant Portland
Menu Jacqueline Restaurant Portland

After parking my husband and I parked our car we ran through the rain drops and were delighted at the respite we found at Jacqueline.

Baguette on the table at Jacqueline
Baguette on the table at Jacqueline

Ambiance here is on point. Dimly lit for dinner with candles on each table with a backdrop of an oyster shucker behind the bar serving up the ever so popular happy hour oysters.

Me, Jane Boughton enjoying some wine at Jacquline Portland
Me, Jane Boughton enjoying some wine at Jacquline Portland

If you come with a group for the happy hour, please know that the rule is only one dozen of oysters per table at a time. Why? I have no idea. But I think it is so people don’t go overboard on oysters before ordering their main dishes.

Oysters at Jacqueline PDX
Oysters at Jacqueline PDX

I recommend this spot for an authentic Portland seafood experience. The charm of the interior decor is ocean meets film.

Main course Jacqueline Portland
Main course Jacqueline Portland

I say that because behind the bar is a painted portrait of Bill Murray’s character from the Wes Anderson film Life Aquatic. In addition to the ode to Bill Murray the walls are adorned with oyster shuckers and framed fish.

Bar at Jacqueline Restaurant Portland
Bar at Jacqueline Restaurant Portland

7. Beast

Brunch at Beast in Portland
Brunch at Beast in Portland

For one of the best brunches in Portland, head to Beast located in the northeast section of Portland.

Now I know you are probably thinking that you don’t want to wait in a long line for some cool Portland brunch spot…and here you don’t have to. Beast is a prix fix french restaurant that only takes reservations.

Brunch at Beast  in Portland Oregon
Brunch at Beast in Portland Oregon

The weekend brunch option is super reasonable at $40 dollars for a three course meal experience.

dinning table at Beast in Portland Oregon
dinning table at Beast in Portland Oregon

My mom and I came here a few years ago and absolutely loved it. Dinning here is family style, which means everyone sits together among two big tables. This was fun! We met a woman traveling solo from Australia that was really nice to talk to.

Breakfast at Beast Portland Oregon
Breakfast at Beast Portland Oregon

The chefs prepare all courses before your eyes while Whitney Houston’s I wanna dance with somebody plays in the background.

I highly recommend the brunch experience, and I am sure the dinner is just as good!

8. Ava Genes

If you are in the mood for Italian fare, look no further than Ava Genes restaurant located on SE Division Street in downtown Portland.

Interior Ava Genes Portland Oregon
Interior Ava Genes Portland Oregon

My husband and I came here for my birthday about four years ago and really enjoyed the entire evening.

Jane Boughton at Ava Genes Portland Oregon
Jane Boughton at Ava Genes Portland Oregon

Head chef Joshua McFadden guides the menu to perfection and does not disappoint with pastas created with locally sourced fours.

Pasta at Ava Genes Portland, Oregon
Pasta at Ava Genes Portland, Oregon

Portland’s Willamette Week news outlet has even reported that they mill some of their flour in house. I think that is pretty cool if you ask me.

Ava Gene's Menu Portland
Ava Gene’s Menu Portland

One thing I really remember is how good it smelled inside. The open air wood fire grill made the whole restaurant feel so warm. On a fall day in late September this was the coziest place to be.

Pasta at Ava Genes Portland Oregon
Pasta at Ava Genes Portland Oregon

The pasta dishes exceeded expectations. The wait staff was professional and so kind. For those reasons Ava Genes makes my list of best restaurants in Portland.

9. Speilman Bagels

Although the west coast is not known for its bagels like New York, I believe I have found one of the best spots in the city, Speilman Bagels.

Speilman Bagel and Coffee Portland
Speilman Bagel and Coffee Portland

Speilman is a local spot with a handful of locations scattered across Portland. What began as a father son coffee and bagel spot back in 2011 grew a name for itself while patrons couldn’t get enough of the unique sourdough, kettle boiled bagels.

My favorite location is the one on Lovejoy St. in northwest Portland near the bustling NW 23rd Avenue.

10. McCormick & Schmick’s

Number 10 on my list is a chain, admittedly, however it originated in Portland. For that reason it makes the best restaurants in Portland list.

Lobster Bisque Portland Oregon
Lobster Bisque Portland Oregon

The restaurant location stands on the edge of the Willamette river. Which provides glorious views of the boat harbor. In the summer time patio tables are arranged on the walkway with umbrella’s to shade you.

Seafood at McCormick & Schmick's Portland
Seafood at McCormick & Schmick’s Portland

My husband and I have gone to McCormick & Schmick’s so many times I can’t even count. We are actually Landry club card members! We have come here to celebrate special occasions, go to happy hour, watch sports games, have a nice meal on Christmas day and even Valentines day.

Me, at McCormick & Schmick's on Christmas Day
Me, at McCormick & Schmick’s on Christmas Day

I hope you have enjoyed this round-up of the best restaurants in Portland to try the next time your in town. Bon appetite!

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