Top 12 Best Restaurants in Portland

Last Updated on February 10, 2024 by Emily Johnson

Hailed for decades among America’s elite food cities nurturing many pioneering chefs, Portland dining still wows palates with pure ingredients coaxed to creative perfection through global techniques. From James Beard Award winning institutions upholding exacting standards over generations to recent arrivals igniting instant buzz on national “best new restaurant” rankings, exceptional fare abounds for local gourmands.

Restaurant NameSpecialization
Higgins RestaurantFarm-to-table cuisine, upscale atmosphere
NodoguroOmakase sushi speakeasy, luxury
CanardInnovative duck dishes, speakeasy vibe
BeastPrix-fixe dinners, intimate setting
Pho OregonVietnamese cuisine, iconic Phorritto
Tallulah’s Wine LoungeWine-centric dining, brunch offerings
EemBBQ with Filipino influences
NavarreEuro-Northwest cuisine, small plates
Hat YaiMalaysian flavors, casual café
ZaytonaLevantine cuisine, family recipes
Assembly BrewingBrewpub with comfort fare, brunch options

Beyond critical achievement in magazines or prestigious industry accolades though, satisfying eats ultimately connect hungry diners seeking memorable meals made with care across an ever-evolving spectrum of flavors, preparations, and dining formats. Consider your palate pampered via distinctive Portland flavor found at these 12 highly regarded restaurants.

Higgins Restaurant

Name and Location: Higgins Restaurant is located in downtown Portland and serves locally-sourced Pacific Northwest cuisine.

History and Significance: Opened in 1994 by renowned chef Greg Higgins, Higgins Restaurant helped shape Portland’s now-famous farm-to-table dining scene using fresh regional ingredients.

What to Expect: The seasonally-driven menu features dishes like roasted chicken,natural steaks, house-made pasta and an extensive wine list. The ambiance is upscale yet comfortable.

Visitor Information: Open for dinner nightly, lunch Monday through Friday. Reservations strongly recommended, jackets suggested but not required. Valet parking available.

When Clyde Common’s Chef de Cuisine took the James Beard Award shortly after Higgins’ namesake owner scored the coveted Outstanding Chef designation, it demonstrated succeeding generations upholding elite Portland dining’s gold standard trailblazed here since 1994. Still, few restaurants achieve such consistent excellence over nearly 30 years through diners consistently praising菜单 farm-foraged morel agnolotti, Pacific halibut with grilled lettuce emulsion, and hazelnut pot de crèmeas culinary art worth the price of admission. Upscale atmosphere notwithstanding, the kitchen’s flawless execution and flavor balance makes Higgins an approachable Portland institution.

Nodoguro

Name and Location: Nodoguro is an intimate Japanese inspired restaurant located in the Pearl District of Portland.

History and Significance: Executive chef Ryan Roadhouse opened Nodoguro in 2016, gaining acclaim for his unique Pacific Northwest-Japanese fusion dishes and omakase tasting menus.

What to Expect: A set multi-course omakase menu changing monthly based on seasonal ingredients. Reservations are for parties of 2 or 4 with counter seating facing the open kitchen.

Visitor Information: Open Wednesday through Saturday evenings for a single nightly seating. Reservations are taken one month in advance. Valet parking available.

Celebrity chef Michael Israel fused fine dining chops with intense Japanese training to open this ambitious 14-seat sushi speakeasy hybrid in 2016, dazzling Portlanders through entirely omakase dining surrendering all control to the itamae’s creative discretion. Seating times must be reserved in advance to enter this hidden downtown gem revealing subtle stylistic luxury and meticulous edible works of art using globally sourced ingredients and technical precision better experienced than described. Plan to linger two hours minimum to respectfully relish all courses within an eight to twelve bite degustation journey certain to surpass any preconceived notion of sushi previously held.

Canard

Name and Location: Canard is located in Portland’s Central Eastside Industrial District and specializes in French/Pacific Northwest cuisine and duck dishes.

History and Significance: Opened by Gabriel Rucker in 2007, Canard has earned praise for melding classic French techniques with Oregon ingredients like truffles, hazelnuts and wild mushrooms on its seasonal menus.

What to Expect: Dishes change frequently but the rotating selections usually include several duck preparations like seared breast or leg confit along with vegetarian options. The atmosphere is casual yet sophisticated.

Visitor Information: Open nightly for dinner and weekend brunch. Reservations recommended for dinner. Street and garage parking available.

Founder Gabe Rucker redefined Portland’s culinary narrative over a decorated decade through daring whole animal preparations, foraged bounty and outrageous foie creations at now shuttered Le Pigeon. His newer Downtown concept Canard keeps the hospitality edgy in a speakeasy space specializing in choice duck parts creatively showcased over multiple courses complemented by Willamette wines or house cocktails sporting savory namesakes like the fun Splatter Shot loaded with roasted tomato. Come hungry to a communal table seating to best appreciate his signature smoked moulard leg with kimchi cornbread waffle and consider desserting via Crack Burger next door.

Beast

Name and Location: Beast is an intimate restaurant focusing on a prix fixe dining experience located in Portland’s Eastside Industrial neighborhood.

History and Significance: Opened in 2007, Beast and chef Naomi Pomeroy have earned national acclaim for multi-course dinners celebrating Pacific Northwest bounty through dishes like forest-foraged mushrooms and Columbia River Salmon.

What to Expect: A fixed six-course dinner served familystyle to just two seatings per night. The menu evolves daily based on what’s fresh and in season from local farms, fishers, and foragers. Vegetarian accommodated.

Visitor Information: Open Wednesday through Sunday for dinner seatings at 6pm and 8:15pm by reservation only booked well in advance online or by phone. Street parking.

Husband-wife team Naomi Pomeroy and Kris Moon manifest fierce reputations at intimate James Beard Award winning Beast through unrelenting standards around creative six course prix-fixe dinners orchestrated nightly using strictly regional Willamette Valley ingredients. Having a single seating demands early reservation attention for möglichchance witnessing their lauded culinary skills applied to unforgettable dishes like steelhead belly cured in ash, fried lamb sweetbreads with morel cream sauce, or Douglas fir infused flan with candied pine nuts. Watching Moon and their tiny team plate simultaneously in the open kitchen adds entertainment value to an entire experience celebrating Portland’s outstanding bounty.

Pho Oregon

Name and Location: Pho Oregon is located in Portland’s Goose Hollow neighborhood southwest of downtown, serving Vietnamese noodle soup dishes and more.

History and Significance: Opened in 2002, Pho Oregon has earned longtime popularity among locals and tourists alike for their savory pho noodle soups, bun dishes, and combination plates served in a casual counter-service setting.

What to Expect: Authentic fast-casual Vietnamese fare like pho beef noodle soup, vermicelli bowls and subs, Thai curry, rice plates, boba milk tea, and specialty drinks, all freshly made at bargain prices.

Visitor Information: Open daily for lunch and dinner. Cash only. Street parking available and located along TriMet light rail and bus lines.

Despite unassuming strip mall trappings befitting any neighborhood Vietnamese joint nationwide, husband wife owners at Pho Oregon prepare and serve what many locals passionately proclaim Portland’s benchmark bowl beyond all equally adequate competitors. Beyond nuanced broth boasting lengthy bone simmering for subtle roundness capped with tender eye of round, their specialty Phorritto wrap burrito surprises palates by swaddling traditional pho components into a convenient handheld creation claiming Portland’s iconic street food crown instead of tacos or fried chicken sandwiches. Don’t deny lingering for Salted Caramel Vietnamese Coffee pairing rich cold caffeine kick with their stellar signatures either during regular West Coast hours accommodating late night noodle pangs.

Tallulah’s Wine Lounge

Name and Location: Tallulah is a cozy neighborhood wine bar located in Northeast Portland’s Woodlawn district.

History and Significance: Opened in 2007 by owner Elizabeth Golay, Tallulah’s made a name for itself among Portland wine aficionados for its rotating by-the-glass vineyard offerings, boutique bottles, and small plates menu perfect for pairing.

What to Expect: Over 100 wines available by the glass or bottle to enjoy alongside shareable small plates like cheese/charcuterie boards, bruschetta, paninis, and housemade truffle popcorn. Relaxed, romantic ambiance.

Visitor Information: Open Tuesday to Saturday 4pm-10pm. Street parking available, max stay 2 hours. Arrive early on weekends or make reservations.

Sommelier Ann-Marie Seeley spotlights her substantial wine wisdom and business prowess through Tallulah’s quaint establishment blending urban tasting room ambiance beside shareable small plates executions making wine more accessible. Ever changing by-the-glass pours encourage exploration guided by Seeley’s inspiration and friendly staff banter rather than lofty gatekeeping while substantial retail selections tempt further infatuation. Their weekend brunch menu also shines sunlight through bottles via clever cocktails like DIY mimosas with fresh juice carts or Bloody Marys garnished with all accoutrements to pair with Northwestern egg preparations over focaccia. It all harmonizes beautifully as a woman owned local treasure.

Eem

Name and Location: Eem is a contemporary Thai restaurant and barbecue located in Portland’s Central Eastside Industrial District.

History and Significance: Opened 2018, Eem generated buzz by fusing traditional Thai cuisine and Pacific Northwest ingredients with signature rotisserie meats and nuanced spice pastes, sauces, and curry dishes crafted by Chef Kasey Mills.

What to Expect: Signatures like massaman curry, whole roasted duck and chicken, wild prawns, and Maine lobster tails join nightly specials and seasonal veggies. Vibrant, modern atmosphere with communal seating.

Visitor Information: Open Tuesday through Saturday 5pm-9pm. Reservations recommended. Street parking and garage nearby.

Barbecue assumes dynamic global influence inside converted food carts near downtown Powell’s Books, where Chef Eric Rivera and spouse Celeste Nguyen blend Filipino flavors from their families with regional Pacific Northwest ingredients across smoky, sweet and pickled small plates. Though no reservations leave lines long, their legendary purple sticky rice arroz caldo capped with chicharron dust meets cravings for consolation while waiting on melt-in-mouth brisket heaped over garlic rice, dry rubbed chicken thighs, or Manila clams swimming in coconut milk. Eem’s inventive elixirs washing down collard green lumpia and pickled shallots keep patio parties rolling in rain or shine.

Navarre

Name and Location: Navarre is a popular American eclectic eatery and bar situated in Portland’s Laurelhurst neighborhood.

History and Significance: Opened 2011, Navarre quickly developed a following for its seasonal New American sharing plates and selection of craft cocktails, wine and beer in a lively setting.

What to Expect: Constantly changing small and large plates such as fried chicken, salads, sandwiches, flatbreads and more plus 30+ wines by the glass and local beer on tap. Bustling ambiance.

Visitor Information: Open Monday-Friday 11:30am-10:30pm, weekends 10am-10:30pm. Happy hour weekdays 3pm-6pm. Street parking can be challenging at peak times.

For fine dining without pretention, Navarre delivers some of Portland’s most satisfying Euro-Northwest cuisine using simply prepared quality regional meats, seafood and produce arranged into share friendly small plates and entrees. Diners soak up scrumptious dishes like grilled lamb ribs with seasonal succotash, seared scallops on corn pudding, or their flawlessly creamy namesake beer fondue while comparing highlights circled on menus by what captures their fancy. No matter your picks, expect big bright flavors plated with artistic finesse worth highlighting for social media shares to excite tastebud FOMO. Make reservations or grab stools at the lively bar to sample their lauded fare.

Hat Yai

Name and Location: Hat Yai is located in Southeast Portland’s hip Montavilla neighborhood, specializing in the street food dishes and flavors of Southern Thailand.

History and Significance: Opened in 2016, Hat Yai quickly earned acclaim for chef Han Ong’s standout Thai cuisine taking inspiration from his heritage and Portland’s bounty – blending Thai spice and late night market culture into a hip casual atmosphere.

What to Expect: Signature Thai comfort dishes like massaman curry fried chicken, dry chili salmon, and khao soi noodles plus fresh takes on yam, larb, satays, stir fry and more, with great cocktails. Fast casual counter-order setting.

Visitor Information: Open for dinner daily 5pm-9pm, weekends 11am-2pm brunch. Order at the counter then seat yourself. Street parking or paid lot across the street. Cashless payments accepted.

Masterful Malaysian flavors shine at Hat Yai, an airy contemporary café focused on the bright, bold penang curry noodle dishes Chef Kasey Mills fell for abroad to critical hometown success. They stir wondrous yellow and red curry broths enlivening traditional chicken, beef and tofu atop rice vermicelli or egg noodles with accents of fried shallots, lime, cilantro, chili and garlic balancing tropical decadence. Eclectic KL-style kopi coffee drinks, from-scratch sticky coconut rice desserts and savory fried chicken wrapped in pandan waffle on weekends complete Transportative meals capturing Portland’s best values.

Zaytona

Name and Location: Zaytoon is a popular Mediterranean restaurant located in downtown Portland’s Arts District.

History and Significance: Opened in 1996 by the Bashar family, Zaytoon has long been a local favorite for authentic Lebanese cuisine including kebabs, falafel, shawarma and more in a vibrant atmosphere.

What to Expect: Generous portions of classics like baba ghanoush, tabbouleh, beef/chicken shawarma, falafel, hummus, kebabs and desserts like baklava all freshly baked in-house. Belly dancing Friday nights.

Visitor Information: Open daily for lunch and dinner. Reservations accepted. Paid public parking garages nearby, walkable from downtown hotels. Belly dancing performances Friday/Saturday evenings.

At Portland’s original Levantine restaurant import near Reed College, family recipes elevate familiar Middle Eastern staples like falafel, shawarma, hummus and baba ghanoush into extraordinary renditions that explain two decades of unwavering crowds. Zaytona maintains approachability and consistency catering to loyal neighborhood regulars and visiting food tourists alike through hearty Jordanian specialties prepared from scratch emphasizing freshness. balancing bountiful plates or overstuffed pitas loaded with zippy pickles, olives, herbed rice blends and more makes decisions difficult but satisfaction guaranteed. Come hungry and leave happy even when ordering familiar dishes done exceptionally better elsewhere.

Assembly Brewing

Name and Location: Assembly Brewing is a craft brewery located on Portland’s Eastside in the Central Eastside Industrial District.

History and Significance: Founded in 2014, Assembly Brewing produces small batch craft beers onsite in a massive converted warehouse space with communal tables, games, and city views perfect for group hangs.

What to Expect: Constantly changing food and over 20 taps pouring beers like Citra IPA, Pilsner, stouts and more at all times. Huge outdoor seating area with fire pits in cooler months. Relaxed, laid back brewery vibe.

Visitor Information: Open daily 12pm-10pm. Minors allowed until 9pm if accompanied by parent/guardian. Limited street parking fills quickly so rideshares, cabs or public transit suggested.

Alongside reputable house brewed beers, Assembly’s scratch kitchen concocts seasonal New American comfort fare riffing on pub grub expectations through standouts like fried brussels sprouts poppers with sweet n sour sauce, chicken confit patty melts on marbled rye or their homemade Parker House rolls solo confirming carb cravings. Brunch pours and menus also draw loyal crowds for cinnamon roll pancake flights drenched in signature sweet glazes or the baked Big Island egg baked submerged in creamy bechamel that outshines conventional eggs Benedict versions encountered most places. It’s the quintessential neighborhood hangout to enjoy across dayparts without breaking budgets.

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