Food Trucks are found throughout the streets of Portland are some have even become genuine institutions of the city. You can find just about any cuisine you like: Mexican, Indian, Asian...something for everyone. They're mainly frequented by people who work in the city center and most are closed on weekends. When they're open, though, it's hard to control your appetite as you pass by one!
Here's the good news: Voodoo Doughnuts are delicious, come in interesting flavors, and are right in downtown Portland. Here's the bad news: the hype around them is so big that it can lead to enormously long lines just to buy a doughnut.
Luckily, these lines can be avoided if you grab them for breakfast. Head early -- like 6 or 7 am -- and you won't have to wait at all. Grab a box, order a half dozen or more in assorted flavors, and get ready for a sugar high. (Or get one with bacon on top for a more "balanced" breakfast).
By a doughnut's standard, these are pretty expensive. However, compared to other desserts, it's still a steal. After trying them, I won't be back, but it's definitely at least a one-time must-do for your first trip to Portland.
Industrial Cafe is a nice, snug little cafe in Northwest Portland. It's close to 23rd ave, but enough away from the hustle and bustle and crowds that there isn't usually as much as a wait to eat, if any at all. I love the industrial theme; it's very representative of this area of Portland. Sprockets serve as menu holders, valves and pipes line the wooden walls, and industrial style light bulbs hang overhead. There's pavement seating; a huge plus on nice days. I've gone for brunch, and really enjoyed it. Classic, hearty, homestyle food is how I'd describe it. Some favorites are gingerbread pancakes with lemon curd, biscuits and gravy, and a seasonal quiche. Lunch and dinner look excellent as well, featuring a smoked tuna melt, chicken pot pie, excellent burgers and green salads. Prices are reasonable, and service is very friendly and attentive. Great place to try if you're in the area!
Mio Sushi has several locations in Portland. They're also in Bend, Eugene, Vancouver, Camas, and Seattle. Mio offers, "Fresh and high quality foods in a casual and family-friendly ambiance" as exclaimed on their website. I love Mio, and find myself going back over and over again. The prices definitely are reasonable, and it is a comfortable and relaxed atmosphere. The wait staff never disappoints. As for the sushi; it's always fresh, nicely cut and well crafted. There's an incredible selection of creative rolls, and a good selection in sashimi/nigiri as well. Salmon nigiri is a favorite. Don't forget a tempura appetizer, edemame, miso soup, or sake! Bentos and noodle dishes are also offered on the menu for those non-sushi lovers. All items on the menu are sourced from sustainable fisheries where possible, which is great to support. Mio definitely has a place in my heart, and I'd highly recommend it for those in Portland or one of the above mentioned cities craving some excellent sushi.
Grand central bakery has 7 locations in the Portland Metro, as well as 3 locations in Seattle. They choose great spaces for their artisan bakeries, and once you visit one, you're hooked. Grand central is known for it's rustic artisan bread made from local, sustainable ingredients. You can also find their bread loaves in local grocery stores and some farmers markets. Browse one of the Grand Centrals bakeries in the morning and you will find scrumptious hand-made pastries, delicious breakfast bagels, and excellent coffee. It's also a great spot for lunch, with classic and seasonal sandwiches, salads, and soups. They also sell frozen "U- bake" dough, pies, and pastries. Grand Central's entire menu is made from fresh, local ingredients, and every bite is delicious. I definitely recommend Grand Central if you're in the Portland or Seattle area.
Red Onion is located on NW 23rd avenue and it's great for a quality lunch or relaxed, warming dinner. It's interior is sleek and modern, with Thai statues and décor. The menu features traditional Thai dishes like papaya salad, roast duck with tangerine, red curry, and pad Thai. Red Onion's chef is from Chang Mai and grew up mastering the skill of cooking, and it truly shows. The dishes are fresh, spicy (unless you go with no spice) and delicious. Service is great and prices are reasonable. There are many Thai restaurants and carts in Portland, but Red Onion in Northwest Portland is an excellent one to try!
Barista has 4 locations in Portland, and you must try one if you're a coffee lover. Each location is a bit different, but they all have great atmosphere and a chill vibe. They make their coffee using a siphon brewing method, which makes a pristine cup of coffee. They also use top notch roasters, giving the coffee incredible flavor. Lattes and espressos are also wonderful here. Try one of the many fresh-baked goods with your coffee as well. Lounging in barista sipping on your exceptional coffee while taking in all the sights and sounds of this cool coffee shop makes for an awesome morning or afternoon.
Head over to Division Street in Southeast Portland and enjoy a wonderful meal at Ava Gene's. It's rustic Italian crafted from local pacific northwest produce and meat. The interior is classy, modern, and cozy with timeless touches. Choose from the menu of cured meats, fine cheeses, bread, fried appetizers, greens, pasta & grains, meat & seafood, and dessert...all in Italian! The wait staff can help with questions and they always have recommendations. Don't forget the regional Italian wine list and creative cocktail menu to round off the dining experience. Ava Gene's won #5 top new restaurant in America by Bon Appetite magazine in 2013, so it's definitely a hot spot. You'll need reservations weeks ahead of time for the dining room, or you could always check in for openings at the bar. Ava Gene's is a lovely Italian dining experience right in the middle of booming SE Division.
This nice cafe is tucked within the South Park Blocks area of Southwest Portland, right within the Portland State University campus and close to the Portland art museum. It's got a decent sized dining area with large windows. Several tables line the outside for relaxed outdoor breakfasts and lunches. The menu features a variety of delicious breakfast and lunch options as well as coffee and other drinks for reasonable prices. Pastries, sandwiches, wraps, salads, and Mediterranean specialties are what you can expect. I tried a cream cheese and lox bagel and it hit the spot. The service was friendly and I'd love to come back to Park Avenue Cafe soon!
Greenleaf is a local Portland company that features juices, smoothies, soups, and acai bowls. It started as a cart, and there are 3 locations in Portland; NW, downtown, and south waterfront. It's the perfect stop if you're craving a juice, smoothie, or quick, healthy meal. The juices are raw, not heat treated, and pressed in Portland. The smoothies, soups, and acai bowls are also made from fresh ingredients. Choose from an excellent menu of several different types of juices (my favorite, wondrous punch = strawberry, orange, pear, apple, spinach, kale, beet, carrot), a variety of smoothies, a solid list of soups, and the newly added acai bowls, and they are made while you wait. Each Greenleaf has a great, up-beat vibe along with it's fresh, delicious drinks and food. Stop in one if you're in Portland, you'll be happy you did!
North 45 is situated on bustling NW 21st. It's known as a Belgian beer and mussel bar, but has a great menu and drink selection beyond mussels and Belgians. You'll find delicious gastro pub faire, including salads, sandwiches, shrimp, and calamari. The faire is complimented by top notch cocktails, whiskeys, and a variety of beer. The inside of North 45 has the comfy feel of a modern pub, and is great for an intimate dinner as well as a happy hour with friends. Walk out the back up the pub, and it opens up to sweet patio with a bar and several tables. North 45 is a wonderful neighborhood pub with an 'international feel'. It's a great spot in NW!
Park Kitchen is located in North Park Blocks, Downtown Portland. This quaint and intimate space is raw and inviting. The service is friendly and incredibly informed. The reason you come here is the food. Not even just food, but the 'foodie experience'. It's fresh, in season, modern northwest cuisine. It's creative. It's complex. It's genius. Picture smooth and sweet chilled corn soup with succulent marinated clams and jalapeño for a kick. How about chestnut gnocchi, short rib stuffed calamari, or summer tomato salad with Genovese cured pork. The menu changes based on the season, featuring simple dishes done right and made sophisticated, as well as wine, beer, and cocktails that pair well with the food selection. It's a great place to share dishes. Portions are small and prices aren't, but it's well worth the splurge. Park Kitchen is a highly rated and respected restaurant in Portland; experience it for yourself!
Poom Pui means "lovably chubby" in Thai, and this cart IS lovable! It's located in the row of carts on 4th Ave SW, between College St. and Hall St, close to Portland State University in SW Portland. I was first drawn to this cart because of the very friendly service. I discovered the food was delicious and made fresh, so I've been going back ever since. Some highlights of the menu that I would highly recommend are the curries (red, yellow, green, pumpkin basil, panang and mango) spicy eggplant basil noodles, tom kha and tom yum soup, or any seasonal specialties they may have. Thai coffee and thai iced tea are excellent too! The spice level is spot on (hot may cause tears), the portions are generous and prices are reasonable. Take note that it's a lunch spot so only open weekdays during business hours. If you're in the area or even downtown, it's easily accessible via max, streetcar, foot, or bike- so don't pass up this excellent Thai cart!
Bar Mingo is an lovely choice of restaurant in NW Portland. Located on 21st Ave, it's got outdoor tables and a pleasing, warming ambiance inside. Cafe Mingo, the full scale restaurant is next door. I enjoy Bar Mingo for it's European, laid-back vibe, great happy hour, and delicious, fresh, and light Italian fare. Some of the top choices in include the cheese plate, lamb meatballs, gnocchi, and mussels. The wine selection is impeccable and I hear the martinis are excellent. Dessert was heavenly! I also appreciated the good service (server had great recommendations, brought shared dishes out one by one..). The restaurant is small and is often busy, all because it's well known for it's consistently delicious and fresh Italian food and great happy hour. Grab a seat, you won't be disappointed!
Looking for a classy meal? Restaurant St. Jack is a gem of a restaurant that you'll be pleased with. The interior has an old French feel mixed with modern design. Beautiful chandeliers, candlelight, and huge windows give this space a lovely ambiance. The food? Rustic French cuisine at its finest. Steak tartare, braised escargots, duck l'orange, the list goes on and on of French specialties. The wine list is incredible. The knowledgeable waiters, waitresses, and sommelier will help you pair the perfect wine with your delectable meal. The restaurant is connected to the St. Jack bar which serves a selection of small plates in an equally classy and low lit atmosphere. Check St. Jack on the base of the west hills on NW 23rd ave to class it up a bit- french style. It's a must try of the area!