The Best Food and Drink in Oregon from The Best Food and Drink in Oregon Gallery
The Best Food and Drink in Oregon Gallery
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The Best Food and Drink in Oregon
Oregon is as well-known for its incredible local ingredients as it is for its stunning natural beauty. The Beaver State is famous for Willamette Valley wine, coffee (Portland ranks among the top coffee cities in the world), local dairy artisanal cheese, craft beer… the list could go on and on. To celebrate all the great food and drink Oregon has to offer, we’ve rounded up 32 of its claims to culinary fame as part of our first annual guide to the best food and drink in every state.
Oregon is home to endless expanses of green and pristine shoreline, and its natural bounty includes hazelnuts, mushrooms, marionberries, and of course the bounty from its many rivers as well as the Pacific Ocean. These include salmon, oysters, and steamer clams, which can be found in nearly every estuary along the coast. Oregon is swimming with culinary wonders as well. It’s home to the original location of James Beard Award-winner Andy Ricker’s Pok Pok, which serves unique yet refined Southeast Asian street food and now has several locations outside the state. The Gardenburger was invented in the early 1980s by Paul Wenner at his short-lived vegetarian restaurant, The Garden House. On the other end of the health spectrum, people go mad for Portland’s eclectic Voodoo Doughnut (our pick for best doughnuts). Their Bacon Maple Bar is an icon in the doughnut world.
Oregon is home to many incredible foods as well as drinks, and over the course of the past year we’ve honored everything from its best steakhouse and grocery store to its best dive bar and apple pie in our comprehensive and wide-ranging lists and rankings, compiled through extensive research and with input from a wide network of site contributors, bloggers, journalists, and chefs.
Courtesy of Random Order Pies
Best Apple Pie: Random Order Pie Bar, Portland
The Tahitian vanilla sugar-salted caramel apple is the pie to get at Random Order Pie Bar. A divine combination of Granny Smith and Pink Lady apples, coated in a homemade caramel, covered with a Tahitian vanilla sugar-salted crust. Their award-winning pies are made by hand with the best, freshest ingredients.
Facebook/Horse Brass Pub
Best Bar: Horse Brass Pub, Portland
Credited with helping start the craft beer revolution — if not across the country, then certainly in Oregon — the late Don Younger, longtime co-owner of the place, passed away in 2014 and is practically a patron saint of the community. His traditional English-style Horse Brass Pub has been serving proper 20-ounce pints since 1976. There are 58 taps including four hand-pumped cask engines, three ciders, five nitro-taps, and several imports. There is the requisite pub food, too, like bangers, Scotch eggs, sausage rolls, ploughman’s lunch, and halibut fish and chips — all of which are exceptional.
Courtesy of Deschutes Brewing Company
Best Beer: Deschutes’ The Abyss, Bend
Best Burger: "Le Pigeon" Burger at Le Pigeon, Portland
When Gabriel Rucker first opened Le Pigeon in 2006, he only served five of these outstanding burgers per night. How cruel. Until recently, it was also available at Rucker’s downtown spot Little Bird, where it's been replaced with the bistro's own signature burger. Today, thankfully, the burger can be purchased at all times at the original Le Pigeon. And what a burger it is: A thick square patty of beef from a local farm is seasoned with salt and pepper; grilled (a rarity); topped with sharp Tillamook white Cheddar, an iceberg lettuce slaw, thick slices of grilled pickled onions, mayo, mustard, and house-made ketchup; and piled atop a ciabatta bun. If you find yourself in Portland, run, don’t walk, to this burger.
Photo by Charlie T. via Yelp
Best Chinese Restaurant: Mama Chow’s Kitchen, Portland
As with most of the best food in Portland, its best Chinese restaurant is actually a food cart. In business since early 2014, that attractive cedar-lined food cart is the brainchild of chef Jeff Chow, and his offerings are based on the family recipes of his mother, Lalie.
Best Craft Brewery: Deschutes Brewery, Bend
As the Deschutes Brewery looks over the gorgeous Deschutes River, it is only fair to wonder if the secret to their delicious beer is actually in the water. A local institution, this brewery has been around since 1988, consistently pushing flavor profiles to the limit and experimenting with special small-batch brews. For a go-to beer, try the Black Butte Porter, a rich dark beer that satisfies.
Photo by Jen K. via Yelp
Best Cupcakes: Cupcake Jones, Portland
Lisa Watson and Peter Shanky’s attention to detail and extensive candy experience at Cupcake Jones shines through in its flavor profiles and gorgeous cupcake display. Its menu — including both hand-candied rose petals and carrot cupcakes — proves that quality is definitely better than quantity. If you want to be dazzled, try the Velvet Painting cupcake, a “red velvet cake filled with vanilla bean pastry cream, topped with cream cheese icing, and a hand-candied rose petal.”
Best Dive Bar: Reel M’Inn, Portland
Photo by Marmar Q. via Yelp
Best Doughnuts: Voodoo Doughnuts, Portland
This doughnut shop is one of the country’s most famous, and as a result, there is always a line outside. Voodoo Doughnuts is a tiny, quirky stand serving up some of the most off-the-wall creations the doughnut world has ever seen. The Portland Cream doughnut has been named the city’s official doughnut by the mayor, and the Captain My Captain, topped with vanilla frosting and Cap’n Crunch, is a beautiful example of doughnut simplicity and brilliance.
Best Farmers Market: Portland State University Farmers Market, Portland
Portland State University Farmers Market is the flagship market of the Portland Farmers Market. With 200 rotating vendors, the market features local, seasonal produce with music to match every Saturday year-round. The market managers really have taken every detail into consideration, even offering a “veggie valet” service to hold on to your heavy produce while you shop. During the peak season, nearly 20,000 customers shop at this market each Saturday. The market also hosts chef demonstrations, kids’ cooking classes, and a lineup of food education events that make this bustling market a special destination.
Best Food Truck: Homegrown Smoker Vegan BBQ, Portland
There aren’t a lot of all-vegan trucks on this list, but here’s one that’s a must-visit, even for meat-eaters. Homegrown Smoker serves a variety of protein options — like tempeh ribs, smoked soy curls, and smoked tofu — in a variety of ways. Order a plate (with sides like hushpuppies, mac no-cheese, and chipotle slaw), throw it on a sandwich or burger with homemade barbecue sauce or mustard, or roll it all up in a burrito. Who needs meat when you have delicious food like this?
Best French Fries: Tilt, Portland
Order any of Tilt’s huge sandwiches or well-crafted burgers and you’ll also get a massive portion of its signature fries. They’re super-crispy thanks to a pre-fryer coating of beer batter, and the end result is crispy, crunchy, perfectly golden brown, and astoundingly delicious.
The Frying Scotsman
Best Fish and Chips: The Frying Scotsman, Portland
One of Portland’s most legendary food carts, the Frying Scotsman is indeed run by an actual Scotsman, an Ayrshire native named James King who serves what many agree is the best platter of fish and chips in a city that has no shortage of them. King makes every order by hand, using a batter that results in a light and crispy product. Cod, Mahi Mahi, halibut, red snapper, and haddock (as well as haggis and British bangers if you’re so inclined) are all available, served with extra-crispy chips and best washed down with one of Scotland’s most popular native soft drinks, Irn-Bru.
Facebook/The People's Pig
Best Fried Chicken: The People's Pig, Portland
Bird at a pig joint? It’d better be good. The People’s Pig, which was once a food truck — one of the 101 best in America, in fact — smokes their chicken before frying it. Served on a roll with a wig of coleslaw, this sandwich is barbecue and soul food heaven. And if you go back for another meal, which you should, get their equally famous porchetta.
Photo by Jro B. via Yelp
Best Grocery Store: New Seasons Market, Portland
New Seasons Market is “always top notch food offerings, with focus on Pacific Northwest companies,” said Google reviewer Dan Beltramo. New Seasons has a good mix of grocery classics and local, organic favorites. It also gives 10 percent of profits back to the community.
Sebastian B. via Yelp
Best Hot Dog: Otto's Sausage Kitchen, Portland
This family-run German deli has been a Portland staple for more than 80 years, and their hot dogs and other sausages are still made by hand the old-fashioned way: They’re smoked in-house, and ridiculously delicious. While it’s primarily a meat market inside, their outdoor grill serves many different varieties of sausages with all the fixings. Their “world famous old fashioned wieners” are definitely what you want to order, and keep it simple — a little mustard should be all you need. Let the link speak for itself.
Best Italian Restaurant: Nostrana, Portland
Nostrana is often cited as serving one of Portland’s most authentic Neapolitan pies, and for good reason. The blistered cornicione and thin crust provide scrumptious, beautiful canvases for the hand-made mozzarella the restaurant makes daily. There are eight pies on the menu including standouts like the salumi finocchiona, tomato, provolone, mozzarella, oregano, honey), alla fiamma (tomato, red onion, Mama Lil’s peppers, wild oregano, spicy oil, and black olives), and a vongole bianco with Manila clams and gremolata that defies New Haven tradition by featuring smoked provolone and mozzarella. No matter which pie you order, it’s going to be "served uncut, as is the traditional Italian style.” But chef Cathy Whims’ Buckman restaurant isn’t just about pizza. The delicious antipasti includes mushroom and vermouth soup and steamboat oysters with limoncello vinaigrette. Pastas like blue prawn ravioli and wood oven-roasted cannelloni Bolognese, and mains like the bistecca alla Fiorentina and grappa-braised pork shoulder are going to make it very difficult to decide what to order.
Best Jewish Deli: Kenny & Zuke’s, Portland
Kenny & Zuke’s may be a relative newcomer on the national Jewish deli scene (it’s less than 10 years old), but they still do things the old-fashioned way; the pastrami alone went through dozens of iterations before the owners struck perfection (with oak smoke). That pastrami, along with house-made corned beef, chopped liver, roast beef, meatloaf, chicken noodle soup, and pickles, have put this place on the map.
Best Macaroni and Cheese: Little Bird Bistro, Portland
Chef Gabriel Rucker knows his cheese, and each gratin dish that leaves his kitchen at Portland’s celebrated Little Bird is a head-turner. Small elbow macaroni is mixed with béchamel, white Tillamook Cheddar, Gruyère, and an ever-changing third cheese. Every time you visit, the dish will be slightly different, but still ridiculously tasty.
Best Mexican Restaurant: Taqueria y Panaderia de La Santa Cruz, Portland
Taqueria y Panaderia de La Santa Cruz is renowned for bringing local, authentic Mexican food to the fair city of Portland. To get to the actual taqueria you must enter a store (tienda) and head straight to the back. The menu consists of items like a lengua plate (beef tongue), tacos, burritos and camarones rancheros, among other dishes. The specialties are reasonably priced, with tacos ranging from $1 to $1.50 and burritos from $3.50 to $4.00. Huaraches, another house specialty, are masa formed in a long oval shape and topped with beans, lettuce, cheese, and meat.
Most Expensive Restaurant: Castagna, Portland
Chef Justin Woodward is wowing Portlanders with his tasting menus, which put local ingredients to very good use. Two menus are available, and they’re both pricey: a seven-course meal that costs $100 (plus $55 for wine) and a 13-course meal that costs $165 (plus $85 for wine).
Most Over the Top Grilled Cheese: The Grilled Cheese Grill, Portland
The Grilled Cheese Grill will do it up simply for you (The Pre-Schooler, with white bread and American cheese, with the crusts cut off) or go downright insane (The Cheesus, with two grilled cheeses sandwiching a fully dressed burger). In between, there are favorites like The Moondog (provolone, hard salami, pepperoni, and chopped olives); The Jalapeño Popper (grilled jalapeños, Colby Jack, cream cheese, and corn tortilla chips); and The Jaime (grilled banana, Nutella, and cream cheese on cinnamon swirl bread).
Yelp/ Sung L.
Best Pasta Dish: Tagliatelle with Beef and Pork Ragù at Luce, Portland
The unassuming Luce likes to keep it simple, which is always a good policy in the pasta department. They’re perhaps best known for their cappelletti in brodo, tiny little meat-filled dumplings in a light broth, but they (and we) consider that to be a soup. Instead, the best pasta dish on their menu (and the best pasta dish in the state) is their simple tagliatelle with beef and pork ragù. It’s sold by the half- or whole-portion, but you’re going to want to order the whole thing.
Photo by Mike C. via Yelp
Best Pizza: Apizza Scholls, Portland
Apizza Scholls serves the best pizza in Portland, and, some argue, north of San Francisco. It’s not an unquestioning, Erich Segal Love Story mutual obsession, though. The pizzeria does have guidelines for patrons composing their own topping combos on Apizza’s 18-inch pies: only three ingredients, and no more than two meats per pie.
Best Restaurant: Le Pigeon, Portland
Under the direction of 35 year-old James Beard Award-winning chef Gabriel Rucker (named Rising Star Chef in 2011 and Best Chef: Northwest in 2013, and nominated for Outstanding Chef this year), LePigeon lures diners to its communal tables for hearty, imaginative dishes like lamb tartare with confit mandarin, feta, yogurt au poivre, sunchoke, and preserved lemon; beef short rib dumplings with flavors of French onion soup and shaved black truffle; Kurobuta pork short ribs with pig foot fried rice, coffee pickled peppers, parsnip, and smoked maple syrup; and lamb neck chewy noodles with crispy calamari, harissa, mint, and crema. Celebrating its 10th year in operation, Le Pigeon has established three must-have dishes: beef cheek bourguignon (currently served with creamy garlic and Parmesan orzo, smoked mushroom salad, and black garlic soubise); the Le Pigeon burger (one of America’s best); and the foie gras profiteroles for dessert. But you may be best served by listening to the advice of The Oregonian's restaurant critic, Michael Russell, who named Le Pigeon Portland’s best restaurant of 2016 and advised readers to be sure to sit at the counter, where they’re likely to be served by Rucker himself.
Photo by Andrew H. via Yelp
Best Sandwich: The Maple at Meat Cheese Bread, Portland
What exactly does it take to be considered a perfect breakfast sandwich? It’s a question that has no correct answer, but The Maple, from Portland’s Meat Cheese Bread, is certainly a good place to start. This sandwich starts with a homemade sausage patty, crisped to a golden brown on the flat-top. This gets topped with oozy, melting, spicy Cheddar, which gets browned in the broiler, then the whole thing is placed atop some crunchy shaved fennel, which helps cut through the heaviness. The logical next step would be to place the three ingredients on some sort of a roll, maybe crusty French bread, and call it a day. But no, they’ve gone and elevated this one step further: in lieu of bread, they use bread pudding. Maple-currant bread pudding, to be exact.
Best Seafood Shack: The Original Mo’s, Newport
There are a handful of Mo’s locations dotting the coastal region of Oregon, but travelers are encouraged to make the pilgrimage to The Original Mo’s in Newport, Oregon. Mo’s makes you question New England’s claim to clam chowder. In fact, Senator Robert Kennedy so loved Mo’s Chowder that he took a couple of buckets home with him. The halibut fish and chips and oyster stew are other must-tries.
The Portland Soup Company
Best Soup: The Portland Soup Company, Portland
Some of the best food in Portland can be found at its fabled street carts, and this holds true for its soup as well. Serving hungry locals since 2009, The Portland Soup Company prepares all of its soups from scratch daily, as well as a nice selection of hearty sandwiches and creative salads. Roasted tomato Reggiano, sweet Italian sausage fagioli, and Thai carrot coconut curry are a few examples of the creative soups on offer, and also be sure not to miss the macaroni and cheese.
Best Steak for Less Than $20: Grilled Hanger Steak at Redwood, Portland
This popular New American restaurant and lounge prepares all its dishes from scratch and takes its ingredient sourcing very seriously. It’s also seriously inexpensive; the $18 grilled hanger steak, rubbed with dried chiles and spices and served with chimichurri and hand-cut fries, is the most expensive thing on the menu.
Best Steakhouse: RingSide Steakhouse, Portland
This steakhouse, in business since 1944, is about as old-school as it gets, in the best way possible. Valet parking is offered, servers (some of whom have been working there for 30 years) wear tuxedoes, it has one of the best wine lists in the state, steaks are dry-aged and hand-cut on premises, and they’re aged for a minimum of 28 days. And while non-dry-aged steaks are available, we suggest you spend a few extra bucks and try either the bone-in New York strip, bone-in rib-eye, or 34-ounce porterhouse for two; you won’t regret it. And make sure you try the onion rings; James Beard called them the best he’d ever had.
Bambook Sushi / Facebook
Best Sushi Bar: Bamboo Sushi, Portland
Bamboo Sushi is the first sushi restaurant in America — there are five locations in Portland and a new one in Denver — to be Certified Green by the Green Restaurant Association. To keep its coveted “sustainable” title, the restaurant brings in the freshest seafood available, paying close attention to marine stewardship, sustainability, and the environment. To that end, it partners with the Marine Stewardship Council, Monterey Bay Aquarium, Blue Ocean Institute, Salmon Nation, KidSafe Seafood, and the GRA. The end result is seriously delicious, super-fresh seafood. Order the omakase and you’ll be treated to dishes like the House on Fire Mackerel (grilled mackerel drizzled in red chile oil, topped with pickled mustard caviar, and seasoned with lemon charcoal and alder wood smoke), or opt for the à la carte nigiri or sashimi menu and enjoy house-smoked wild ivory salmon, pole-caught Korean anago (sea eel), or Filipino and Hawaiian tuna with a clear conscience.
Best Taco: Carnitas at Sanchez Taqueria, Tigard
Portland doesn’t suffer from a lack of good Mexican food, but for a real taquería experience, you’ll want to head out of the city on 99W, and stop in at Sanchez Taqueria, a roadside institution since 1999 that declares: “We’re not fancy, we’re delicious!” The house specialty is chavindecas — a hard-to-find regional dish from small towns near Mexico City — basically quesadilla-like sandwiches made with fresh corn tortillas layered with beans, meat, crema, cabbage, onion, cilantro, avocado, and cotija. But if you’re in the mood for a taco, their carnitas are second to none. For more states, check out our ultimate guide to the best food and drink in every state for 2018.