The Best Food and Drink in Oregon for 2019
December 20, 2018
Local ingredients really shine in Oregon’s cuisine
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 its claims to culinary fame as part of our second 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 showcases a bounty of fine food and drink, and over the course of the past year we’ve honored everything from its best hot dogs and brunch spot to its best bar and craft beer 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.. We’ve compiled these into individual slideshows celebrating the best food and drink in every state, and you can find our Oregon gallery ahead.
Best Airport Restaurant: Rogue Ales Public House (Portland International Airport)
Rogue Ales Public House/Yelp
Considering it’s one of the best cities for beer lovers, it’s no surprise that Portland has a pub in its airport where you can enjoy Rogue’s ales, ciders, and spirits alongside a full menu of delicious bar foods. Order a platter of eggs and bacon, ham, or sausage, or go for a breakfast sandwich or burrito in the morning. Later in the day, their wings, burgers, sandwiches, and salads are more than enough to fill you up.
Best All-You-Can-Eat Deal: Namaste Indian Cuisine (Portland)
Namaste isn’t just one of the Pacific Northwest’s best Indian restaurants; it offers the best all-you-can-eat deal in the state. Their generous buffet will set you back only 11 bucks for lunch and 14 for dinner. Most Indian buffets only offer a half-dozen or so options tops, but this one boasts well over a dozen options, as well as a full salad bar. Pickles, chutneys, two raitas, vegetable pakoras, daal, palak paneer, vegetable jalfrezi, aloo mataar, butter chicken, South Indian goat curry, tandoori chicken, several different curries, and soft-serve mango ice cream for dessert. Come hungry!
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.
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.
Best Beach Bar: Pelican Pub and Brewery (Pacific City)
Since it first opened in 1996, Pelican Pub and Brewery remains “the only beachfront brewpub in the Pacific Northwest.” Relax on the beach patio and sample one of the rotating tap beers, such as Kiwanda Cream Ale or Berried at Sea American Stout. Go on a brewery tour, watch the surfers, catch the sunset, and then sample a few more.
Best Beach Restaurant: Wayfarer Restaurant & Lounge (Cannon Beach)
Located on the oceanfront of gorgeous Cannon Beach, Wayfarer Restaurant & Lounge is a great place to take in the stunning view while filling up your stomach. Take to the outdoor summer deck or the glass-enclosed lounge as you enjoy the Pacific Northwest cuisine full of seafood and fresh vegetables.
Best Beer: The Abyss, Deschutes Brewery (Bend)
With hints of licorice on the nose, The Abyss from Deschutes is dry-hopped with cherry bark and vanilla beans and aged in oak barrels. After you’re lucky enough to procure a bottle, you can drink it immediately for a fresh, molasses-infused taste or let it age and meld over time. The choice is yours and yours alone.
Best Brunch: Tasty n Sons (Portland)
One of Portland's most popular and eclectic restaurants, Tasty n Sons serves brunch daily until 2:30 p.m. and keeps some of the favorites on the menu through dinnertime. The lively restaurant seats everyone at communal tables, where they can bond over chef–owner John Gorham's spectacular globe-trotting creations like Moroccan chicken hash, shakshuka, patatas bravas, polenta with ragu, house kimchee, and Burmese red pork stew; regional American specialties like chile pork Colorado, Hangtown fry, and a Nashville hot chicken sandwich; and other flights of fancy like a roasted apple with bacon lardons and Tillamook Cheddar, rice pudding with blueberry compote, and a Dutch baby with lemon curd and raspberry jam. No matter where this culinary voyage takes you, you can rest assured that you’re enjoying the best brunch in the state.
Best Burger: 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.
Best Burrito: King Burrito (Portland)
Portland’s King Burrito is a true local gem, turning out expertly prepared, wildly delicious creations. Though the carnitas and carne asada are stellar, they dubbed the the best item on their menu the King Burrito, and it’s a monster: chile relleno, refried beans, and steak picado (diced steak mixed with tomatoes, onions, and chiles), topped with homemade avocado sauce, and served in a giant flour tortilla. It’s a delicious beast.
Best Chinese Restaurant: (Portland)
Photo by Charlie T. via Yelp
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. Wonton soup is the specialty, made with a paper-thin wrapper and a super-flavorful filling of either chicken or pork and shrimp; lollipop wings with honey soy garlic glaze, kalua pork, chicken dumplings, and fresh garlic noodles keep the crowds lining up on a daily basis.
Best Chocolate Shop: Alma Chocolate (Portland)
The Thai peanut butter cups at Alma Chocolate in Portland are what make this shop famous, but don’t discount their other offerings. Their bonbons are some of the best in the country and come in beautiful flavors such as fig and marzipan and passion fruit caramel.
Best Coffee Shop: Heart (Portland)
With three gorgeously minimalistic locations, Heart is a leader in Portland's already impressive coffee scene. The specialty coffee roasting company not only offers its delicious green coffee — made from beans originating in Africa, Central America, and South America — in store but it also has it available for shipment throughout the country, along with the very equipment they use to brew it.
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.
Best Cupcakes: Cupcake Jones (Portland)
Photo by Jen K. via Yelp
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)
Best Doughnuts: Voodoo Doughnuts (Portland)
Photo by Marmar Q. via Yelp
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: Bing Mi Food Truck (Portland)
Plenty of food trucks around the country are slinging amazing burgers and succulent lobster rolls, but finding a truck serving authentic Chinese crepes is a little harder to come by. The Bing Mi food truck specializes in jianbing, a humble yet savory dish whose origins are traced back to the villages of northern China, according to their website. Their signature, jianbing, is a delicate Chinese-style crepe, made with freshly scrambled eggs, a salty-tangy black-bean paste, chile sauce, pickled vegetables, green onion, and crispy fried crackers. Jianbing is a symphony of sweet, sour, spicy, and savory flavors as well as textures, with the crunch of the wonton cracker and the chewy crepe. This might flat out be one of the best crepes in America.
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.
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.
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, 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.
Best Grocery Store: New Seasons Market (Portland)
Photo by Jro B. via Yelp
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.
Best Hole-in-the-Wall Diner: Otis Café (Otis)
The small and homey Otis Café is a beloved Highway 18 destination, a small roadhouse with a vintage sign and a decidedly old-fashioned interior. Just about everything on the menu, from bread to sausage gravy, is homemade, and while the burgers and chicken fried steak are spot-on, breakfast is where this place really shines. Make sure you order the most famous dish on the menu, German potatoes: crispy hash browns topped with green onions, white Cheddar, and anything else you desire.
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 Hotel Restaurant: Departure (Portland)
You may remember chef Gregory Gourdet from his star-making turn on Top Chef, and he’s demonstrating his ample skills and creativity at his Portland restaurant, Departure, located on the top floor of the Nines Hotel. This modern and inviting restaurant has two outdoor decks for optimal views, and showcases Gourdet’s menu of pan-Asian fare. Creative sushi (think beet-cured trout with peppercorn, cured egg yolk, furikake, and citrus); dim sum; kushiyaki, and specialties like halibut tom yum, whole-roasted Pacific snapper, beef rending, and chili prawns keep guests coming back for more, and it’s best experienced via an $80 or $105 tasting menu. Make sure you browse the sake menu, the largest in Portland.
Best Ice Cream Stand: Ruby Jewel (Portland)
Salt & Straw may be better known, but Ruby Jewel makes Oregon’s best ice cream and ice cream sandwiches. The flavors are just as “out there” as those at S&S, but the combinations are even more mouthwatering. Plus, they have tons of cookie flavors as well. The combinations are endless!
Best Indian Restaurant: Tiffin Asha (Portland)
Chef Elizabeth Golay fell in love with South Indian food after she met and fell in love with Sheila Bommakanti, a South Indian civil rights attorney. Golay started Tiffin Asha as a food cart in 2013, and her wife joined her full time in 2014, helping her turn the popular food stop into a full-fledged restaurant by January of 2017. Tiffin Asha seems to be, in many ways, an ode to their cross-cultural love, with traditional South Indian food being given a kick thanks to Western culinary influences and techniques. Try the idli fries—fried idli wedges with a house-made masala, crispy curry leaf, and served with curried ketchup — for your appetizer or the kulfi (a South Asian ice cream made with milk and cream) in huckleberry-rose compote. The stars here are the “gun powders” — red, white, green, or black powders made with spices and lentils — which you can have your pick of to go with their delicious dosas such as the Hot Chick Dosa (chicken pakora with black cardamom-infused honey, pickled kale, and creamy yogurt cheese) or Studly Spud (yukon gold potatoes with tomato chutney and peppers).
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 Lasagna: Mama Mia Trattoria (Portland)
Located in the historic Waldo Building, Mama Mia Trattoria cooks dishes from scratch using the freshest and best ingredients they can find. They take pride in their homemade sauces, which simmer all day to develop the perfect flavor. Their Classic Beef Lasagna is a work of art and worth seeking out. It’s prepared with fresh pastamade with six layers of ground beef, ricotta, mozzarella, provolone and Reggiano cheese, spinach, cremini mushrooms, and onion and topped with their signature tomato basil sauce.
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 Outrageous Restaurant Dish: Ignorant Burger, Stoopid Burger (Portland)
Portland burger joint Stoopid Burger has plenty of inspired creations, but the most impressive is their Ignorant Burger. Take on three patties and three cheeses, topped with bacon, ham, steak, hotlink sausages, and two eggs, as well as grilled onions, jalapeños, and mushrooms. It doesn't end there; on top of that is pineapple mango habanero chutney, an onion ring, and a chicken strip or fried fish, as well as fries on the side. At $40, it's one of the most expensive burgers in the country.
Most Romantic Restaurant: Ariana (Bend)
Located inside a craftsman-style bungalow on Bend’s west side that was originally a private home, Ariana is run by chefs Andres and Ariana Fernandez and has been going strong since 2004. It showcases Central Oregon’s culinary bounty in dishes like wild Petrale sole with charred broccoli and fried white yams, braised rabbit with guanciale and roasted local sunchokes, and filet mignon with wild Oregon mushroom purée. But if you’re making it a romantic evening, we suggest you opt for the five-course chef’s tasting menu from your seat inside the homey, comfortable dining room, where you’ll find large, well-spaced tables, a fireplace, big windows, and dim, romantic lighting.
Best Old-School Candy Shop: Phillips Candies (Seaside)
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).
Best Pancakes: Cadillac Café (Portland)
A true neighborhood gem, Cadillac Café has been a Portland go-to for more than 25 years. Breakfast is served all day long, and the buttermilk pancakes are a top seller. You can add bananas, dried cranberries, and hazelnuts if you like, but honestly these are so good that all they need is a pat of butter and a drizzle of maple syrup.
Best Pasta Dish: Tagliatelle with Beef and Pork Ragù at Luce (Portland)
Yelp/ Sung L.
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.
Best Pizza: Ken’s Artisan Pizza (Portland)
Ken Forkish and chef Alan Maniscalco co-founded Ken’s Artisan Pizza in 2006 after the success of Monday Night Pizza at Ken’s Artisan Bakery. There’s been a cultish love for it in Portland ever since. There are gigantic Douglas Fir beams, sliding glass windows, and an open kitchen with a Le Panyol wood-fired oven, which guests can marvel at while digging in at tables made from salvaged wood from the late Jantzen Beach Big Dipper roller coaster — once they get inside, that is (there tends to be a wait).
The thin-crust pies, baked in about two minutes and inspired by the co-founders’ visits to Europe, are known for their tangy, orange-red sauce, featuring heat and savory notes, and a style that, as the name of the restaurant states, is more artisanal than Neapolitan.
Best Ramen: Noraneko (Portland)
Noraneko was opened in 2015 by the owners of beloved Portland hostpot Biwa (which in turn moved and changed concepts last year), and the ramen they’re serving here is the best in town. There are six styles on the menu (three traditional and three modern) — shio, shoyu, miso, vegetable, curry chicken, and pollo escabeche — and the broths are rich, deep, and complex, and each ramen is well-balanced and made with serious skill. The rest of the menu is a whole lot of fun, as well; don’t miss the kimchi and cheese croquettes, the pork katsu torta, or the hamachi poke.
Best Restaurant for Breakfast: Zell’s Café (Portland)
Open at 7 during the week and 8 on weekends, Zell’s is a quaint and cheery Portland institution best known for its fantastic breakfasts and free scones with every order. The menu isn’t crazy; it’s just straight-ahead breakfast classics with a twist, made with love. German apple pancakes, oat bread French toast, buttermilk cornmeal waffles, spot-on eggs Benedict, wild smoked salmon scrambled eggs with Gruyère and scallions, house-made corned beef hash and eggs, Italian salami scramble with scallions and Asiago, and house-made chorizo omelette with Anaheim peppers and Cheddar are some of the dishes that keep regulars coming back again and again. One visit and you’ll fall in love, too.
Best Restaurant: Beast (Portland)
Much of the charm at Beast, apart from that provided by the wide-ranging modern American menu (need we add that it's local and sustainable in nature?), comes from family-style dinners served in an intimate atmosphere not much bigger than four or five of Portland’s famed food carts. Chef–owner Naomi Pomeroy accepts just enough reservations for two six-course dinner seatings (6 p.m. and 8:45 p.m.) Wednesday through Saturday, as well as two three-course brunch services and one dinner service every Sunday. Patrons dine at a pair of communal tables (the restaurant seats just 24), where they are served the prix fixe menu of the day (“substitutions politely declined”). The particulars change weekly (the menu for the upcoming week is posted each Tuesday), but, just as an illustration of the range and imagination here, the house charcuterie plate might include steak tartare with quail egg, foie gras bon bon with peanut shortbread, Calabrian chile pork sausage, and pork and duck pâté with green garlic. Those lucky enough to snag a seat at the tables are sure to be treated like family (the best spot in the house, at the corner of the prep table in the center of the kitchen, only seats two).
Middle of Nowhere: The Joel Palmer House (Dayton)
Joel Palmer House/Yelp
You might not think to look for new American dining in an 1859 farmhouse (which even has its own Wikipedia page), but then again, you also might not think to look for a high-quality fine dining restaurant over an hour outside of Portland, Oregon. Yet the small town of Dayton is the home of The Joel Palmer House, which has been praised for the last 20 years for its prix fixe tasting menu of locally-foraged produce and Oregon-focused wines. Chef Christopher Czarnecki is a fourth generation restaurateur and chef (and also a US Army vet), and his experience shows in mushroom-heavy dishes like wild mushroom risotto, a three-mushroom tart, beef stroganoff with wild mushrooms, filet mignon with porcini pepper sauce, and elk ribeye with mushroom-braised chard. And in case you were wondering, there is a mushroom dessert: the “Candy Cap Mushroom Crème Brûlée.”
Best Sandwich: The Maple, Meat Cheese Bread (Portland)
Photo by Andrew H. via Yelp
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)
Mo’s Seafood & Chowder/Yelp
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.
Best Sports Bar: Spirit of 77 (Portland)
Spirit of ‘77/Yelp
Esquire magazine called Spirit of 77 an “inspired re-imagining of the American sports bar,” and they deem themselves a “Portland-centric bar for the sporting enthusiast.” You won’t be lacking in games to watch, as they’ve got the NFL Sunday Ticket, ESPN Gameplan, and the NBA League Pass. Throw your game day party in their upstairs event space, called the Lil’ Spirit, which features flat-screen TVs and its own mini-bar.
Best Steak for $20 or Less: Grilled Hanger Steak, Redwood (Portland)
Redwood, a 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 $19 grilled flat iron steak, served with herb roasted red potatoes, arugula, horseradish-dill sour cream, and tomatoes, 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.
Best Sushi Bar: Bamboo Sushi (Portland)
Bamboo Sushi is the first sushi restaurant in America — there are four locations in Portland, one in Denver, and two more coming to San Francisco and Seattle — 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 2019.