Portland's 10 Best Restaurants to Try | Oregon’s Foodie Capital
Established in 2007 by John Gorham, Toro Bravo is a lively eatery specialising in Spanish-inspired tapas. In a cosy yet airy space, diners can feast upon a variety of shareable small plates. The menus, which are extensive, change daily to reflect the freshest seasonal products and to allow the kitchen crew to use their creativity. Recent highlights included grilled bacon-wrapped date with warm honey, watermelon salad with caña de oveja, red onion, piment basquaise, and mint, and patatas bravas, which is the ultimate Spanish tapas dish: potatoes smothered in sauce. A variety of sweet edibles is also on the menu, including baked summer fruit with vanilla ice cream, plus a host of wines and cocktails.
Toro Bravo, 120 NE Russell St., Portland, OR, USA, +1 503 281 4464
Located on the edge of the Pearl District, Blue Star Donuts specialises – as the name suggests – in the art of crafting doughnuts. With an abundance of local and regional purveyors, this sweet shop uses locally sourced ingredients in their French brioche recipe, among many other delicacies. The doughnuts, which vary daily, are baked throughout the day to ensure freshness and often sell out, so those with a particular craving should arrive early. Some tasty creative highlights include the crème brûlée with a crackling layer and custard centre, the chocolate crunch made with Valrhona chocolate, and the pistachio cheesecake with raspberry hibiscus glaze.
Bluestar Donuts, 1237 SW Washington St., Portland, OR, USA, +1 503 265 8410
Jesse Manis and Aubrey Lindley established Cacao in 2006, creating a place where chocolate aficionados can get their fix by sampling some of the best chocolate around. Open seven days a week, guests will find hand-picked artisan chocolates from the best North American and Northwest chocolate makers plus other choices from around the world. They also feature three tempting house-made gourmet drinking chocolates in classic, cinnamon, and spicy flavours. Striving to offer only the best quality and flavour to guests, Cacao likes to focus on companies that produce small batches of chocolate and those who work directly with their cacao suppliers, ensuring an all-round fair trade ethos.
Cacao, 414 SW 13th Ave., Portland, OR, USA, +1 503 241 0656
Cacao, 712 SW Salmon St., Portland, OR, USA, +1 503 274 9510
Caffe Mingo is an intimate and friendly eatery specialising in authentic Italian cuisine. This restaurant’s philosophy is ‘simple Italian cooking’; and indeed, by keeping things simple, the natural flavours of the ingredients, which are locally sourced and often organic, are allowed to develop and shine. Featuring a menu that changes weekly, recent offerings included risotto with applewood smoked bacon, corn, Dunbarton Blue, and chives; seared Oregon albacore tuna with dragon’s tongue beans, olives, artichoke hearts, plus tomato conserva; and summer fruit crisp with amaretti crumble and vanilla gelato.
Open every night for dinner, Le Pigeon features creative French-inspired cuisine that will delight the palate. In an intimate and relaxed dining space, discerning diners can sit at the chef’s table next to the open kitchen to watch all the action or at cosy communal wooden tables. Prepared by chef and owner Gabriel Rucker, the menu changes often to highlight the local and organic produce in original combinations. Exquisite offerings may include Thai barbecue pigeon – pigeon heart fried rice, fermented green papaya, and ‘peanut butter’ – and rabbit with bacon and Beaujolais creamed corn, tomatoes, plums, and thyme pistou. Le Pigeon also offers a chef’s tasting menu of five or seven courses for those interested.
Le Pigeon, 738 E. Burnside St., Portland, OR, USA, +1 503 546 8796
Situated in the Pearl District, Nuvrei is a gem of a pâtisserie and café specialising in French-inspired pastries. Owned by baker Marius Pop, this tiny eatery features bagel sandwiches, breakfast sandwiches on croissants, and other items in the café while the bakery has a host of scrumptious pastries. Many flavours of croissants are available, including chocolate, sesame, berry, and almond to name a few, and they are baked hourly to ensure freshness. A variety of scones, bagels, and cookies are also up for grabs, including colourful and flavourful macarons: flavours featured include chai, black walnut, hazelnut, passion fruit, plus many others. As for drink options, Nuvrei offers espresso beverages, hot chocolate made with Valrhona chocolate, and teas.
People of all ages love a good peanut butter and jelly sandwich. PBJs Grilled, which has two locations, has elevated the American classic sandwich into an art form by making innovative hand-crafted varieties. Packed full of surprising flavours, this eatery uses the freshest ingredients from local sources to delight customers’ taste buds. The menu features both savoury and sweet selections, including the Betty, which is PBJ’s peanut butter, cave-aged gruyere cheese, house-made bread and butter pickles, white pepper, and sea salt on challah bread and the PBJ’s short rib on a rosemary bun with PBJ’s peanut butter, caramelised onions, arugula tossed in sherry, and house-made tomato ginger jam. Try the Cynthia – PBJ’s peanut butter and chocolate hazelnut spreads with house-made raspberry jam on challah bread – for a decadent treat.
Salt & Straw
Best described as a ‘farm-to-cone’ ice cream parlour, Salt & Straw is a hugely successful shop serving delicious house-made ice cream. Founded by cousins Kim and Tyler Malek, this store now has three locations in Portland plus a recent expansion to Los Angeles. All of the ice cream is made in small batches with all-natural dairy, and the ingredients are often organic and sourced from local purveyors. The innovative flavours found at this sought-after sweet eatery change monthly to reflect seasonal items plus themes they may be promoting; for example, local farms and its produce inspire the most recent flavours, which include candy corn and smoked bourbon cherries and honey balsamic strawberry with cracked pepper. For those feeling less adventurous, try the freckled woodblock chocolate.
Salt & Straw, 3345 SE Division St., Portland, OR, USA, +1 503 208 2054
Salt & Straw, 2035 NE Alberta St., Portland, OR, USA, +1 503 208 3867
Salt & Straw, 838 NW 23rd Ave., Portland, OR, USA, +1 971 271 8168