Gabe Rucker's punky decade-old nook on East Burnside Street is experimental and loose in mood but exacting in every detail, animated by a tossed-off majesty that's hard not to call genius. It's a point of pride, maybe, that the finest restaurant in Portland feels almost casual. The brick walls are exposed, the tables are shared and a menagerie of pots and pans wreathe the open kitchen. Domestic shelving shows off esoteric booze the way your mom shows off her thimble collection, from yuzu-accented Danish beers to obscure quince cider from the Swiss alps. (READ FULL LISTING HERE.)
The loss of Biggie-bumping Neapolitan pizza spot P.R.E.A.M. hurts. But Associated is a good consolation, sitting in the same location, with the same pizziola using the same oven. This casual bar's Neapolitan pies rival Ken's Artisan. Get the sausage-and-basil pie walloped with fat and herbs.
An ode to her own nostalgia for her parents' Soviet memories, chef Bonnie Morales' Southeast Grand Avenue Russian spot, nestled in the central east side's bar district, combines classic Continental food training with Russian vigor to create a dining experience unlike any other in the United States. Here, humble pelmeni dumplings become tender delicacies in "fancy broth" made with beef tongue and veal terrine, and even humbler cabbage-roll golubtsi are coaxed into a beyond-the-pale comfort food that lingers both in memory and on the palate. (READ FULL LISTING HERE.)
210 SE Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., 971-339-3693. Dinner daily. Late night Tuesday-Saturday. $$.
With loud hip-hop and a wall of vintage ghetto blasters, acclaimed Seattle chef Rachel Yang's Portland outpost feels more New York than Little Beirut. Among the artfully plated Korean drinking snacks, get Ms. Yang's spicy fried chicken tossed with crumbled peanut brittle. It tastes like See's Candy in your favorite Chinese takeout.
Set in a former auto-upholstery shop called Spike's, Trifecta is where Rizzo and Kenickie would've gone for dinner and drinks if they'd grown up, put all that high school bullshit behind them and gotten jobs in advertising. In keeping with its roots, the cavernous inner-eastside restaurant manages to feel raucous but intimate at the same time, with a lively bar that gives way to big, cushy booths. (READ FULL LISTING HERE.)
A pop-up in name only, the long-running series has been in the tasting room of Fausse Piste winery since 2014. The menu changes every meal, but tends to combine science-y preparations like a round sheet of spiced and frozen watermelon, or Nancy's Organic Yogurt in powdered form with more approachable ingredients like a narrow steak of seared albacore surrounded by Smurf-sized pickled shimeji mushrooms. (READ FULL LISTING HERE.)
609 SE Ankeny St. Suite A, marukinramen.com. Lunch and dinner daily. $.
Every single day at its east and westside locations, Tokyo-founded Marukin serves our favorite ramen in Portland: a tonkotsu shoyu pork-bone broth light for the style yet still buttery in its depths. Additional broths rotate among miso made from thousand-year-old recipes and ridiculously rich paitan shio chicken broth. All can be made spicy. All are excellent.
Tokyo-born Afuri is like a ramen joint married an izakaya and gave birth to a sushi joint. There are sake sommeliers, miso black-cod plate, spoonfuls of composed crudo and artisan cocktails. And yet the best thing here is still their aromatic yuzu miso ramen, a fish-flake and chicken broth that blooms with vegetable flavor.
One of the most comforting restaurants in the city, Nicholas is beloved for its generous portions of smooth hummus, huge puffy pitas and well-seasoned meats.
Danwei Canting's la zi ji chicken, aka hot pepper chicken bath, is easily the best version of this Sichuanese dish to hit town since Lucky Strike's tear-jerkingly hot rendition.
This famous Thai spot slipped a bit when kitchen manager Colin Yoshimoto bounced to start Poke Mon, but with founder Nong Poonsukwattana back in the kitchen most days, that trademark tender chicken is again exploding with garlic, chili and ginger.
Last year, basement Biwa Izakaya splintered into a fine-dining side and a casual bar side. The mistake didn't last. Since recombining in July, the restaurant might be better than ever, blending its menu to add flaky-gooey okonomiyaki and an unbeatable burger to its murderer's row of sashimi options and God-level ramen.
Renata is perhaps the biggest stand-alone dining build-out we'll see for a generation. These days, few restaurateurs have the stomach for 3,000 square feet of pink granite with 110 old-school chairs imported from Amsterdam and *lights cigar with $100 bill* its own parking lot. Worse, the room is anchored by a wood-fired oven, and a wide swath of Renata's menu was dedicated to wood-fired pizzas just as every neighborhood in the city was getting its own Forno Bravo. (READ FULL LISTING HERE.)