St. Jack

St. Jack, 1610 NW 23rd Ave., 503-360-1281, stjackpdx.com. Dinner and bar hours nightly. $$-$$$$.

St. Jack is a miracle on 23rd Avenue, a restaurant and bar where you can somehow get both the city's finest and most adventurous French-bouchon fare and also dollar Hama Hama oysters and a killer $12 burger at happy hour. It's a place that devotes equal effort to lowbrow food and extravagant highbrow, with the patience to spend three days fat-skimming, boiling and drying its $5 Espelette-pepper pork rinds into fluffy and decadent sheets. (READ FULL LISTING HERE.)

Kim Jong Smokehouse
413 NW 21st Ave., 503-477-9364, kimjongsmokehouse.com. Lunch and dinner daily. $.
Smokehouse Tavern’s barbecue and Kim Jong Grillin’s casual Korean merge at this fast-casual spot. Honey-gochujang spareribs and scorched-rice bibimbap bowls served with a rainbow of kimchi in steaming cast-iron pans, with smoky brisket or pulled pork.

Please Louise
1505 NW 21st Ave., 503-946-1853, please-louise.com. Lunch and dinner Monday-Friday, dinner weekends. $$.

This bright little neighborhood spot uses its Bakers Pride electric oven to crank out thin, low-tang pies that deny any specific geographic lineage. The rest of the menu is simple (arugula salad, blistered padron peppers, charcuterie place) and well-executed.

Paley's Place

1204 NW 21st Ave., 503-243-2403, paleysplace.net. 5:30-10 pm Monday-Thursday, 5-11 pm Friday-Saturday, 5-10 pm Sunday. $$$.

Noodles didn't put Vitaly Paley on the map. His 20-year-old Northwest 21st Avenue bistro was one of the fathers of the city's current foodscape, and his kitchen tree has sprouted a number of other talented chefs around town.
But those noodles have given Paley a passport back to his Ukrainian childhood. The farm-to-table staples of the menu are now augmented with a list of unfamiliar stews and dumplings that arrive in steaming pots or in a pile of delicate dough, transforming Paley's Place into one of the less-heralded beachheads of Portland's Soviet invasion. (READ FULL LISTING HERE.)

Kung Pow
500 NW 21st Ave., 503-208-2173,
kungpowpdx.com. Lunch and dinner daily. $.
Inside a large corner restaurant, the owners of Shandong have made a world of lemon chicken, Mongolian beef and searing Sichuan chicken, that’re all way better than you’d expect.
Bamboo Sushi
836 NW 23rd Ave., 971-229-1925, bamboosushi.com. Dinner daily. $$$.
More than any other Bamboo location, this one’s the heart of its ‘hood: a neutral-toned palace of refined protein that splits its menu between sustainably caught sushi and extravagant meat plates like an XO-spiced flank steak.
Gastro Mania
986 NW Pettygrove St., 503-689-3794, gastromaniapx.com. Lunch and early dinner Monday-Saturday. $.
For deli prices, Gastro Mania’s Alex Nenchev makes swooningly tender octopus salad, the city’s best gyros and a stunningly rich foie gras burger. In a tiny shoebox of a space, Gastro Mania puts restaurants with brigade service to shame.
Kell’s Irish

210 NW 21st Ave,
kellsbrewpub.com. Lunch and dinner daily. $.

At night it’s a meat market, but Kell’s is a sleeper pick for some of the best comfort lunch in the hood, with excellent fish and chips and shepherd’s pie.
Escape from New York Pizza
622 NW 23rd Ave., 503-227-5423, efnypizza.net. Lunch and dinner daily. $.
Old school owner Phil Geffner is a legend—the inventor, he says, of the Portland unisex bathroom and the first to sell pizza by the slice. When we stop in for a quick slice and some gossip, we look for something with the terrific house-made sausage.
Ringside Steakhouse
2165 W Burnside St., 503-223-1513, ringsidesteakhouse.com. Dinner nightly. $-$$$$.
Ringside’s dry-aging room is one of the marvels of the city, backed up by an infinite wine room filled with bottles. This 73-year-old steakhouse is the city’s most hallowed hall of high-end meat, but while filet mignon can climb to $74, happy hour-steak bites are a mere $4.75.

Atuala

1818 NW 23rd Place, 503-894-8904, ataulapdx.com. 4:30-10 pm Tuesday-Saturday. $$$.

"Welcome to Barcelona," the server says as downtempo club lounge music thumps across the modern-minimalist, open restaurant. Located at the edge of Slabtown, Jose Chesa's Ataula is a transportive take on Portland Spanish, and a major node in our newfound status as a North American tapas town. (READ FULL LISTING HERE.)