No one in Portland should ever go hangry.
When national magazines declare us "America's best food city," it's not just because of the quality of the food here, but the sheer prevalence of it. All you have to do is poke your head into the nearest dive bar or parking lot, and you can find heavenly fried chicken, heaping plates of beef brisket or a burrito big enough to play rugby with. And usually, it'll only cost you the few crumpled bills lining your pants pocket.
But there is such a thing as too much choice.
That's why, for this year's guide to Portland's best meals for under $15, we've tried to make things easy on you. In the past, we've organized this issue by cuisine and price, and filled these pages with every worthy cart, counter and ethnic deli we know of. But when you're starving, an abundance of options just means more stress. So instead, we've slashed the metro area up into 11 sections, then picked the best representatives in seven categories—that means one burger joint, one pizza parlor, etc.—per section. It forced us into some tough decisions, and you might find some old favorites conspicuously left out.
But then, that's sort of the point. It's easy to fall into habits here and default to the same taco shop or Chinese takeout you always go to. Our hope with this issue is that it will inspire you to try something new, whether it's the tiny cafe specializing in Georgian cheese bread, the cart doing nose-to-tail butchery, or just a different taco shop you've never visited before.
So if you're hungry, stop dawdling. Pull up this guide, then get out there and stuff yourself.