Portland’s Dining Scene Continues to Rebound From the Pandemic. Here’s a Glimpse at Six Newcomers/Reboots.

From West African cuisine to wine bar nibbles to a Japanese tasting menu, here are some of the places where we’re excited to order a meal.

After a couple of weeks away from town, it felt good to catch up with Portland’s latest wave of new and under-the-radar restaurants. Here are a half dozen to gnaw on:

Akadi PDX

1001 SE Division St., Unit 2, 971-271-7072, akadipdx.com. 5-10 pm Wednesday-Sunday.

What it is: West African post-pandemic reboot.

First impression: In Portland, African restaurants have most often represented the foods of Ethiopia and the Horn of Africa. Akadi charts a different course, offering dishes more common to nations on the continent’s western half, such as Ghana, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Ivory Coast and, in Central Africa, the Democratic Republic of the Congo. These countries’ flags are depicted on one wall of Akadi’s large former warehouse space on Southeast Division Street. Highlights include crispy, starchy manioc fries ($8), generously seasoned chicken wings ($11), “street-style” grilled goat with plantain ($25), and grilled chicken with a choice of sides ($19), and several traditional stews. Seating is abundant, though Akadi is proving popular even on weeknights.

Heavenly Creatures

2218 NE Broadway, heavenlycreaturespdx.com. 5-9 pm Monday-Saturday.

What it is: Intimate wine bar and St. Jack founders reunion.

First impression: Seeing wine boss Joel Gunderson and chef Aaron Barnett work together again after years charting separate paths is sweet nostalgia. Their new joint project is a whole lot compressed into the tiny space that was once José Chesa’s churros shop. Gunderson is back in his element, gently guiding visitors through his small, but varied slate of wines by the glass. An abundance of bottles are available for purchase, too. Meanwhile, on the edible side, Barnett’s menu of nibbles and more offers characteristically bold flavors, well suited to wine, most notably stewed pig trotter and meatballs in a deep red wine and cognac-blasted broth ($23) and yellowtail toast with a rich tonnato spread ($18). The lighter bites dominate, however. For a good time, try the whipped camembert with chips ($12).

Street Disco

4144A SE 60th Ave., street-disco.com. 5-10 pm Thursday-Monday.

What it is: Euphoric pop-up gone storefront with an eclectic menu.

First impression: While there has been no actual dancing seen so far, this potential breakout hit might make you want to step out after a few bites. Occupying a mint green-hued dive bar from a past life, Street Disco has a small bar area and a larger dining room, with kitchen counter seats and tables, that is at once spacious and cosseting. The menu is as eclectic as the playlist flitting in the background. Workers add to the joy with unyielding good cheer. Best to build a meal around the lamb neck ($40), which is plenty for two, or the perfectly cooked octopus leg ($24) with a garniture of navy beans, kale and sliced octo flavored with Italian fish sauce and Calabrian chile oil. There are vegetable dishes aplenty, too, along with tinned fish of various sorts. Do not sleep on dessert here, either.

Scholar PDX

2226 NE Broadway, 503-344-1507, scholarpdx.com. 5-9:30 pm Thursday-Sunday.

What it is: Moody pizza and Italian-ish joint for adults and families alike.

First impression: From the bar area up front, Scholar seems best suited to the thirsty over-21 crowd. But then the trickle of families with young children headed to the rear dining area clues you in to the breadth of Scholar’s appeal. A first look at the menu reveals that it, too, intends to please anyone who might walk through the door. There are ample libations, with amari prominently featured, both as a standalone and in mixed drinks. For dinner, 12-inch thin-crust pizzas are solid, with dark-baked rims encircling both sauced and white pies. Order one of the predetermined choices ($15-$18), such as plain cheese or pepperoni, or build your own with up to three toppings ($2 to $3 per topping) added to one of the base pies. Best nonpizza item: Buffalo-style chicken livers with smoked blue cheese over polenta ($13). Think hot, crispy, gamey and gooey all on one plate.

28 Tigers

4105 SE 28th Ave., 503-444-9077, 28tigers.com. 4-9 pm Tuesday-Thursday, 4-10 pm Friday-Saturday.

What it is: Hole-in-the wall Chinese food passion project.

First impression: Like his father before him, chef and co-owner Chris Bogart has spent his life learning about and cooking regional dishes from China. 28 Tigers is a tiny spot, with just a handful of counter seats and a couple of tables. Of course, takeaway (or eating out of boxes in the adjoining bar) is an easy option, but this food is best straight from wok to plate. The spicier dishes, with origins in Sichuan and Hunan, get the highest marks. Consider numbing dan dan noodles ($16) or vibrant pepper bath chicken ($16). There is often a nightly special. Order it. A recent Chung Du pork special ($16)—shredded pork, vegetables and peanuts in a spicy bean sauce—was substantial and satisfying. For spice wimps or as a simple appetizer, the pork pot stickers ($9 for four) are fresh and juicy.


623 NE 23rd Ave., nodoguropdx.com. 6:30 pm single seating Thursday-Sunday.

What it is: The 3.0 version of Portland’s finest and most elaborate Japanese tasting menu.

First impression: It only seats 13, costs $250 before drinks, and is a tough reservation to snag. The fan pool for Ryan and Elena Roadhouse’s incomparable meals is deep and enthusiastic. On the hopeful side, Nodoguro should be anchored at this location for at least three years. In addition to the dining table configured in a horseshoe that harks back to the pre-pandemic Belmont location, the new space has an adjoining sitting area where early arrivals can have a drink, chat and anticipate the procession of fine Japanese dishes to come. Yes, there will be uni, caviar, Dungeness crab and several varieties of pristine fish flown in from Japan. But the artistry in presentation, the restraint evident on every plate, is at least equal to the luxury of the ingredients. Altogether, an enduring (one hopes) favorite.