959 SE Division St., #100, 971-357-8020, barpalomar.com. 5-10 pm Tuesday-Saturday.
In September, longtime Portland chef Ricky Bella took charge of the burners in Palomar’s kitchen, reigniting the space by weaving the flavors of his Mexican American heritage with the restaurant’s Cuban staples. It’s best to bounce around all sections of the tight, one-page menu, but there is one nonnegotiable appetizer. Ceviche de camarones, made with leche de tigre, gets its richness from avocado, its texture from cucumber, and tart acid from diced pineapple.
2. Gigantic Brewing Hawthorne
4343 SE Hawthorne Blvd., 503-889-0190, giganticbrewing.com. 3-9 pm Monday-Friday, noon-9 pm Saturday-Sunday.
Gigantic’s third location marks the company’s entry into food service and offers a menu that tracks the founders’ beer-related travels around the world. So far, everything coming out of the kitchen is solid, but the standout is the Flæskesteg, a Danish pork sandwich that is a tribute to those at Copenhagen’s Isted Grill. The crispy Carlton Farms roast pork loin is barely contained in its brioche bun and comes layered in braised red cabbage, remoulade and housemade dill pickles.
5519 NE 30th Ave., 503-946-9465, yuipdx.com. 4-9 pm Monday-Saturday.
There’s no picking your own protein or six different spice levels to choose from at Yui. The elimination of the “choose your own adventure” element we’ve grown so accustomed to with Thai takeout brings new life and specificity to each dish here. A notable signature item is the krapao wagyu kaidao, made with ultra-tender and generously salted minced beef. But don’t pass up the boat noodle soup, which is enormous and loaded with meatballs, crispy pork, scallions, and morning glory greens.
623 NE 23rd Ave., nodoguropdx.com. 6:30 pm single seating Thursday-Sunday.
It seats only 13, costs $250 before drinks, and is a tough reservation to snag, but the fan pool for Ryan and Elena Roadhouse’s incomparable meals is deep and enthusiastic. Nodoguro should be anchored at its latest location for at least three years. 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.
5. Grand Fir Brewing
1403 SE Stark St., grandfirbrewing.com. Noon-10 pm Tuesday-Sunday, noon-11 pm Friday-Saturday.
It was only a matter of time before brewer Whitney Burnside and chef Doug Adams went into business together. The husband-and-wife team opened Grand Fir in the former West Coast Grocery Company space in mid-November, and there was a line around the block to get in on the first day (evidence of how highly anticipated this project has been). Adams’ famed smoked meats (braised elk, Calabrian chicken wings) anchor the food menu and pair perfectly with Burnside’s beers.