Where to Eat in North Portland, Home to the City’s Best BBQ, Ethiopian and Soup Dumplings

Chi-chi Mexican, stellar BBQ and California Turkish in the fifth quadrant.

Matt's BBQ

4709 NE Martin Luther King Jr Blvd., 5503-504-0870, facebook.com/mattsbbqpdx. 11 am- 7 pm Wednesday-Sunday, or until sold out. $.

Besides a few pretty good Ethiopian spots, there's not much to recommend this stretch of Northeast MLK. Well, slow your roll and pop into the parking lot of H&B Jewelry and Loan, where you'll find the city's current reigning and undisputed king of 'cue. Matt Vicedomini's cart serves the best brisket, smoked sausage and ribs in town. You can argue pork, but he's in the upper tier there, too. (READ FULL LISTING HERE.)

Enat Kitchen

300 N Killingsworth St., 503-285-4867. 11:30 am-9 pm Monday-Saturday. $.

In addition to the city's best barbecue, North Portland also has its best Ethiopian food. Others will offer opinions, but having made several thorough surveys, we're still convinced Enat is the champ. It feels homey, and there's often someone who stopped by and sidled up to the bar to chat with an acquaintance. Enat's platters are gorgeous and overflowing with colorful piles of stewy vegetables and meat on a massive sheet of spongy injera. (READ FULL LISTIN HERE.)

25 N Fremont St., 503-206-6421, chalinopdx.com. Lunch Monday-Friday, dinner Monday-Saturday. $$$.

This upscale tostaderia has modern furnishings, añejo tequila and daily ceviche. Go for dessert: Le Pigeon pastry chef Helen Jo makes treats like a roast pineapple ice cream topped with mezcal-infused dulce de leche.


2225 NE Martin Luther King Jr Blvd., 503-284-3366, oxpdx.com. 5-10 pm Sunday-Thursday, 5-11 pm Friday-Saturday. $$$$.

The thing to get at this steakhouse is the asado Argentino, an $82 cast-iron grill plate made to feed two. The sausage and sweetbreads are the stars, but the chorizo is airy and rounded with warm spice, and the sweetbreads are like umami gumdrops. The morcilla blood sausage is striking, potently savory and rich with cumin. The taters, even, are terrific—each one is topped with aioli-spiked horseradish, a development in mayo so brilliant it ought to be mandatory. (READ FULL LISTING HERE.)

2103 N Killingsworth St., 503-954-3601, spitzpdx.com. Lunch and dinner Sunday-Thursday, lunch, dinner and late night Friday-Saturday. $.

Based on Berlin street food, California-based Spitz is equally Angeleno, with stylish graffitied walls and multiple fruited sangrias. Meat for the döner kebabs is shaved off slow-spinning cones in the kitchen and wrapped up tight with sumac-heavy slaw.

People's Pig
3217 N Williams Ave., 503-282-2800, peoplespig.com. Lunch and dinner daily. $.

Two years after taking over the former Tropicana soul-food shack, pit master Cliff Allen's the pork loin has slipped, but that smoked fried chicken is wonderful: juicy, smoky, fatty, crisp and tender. Get that and a side of potato salad.

5202 N Albina Ave., 503-946-8087, sweedeedee.com. Breakfast and lunch daily. $$.

This twee Albina brunch spot is an alien spaceship from Planet Zooey Deschanel. Pastries like a bee pollen biscuit served with apricot preserves are the big draw, but they do everything from chilaquiles to a trout plate.

3449 N Anchor St., Suite 200, 503-285-8458, tiltitup.com. Lunch and dinner Monday-Friday, breakfast and lunch Saturday, breakfast Sunday. $.

At this Swan Island burger shop, the Big Tilt piles on two chuck patties, bacon, egg, American cheese, pickles, tomato, onion, lettuce, Tilt sauce and a three-layer bun, which means that it's literally impossible to fit in your mouth. But the work of eating is worth it.

4057 N Mississippi Ave., 503-284-6669, interurbanpdx.com. Dinner nightly, brunch weekends. $$.

Alongside killer Manhattans, Interurban offers pure brawn in food form, such as a juicy and peppery boar burger, hen that's been both smoked and fried, and a crazy-good corn dog made with an Olympia Provisions frank.

Tienda Santa Cruz
8630 N Lombard St., 503-286-7302. Breakfast, lunch and dinner daily. $.

At Tienda Santa Cruz, the magic is in the back. At the rear of a near-windowless St. Johns grocery lies a little ordering counter serving some of the finest carnitas, lengua and asada in town, plus an aguacate salsa so addictive a little sign warns you not to run away with it.

Toro Bravo

120 NE Russell St., 503-281-4464, torobravopdx.com. 5-10 pm Sunday-Thursday, 5-11 pm Friday-Saturday. $-$$$.

Portland'c classic Spanishish tapas spot underwent a renovation this year, which made it a nicer room and seems to have renewed the spirit of the kitchen, too. John Gorham has opened a half-dozen restaurants now, but Toro remains his signature achievement—amid ups and downs, multiple chefs and multiple remodels, it's still one of the most singular dining experiences in Portland. (READ THE FULL LISTING HERE.)


4090 N Williams Ave., 503-841-5373, xlbpdx.com. 11 am-3 pm and 5-10 pm daily. $-$$.

XLB's open-kitchen, fast-casual space is a clean-lined hall of ironized Asiatic kitsch, complete with stylized kung fu paintings, Qing dynasty lights hung at varied heights and a gold-painted wallpaper pattern of Chinese zodiac silhouettes—perfect dog, perfect snake, perfect rooster.