Mediterranean Exploration Company
333 NW 13th Ave., 503-222-0906, Dinner daily. $$$.

John Gorham’s upscale Israeli spot has lately found its groove with Mediterranean classics, like the addictive spicy s’hug and Greek fried potato wedges doused in fragrant herbs. The lamb kebab pot pie with a baked bread top and the Moroccan brick chicken remain favorites.
(Thomas Teal)
(Thomas Teal)

Pearl Tavern
231 NW 11th Ave., 503-954-3796, Lunch, dinner and late night daily. $$$.

Former Oregon Ducks quarterback Joey Harringon’s wood-grained steak den is outfitted as a manly study, with big screens and booths you can reserve in advance. They’ve pulled former Spago chef Thomas Boyce off the bench and he’s both doubling down on burgers and upping the gamewith dishes like halibut with cherry tomato vinaigrette.
(Thomas Teal)
(Thomas Teal)

Bless Your Heart Burgers

126 SW 2nd Ave., 503-719-4221, 11 am-10 pm daily. $.

John Gorham knows burgers, as evident at Toro Bravo. At Bless Your Heart, Gorham has teamed with former employee Drew Sprouse. Together, they made a blend that’s one-third each of short rib, chuck and brisket. That beef is caramelized to juicy perfection, showing a steaky character you’d expect from a burger cooked on an older, more well-seasoned grill. Then, it gets an incredible bun—Martin’s potato rolls purchased in bulk from the Pennsylvania company and frozen until needed. When that bun is heated on the steam-powered griddle, it becomes delightfully crisp with a great snap. (READ FULL LISTING HERE.)

Mi Mero Mole
32 NW 5th Ave., 971-266-8575, Lunch and dinner daily, breakfast Monday-Friday. $.

This Old Town counter-service spot from occasional WW contributor and always-outspoken foodie Nick Zukin serves burritos and tacos with nixtamal tortillas, slow-cooked meats and the stewy guisados of central Mexico, including a beautifully deep lamb mole negro. They’ve recently added breakfast, including chilaquiles.

Oven & Shaker
1134 NW Everett St., 503-241-1600, Lunch and dinner daily. $$$.
This pizzeria from the proprietor of Nostrana (page 78) serves up artfully charred wood-fired Neapolitan pizzas. Order bolder, speciality pizzas like the spicy salami with provolone, mozzarella and wildflower honey, or whatever currently has pork belly on it.

(Christine Dong)
(Christine Dong)

Red Robe
310 NW Davis St., 503-227-8855, Lunch and dinner Monday-Saturday. $$.

Red Robe is the city’s best Chinese tea house, pouring Gongfu tea rituals of beautifully smoky roasted Tie Guan Yin teas. But it also serves our favorite hot pot in town—a subtle, aromatic, vegetable-rich broth without the bathwater tepidity or angry spice of most versions. Make sure to include both wonton and dumpling in your hot pot order.

Irving Street Kitchen
701 NW 13th Ave., 503-343-9440, Dinner daily, brunch weekends. $$$.

At chef Sarah Schafer’s seven-year-old comfort spot, the must-have dishes are southern-tinged staples: Benton’s smoked ham with fluffy biscuits, fried chicken with smashed potatoes and tasso ham gravy, and a best-in-town butterscotch pudding with gooey vanilla-caramel topping.
(Henry Cromett)
(Henry Cromett)

Piazza Italia
1129 NW Johnson St., 503-478-0619, Lunch and dinner daily. $$.

Portland long-ago lost its Little Italy to urban renewal, but you’d never know it from Piazza Italia. Here, soccer plays on the TVs, soccer jerseys hang from the walls and Italian regulars speak in their native tongue. Gino’s Favorite squarciarella is a favorite, though you should sub in the house-made pappardelle.

1314 NW Glisan St., 503-228-9535, Lunch and dinner daily. $$$$.

This white-tablecloth Peruvian behemoth may have been eclipsed by newer, hipper options, but still holds its own with generously sized staples like fruity ceviches, rellenos and empanadas, all best paired with a caipirinha or two.