Our Restaurant Guide picks the best restaurants in Portland every October. We hem and haw and fuss to recommend 50 restaurants we think best represent the city.

This is not that list.

Rather, these are five spots we're excited about right now. Maybe that's a taqueria we've loved forever, maybe that's a seafood spot with a special menu this week or a new burger joint we stumbled on Friday night. It's designed to answer that age-old question: Where should we go out to dinner tonight?

1. Clay's Smokehouse

2865 SE Division St., 503-327-8534, clayssmokehouse.com. $$.

Clay's Smokehouse has come back revitalized. Along with great saucy ribs and crazily good dessert, it's serving the platonic ideal of smoked chicken wings: tender and smoky, with a great tangy sauce.

2. Taqueria La Mestiza

8525 NE Fremont St., 503-572-8595. $.

Angel Food and Fun lost its chef, but the Yucatan-born new ownership at Taqueria La Mestiza is making achingly good poc chuc panuchos and cochinita pibil out of this tiny Fremont Street taqueria—alongside relleno negro soup with sausage-wrapped egg.

3. The Woodsman Tavern

4537 SE Division St., 971-373-8264, woodsmantavern.com. $$-$$$.

(Aubrey Gigandet)
(Aubrey Gigandet)

Under former Imperial chef Doug Adams, the Woodsman has entered a new golden age. Order the fried chicken, or the trout, or the pimento dip or the oysters, or… honestly, you can't go wrong.

4. Kingsland Kitchen

301 SW Pine St., 971-300-3118, kingslandkitchen.com. $.

(CJ Monserrat)
(CJ Monserrat)

Kingsland Kitchen makes a fine full English breakfast till 3 pm—with killer bap sandwiches in the morning and a great spicy fried chicken for lunch.

5. Sammich

2137 E Burnside St., 503-477-4393, sammichashland.com. $.

Melissa "Pastrami Zombie" McMillan is better known in Portland for her Montreal-style cured brisket. But in cold weather, order Windy City comfort in the form of a beefy, cheesy, jus-dipped, Chi-style Timbo.