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. Trap Kitchen
8523 SE Stark St., trapkitchen.com. $-$$.
The most famous pop-up soul kitchen in LA has slung food to Kobe Bryant, Dave Chappelle, and Kendrick Lamar—but the first permanent location is in Portland, serving up pineapple bowls and seriously fat "rich boy" po'boys with shrimp and salmon.
2. Clay's Smokehouse
2865 SE Division St., 503-327-8534, clayssmokehouse.com. $$.
Clay's Smokehouse has come back revitalized. Along with great saucy ribs and crazily good dessert, it's making the platonic ideal of smoked chicken wings: tender and smoky, with a great tangy sauce.
3. Taqueria La Mestiza
8525 NE Fremont St., 503-572-8595. $.
The Yucatan-born owners at Taqueria La Mestiza are making achingly good poc chuc and cochinita pibil out of this tiny Fremont Street taqueria—alongside relleno negro soup with sausage-wrapped egg.
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.
5. The Woodsman Tavern
4537 SE Division St., 971-373-8264, woodsmantavern.com. $$-$$$.
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.