1. PBJ's Grilled
PBJ's Grilled launched as a food cart in 2010, and it was an instant hit for its artisanal interpretations of the mild-mannered peanut-butter-and-jelly. In the fall, it successfully made the jump to brick-and-mortar, serving time-tested favorites from its near-decade of expanding the boundaries of the kindergarten lunch classic. The Spicy Thai was featured on the Food Network and remains the standout—the crispy coconut shrimp, served on challah bread, retain their crunch despite being doused in red curry, peanut butter, Sriracha, basil and orange marmalade.
2. Bake on the Run
1122 SE Tacoma St., 503-877-8602.
You probably wouldn't expect to find chow mein on the menu at Portland's only Guyanese food cart. But then, given the rarity of the cuisine at Bake on the Run, just about everything is unexpected. The titular bake is a soft, fried, semisweet puff bread that came to Guyana by way of Trinidad and Barbados. Think of it as a homemade Hot Pocket. It's an addictively savory snack that's versatile enough to eat for brunch or dinner.
Read the full review: Bake on the Run Introduces Portland to the Eclectic Tastes of Guyana.
3. Kargi Gogo
Georgian khachapuri cheese breads have been trending across America for several years, and they've arrived in Portland thanks to Kargi Gogo. Rip off a piece of bread and drag it through the liquid cheese—it's like pizza and fondue had a baby.
4. Fish & Rice
Not all affordable sushi in Portland arrives via conveyor belt. Nestled on the backside of Northwest 23rd Avenue, Fish & Rice boasts not only a formidable $13, two-roll lunch plate but a superlative cute factor that will tempt a visit long after the combination special expires at 3 pm.
Read the full review: Fish & Rice Has Cheap, Quality Sushi Without Frills—Unless You Count Super Nintendo.
5. Little Bird
Gabe Rucker's iconic downtown bistro recently rebooted, with a new chef de cuisine in Xan Gilmartin and a revamped menu taking cues from Rucker's more recent venture, Canard, giving traditional, high-class French cuisine a lowbrow American twist. New offerings include a chicken cobb salad dressed with "ranch de Provence" and a sandwich combining a French dip and French onion soup. Whaaa?
Related: Restaurant Guide 2018: Little Bird Bistro.