813 SW Alder St., 503-222-1670, bullardpdx.com.
Top Chef made Doug Adams into a celebrity, but until Bullard's December opening, his ability to conceive a credible menu and run a restaurant of his own awaited proof. Well, here it is. For an admirer of Texas barbecue, the most impressive offering is Bullard's beef rib, a Flinstonian affair that arrives with the spoon-tender rib meat, no-bullshit "fresh flour tortillas," pickled jalapeños and mild roasted tomatillo-lime salsa.
Read the full review: With Bullard, Transplanted Texan Doug Adams Finally Gets to Prove He's for Real
2. Rosa Rosa
750 SW Alder St., 503-294-9700, rosarosapdx.com.
Located on the first floor of the Dossier Hotel, Vitaly Paley's Rosa Rosa joins the flurry of ambitious eateries that have coincided with Portland's recent hotel boom. Classic, New York-inspired Italian fare can be found in "the backroom," but the main room is where the more fun and dynamic items can be found, the most exciting being the Georgian chicken chkmeruli. Sample it during happy hour, which offers bite-sized renditions of Rosa Rosa's greatest hits at crazy-low prices.
Read the full review: At Vitaly Paley's Rosa Rosa, the Italian Classics Are in Back, But the Party Is Up Front
3808 N Williams Ave., eemportland.com.
Is "super-restaurant" a term? If so, this Thai barbecue spot definitely qualifies, given who's involved: Matt's BBQ namesake Matt Vicedomini, Earl Ninsom of the permanently booked Langbaan, and Eric Nelson of cocktail pop-up Shipwreck. It just opened on North Williams, and based on its monthlong pop-up at Taqueria Nueve in January, you're looking at an early Restaurant of the Year contender.
Related: Our Most Anticipated Restaurant and Bar Openings for 2019
4. PBJ's Grilled
611 NW 13th Ave., 702-300-7734, pbjsgrilled.com.
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.
5. 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, semi-sweet 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 versatile enough to eat for brunch or dinner.
Read the full review: Bake on the Run Introduces Portland to the Eclectic Tastes of Guyana