1. Hawthorne Asylum

1080 SE Madison St.

Named after a 19th-century hospital for the mentally ill, Portland's newest food cart pod looks like what might happen if Tim Burton were commissioned to design a Portland-themed section of Disneyland. Highlights include the bulgogi and spicy pork tacos at Korean Twist, the sliced brisket sandwich at Bark City BBQ, and the sangria at Black Dagger—because every cart pod needs at least one a booze cart.

(Sage Brown)
(Sage Brown)

2. Top Burmese

833 NW 16th Ave., topburmese.com.

Given the profound popularity of the cuisine of its neighboring states, it's surprising that Burmese food has been a relative outlier until now. Top Burmese aims to change that. The nan gyi thoke, or chicken noodle salad ($8.50), is the best value and boldest flavor on the menu, with a heaping pile of warm rice noodles serving as the bed for hard-boiled egg, a chunky chicken curry sauce, fried garlic and a generous dusting of highly addictive tamarind powder.

IMAGE: facebook.com/TekkaBarHandrollSushiLasVegas
IMAGE: facebook.com/TekkaBarHandrollSushiLasVegas

3. Tekka Bar

1237 SW Washington St., 971-346-3280, tekkabar.com.

Portland apparently has some kind of culinary exchange going on with Las Vegas. A year ago, we sent Lardo and Pok Pok to the desert, and now Sin City is returning the favor by gifting us hand-rolled sushi from one of its top restaurateurs. Tekka Bar just opened downtown, in a former Blue Star Donuts location, slinging owner Takashi Segawa's much drooled-over lobster rolls and yellowtail sashimi, plus a well-curated selection of sake.

(Thomas Teal)
(Thomas Teal)

4. Little Bean

1241 NW Johnson St., littlebean.com.

If the point is just to prove that chickpea ice cream can be done, Little Bean is a success. The ice cream—or bean cream or ice bean or whatever—has a texture so thick and creamy, it could almost be mistaken for gelato. The cherry chai is sharply spiced. The blackberry basil tastes as if it could have come from your garden. The strong cold brew coffee is the most traditional offering, and the orange caramel, which tastes like a creamsicle, is the most likely to satisfy a severe sweet tooth.

(Rocky Burnside)
(Rocky Burnside)

5. Farm Spirit

1403 SE Belmont St., farmspiritpdx.com.

Portland has no shortage of vegan junk food. But vegan fine dining is a rarity. So when Farm Spirit opened its prix fixe brick-and-mortar at the beginning of this year, it filled one of the few voids left in the area's plant-based dining scene. Chef Aaron Adams' seasonal, constantly changing menu puts local produce to clever and surprising uses, like caramelized black garlic as a convincing chocolate ganache, or "ravioli" made with chard for noodles.