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.
Read the full review: The 10 Best Menu Items at Hawthorne Asylum, Portland's Newest Food Cart Pod
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.
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.
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.
Read the full review: Little Bean Proves Chickpea Ice Cream Isn't as Weird as It Sounds
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.
Read the full review: Upscale Vegan Restaurant Farm Spirit Puts Produce to Surprising, Unorthodox Use.