605 SE Belmont St., berlupdx.com.
Chef Vince Nguyen elevates fine dining to the astral plane: delicious, mysterious, stylish without pretension, invariably thoughtful and focused. Each presentation is a work of visual artistry, bursting with bright, sometimes psychedelic colors. But it's not just the food that makes this one of Portland's best new restaurants. A meal here is a fully formed experience, where everything from the music to the David Bowie-themed restroom plays a part.
1414 SE Morrison St., fermenterpdx.com.
The food at this vegan lunch spot is uniformly excellent—not just "good for vegan food," but good no matter what you choose to eat for the rest of your day. The counter offers a prix fixe three-course lunch for $23 that changes daily. On a recent visit, that included a cucumber, tomato and nasturtium cold dish layered over hazelnut nepetella yogurt, followed by a slice of the best tempeh in town, served over quinoa and corn. Put simply, Fermenter rules. And yes, it's vegan. No asterisk required.
Read the full review: With Fermenter, Chef Aaron Adams Changes the Game for Vegan Food in Portland—Again.
503 W Burnside St., 971-373-8287.
Just when you thought Portland was maxed out on new pizzerias, we've squeezed another one in. This one is a bit different, though. The new restaurant from Nick Zukin, owner of Old Town taco spot Mi Mero Mole and an occasional WW contributor, it specializes in thick-crust pies with a Mexican twist—think albondigas, chile relleno, even a chilaquiles pizza covered in salsa verde and melted cheese. Add-ons include cactus and pickled jalapeños to chapulines—fried grasshoppers.
1900 NW 27th Ave., 971-288-9651.
The beach vibes are strong at Impala. The tequila-heavy cocktails are named after professional skaters, the menu is Mexi-Cali drive-in fare, the décor is all potted ferns and pastel paint. But what matters most is the taco special: two crunchy, Old El Paso-style crisp tortilla and ground beef babies overflowing with shredded cheese, served with crinkle-cut fries and a Rainier for $9. It's the best dinner deal on the westside.
Read the full review: The 1980s Called. Impala Brought Their Tacos Back.
4611 E Burnside St., 503-206-5916, wajanpdx.com.
"Selamat Makan," reads the sign in the flamboyantly decorated dining room at this Indonesian newcomer, a phrase that translates to "bon appétit." For the uninitiated, an order of nasi campur or nasi uduk sampler plates is a must. Those ready for the advanced course have plenty of options; a starter of rujak serut should be mandatory. Raw fruits and vegetables are anointed with palm sugar syrup and ground peanuts for an all-compass-point ensemble of sweet, tart, soft and crunchy. It's one of the standout local dishes of the year.