1. Vertical Diner
8124 SW Barbur Blvd., 503-206-6150, verticaldiner.com.
Housed inside a restored 5,500-square-foot space in Hillsdale originally built in 1969, Vertical Diner still feels like something out of the Mad Men era when you walk in, save for maybe the lack of ashtrays—and the entirely meatless menu. An totally plant-based take on the classic American diner, everything on the men is made in-house, from the seitan to the cheese sauce. Standouts include the Buffalo Tigers, perfect little golden fried seitan nuggets coated in a zippy wing sauce. The pancakes, in particular, are perfect. If you didn't know they were vegan in advance, you could never guess.
Read the full review: Vertical Diner Looks Straight Out of the '60s, With One Twist: It's Entirely Vegan.
2512 NE Broadway, 503-206-6075, carnepdx.com.
Carne is basically the budget version of Ox. That's meant as a major compliment. The small Irvington steakhouse and bar prepares its meats with a similar Latin touch, at prices that won't make your eyes cross when the bill arrives. Sixteen bucks gets you an 8-ounce tenderloin topped with verdant chimichurri sauce and a side of crispy potatoes bravas. It's not just good for the price, either—it far outstrips it.
Read the full review: New Latin American Bar and Grill Carne Is Basically the Budget Version of Ox.
503 W Burnside St., 971-373-8287, zapapizzapdx.com.
Blazing new trails in the pizza world is tricky, but Portland is one of the best places to try. And if veteran restaurateur Nick Zukin has his way, Mexican-style deep dish is the next big thing. At Zapapizza, the pies are topped with everything from taquitos to chilaquiles. But underneath the novelty, it's just damn good pizza—some of the best seen on the west side of the river in a long time.
4. Mama Bird
2145 NW Raleigh St., 503-384-2064.
It's back, baby! In October, the new health-conscious chicken restaurant from chef Gabriel Pascuzzi closed after several of its neighbors in Slabtown complained about the smoke coming from its wood-fired oven. Mama Bird upgraded the HVAC and returns to serve birds both smoked and grilled—with a bit more publicity than it had before.
3582 SE Powell Blvd., 503-309-4768, jojopdx.com.
Situated in a pod behind a strip club on Southeast Powell, this periwinkle-blue food truck is a throwback to the days when food trucks were underpriced and hard to find. In this case, $10 for its flagship chicken sandwich is a steal, given both the quality and size. The kicker is the perfect pile of slaw and jojo sauce—a Duke's mayo and Heinz ketchup hybrid—to lube the thing up properly without collapsing the bread after two bites.