1. Campana at Grand Army Tavern
901 NE Oneonta St., 503-841-6195, campanapdx.com.
A meal at the 5-month-old "trattoria within a tavern" feels like falling through a wormhole and landing in a classic New York red-sauce joint. Campana makes the ordering easy by offering a three-course road map—salad, pasta and a dessert—for $37. And while it may sound too ambitious for your stomach, you really should spring for at least one of the sides. If nothing else, the rugged, spongy campagnolo bread will help you wipe your dish clean of any remaining sauce.
4546 SE Division St., malkapdx.com.
An extension of Jessie Aron's fanciful Carte Blanche cart situated in a converted house, Malka faced a long series of delays, but it has finally arrived—well, sort of. It's still in "soft opening" mode, which means no walk-ins and a pared-down menu. Once it gets rolling, though, expect Thai-spiced ribs, crispy rice salads and a Southeast Asian take on matzo ball soup.
3. Mama Bird
2145 NW Raleigh St., 503-384-2064, mamabirdpdx.com.
"Comfort food" means different things to different people, but few are likely to disagree on Mama Bird. At this new Etsy-chic Slabtown counter-service spot, a crackling fire provides ambience and heat, with one side devoted to pineapple-brined birds, and fresh vegetables and potatoes on the other. The brine gives the birds all the flavor they need to stand up on their own, but each of the six sauces on offer transforms the chicken from above average to downright addictive.
Read the full review: Mama Bird's Chicken Splits the Difference Between Comfort Food and Health Food.
4. Baes Fried Chicken
225 SW Ash St., baeschicken.com.
Four years after he pulled the plug on his previous attempt at a fried chicken joint, fast-casual kingpin Micah Camden's newest project doles out fresh, juicy birds with ruthless efficiency and alarming consistency. The hot chicken, in particular, is destined to be the subject of citywide hype. The level of heat is tolerable for most, preserving the smoky, peppery flavor without scorching taste buds.
Read the full review: Baes Chicken Redeems One of Portland Restaurateur Micah Camden's Biggest Failures.
5. Top Burmese
413 NW 21st Ave., 503-477-5985, topburmese.com.
The booming Burmese takeout spot has traded its tiny rectangular room with a lone table for a slightly larger space inside the former Kim Jong's Smokehouse, and the menu has expanded in the process. But the dishes that wowed us the first time around remain the all-stars—like the fermented tea leaf salad and the incredible five-pack of golden-brown samosas.
Read the full review: Before the Year Ends, We Revisited Five Restaurants That Switched Things up in 2019.