Portland's back open for business, baby! Well, not entirely—under Phase 1 of the state's reopening plan, several restrictions remain in place for bars and restaurants in Multnomah County, and many food-related businesses are sticking with takeout and delivery only models for the time being. Still, if you're looking to feel some passing semblance of normalcy again, while staying safe, several spots are making use of preexisting patios while also taking advantage of the city's Healthy Businesses program, allowing them to convert parking spaces and sidewalks into outdoor dining areas. Here's just a few to consider patronizing this week.
Reel M Inn
2430 SE Division St., 503-231-3880, reelminnpdx.com.
The fried chicken at this tiny, graffiti-stained, incongruously nautical-themed dive is worth fighting for, at least until someone figures out the mad alchemy that's allowed this place, of all places, to broast the finest birds in the city. And here's some news that's sure to make you drop whatever you're currently eating and place an order right now: They've entered the chicken sandwich game, with a hulking beast not even the corporate might of Popeyes can contend with—and you can have it along with a tallboy on one of the picnic tables out front.
960 SE 11th Ave., 503-235-0059, kachkapdx.com/alfresca.
Kachka may just be Portland's master of the restaurant spinoff. First came the casual sister restaurant Kachinka. Then Russian grocery Lavka. Now, James Beard-nominated chef Bonnie Morales is weathering Phase 1 with Kachka Alfresca, an open-air dining room located on their second-floor parking garage, where diners are served in their own private cabanas. While the menu will include some Kachka favorites, it will expand to include American comfort food such as stuffed potato skins, spinach-artichoke dip and molten chocolate cake—all made from scratch, and with a Russian twist. Reservations are open now, and service begins Friday, June 26.
Gado Gado/Oma’s Takeaway
3004 E Burnside St., 503-206-8778, gadogadopdx.com.
Half the allure of Thomas and Mariah Pisha-Duffly's James Beard-nominated Indonesian spot Gado Gado is the scattershot nature of both its food and menu. Both are constantly evolving, and their transition to Oma's Takeaway—a heady parking lot pickup party that recalls its freewheeling early days as a pop-up—shows the duo hasn't missed a step since the Rona turned the Pisha-Dufflys' industry upside down. The place has not fully reopened, but they have rolled out a temporary patio in its parking lot to enjoy their "Asian stoner food" under the sun for the first time in months.
401 NE 28th Ave., 503-206-7983, stammtischpdx.com.
The Southeast Portland extension of the fabulous German bar Prost, Stammtisch keeps the neighborhood supplied with crisp German beers and homestyle German cooking. Along with Teutonic brews, Stammtisch features a menu of Germanic cocktails—a complete rarity here, with ingredients like Bärenjäger and Underberg.
1615 NW 21st Ave., 971-229-1043, g-lovepdx.com.
Portland's first "reverse steakhouse" puts veggies in the spotlight and relegates meat to sideshow status, which isn't the novel idea around these parts owner and chef Garrett Benedict seems to think it is—but items like the craveable Ensalata Bomba are delicious enough to justify the restaurant's existence, regardless of the concept.
Jamaican Homestyle Cuisine
441 N Killingsworth St., 503-289-1423, jamaicanhomestylepdx.com.
When Keacean Ransom first opened her food cart in 2014, there wasn't a single Jamaican spot in Portland. Six years and a brick-and-mortar later, it's still among the most consistently flavorful in town—especially the oxtail plate, whose tender meat beautifully caramelizes into its plummy sauce. Ransom was doing takeout and delivery throughout the pandemic, and has now reopened the restaurant's patio for customers.
Mi Mero Mole
32 NW 5th Ave., 971-266-8575, mmmtacospdx.com.
Owner Nick Zukin (an occasional WW contributor) is devoted to very specific, regional Mexican food traditions—namely guisados (stewed or stir-fried fillings), moles and fresh corn tortillas. The menu is slightly more limited than usual right now, but it's still possible to choose your own adventure by picking a guisado and pairing it with a taco, quesadilla or burrito.
1605 SE Bybee Blvd., 971-717-5271; 3111 SE Division St., 503-719-5464;
PDX Sliders represents one of those rare moments when Yelp actually gets it right: Users voted it "4th Best Burger in America" in 2016. The competitive advantage at play is the modest price and size of each sandwich, most of which run around $5 for a 3-ounce slider and yield an unheard-of amount of flavor for such a small package. The Division Street location will have sidewalk seating, but it's worth trudging to Sellwood for use of that location's open patio.
Flying Fish Company
3004 E Burnside St., 971-806-6747, flyingfishportland.com.
For a city bisected by a river, Portland has a shocking scarcity of fish sandwiches on its restaurant menus. Stop searching and head straight for Flying Fish Company. The 6-ounce fillet of steelhead is prepped simply and topped with a green confetti of slightly sweet cabbage and earthy kale doused in a piquant marinade of lime, jalapeño, cilantro and Arbequina olive oil. The dressing's citrus is so bright, it will leave you vibrating like the first sunny, 70-degree day in spring—and now it comes with outdoor seating.