1. Birrieria PDX
16544 SE Division St., 971-336-6804. birrieriapdxoregon.com. 11 am-10 pm Tuesday-Friday, 9:30 am-10 pm Saturday, 9:30 am-9 pm Sunday.
The birria boom has reached Portland, and this cart in deep Southeast is one of its main purveyors. Birria de res, like its sibling, barbacoa de res, has a long tradition in many parts of Mexico, but Birrieria PDX’s options go beyond classic applications: Other inventive options include the keto taco, made with crispy melted cheese instead of a tortilla, and birria ramen, the Japanese noodle soup made with the broth of the birria, resulting in something that tastes more like pho or Thai boat noodles.
2. Sari Ramyun
2713 NE Sandy Blvd., 503-841-5149, sari.smartonlineorder.com. 11 am-8 pm Sunday-Thursday, 11 am-9 pm Saturday-Sunday.
Typically, the phrase “ramyun” refers in Korea to instant noodles, the peninsular answer to Top Ramen. But chef Tommy Shin’s stall in the Zipper food court specializes in a chicken noodle soup—well, technically chicken and beef broth, with melt-in-your-mouth brisket slices floating on top. This is a heretical opinion, given the proximity of Basilisk, but Sari makes the best chicken in the Zipper.
2525 SE Clinton St., 503-395-8542, magnapdx.com. 5-9 pm Thursday-Saturday.
It’s past time for a food city like Portland to have its own great Filipino restaurant, and one year ago, we got one. Chef Carlo Lamagna’s dishes are both intimately familiar and achingly cool, with showstoppers like the crispy pata, or fried pork leg, and pancit bihon, the Filipino version of Chinese glass noodles—and now you can enjoy it all on patio furniture on a closed-off block of Southeast Clinton.
3808 N Williams Ave., Suite 127, 971-295-1645, eempdx.com. 11 am-9 pm daily.
The superstar restaurant from the trio behind Hat Yai, Matt’s BBQ and the Shipwreck, Eem somehow manages to exceed all expectations. The white curry with brisket burnt ends is a dish so rich and nuanced it’s almost without precedent, while the chopped barbecue fried rice is another mashup that’s bafflingly simple yet unbeatable in flavor.
5. Hapa PDX Ramen and Whiskey
3848 SE Gladstone St., 503-376-9246, hapapdx.us. 5-9 pm Wednesday-Monday.
Lots of food carts make the leap to brick-and-mortar, but rarely is the effect quite so sexy as it is at Hapa. The soup here is a blend of two beloved cuisines: In the “G-Special” ramen, you’ll recognize elements of a Hawaiian plate lunch and a Tokyo ramen. But this is very much an izakaya, and drinks are as much the attraction as the soup: The ginger ale-sake highball is worth traveling across town for.