1. Pollo Bravo
1225 N Killingsworth St., 503-477-8999, pollobravopdx.com. 11:30 am-9 pm daily.
During the pandemic, Pollo Bravo stuck it out for a while with takeout and delivery from Pine Street Market, but without downtown’s tourists and office workers, co-owners Josh and Sarah Scofield eventually decided to go on hiatus. Now the beloved brand is back in a stand-alone restaurant with its signature chicken and stalwart sides (radicchio salad, patatas bravas), as well as select tapas and a rebooted Bravo burger. And nearly everything on the menu is ready to be dipped in Pollo Bravo’s decadent sauces.
2. RingSide Steakhouse
2165 W Burnside St., 503-223-1513, ringsidesteakhouse.com. 5-9 pm Monday-Thursday, 4:30-9:30 pm Friday, 4-9:30 pm Saturday, 4-9 pm Sunday.
For the first time since the start of the pandemic, RingSide will be open seven days a week. The iconic steakhouse remained closed on Mondays and Tuesdays once it resumed indoor dining, but let’s face it: Sometimes you really need to carve into a dry-aged, bone-in rib-eye to get your week started on the right foot. The $48 three-course prime rib special has returned to its normal Monday slot, and June just happens to be National Steakhouse Month, giving you another excuse to drop in.
2930 NE Killingsworth St., 503-227-2669, damerestaurant.com. 5-10 pm Thursday-Sunday.
Dame may be the most wonderful, underpublicized restaurant in Portland. The intimate Italian meals served there nourish the body and elevate the spirit. Its chef, Patrick McKee, is an exemplary talent, leader and human being; the kitchen and floor staff reflect a constructive culture; and the food is simply superb. When you go, order pasta, the high-water mark of McKee’s creativity and the skill in his kitchen. Typically, a half-dozen pastas are made fresh daily, and every dish is the product of painstaking flavor-building technique. Servings are generous, but order ravenously; these pastas are virtuoso performances.
4. Phuket Cafe
1818 NW 23rd Place, 503-781-2997, phuketcafepdx.com. 5-10 pm Monday-Friday, 10 am-2 pm and 5-10 pm Saturday-Sunday.
Rocketship Earl has catapulted skyward again. Phuket Cafe, located inside the compact former Ataula space in Northwest Portland, is Akkapong “Earl” Ninsom’s newest restaurant and co-venture with bartender Eric Nelson. After barely a month, waits can run long for Ninsom’s new, twisted take on Thai cuisine, a niche he owns. It’s a challenge to describe the menu, but it reflects the pair’s recent travels in Thailand, and includes everything from oysters on the half shell to bacon bites to paella to a glorious pork chop—a massive 18-ounce Tails & Trotters cut, sliced from the bone for service.
5. Yes Please Smash Burger
3950 SE Hawthorne Blvd., 707-500-2117, yespleasesmashburger.com. Noon-5 pm Wednesday-Sunday.
As the child of a naturopath and a herbalist, Tai Pfeifer grew up eating fresh and healthy, and was determined to bring that to his slow fast food. The Yes Please Smash Burger is grass-finished (as opposed to “grass-fed,” a term that still allows grain consumption), and until recently, Pfeifer ground the meat himself, using a mixture of brisket and heart. He also makes his own American cheese from real cheddar, which doesn’t have the dozen-plus ingredients you’ll find in Kraft Singles. It’s also actually a cheese sauce, which gets poured directly on the burger during cooking, resulting in an almost fricolike crusty, crispy cheese halo.