Perfect Portland Dining Days: From Morning to Night, Here’s How to Eat in Our City

We developed a week’s worth of ultimate eating itineraries—from breakfast to after-dinner dessert, including sips, snacks and happy-hour specials in between.

Grits N' Gravy (Sean Bascom)

Portland has long been a city that is what it eats.

About a decade ago, we had such a strong reputation as farm-to-table foodies, Portlandia lampooned us for caring too much about the quality of life our chickens had before they wound up on our dinner plates. Around the same time, a local chef made headlines for getting into a brawl over a pig’s out-of-state origins.

Portland also became known as a city that was early to embrace the pop-up, allowing ambitious chefs to ditch the dining room and take their skills to unusual surroundings—from wine shops to butcher blocks to private homes.

Then there is our love for food trucks, a culture that has lured immigrants and other entrepreneurs, who have formed delightful, grub-based villages.

In other words, we’re fiercely loyal, wildly experimental, and endlessly adventurous when it comes to food.

But for the past two years, Portland’s culinary identity has been violently upended, first by the pandemic, then a catastrophic labor shortage, and most recently by soaring prices the likes of which haven’t been seen in 40 years.

Despite those challenges, it’s clear that we’re ready to return to the rituals of dining out, and the city’s eateries—both new and well established—are more than happy to save us a seat. Sure, we’re not back to normal just yet. Customers continue to shuttle their meals home in takeout boxes at higher rates (16%) than they did pre-COVID, according to the National Restaurant Association. But the trade group also found that the percentage of people it surveyed who said they ate on the premises rather than ordering food to go has continued an upward (though fitful) trajectory since spring 2021. What’s more, another poll conducted in September revealed that nearly one-half of adults would actually like to sit down at a restaurant more often.

Given this optimism, we thought it time to take the temperature of Portland’s food scene and get a sense of how a new identity might be emerging on the other side of the pandemic. Our discovery: There’s not any single dominant theme, but a rich and diverse dining culture that’s sure to suit any taste.

We’ve had writers devouring their way through the city for weeks, developing their ultimate eating day itineraries—from breakfast to after-dinner dessert, including sips, snacks and happy-hour specials in between.

One is an ode to Old Portland, classics that haven’t changed much over the years because you don’t need to tinker with a proven entity.

Another celebrates dishes at some of the newest, buzziest spots—places gutsy enough to open during one of the most tumultuous periods the industry has ever experienced.

There’s a playful romp through restaurants serving elevated takes on childhood favorites—think mozzarella sticks, chips and dip, soft serve; but also a roundup of the area’s more urbane offerings—tea houses, prix fixe destinations, and wine bars.

Don’t think that we’ve forgotten about food carts: A whole section is dedicated to kitchens on wheels east of 82nd Avenue.

If you’re vegan, we’ve got you covered. The city has a wealth of plant-based proprietors, too.

And we even dare you to have a meal in a part of the city many have written off entirely: downtown.

Whether you work your way through each list or select only a few new-to-you dishes to try, we hope this issue will guide you to something delicious and filling. The tables have been set; now all you have to do is grab a chair.

—Andi Prewitt, Arts & Culture Editor

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Go on a Food Truck Crawl East of 82nd Avenue, Where a Rich Tapestry of Cuisines Awaits

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Explore Portland’s Plant-Based Paradise for a Day

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