Discovering the Food Scene in Portland: Best Restaurants & Cafes

Discovering the Food Scene in Portland: Best Restaurants & Cafes

  • David Merrick
  • 10/4/23

Portland offers long-time residents and newcomers a lot of benefits. You can enjoy the outdoors across the area's natural bays and beautiful forests, whether you prefer a day out hiking or a sunny morning in a local park. The economy is also thriving, with dozens of businesses across multiple industries making Portland their home. The food scene is another popular draw. If you love fine dining, are a fan of coffee science, or want to make sustainable and eco-friendly eating part of your lifestyle, Portland, Oregon, is the place for all things culinary. If you're planning on making the area your home, learn more about some of the most popular foods that are part of iconic Portland cuisine.

The local cuisine and signature dishes of Portland, Oregon

Portland, Oregon, is known across the country as a foodie capital, especially when it comes to sustainable, organic, and nature-forward culinary practices. The Pacific Northwest as a whole is a haven for seafood and truffles, so residents can find countless options for fish dishes, truffle-infused sides and condiments, and even freshly caught shellfish of endless variety.

When it comes to Portland, specifically, there are a handful of food items that are at the top of the to-try list. These include berries (especially blueberries and marionberries), hazelnuts, and Dungeness crab. So whether you love simply cooked crab that was caught just off the coast, waffles in a fresh berry compote, or a hint of hazelnut in your coffee, Portland is certainly the place to be.

Top three fine-dining restaurants in Portland

When you're celebrating an anniversary or a major milestone, Portland offers unforgettable fine dining experiences. Enjoy rooftop views, an oasis from the hustle and bustle of downtown Portland, and the elegance of a finely cooked meal. Three of the most acclaimed fine-dining establishments in Portland are:

  • Mucca Osteria: Enjoy an exquisite dinner just down the road from Pioneer Courthouse Square. This restaurant serves incomparable pasta dishes, perfectly cooked seafood, and authentic Italian desserts. They have intimate tables and a beautiful interior.

  • The Painted Lady: Visit this fine dining icon for elevated American dishes. They serve delicious Dungeness crab, have a seasonal tasting menu, and specialize in wine pairing. If you love local sustainability or expertly crafted food, you'll find both here.

  • El Gaucho: When your special occasion calls for steak, reserve a table at this steakhouse and bar. They specialize in 28-day dry-aged beef and have an open exhibition kitchen. It's an experience as much as it is an unforgettable meal.

The best cafes and coffee shops in town

Portland has a reputation for delicious coffee, and you'll find an excellent foundation for that reputation in the cafes and coffee shops across the city. Make sure you visit these venues for delicious espresso drinks and freshly roasted and poured coffee:

  • Less & More Coffee: When you need a morning pick-me-up or a sweet lunchtime treat, this shop is a wonderful choice. Find cloud cream coffee with house-made cream, black sesame or tiramisu lattes, or a bracing espresso tonic. They also serve non-coffee treats like an ube latte.

  • Sterling Coffee Roasters: If you're craving a finely crafted cup at 6:30 in the morning, this roastery offers fresh beans and delicious drinks. They offer all the classics. And when you aren't sure which beans to take home, order an espresso flight for a fun-tasting experience.

  • Deadstock Coffee: People visit this Old Town cafe for the vibe as much as for the coffee. Order any drink that comes to mind. Instead of a menu, they have baristas that know it all.

Delicious international cuisine in Portland

Portland offers a truly global food scene. Whatever you're craving, there's a fine dining restaurant, a charming cafe, or a food truck that serves it. For just a taste of the international cuisine scene, try:

  • Shawarma Station: This new food truck in town serves a wide variety of Mediterranean and Middle Eastern favorites, from gyros with fries to tasty falafel in freshly made pita to hand-wrapped dolmas. If you have a busy day in the middle of the city, this is the perfect street food for walking and eating.

  • Kasbah Moroccan Cafe: If you love Mediterranean food, but you prefer it to be Halal — or you're looking for a place to sit and eat — try Kasbah Moroccan Cafe instead. They serve lunch and dinner with everything from sandwiches to full platters, and they also cater. Along with a delicious menu, they serve a selection of hot teas, iced mint tea, and spiced coffee.

  • Mestizo: Craving cocktails and delicious Latin American cuisine? You'll find it in spades in southeast Portland's Mestizo. Find shareable tapas and apps, different ceviche options, and an entree menu that offers freshly caught fish and hearty bowls. If you're craving something sweet, they serve coconut rice pudding that you won't find anywhere else in town.

Popular sustainable restaurants in Portland

Portland is also known as a sustainability hotspot, from its food to its public transportation. Whether you prefer organic ingredients, plant-forward menu items, or sustainable farm-to-table business operations, you'll find no end of options in this town. These restaurants are on a mission:

  • Clarklewis: This restaurant has a well-earned reputation as a farm-to-table dining experience with delicious menu items. It's been setting this trend since 2004, and the restaurant sources its ingredients from local farms and sources. Enjoy the seasonal menu and a well-thought-out list of food providers.

  • Fermenter: This is the local source for well-crafted, authentically fermented foodstuffs. Find popular items like kombucha and cider. But you'll also find ruby kraut, cultured cashew cream cheese, and even some workshops for making your own fermented foods.

  • Higgins: Even before there was Clarklewis, there was Higgins. Enjoy farm-to-table, sustainable dining at this restaurant. The chef and co-owner Greg Higgins has won a James Beard Award, and the bistro, lunch, and dinner menus certainly taste like it. The menus showcase Pacific Northwest cuisine and locally crafted beers and wines.

Find your dream home near your favorite cafes and restaurants

If you want to live down the street from Portland's downtown food scene or just a short jog from your favorite coffee shop, enjoy a custom homebuying journey that puts your preferences center-stage. David Merrick is an experienced Portland-area realtor who helps Portland residents find their dream homes near their favorite amenities and attractions. Reach out today to learn more about the local real estate market and start searching for a beautiful home in town.

Work With David

With more than 25 years of corporate retail experience (sales, buying and district management), I strive to give every client the personal service and attention to detail that they deserve. I would love to work with you on your next real estate adventure. Contact me anytime.