Portland is known for having a unique environment with a fusion of cultures and people, and that includes their restaurants. The city has an eclectic food scene and other places where they cater to traditional American fare. Usually, the restaurants you find listed will be the most popular therefore the most packed and noisy. However, there are some restaurants where only the locals go.
There are several restaurant options in the city, but there are also local, smaller eateries that Portlanders go to. For instance, A Roadside Attraction looks like it’s nothing special but is unique to locals of the city. Listed below are some smaller restaurants that are frequented by locals. If you want to find out more, continue reading.
1. Han Oak
If you are looking for luxury food, then Han Oak may be the restaurant for you. This tasting menu restaurant serves unconventional Korean food for families. The menu comes with “banchan,” or sides, sharables, snacks as well as dumplings and noodles. The drink menu features wines, cocktails and beers. There are Korean-imported beers as well as beers from local Portland breweries. However, the tasting menu is always the chef’s choice, so you are receiving unique meals every time you visit.
Because it is a tasting menu, you will be served a set number of courses. As of August 2019, the set menu is $59 per person and any sides are extra. Like most tasting menu restaurants, you need to make a reservation before arrival. The restaurant does accept walk-ins, however, those who do wonder in will be placed on a waitlist.
The atmosphere of Han Oak is modern and hip with a courtyard for outdoor seating. The indoors is set with communal seating and interesting soundtracks. The course typically begins with many side dishes and the kimchi is made by the chef’s mother. Han Oak is a hole-in-the-wall restaurant that provides a unique twist on traditional Korean dishes.
2. The Sudra
The Sudra is an Indian-inspired restaurant with exclusively vegan options. Unlike the previously mentioned establishment, the Sudra is a more casual spot with many options. The restaurant has an extensive menu that carries sharables like roasted cauliflower and kale samosas, bowls, and thali plates like chicken-less tikka masala curry.
Their prices are in the medium range with plates going for $12 and an appetizer costing around $8. The Sudra also has a drink menu with a wider variety. There are wines, beets and cocktails but there are also teas, mocktails, sodas and juices. On top of the fact that the food is Indian inspired, there are influences of Latin America and the Middle East. Their calabacitas kofta and their strawberry habanero sauce show this fusion of cultures.
As for the atmosphere, the Sudra is said to have cozy and tasteful bar décor and can be great place to go to have a drink with friends. In fact, the Sudra has a happy hour from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. and 9 p.m. to close.
3. A Roadside Attraction
This restaurant bar provides Southern-style fare for their patrons who are willing to pay cash. A Roadside Attraction does not take credit card, so you will have to take your plastic elsewhere. If you are interested in looking for a watering hole in Portland, this can be interesting place to be. The menu offers sandwiches as their mains along with typical bar food like nachos.
If you are looking for vegetarian options, A Roadside Attraction has a selection for you. The restaurant bar also has a grill for meats and vegetables. You can order a steak or ask for their veggie kebabs. Their appetizers can include black beans and rice, salad or a hummus plate. The price for all of this fare is quite low as every item on the menu is under $10.
The atmosphere of the bar is quite casual with vintage décor on the walls. Additionally, dogs are welcome at the establishment. To add to the vintage feel, there is a jukebox that plays eclectic music.
4. Homegrown Smoker
This restaurant offers a vegan revamping of Southern barbeque and comfort food. This vegan restaurant is known for their tempeh ribs and are smoked just like regular ribs are. The ribs are served with traditional Southern sides like collard greens, hush puppies and mac-no-cheese.
The restaurant also has their vegan take on pulled pork sandwiches and has a two-pound burrito on their menu. The most popular item on the menu is the Mac Daddy burger with a smoked seitan patty layered with mozzarella, pickles, barbeque sauce and plenty of mac-no-cheese. The menu includes salads, burgers and vegan-substitute protein options like wings.
The restaurant has indoor and outdoor seating, with simple indoor tables with brightly colored walls. The décor inside is kitschy and quirky with frames of varied sizes on the wall. The outdoor seating area has a mural next to it that reads: “peace begins on your plate.” The mural depicts a garden full of vegetables exposing the soils and the roots of the vegetables. One side of the mural shows a depiction of the original Homegrown Smoker food cart.
5. City State Diner
Located near Portland’s Pearl District, the City State Diner and Bakery offers traditional American breakfast and lunch all day. The bakery also offers some sweet treats that the locals enjoy. The menu has American favorites like hash browns but also has some Southern dishes like Louisiana Hash with biscuits ad gravy.
The menu includes an assortment of dishes like eggs benedict, meatloaf and a gravy train. There are items on the menu that are vegetarian friendly like smoked tofu and will use tofu to substitute eggs in their egg scramble plates. As for their bakery menu, it includes coffee cakes, cookies, berry bars, scones and biscuits.
The diner has both indoor and outdoor seating. However, because it is close to the downtown area, it can get noisy and crowded even on the outdoor seating area. The outdoor seating has picnic tables and the inside has a rustic hip look with exposed lightbulbs hanging from the ceiling and the exposed air vent. If you would like, you can sit at the counter and get a view of the kitchen.