Portland is a city proud of the many cultures that were melted together to create its vibrant flair. It’s also a place deeply grounded in its surroundings, and committed to honoring its position in the Pacific Northwest. It’s no surprise, then, that the best food in Portland reflects the city’s artistic, multi-cultural aesthetic. Tied together by their dedication to locally raised products and an irresistible need to push boundaries and twist expectations, the best food to eat in Portland is rarely healthy but always mouthwateringly good.
Understandably, seafood holds a coveted place in the Portland local food culture. From fish and chips to Dungeness crab to pickled herring, Portland’s ocean-inspired dishes showcase not only the region’s natural bounty but the diversity of the peoples who first settled the city and the beautifully different ways they found to make the most of the same ingredients. No matter what type of food catches your fancy, however, Portland’s rich food landscape is sure to capture your taste buds and your heart.
Iconic Portland Dishes
The Reggie Deluxe (Pine State Biscuits)Fried chicken, bacon, cheddar cheese and a fried egg topped with sausage gravy and served on a thick, flaky house-made biscuit make the Reggie Deluxe a local obsession.
Foie Gras Profiteroles (Le Pigeon)Le Pigeon’s bite-size Foie Gras Profiteroles embody the playful classic-with-a-twist attitude that characterizes the Portland food scene’s attitude toward food.
Voodoo DoughnutsBrimming with quirky charm and even more outrageous toppings, Voodoo Doughnuts are a must-try for Portland eaters!
Nong's Khao Man GaiFrom street food to a chain of restaurants: Nong’s Khao Man Gai was good enough to build a dynasty on.
Charcuterie (Olympia Provisions)Olympia Provisions’ sprawling and customizable charcuterie boards are too good not to try. Image sourced from olympiaprovisions.com.
Herring Under a Fur Coat (Kachka)Russian bar food elevated to an art form, Kachka’s Herring Under a Fur Coat is the epitome of Portland’s unique dining experiences.
Ike's Vietnamese Fish Sauce Wings (Pok Pok)Experience the wings that took the nation by storm in their hometown.
Dungeness CrabNothing says “Portland” quite like Pacific Northwest Dungeness crab for brunch!
AbelskiverThe perfect intersection of the local brunch obsession and ethnic food delights, abelskiver will start your day off right!
1. The Reggie Deluxe (Pine State Biscuits)
Founded by three transplanted Southerners longing for the tastes of home, the Pine State Biscuits company has grown from its tiny farmer’s market stand to fill five locations in and around Portland.
Despite the expansion, they still struggle to keep up with demand for their impressive Reggie Deluxe: fried chicken, bacon, cheddar cheese and fried egg topped with sausage gravy and served on a thick, flaky house-made biscuit. Locals and visitors alike will be hard pressed to find a list of the best food downtown that doesn’t have a spot set aside for this iconic sandwich.
2. Foie Gras Profiteroles (Le Pigeon)
Foie gras may seem like an odd choice for an iconic dish, but these bite-size confections from Le Pigeon’s dessert menu embody the playful classic-with-a-twist attitude that characterizes the Portland food scene’s attitude toward food.
These unique profiteroles feature dollops of incredibly rich fois gras sandwiched between the golden-brown halves of split cream puff shells sprinkled with sea salt and drizzled with luscious caramel sauce. While you’re there, consider ordering a Le Pigeon burger, which makes a number of “best of” lists itself. Can’t make it? Try the Foie Gras Bon-Bons across town at Beast, instead!
3. Voodoo Doughnuts
Overflowing with quirky charm, Voodoo Doughnuts offers unmistakably unique doughnuts in flavors you won’t find anywhere else. Take your pick from raised yeast doughnuts, cake doughnuts and specialty doughnuts, but give yourself lots of time to choose because the sheer variety of delicious options will make it difficult to decide!
While the company’s two Portland shops do offer basic glazed doughnuts for those with traditional tastes, they are best known for their unusual and off-the-wall combinations such as Maple Bacon Bars, and doughnuts topped with Fruit Loops or Captain Crunch cereals, bubblegum, crushed Oreos and even a spicy chili pepper!
4. Nong’s Khao Man Gai
Anyone hunting for the best ethnic food in Portland Oregon should start their search for contenders at Khao Man Gai. Owner Nong Poonsukwattana started selling one dish – the eponymous Khao Man Gai – from a food cart and soon had so much business she had to expand into multiple brick-and-mortar locations.
Originally a common form of Thai street food, Khao Man Gai is a heady combination of poached chicken and rice served with a soy, ginger, garlic and chili sauce and unpretentious but perfect broth. Whether you at in or take out, you can’t go wrong with this famous dish!
5. Charcuterie (Olympia Provisions)
No carnivore looking for good food in Portland Oregon can afford to miss the stunning charcuterie boards at the city’s own Olympia Provisions. Available in your choice of five, eight or 11 different types of house-cured meats along with local cheeses, vegetables, pickles, mustards, jams and other spreads, these boards are unrivaled and a must-try. Up the ante by ordering a charcuterie and seafood tower, combining house-cured meats with local specialties like Dungeness crab for the ultimate Portland dining experience.
6. Herring Under a Fur Coat (Kachka)
One of the most unique but indisputably great local dishes available to anyone exploring food in downtown Portland is Kachka’s Herring Under a Fur Coat… aka a terrine-like seven-layer dip built around the classic Russian ingredient of pickled herring. Artistically presented and unlike anything you’ll have elsewhere, this one is worth making a special trip for. Of course, there are arguments among locals about whether Kachka’s other dishes, such as its signature Rabbit in a Clay Pot, should get top billing so take some friends and try a full spread of the restaurant’s delicious small plates and decide for yourself!
7. Ike’s Vietnamese Fish Sauce Wings (Pok Pok)
There is some debate among local food purists as to whether Pok Pok’s famous Vietnamese Fish Sauce Wings still qualify as an emblematically local dish now that the owners have set up shops in New York and L.A., as well. There’s a special sort of magic, however, to experiencing these amazing wings on their home turf, in the city whose adventurous spirit led to their creation and booming popularity. With three different Portland locations to find them at, these spicy-sweet-salty wings are a must-try.
8. Dungeness Crab
Heart-shaped Dungeness crabs account for nearly one quarter of the Pacific Northwest’s fishing industry, giving these crustaceans a special place in the Portland local food There is no single “right way” to prepare, serve and eat Dungeness, so keep your eyes peeled while you’re roaming restaurants and perusing menus for the preparation that sounds most irresistible to you. To really get in the Portland spirit, pick a crab dish for brunch!
The best examples of Abelskiver, puffy, round little Danish pancakes, are available at Broder in downtown Portland and its three sister cafes. Instead of maple syrup, these delicious balls of fluffy fried dough are served with jam and lemon butter for an end result that far exceeds the sum of its parts. Round out your meal with other distinctively Nordic fare such as Swedish hash, potato crepes and fruit fritters.