Every traveler knows that one of the best ways to truly experience and understand a place is by immersing oneself in its food. Just like the city it represents, Portland food is colorful and creative. Deeply grounded in ingredients native to the Pacific Northwest, it seamlessly blends in the traditions and flavors carried into the city throughout is history by immigrants from every corner of the world. From Thai street food to crispy crusted Margherita pizzas to exquisite five-star delicacies, Portland local food surprises and delights visitors and locals alike every day.
Finding the best food in Portland starts with knowing where to look. While Portland’s five-star restaurants offer their share of divine dishes, some of the best finds are tucked away in hole-in-the-wall local joints. Others are available only within the city’s vibrant food truck pods. Selecting a few restaurants, a food truck or two and at least one iconic dish to track down during your visit will give you a strong start on savoring Portland’s best bites.
Iconic Portland Dishes You Have to Try
One of the first things visitors discover about Portland food is locals’ love of a fantastic sandwich piled high with fixings and usually dripping with sauce. From the Melty and Meaty food truck’s Portland Hero to Pine State Biscuits’ Reggie Deluxe, the higher they’re stacked the more devoted their fans. While this can occasionally mean waiting in line, it also makes finding the most delicious sandwiches in town surprisingly easy.
The second thing most visitors are quick to discover about the Portland local food scene is that brunch is a big deal. From ethnic specialties like abelskiver and Swedish hash to exquisite buffets set out by high-end restaurants, there’s no overstating the city’s love of a good brunch. Even local food carts get in on the act, offering French toast sandwiches to die for. Whether you take a casual approach or make an event out of it, don’t miss the chance to experience the local brunch culture for yourself while you’re in town.
Of course, the city’s generous number of five-star restaurants offer some of the best food in Portland, as well. From new twists on classic cuisines to truly unique combinations, Portland’s fine dining establishments push the limits on creativity, art and taste. Old standbys like fois gras get entirely different treatments from one chef to the next, each bringing their own special magic to the table.
Best Restaurants in Portland
Asking locals about their favorite Portland restaurants is like asking an avid reader to choose his or her favorite book. You’re likely to get extremely passionate responses and a lot of qualifiers. Portland’s rich culinary landscape means that visitors and residents alike can easily acquire one favorite breakfast spot for rushed weekdays, another for a quick Saturday meetup with friends before an adventure, and a third for leisurely Sunday brunches.
Similarly, you might get entirely differently recommendations for the best lunch in Portland depending on whether you’re planning a working lunch, a day out with friends, or just grabbing a quick bite for yourself. If you think finding the tastiest lunch or best breakfast in Portland is an adventure, wait until you discover the city’s night life!
From five-star, multiple course prix fixe dinners to sharable platters at beloved local dives, the options are nearly endless. On any given night, you can choose between ethnic street food turned into an art form, casual pub food, seven-course meals with perfect wine pairings and everything in between.
One thing never changes, however. No matter where you choose to dine, you will find that the best restaurants in Portland share a steadfast dedication to serving up the best ingredients in creative combinations that honor the city’s stylish flair and playful personality.
Best Food Trucks in Portland
Portland food trucks are an essential component in the city’s culinary landscape. Scattered across Portland individually and in well-known “pods,” Portland food carts are every bit as distinctive and loyalty-inducing as their brick-and-mortar counterparts.
Some carts are extensions of well-known city restaurants – think Melty & Meaty, which is an offshoot of Olympia Provisions, or Pastrami Zombie, the mobile arm of popular deli Sammich. Others are stand-alone standouts, such as Stretch the Noodle or Gumba.
Easy to track via online interactive maps or to find in their dedicated spaces in high-traffic pods, the best food trucks in Portland offer meals for every taste. Whether you prefer you meat sliced thin and heavily sauced, or prefer meatless vegetarian and vegan alternatives, you’ll find delicious dishes on almost every street.
Portland Food by Area
While it is easy to talk about Portland Oregon cuisine as a whole, the truth is that in a city the size of Portland, you can’t always zip straight across town to catch lunch or enjoy a dinner date before an event.
Distance, traffic, time crunches and other mundane factors of life can make it necessary to carve the city into sections, and to choose dining arrangements within your current section for practicality’s sake. Fortunately, no matter what sector you find yourself in, you’ll have no lack of delectable choices!