Once a busy warehouse and manufacturing center, this neighborhood has transformed in recent years into the epicenter of Portland’s art and design scene. And cropping up alongside the studios and gallery spaces, a vibrant food scene is now pushing the limits of culinary arts.
Perhaps the most nationally recognized name in the neighborhood, Le Pigeon, turns out French-based dishes with a local twist, like the Paris mushroom carpaccio starter and the entrée of smoked scallops with spaghetti and pig’s ear. Guests sit elbow-to-elbow at communal tables here, packing in for a crack at James Beard Award-winning chef Gabriel Rucker’s ever-changing menu.
One of the neighborhood’s pioneering restaurants, clarklewis makes the most of its light-filled former-loading-dock location, turning out wood-fired delicacies like the oak-grilled rib-eye steak served with local chard, creamed corn and oyster mushrooms.
Late-night eaters flock to Biwa, a snug basement eatery that serves up izakaya cuisine like grilled rice balls, pork belly and Korean-style beef tartare. The Japanese bar food is great for dinner or any time, really, and is perfect to pair with the restaurant’s wide selection of sakés, shochu and cocktails.
The beef tongue, borsch blintzes and other traditional Russian fare at Kachka are best enjoyed with house-infused vodkas in flavors like horseradish and chamomile.
Celebrate Latin American street food at colorful Teote, where buttery (and gluten-free) arepas adorn plates of pork belly and fried plantains. Out back, an enormous patio furnished with a fire pit and full bar beckons.
With its own creative take on ramen — think rich, meaty broths with fried chicken, oysters and fresh noodles — Boke Bowl has also earned a devoted following. But despite their meaty servings, vegetarians can get in on the action here too, with Korean fried tofu and eggplant — and everyone loves Boke’s daring miso-butterscotch twinkies for dessert.
Another ramen favorite, the flavorful bowls at Noraneko brim with handmade noodles, roasted miso, pork belly chasyu and corn butter. You can’t beat the happy hour (4–6 p.m.) deals at this hip ramen shack, when specials include $1 pork dumpling plates and Japanese shōchū highballs.
Big on flavor
Likewise, don’t let the incandescent “MEAT” sign inside Olympia Provisions fool you — while this high-end charcuterie vendor caters to carnivores, they’ve got plenty of greens to go around. While a great place to order a cocktail and sample everything from pancetta and chorizo to a thick-cut BLT, their house-marinated olives, pickled veggies and fried almonds are just as salty and delicious. And everyone will agree that their cheese boards offer rich cuts to die for.
Le Bistro Montage has long been a favorite of Portlanders and visitors alike. Their spicy Cajun dishes like gator bites, frog legs, hush puppies and gumbo would fit in down on the bayou, while their eclectic mix of mac’ and cheeses would go over well just about anywhere. Serving customers with a side of sass, the waitstaff are as memorable as the food, which is whipped up in inventive foil shapes to-go.
Equally unforgettable, the Central Eastside’s food carts are some of the most popular in town. Cartopia, one of Portland’s longest-running pods, is open late into the night, with Potato Champion’s poutine and Pyro Pizza‘s wood-fired pies attracting snackers until 3 a.m. Across the street, former cart Lardo has grown up into a full-fledged eatery, serving its pork-packed sandwiches and local craft brews to a constantly packed house.