Portland Dining Month 2018 picks

Use these menu picks to navigate the 100+ restaurants participating this March.

Chalino-2Newcomer Chalino is offering playful takes on Mexican food during dining month.
David Alvarado

In a city like Portland, cuisine options never run out — and thanks to Portland Dining Month, budgets don’t have to either. For the entire month of March, more than 100 of the city’s top restaurants are offering three-course meals for just $33. Returning for its ninth year March 1, 2018, Dining Month offers 31 whole days to chew through your restaurant bucket list — whether it’s revisiting a Portland classic or sampling something new.

Struggling to pick which restaurant to visit first? Here are some particularly delicious menus to help guide your culinary journey.

Noteworthy newcomers

Each year, the dining month restaurant roster gets more exciting. This year’s lineup is no exception, with some of Portland’s most buzzworthy eateries, like Southfork and Alto Bajo, debuting their first-ever dining month menus.

First-timer Chalino is offering up playful interpretations of Mexican cuisine. Begin with their take on a Caesar salad, made using charred broccoli, cotija cheese, sunchokes and toasted sunflower seeds. The second course is steak asada tacos drizzled with roasted chili sauce and topped with pickled sweet onions and fermented serrano salsa. For dessert, enjoy a Mezcal-infused caramel flan with grapefruit ice, sesame crumble and fresh mint.

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Dig into Mexican-inspired dishes at Northeast Portland’s Chalino. Photo by David Alvarado.

Among 2018’s most anticipated openings is Bistro Agnes, a Parisian bistro in downtown Portland created by James Beard Award-winning chefs Gren and Gabi Denton (also of Kask and Ox). The bistro’s dining month offerings begin with pork pate maison (a slab of pate wrapped in bacon) with celery root rémoulade and tart cornichons; followed by mussels cooked in white wine, shallot, thyme and crème fraîche and served with a grilled, garlic-rubbed baguette; and, for dessert, with vanilla bean rice pudding drizzled with salted caramel sauce and topped with crunchy toasted almonds.

Celebrity chef Chris Cosentino’s Portland venture Jackrabbit — opened in 2017 — is entering the dining month arena for its first time. The menu opens with a bowl of root vegetable soup with hazelnut oil and root vegetable chips, followed by house-made tagliatelle with roasted wild mushrooms, delicate first peas and pine nuts. Finally, the meal concludes with a Meyer lemon tartlet topped with a toasted cocoa nib meringue, brown sugar streusel and decadent white chocolate mouse.

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Celebrity chef Chris Consentino’s Jackrabbit opened in 2017. Photo by David Alvarado.

Famous favorites

There’s a reason Portland’s most famous restaurants became — and remain — so noteworthy: Their innovative, constantly-evolving and always delicious food make the city a year-round culinary destination. This year, many acclaimed restaurants are part of Portland Dining Month, including French favorites St. Jack and Little Bird Bistro; comfort food-inspired Country Cat and Mother’s Bistro & Bar; chic Italian eatery Renata; and Pacific Northwest-focused Imperial, Paley’s Place and Clarklewis.

Rooftop restaurant Departure, helmed by famous-in-his-own-right Chef Gregory Gourdet, is dishing up the Asian fusion cuisine that made it one of the hottest eateries in town. Their dining month offerings begin with roasted carrot with smoked cashews, sunchokes and coconut cream; followed by roasted Pacific snapper with fermented chili and herbs; and finished off with a tart citrus bar topped with yuzu, Makrut lime, toasted meringue and fresh mint.

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Delicious late-night bites abound at Departure, perched atop the Nines Hotel in downtown Portland.

Peruvian mainstay Andina in Northwest Portland is also joining Portland Dining Month in 2018. Their special menu begins with Causa Morada, a pastry with lime-scented purple potatoes,  shredded chicken breast and yellow aji; followed by lomo saltado (wok-fried beef with onions, tomatoes, garlic and oyster sauce); and a sweet alfajor, a classic Peruvian key-lime scented cookie with manjar blanco.

Global gourmands

During dining month, globetrotting menus make it possible to travel the world, one forkful at a time. Start at Spain-inspired Ataula for platefuls of remolacha (beets) with goat cheese cream, crispy quinoa and wine-poached pears; handmade butifarra sausage with a Catalan bean salad; and an ice cream bocata, which consists of a slab of olive oil ice cream sandwiched between two chocolate cookies.

Then travel to Korea with a meal at Kim Jong Smokehouse, where the dining month menu begins with a flight of kimchi; followed by bibimbap, a Korean-barbecue staple consisting of crusted rice topped with sautéed vegetables, spices and flavorful meat; and finished off with a chocolate pot de crème with gochujang (red chili paste with fermented soybeans) caramel.

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Cozy Russian spot Kachka returns to Dining Month in 2018. Photo by David Alvarado.

Diners can finish their culinary journey in Russia at Southeast Portland’s cozy Kachka. Traditional Russian ingredients fill their dining month menu, which includes a Midwest-inspired salad made with broccoli, cauliflower, dried barberries, Zante currant seeds and fried onion; and a chicken and dumpling tsimmes (stew) served with a “mess” of carrots. Finally, the dessert alone (an ice cream float made with the Slavic beverage Kompot, soda, rhubarb punch, vanilla and lime-flavored Russian ice cream plombir) will be sure to bring you back next year.

Visit PortlandDiningMonth.com for the full list of participating restaurants and complete menus.

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