You could plan a week’s worth of meals on Southeast Division Street, the city’s hottest dining corridor, and still not hit all of the must-try restaurants. But don’t let that stop you from trying. Get your three squares (and some snacks) here:
For a breakfast out of the ordinary, this ‘hood has you covered. First up, Broder on nearby Clinton Street is a sunny little café offering light scrambles in cast-iron skillets, plus Scandinavian specialties such as æbleskivers — crispy golf ball-sized pancake puffs with lingonberry jam — and bords: house-smoked fish, salami and cheese medleys served with hearty walnut bread and seasonal fruit yogurt. If you’re looking for a classic with a twist, Off the Waffle serves up sweet Belgian Liège waffles topped with accoutrements ranging from sweet (think bananas, chocolate and whipped cream) to savory (chèvre, avocado, basil, eggs and olive oil) and in between (pear, brie, caramelized onions and balsamic).
A great place to grab a mid-day meal, Roman Candle Bakery serves up wonderful pizzas, sandwiches, pastries and baked goods. The airy, casual counter-served eatery is the latest venture by Stumptown Coffee owner Duane Sorenson, whose Division Street empire is growing by the day. But they have plenty of competition in Little T American Baker, where master bread maker Tim Healea has been churning out loaves for years, creating taste-bud-busting sensations like tuna salad on a seven-grain carrot roll, and the molasses cornmeal Anadama bread, which is good enough to eat plain. In between the two bakeries, food-lovers on the go can pick up a quick bite at any of the diverse carts in the Tidbit Food Farm and Garden food cart pod — or stay longer to enjoy a beer by the fire pit and occasional live music.
You can’t discuss dining on Division without a nod to Pok Pok, the famed Thai street spot that’s been drawing raves — and crowds — since 2005. But you can skip their line and get many of the same eats at sister Whiskey Soda Lounge, across the street. Both spots serve the legendary Ike’s Vietnamese Fish Sauce Wings. The cozy Woodsman Tavern, another from Stumptown’s Sorenson offers whiskey-forward cocktails, super-fresh chilled seafood and a must-try ham platter stacked with smoked and salted varieties from across the country. Sorenson also adds Italian to his repertoire with the the Roman-inspired, Pacific Northwest-fueled cuisine of Ava Gene’s, which has garnered rave reviews from food critics and foodies alike.
A modern take on the neighborhood wine bar, Bar Avignon stocks 80 well-priced bottles from the Pacific Northwest and beyond. Bavette steaks, roast chicken and one of Portland’s best oyster selections highlight an elegant seasonal dinner menu. But some of most flavorful seafood creations are hidden in a back room of seafood eatery Block + Tackle, where the intimate, innovative Roe serves nuanced dishes sourced and foraged by Chef Trent Pierce himself on the Oregon Coast.
Nuestra Cocina has been a neighborhood staple for years, thanks to nuanced Mexican cuisine such as authentic albóndigas (meatballs served in a hearty chipotle sauce) and spot-on margaritas. Upscale restaurant Xico (pronounced “chico”), challenges conventions with their sleek take on Mexican, through creative takes on regional preparations and with fresh flavors.
In fairness, Italian food cart Artigiano is an excellent dinner choice in its own right, but its happy-hour small plates and dark chocolate torte with house-made caramel sauce are excellent reasons for a pit stop.
The pies at Lauretta Jean’s, with layer after layer of buttery, crispy crust, routinely lock customers in indecision over what slice to spring for. Rhubarb streusel? Chocolate cream? Apple? You can’t lose.
You’ll face the same dilemma at Salt & Straw, where favorite flavors like sea salt with caramel ribbon share the menu with rotating treats like birthday cake blackberry. The best strategy? Spring for an extra scoop.