Portland’s culinary creativity soared to new heights in 2015, thanks to a new wave of restaurants offering sushi-style cheese plates, hip-hop-powered pizzas, foraged sea vegetables and other inventive eats. Toast to a successful year at these 9 must-try dining destinations:
Northeast’s Bang Bang serves up stiff cocktails, made-from-scratch curry bowls and loose interpretations of classic Thai drinking snacks. Feast on sticky rice cakes and sour tamarind tofu curry, or drop in after 10 p.m. for late-night happy hour prices on spicy glass noodles and curried tendon puffs.
Happily for all, Portland’s 2014 food cart of the year transformed into one of 2015’s hottest new brick-and-mortar restaurants. Helmed by Florence native Paolo Calamai, Burrasca offers traditional Tuscan recipes like squid inzimino and handmade pappardelle with wild boar ragù, paired with Italian wines. Think of it as an evening in Tuscany — without the jet lag.
Chef Katy Millard earned her stripes in five Michelin-starred Parisian restaurants before settling down in Portland and opening her own restaurant, Coquine. This former supper club put down permanent roots in 2015, serving sophisticated plates like smoked green farro and chicken liver mousse in its cozy Mount Tabor café.
Local cheesemonger Steve Jones elevates fromage to an art form at his new West End shop, Chizu. Guests sit along the counter and order sushi-bar-style, marking selections on a paper list of 30 varieties. Expect Pacific Northwest sawtooth, French goat cheese, raw British cheddar and everything in between.
The city’s first entirely plant-based prix fixe restaurant, Farm Spirit further solidifies Portland’s status as a top vegan destination. Four nights a week, 14 lucky diners are treated to around a dozen inventive courses by Chef Aaron Adams, crafted from local ingredients like foraged mushrooms, hazelnuts and Douglas fir ash.
The brainchild of Chef Cathy Whims (also of Nostrana and Oven & Shaker), playful Pearl District snack spot Hamlet takes the title of Portland’s first and only ham bar. Savor prosciutto ribbons and hand-carved Iberico ham, and wash it down with a sherry cocktail — garnished with pork, of course.
Harvest at the Bindery
Rustic-chic Harvest at the Bindery makes it easier than ever to convince picky eaters to eat their vegetables, thanks to its Northwest-sourced small plates of seasonal produce —think grilled radicchio, seared butternut squash, roasted beets and spaghetti squash carbonara. Don’t miss the Southern-inspired brunch menu filled with housemade biscuits, grits and hoecakes.
Formerly one of Portland’s most celebrated supper clubs, Holdfast spent 2015 settling into its new home inside Fausse Piste Winery. This reservation-only dining experience promises a multi-course, modernist banquet full of exotic ingredients like squab leg and sea vegetables. Be sure to save room for the eatery’s sweet cornbread madeleine, served between the savory and dessert courses.
Italian restaurant Renata was launched into the spotlight after being named the Oregonian’s Restaurant of the Year within a month of its summer 2015 opening. Since then, Renata has proved worthy of the title with crave-worthy dishes like pork chop with blackberry mostarda, tomato-leaf cavatelli and housemade chocolate malted panna cotta.