Portland’s dining scene is widely regarded as lively, innovative and rich. But that’s only about what’s on the table — at many local eateries, the view is almost as good as the food. Whether it’s atop the city’s tallest buildings or by the banks of either the Willamette or Columbia rivers, these restaurants offer a feast for the eyes as well as the appetite, so be sure also to gorge on the surroundings.
Start your tour at the tried-and-true rooms of downtown’s Portland City Grill during its popular early-evening happy hour (there’s another one after 10 p.m.). With choices including sushi and Asian-inspired spring rolls and satays, this spot offers impressive food values, great drinks and eye-popping vistas from the 30th floor of the U.S. Bancorp Tower (the second-tallest building in the city).
For dinner, travel a few blocks to the Nines hotel, where the swanky rooftop restaurant, Departure, lays claim to some of the best open-air views in town. Departure’s two outdoor decks overlook Pioneer Courthouse Square and the Willamette River. The futuristically designed restaurant serves a pan-Asian menu with such standouts as barbecue rib buns, stone-grilled Wagyu strip steak served with tare (Japanese dipping sauce), and Dungeness crab fried rice with Thai sausage and spices. The full vegan menu includes steamed onion-ginger buns with maple-chili glaze, sweet potato tempura sushi and kimchee fried rice.
Finally, end the night with the best eastside perspective of the city’s skyline. The patio at Noble Rot, a five-minute drive from downtown across the Burnside Bridge, is the place to sip wines from all over the world (including many from the nearby Willamette Valley) while gazing upon downtown’s stunning scene as the sun dips below the West Hills. Known for its ability to match delicate wine notes with the seasonal flavors from Chef Leather Storrs’s kitchen, this top-floor wine bar and restaurant is the grand finale to an elevated adventure in Portland.
For another perspective on Portland, the Chart House overlooks the city, the Willamette River and Mount Hood from its perch in the West Hills, a great pairing with the menu’s array of fresh Pacific Northwest fish. Down on the waterfront, Thirst, Three Degrees and Aquariva all stand near the banks of the Willamette, offering unobstructed views of the waterway. Window seats here are popular during Portland’s temperate summers and during the holidays, when the Christmas Ship Parade makes a big splash. For waterfront sunsets and big skies, Salty’s on the Columbia can’t be beat. The award-winning riverfront restaurant in North Portland has an open-air porch and indoor dining with a row of windows, so there’s not a bad view to be had.