Inspired by Black Business Month and the Bay Area’s Black Restaurant Day, Portland’s annual Support Black Restaurant Days event takes place in late August and encourages patrons to visit Portland’s more than 50 black-owned eateries. But don’t worry if you miss the dates — these restaurants are worth a visit any day of the year.
Mama San Soul Shack
Located inside an actual tin shack in North Portland’s St. Johns neighborhood, Mama San Soul Shack invites patrons to munch on complimentary bowls of lightly seasoned popcorn as they peruse a menu of Asian-soul-food fusion cuisine — think tempura okra, kimchi-topped cheeseburgers, curried mac n’ cheese and banana-leaf braised pork bowls. In addition to beer and cocktails, the shack stocks a plethora of less standard drink options, perfect for sipping on its expansive garden patio, including boozy slushies and house-made fountain drinks.
Known for its superb brunch and urban nightlife, Pink Rose offers two distinct atmospheres: an underground bar with speakeasy vibes and a sunny patio. This Pearl District mainstay is lauded for its “jazz brunches,” featuring live music and bottomless mimosas, which pair well with an order of chicken and waffles. The restaurant also hosts regular R&B, hip-hop and open mic nights, and has been known to attract high- profile guests like Cedric the Entertainer and Portland Trail Blazer star Damian Lillard.
Deadstock Coffee & Gallery
Old Town Chinatown has become a hub for creative people of color, and Deadstock Coffee brings a much-needed caffeine boost to the scene. With a duel focus on sneakers and coffee, the café was founded by former Nike employee Ian Williams as a space to showcase art and hang out with fellow “sneakerheads.” Boasting an ever-changing menu, Deadstock is conveniently located near sneaker consignment store IndexPDX, streetwear boutique Compound Gallery and hip retailer Upper Playground.
Passersby are often lured into Northeast Alberta’s Gojo Ethiopian after catching a whiff of their spicy lamb, beef and veggie wats (stews). Never experienced Ethiopian food before? Expect spoonfuls of several traditional dishes (including ample vegan options) served atop a large sourdough flatbread known as injera, made from gluten-free teff flour. It’s customary to use your right hand to eat your meal, and to end the evening with a cozy cup of cinnamon tea.
Olive or Twist
Swanky Pearl District bar Olive or Twist is a great place to grab an elegant cocktail, martini or glass of rosé. Relax on a comfortable couch inside the bar or outside on the breezy patio as you nibble on small plates and snacks such as bruschetta, curried potato wedges and rock lobster ceviche. Craving something sweet? Indulge in a molten “chocolate sinkhole” or a dessert martini made with Bend Distillery’s hazelnut espresso vodka.
Jamaican Homestyle Cuisine
One of the few of its kind in the Portland area, North Killingsworth Street’s Jamaican Homestyle Cuisine is a friendly spot to grab excellent and authentic Jamaican dishes such as oxtail, curry goat and jerk salmon served with rice, beans, vegetables and fried plantains. Customers can wash it all down with Jamaican ginger beer or Ting, a grapefruit-flavored carbonated beverage that’s popular in the Caribbean.
A bright yellow food truck parked on North Vancouver Avenue, Stoopid Burger was voted best burger in Portland in June 2016. Known for their extensive (and sometimes ridiculous) burger options — like the Ignorant Burger, which includes five kinds of meat, two kinds of cheese, a fried egg and garnishes — the cart also offers po’ boy baskets, chili cheese Fritos and their signature grape-flavored Stoopid Juice.
Portlanders flock to North Mississippi’s Ella’s Kitchen for authentic and affordable plates of fried catfish, tasty ribs and tender mac and cheese. The eatery’s eponymous chef-owner enjoys serving up lesser-known soul dishes like chitterlings and oxtail alongside classic cornbread muffins and fried okra.
Po’Shines Cafe De la Soul
With a shelf of board games lining the front entrance, Po’Shines Café offers a true community feel. Try the zesty bayou breakfast burrito, which is filled with eggs, blackened catfish, white beans and melted cheese. Don’t leave without a plate of piping hot beignets: delicate, sugary, perfectly fried dough squares that let out impressive gusts of steam as you rip into them.
Owned by longtime restaurateur Frank Taylor — who also operates Sweet Jam in Southwest Portland — Portland Prime is a fine-dining establishment in the heart of the historic Old Town district. Specializing in Northwest seafood, steaks and chops, the restaurant boasts a barrel-to-tap wine system featuring four exclusive Willamette Valley wines and has won the Wine Spectator Award of Excellence since 2011. Enjoy live jazz in the Prime Bar on Saturday evenings.
Kee’s Loaded Kitchen
A silver trailer food cart parked on Northeast Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, Kee’s Loaded Kitchen has earned a loyal fan base for its full “loaded lunch,” which includes an entrée, several home-cooked sides, a drink and a dessert. Whether it’s beef enchiladas, flank steak, shrimp salad, green beans or a slice of New York cheesecake, Kee’s cooking always has a special touch. Check the cart’s Facebook page for the current menu, which changes daily, and make sure to arrive early; the cart almost always sells out before closing time.