A delicious spread of Chinese dumplings at XLB in North Portland.
Portland’s Best Dumplings
From Japanese gyoza to Polish pierogi, nothing says comfort food like these doughy pockets of goodness.
Katie Vaughan is a writer and marketing coordinator living in Portland. Read More
Every February, Portland celebrates its love for dough-wrapped delights with Dumpling Week, a citywide celebration featuring inventive dumpling creations that you won’t find anywhere (or anytime) else. No matter when you visit Portland, you can enjoy a variety of dumplings at these terrific eateries.
Know Before You Go
To slow the spread of the highly transmissible Delta variant, effective Aug. 27, a statewide mask mandate is in place. Oregonians and visitors ages 5 and up are required to wear face coverings in all public indoor settings, regardless of vaccination status, unless actively eating or drinking in food establishments.
Additionally, some restaurants may require proof of vaccination and/or a negative COVID test for entry (see a running list from Eater Portland). Please check with individual businesses on their policies and hours of operation before visiting, and continue to be patient, flexible and kind, especially if asked to mask up or share your vaccination status. These measures are in place to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Pure Spice Restaurant
For fresh handmade Chinese dumplings (har gow) at a wallet-friendly price, head to Pure Spice Restaurant, an unassuming restaurant hidden in a strip mall on S.E. 87th Ave in the Jade District. The generous dim sum menu is peppered with classic Cantonese small plates, including gossamer-wrapped shrimp or pork and chive dumplings served from a steaming basket. And at less than $3 a pop, you can afford to eat to your heart’s content.
All hail the soup dumpling! Chinese soup dumplings, called xiaolongbao (or “XLB” for short), were lamentably scarce in Portland until XLB appeared in January 2017. Pockets of paper-thin dough surrounding a bite of meat and piping hot broth, XLB are notoriously tricky to make — and eat. (Treat that steaming broth with care!) This laid-back North Williams spot serves up these treasures along with steam buns, stir-fries and other authentic Chinese street food.
On Sunday and Monday evenings, breezy Korean-American restaurant Han Oak transforms into a dumpling and noodle house. The normal prix-fixe menu is replaced with a more laid-back counter service dedicated to noodles and Korean-style dumplings (called mandu), along with craft cocktails.
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For arguably the best Polish pierogi in town, you’ll need a membership to the Polish Library Building Association. But don’t worry: A one-day membership will only set you back one dollar. Once you’re official, you’ll have access to Grandpa’s Cafe and their handmade potato and cheese dumplings. Topped with caramelized onions and plenty of sour cream, they’re even better when washed down with an imported Polish brew. The cafe is only open on Fridays and Sundays, so plan your visit accordingly.
Blaring Russian pop ballads and sporting a globe-trotting vodka list, Soviet-inspired Kachka is a Portland dining experience not to be missed. The dumplings here are chewy and petite and can be ordered pan-fried or swimming in a decadent broth. The meaty pelmeni are st\uffed with beef, veal and pork, while the vareniki come with farmer’s cheese (think the Russian version of a pierogi) or sour cherry. Wash it down with a curated vodka flight and a pickleback.
Dumplings of All Varieties
The Dump Truck
For a quick dumpling fix downtown, visit the bright yellow Dump Truck food cart, where locals line up for the classic Mr. Ma’s special with pork, green onion and ginger, and the vegan potato curry served with coconut yogurt sauce. Can’t decide? Mix and match a bit of everything with their sampler options. For folks who prefer their dumpling dough wrapped around something sweet, the Dump Truck also serves rotating dessert dumplings like apple pie and pumpkin.
Portland food carts offer a wide range of simple, satisfying eats and some surprisingly sophisticated fare.