Portland is a food-centric city, and there are always new restaurants popping up. The PNW locale is prime for fresh ingredients, and a number of restaurants showcase this fact in their menus.
One of the best Portland restaurants right now is Le Pigeon. This two-time James Beard Award-winning restaurant boasts two wonderful tasting menus.
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1.Le Pigeon Burger.
Known for blending classic French cuisine with an unorthodox Northwest twist, Le Pigeon’s James Beard award-winning chef Gabriel Rucker has earned a reputation as one of the best in the city. His Eastside bistro is a cozy, intimate affair with large mirrors, tufted red leather banquettes and a pressed-tin ceiling.
His menu changes regularly, but there are several standouts. The tender beef cheek bourguignon is a favorite, as are dishes like dry pigeon ramen prepared with rare pigeon confit, miso, kabocha squash, oranges and enoki mushrooms.
The burger at Le Pigeon is served on a housemade milk-style bun that’s soft, yet firm enough to hold the weight of the meaty patty. The toppings include an iceberg lettuce slaw and grilled pickled onions, which add the perfect amount of crispness without compromising the burger’s richness.
In addition to the burger, we also tried the foie gras profiteroles and quail for mains. Both of these were well executed and satisfying, with plenty of foie gras flavor.
2.The Reggie Deluxe.
The Reggie Deluxe at Pine State Biscuits is the ultimate breakfast sandwich. This ginormous biscuit is stuffed with fried chicken, bacon, cheese and the big kahuna, sausage gravy. The icing on the cake is the fact that it comes with an egg.
The menu at Pine State is a hodgepodge of southern regional food. The aforementioned biscuit is a good place to start, but they also have shrimp and grits, pancakes, hash browns and a corn dog or two on offer.
They also have a few interesting twists on old school southern staples, including a few vegetarian options and a funky spin on the classic mac and cheese. The aforementioned mac and cheese is worth trying, but the best thing they have to offer is their buttermilk biscuits.
It’s no surprise that the restaurant has been dubbed a Portland institution, but their biscuits have earned them some serious accolades. Those big, buttery brethren have wowed diners for years and are well deserved. You’ll need both a knife and a fork (and a bib) to try them out, but once you do you won’t be sorry.
3.Nong’s Khao Man Gai.
Khao Man Gai, a popular street food dish in Asia, is served with aromatic rice, soup, and Nong’s signature sauce. It’s an easy dish to make at home, and the flavor is just as good as you’ll find at a Thai restaurant.
The dish is made by combining boiled chicken, rice cooked in oil and broth, and sauce. The rice is coated in the aromatic fat from the chicken, which gives it a buttery texture and rich flavor.
When it comes to the sauce, Nong Poonsukwattana takes the time to make her own. She makes it with ginger, fermented soybeans, red Thai chilies, vinegar, and soy sauce.
The sauce is so delicious that she sells it by the bottle at night after her restaurant closes for service. The ingredients are so simple, but it’s important to blend everything thoroughly, and not be too salty.
4.Bacon Maple Bar
Voodoo Doughnut’s Bacon Maple Bar is one of their signature treats. These baked donuts are drenched in a sweet maple glaze and topped with crisp bacon.
They’re best eaten fresh out of the oven, but you can make them ahead of time and store them at room temperature. Just be sure to make the maple glaze and dunk them in the glaze before serving so that they’re soft, fresh and full of flavor.
Aside from the doughnuts themselves, you’ll also need maple syrup, butter, sugar, vanilla extract and eggs. Once everything is mixed together, it’s time to bake them.
The dough will take a while to rise, so start making these as soon as you can. If possible, you’ll want to make them on the day you plan to serve them.
Then, when you’re ready to serve them, warm them up and top them with the maple glaze and bacon. This will bring out all the flavors, and it’ll make them even more delicious!
5.White Curry Brisket With Burnt Ends.
Burnt ends are a brisket’s point end (also called the deckle) that is cut into small cubes and cooked in a sweet and tangy barbecue sauce. These nuggets of meat candy are the ultimate in tender and melt-in-your-mouth smoky BBQ flavor.
The burnt ends are smoked low and slow until they are super tender and juicy. The sugars caramelize, creating a thick coating on the smoked brisket that’s absolutely drool-worthy.
This brisket dish is a speciality from North Portland’s Eem. The team behind the restaurant brings Thai cooking, Texas ‘cue and tropical cocktail flavors together with a menu of dishes that are sure to please.
For starters, they have a beef dumpling soup with smoked brisket that is very good. But the real star is this white curry brisket, served on a bed of roasted cauliflower, burnt ends and scallion. It’s a highly creative dish that tastes like cream of Austin barbecue soup with Thai beach vibes.
6.Fresh Clam Chowder With Smoked Marrow Bone
It may seem counterintuitive to put a smoked bone marrow in clam chowder, but Ox’s chef Greg Denton makes it work. He turns the oxtail-and-tripe-infused broth into a luxurious bowl of silky-spicy soup, “garnished” with a big smoked marrow bone.
This surf-and-turf homage to old-school chowder is the signature dish at Ox, a restaurant that takes its cues from Argentina. But Denton isn’t limited to beef; he slays the starters, too: wood-fired ricotta and fried short-rib terrine are sexy surprises, while clam chowder with smoked bone marrow is a glistening jewel.
It’s the perfect way to start your meal. The clam chowder itself is simple enough, with a mix of chopped clams, bacon and potatoes in a roux-based broth (flour, butter and some white wine). Add plenty of thyme sprigs for garnish, and finish with a few house-made oyster crackers and chives. This is an easy yet elegant and flavorful entrée to serve at any time of the day. It’s also a good choice for vegetarians or those who want to try something a little more adventurous.
7.Fried Chicken Combo at Hat Yai
For some, this might be a bit of a shock but fried chicken with crunchy shallots and sticky rice is a genuinely delicious dish. It is, after all, a southern Thai classic that first appeared about 40 years ago in open-air stalls from Phuket to Bangkok and back.
Hat Yai, the newest Portland venture from Langbaan owner Earl Ninsom and his partner, former bartender Akkapong “Akwai” Sook, is a small and friendly eatery on the corner of NE Killingsworth Street. There are a few outdoor tables to choose from but most diners are seated indoors and order their food at the counter.
The chicken, marinated in soy, white pepper, coriander roots and garlic, is coated in flour before being fried. The frying oil is filled with a smattering of sliced shallots, enhancing the meat’s flavor and fragrance.
The dish is served with either a sweet chile dipping sauce or a curry broth whose redolent flavors are matched by the tender, crisp skin of the chicken. A roti, a savory fried flatbread, rounds out the meal, sopping up any remaining curry broth.
8.Expatriate Nachos at Expatriate
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If you have a discerning palate and love your cocktails, you’ll find a lot to love at Expatriate, James Beard award-winner Naomi Pomeroy’s new cocktail bar. It’s dark and gilded, with a red vintage record player, heavy scarlet drapes, and a carefully curated cocktail menu built by Pomeroy’s husband Kyle Linden Webster.
It’s also a great place to eat, thanks to Pomeroy’s thoughtful and adventurous take on American comfort foods. There are a number of dishes worth trying, including the hot and sour Indian spiced fries with cilantro-raita aioli, house curry ketchup and sumac ranch.
There’s also the Expatriate nachos, which pair fried wonton chips with Thai chili cheese sauce, spicy lemongrass beef and a kaffir lime & tomato salsa. This is the dish to try if you’re looking for a deliciously savory snack to go with your cocktail.
The Expatriate is also known for its sushi, but its most popular dishes aren’t the fish. The Expatriate Nachos are the best example of this.