What do hairy lobsters, carbonated tea and a bustling indoor food hall have in common? They’re all harbingers of what’s happening now in Portland’s food and drink scene. If your travels are taking you to the city this summer, read on: we’ve put together an eclectic selection of spots that are ahead of the food and beverage curve.
Okay, so no lobsters are actually hairy, but The Hairy Lobster is the name of a buzzing spot that opened earlier this year in the Pearl District. The husband-and-wife team of David and Mellisa Root is creating a splash with its creative comfort food, designed to share on stylishly mismatched china.
Look for dishes like manchego schnitzel on a fresh tomato salad; red flannel duck confit hash topped with a poached egg; and leek and rabbit quiche. The delectably squishy Parker House rolls, served with sea salt and whipped honey, come warm from the oven.
A new Portland food hall
With more than 500 food carts, Portland has no shortage of places to grab a quick bite, but if you want your meal indoors or accompanied by table and chairs, you need to look beyond the food cart pods. Fortunately, Portland has a new indoor food hall, the Pine Street Market, in a rehabbed historic building that’s already drawing downtown crowds.
Munch on croissants or breads from Trifecta Annex, Spanish-style rotisserie chicken and tapas from Pollo Bravo, or Israeli-inspired street food at Shalom Y’all. Don’t leave without a sweet treat from Wiz Bang Bar, a spot serving soft-serve creations from Portland’s ice cream darling, Salt & Straw.
A spot of tea
Portland’s boutique tea specialist, Smith Teamaker, opened a spacious new tasting room last fall in a rehabbed Central Eastside warehouse space. Park yourself at the tea bar for a tasting flight, where you can choose four pours to sample, or ask the teamaster to assemble your flight based on your interests and preferences.
Another uniquely refreshing option is the tea on tap. If we lived nearby, we’d stop in regularly for a glass of the fizzy strawberry honeybush or the spicy, effervescent masala chai.
Food Cart Fun
Speaking of food on-the-go, we’ve got a food-cart crush on the Jook Joint, which dishes up creamy Asian-style congee (a savory rice porridge) heaped with straight-out-of-Texas smoked brisket. It’s an inspired pairing, though, if you’re not a beef eater, you can elect to get your bowl topped with crispy pork belly, pulled chicken or smoked tofu. The Jook Joint is located in the food cart pod at SW 10th Avenue and Washington downtown.
When in doubt, drink chocolate
While the iconic restaurant at Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star The Heathman Hotel has closed its doors, the good news is that local restaurateurs Vitaly and Kimberly Paley (of Paley’s Place and Imperial) plan to open Headwaters, a seafood-focused dining room, in the space later this year.
In the meantime, console yourself in the bonbon-sized artisanal chocolate shop just off The Heathman’s lobby. At Cacao, the shots of its signature drinking chocolate are thick, rich, and dark — just the thing to kick start your Portland morning.