Eating Through Downtown Portland

The Best Food in Downtown PortlandDowntown Portland is not Portlandia. It even seems to have ditched the adage “Keep Portland Weird,” unlike the odder Eastside of the city. But like most downtowns, a visit is necessary or inevitable, and still wholly worthwhile. The area is a strange mix of scrubbed modernity and human scrums. (I can’t even count how many literal piles of people I saw stacked up on the sidewalk. Addicts, I suppose. Or perhaps there is a pastime in Portland–People Piling?–that I’m unaware of.)


Like most cities that I visit, I’m most concerned with finding good drinks and good food. Hardly could I stray from the mission in Portland’s downtown. The hunt was on for the tastiest and most affordable bites. Here’s what I can report back. Here is the best food in Downtown Portland:


Begin with the food carts on 10th and Alder. Some are the most revered in the city, including the chicken and rice at Nong’s Khao Man Gai. That’ll set you back just under $10.00.


Two blocks west and one to the north are Lardo and Ruby Jewel. At Lardo, for $12.00, you’ll enjoy one of the best sandwiches in the city. Go Italian Cuban. Their selection of beer, like most spots in the city, is spot on, and only $3.00 during happy hour. Across the way, Ruby Jewel serves ice cream sandwiches made to order. I don’t typically fill stomach space with dessert, so it’s notable that I’d even suggest this space. The sandwiches are $5.00, or you can order an ice cream flight, which features eight decently sized portions for $8.00.


The Best Food in Downtown Portland


Up a few blocks on Davis and 11th is Deschutes Brewery. While I prefer the smaller breweries outside of downtown, the opportunity to drink in downtown and straight from the source makes Deschutes a choice option. Beers are solid and $6.00, and the brewery always feels like a drunken Christmas hall with its green seats and red walls and expanse of timber. A nod of the cap to Deschutes for refurbishing old urinals from New York’s PJ Clarke’s.


Now we’re jumping to 3rd and Ankeny, passing, to be sure, Powell’s Books on Burnside. There stands Voodoo Doughnut. This is less a food recommendation and more a sight to be seen. If there’s a long line, don’t bother waiting. But if you catch it during a lull, the tasty doughnuts cost a buck and change, and Voodoo is the gateway for the weirdness trail that traverses the Burnside Bridge into the eccentric East.


One block east and two blocks south of VD is the Pine Street Market. This newly opened food court is a little gourmand paradise with upscale bars, ice cream shops, coffee roasters, and a half dozen kitchens. Best are Marukin’s ramen ($11.00), Kim Jong Smokehouse’s steamed bun with pulled pork and kim chee ($3.50), and Trifecta’s croissant ($3.00).


For a final meal, head to Luc Lac, a Vietnamese restaurant seven blocks down on Taylor. If it’s a Friday or Saturday night, feel free to arrive just before 4:00 am, (which may be advisable as most other times will have lines down the block). Or just order out. Unlike most pho soups, their’s travels well. Summer rolls are superb, though they call them spring rolls at Luc Lac. And their bun combo is ridiculously good. Each of these dishes costs between $6.00 and $12.00.


If you’re looking to stay downtown, kill two birds with one credit card and stay at the Kimpton Hotel Monaco Portland. The rooms are beautiful, but they earn a nod in this article because of their free happy hours, which, during my visit, featured a summer cocktail, Oregonian wine, Rogue ale, appetizers, and live jazz. If every beer is a $5.00 rebate on the room, you’ll likely find time to earn back a cool twenty nightly.


That about does it. You’re looking at a wonderful and economical day of eating in downtown Portland, and if you travel with a friend and split everything that I mentioned, it will set you back about $40.00 or $50.00 each. (Sure, some of these places also have kitchens in the weirder East, but it’s more scattered, and hey, you know you have an obligation or itch to at least see downtown.)



Posted on by Noah Lederman in I Ate What?

One Response to Eating Through Downtown Portland

  1. Stephanie H.

    My husband and I ate Deschutes Brewery with our two kiddos! The food was delicious and the waitress was friendly! We got burgers which were delicious ad the kids got the mac and cheese which was also wonderful! Well worth stopping!
    Stephanie H. recently posted…Abuelo’sMy Profile

Add a comment

CommentLuv badge