My preferences tend toward foodie, ethnic, and local/organic places. So that’s what you’ll see here. I’m allergic to beer and wine, which creates as a great big blind spot in my recommendations if that’s something you’re interested in.
Japanese Izakaya, run by the daughter of a rice farmer. Incredible pickles and skewers of all kind, ramen. Get the bee bim bop or fried rice if either is on the menu. Probably my favorite place in Portland and where I spend my birthday. Inner east side, moderately priced.
Authentic Thai food. Chef/owner goes to rural towns in Thailand and other parts of Asia, finds recipes, and brings them back. Grown men have cried when receiving a meal they only ate as a child in Asia. I highly recommend the Fish sauce wings (spicy) and Papaya salad. Pok Pok is their original full restaurant in southeast Portland. Pok Pok Noi (inner northeast) is the smaller cousin with just ten items on the menu, but every bit as good, and also near Alberta Street if you want to check out the art/music/bars/scene there.
My favorite Tapas restaurant in Portland. You may swoon over everything you eat. If you like paella, order theirs. Chef’s menu is also good. The owner’s other restaurants are also worthwhile, especially Tasty N Sons, which is great for brunch. Inner northeast.
My favorite breakfast place in Portland. But get there hella early, because otherwise you’ll be waiting for ninety minutes behind everyone else’s favorite place. Good dog is my favorite thing to order, unless I’m starving to death, in which case I get Everything Naughty. Alberta Street, inner northeast.
When in Portland, get Voodoo donuts. You know you want to. Inner east side.
Some people say Wong’s King Seafood is the best dim sum outside of Hong Kong. I can’t compare since I’ve never been to Hong Kong, but Wong’s King is my staple when I want dim sum. Outer southeast.
When I’m on the west side, I like Clyde Common. They have very knowledgeable bartenders with a good whiskey and single malt selection, and a nice foodie menu.
If you’re looking to celebrate a special occasion, two upscale restaurants that I love are Roe, a foodie seafood restaurant that requires reservations and is in inner southeast, and Noisette, an incredible French dining experience in northwest. Both are at the expensive end but will leave you with a memorable experience.