1. Have the Louisiana Barbecue Shrimp from Acadia.
As someone who lives on the west coast and obsessed with southern cooking, I’m constantly on the hunt for the best Creole/Cajun food. One of my top picks for satisfying these cravings is Acadia, a small neighborhood bistro located in Northeast Portland. While Acadia knows how to serve up delicious comfort food at its best — with menu items ranging from traditional fares like red beans and rice to bread pudding — its Louisiana barbecue shrimp is unparalleled in flavor. The smoky, peppery spices paired with the tangy kick of citrus showcases Chef Seamus Foran’s intimate knowledge of Southern flavors in the best way possible.
2. Get a bowl of chicken and rice at Nong’s Kao Man Gai.
There’s always a line at Nong’s, and it’s for good reason. With roots tracing back to the original food cart opened in 2009, Nong Poonsukwattana’s signature chicken and rice dish quickly went on to be hailed as one of the best dishes in Portland. The simple combination of the sweet, aromatic broth laced with ginger and garlic along with the tender chicken and fluffy rice is a near perfect bite, so don’t pass through Portland without getting your hands on a bowl.
3. Have the Polenta ‘n’ Sugo for brunch at Tasty n Alder.
The line for Tasty n Alder may look intimidating, but trust me when I say that some things are just worth the wait. Made by layering slow-cooked, tender beef over creamy polenta topped with mozzarella and an egg over easy, it’s a dreamy combination of brunch at its finest. Everything your heart secretly desires for brunch is in this dish, and it’s hard not to savor all of its creamy, melty goodness without a huge smile on your face.
4. Eat some chouquettes from the St. Honoré Boulangerie.
A chouquette is a delicious little morsel of choux dough (that marvelous stuff you make eclairs with) that’s baked to perfection at this Parisian-style cafe and topped with rock sugar. And yes, I did say rock sugar — aka extra large, crispy crunchy pieces of sugar carefully dusted over golden puff pastry. For an added bonus, head next door to Salt and Straw to mix their ice cream with your chouquettes. You’re welcome.
5. Order the Tagliata Steak at Nostrana.
Nostrana’s Chef Cathy Whims is a James Beard Award finalist. Maybe it’s the week-long dry aging, or maybe it’s all that fresh garlic and rosemary drenched on top — either way, this steak is going to more than enough of an experience for you.
6. Grab some avocado salad from Pambiche.
Pambiche’s Cuban fare is one thing in and of itself, but when you dive into their Ensalada de Aguacate, the combination of fresh avocados mixed with lemon, cilantro and red onion might be everything you need. They’ve also got some pretty bomb mojitos.
7. Have a slice of Triple Chocolate Cake from Papa Haydn’s.
While there are plenty of luscious, savory items on the menu, let’s not mess around here: Papa Haydn’s is one of the most formidable dessert spots in the city. Though the army of cakes, pastries, and pies available may seem intimidating, take my word when I tell you that their Triple Chocolate Cake is one of the richest, sensationally delightful chocolate cakes I’ve ever had in all my years as a chocoholic.
8. Eat a slice of Margherita pizza from Life of Pie.
Woodfired in a glorious hand made oven to crispy perfection, Life of Pie’s Margarita pizza proves that sometimes basic is better. A thin crust, plus the freshest mozzarella cheese, some hints of basil, combined with a drizzle of their chili oil…that’s the kind of perfection you can only get in Portland.
9. Get The “Dirty Wu” from Pip’s Original Doughnuts.
Though there may be a few contenders when it comes to the best donut in town, a trip to Pip’s Original is definitely not one to be missed. The “Dirty Wu” takes everything you’ve ever wanted in a donut and synthesizes it into a perfect storm of light, fluffy, and blissfully sinful: a small, bite-sized cinnamon sugar donut with generous dollops of Nutella and honey.
10. Order a Chicken ‘n’ Waffle sandwich from Nepo 42.
While I might have been somewhat apprehensive initially about breaking into a chicken and waffle sandwich, Nepo 42 put all my fears to rest. It’s a simple dish done right, with crispy fried chicken that’s been drizzled with sage maple syrup and served with a fluffy waffle underneath to catch all that goodness.
11. Have a Chicken Teriyaki Sub with everything on it at Taste Tickler.
An experience at Taste Tickler usually goes something like this: You find your way into a barely-there shop. It’s fairly unassuming, they’ve got a few black and white photos plastered across the walls…And oh, yeah, it’s home to one of the best subs you’ll ever have. I’m talking about a 7″ inch (or, hey, even up to 14″) sub filled with Taste Tickler’s signature Chicken Teriyaki that’ll make your mouth go ‘ooh’ as the powerful wave of sweet and salty chicken/creamy mayo takes over your taste buds. Bonus: Get it with extra avocado for a truly sensational sub experience.
Featured image: mary st sin.