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Best Portland Restaurants

AOL PICK from our Editors
Portland is a culinary hot spot of national significance—and that’s not just rhetoric. Portlanders pride themselves on the use of fresh local ingredients from the nearby Willamette Valley and Pacific Ocean. Award-winning Willamette Valley wines and brews fashioned in scores of city brewpubs add to the thriving culinary scene. The spark for the Portland food revolution was famed chef James Beard, the “father of American gastronomy,” who grew up in Portland. He brought the city’s focus to the foods the region is noted for today, including seafood, wild game, pears, cherries, hazelnuts, many different vegetables and, of course, berries (the indigenous marionberry is a cross between the raspberry and blackberry). Ingredients that come swiftly from the source epitomizes the Portland food experience, whether at the city’s many restaurants that specialize in seasonal foods, at the bountiful Portland Farmers Market or at local cheese or wine shops. The city’s dining scene is made more colorful by nearly 500 food carts scattered throughout. The carts are well regulated, and offer a spectrum of ethnic foods; more than a few have garnered national attention for their cuisine.

Castagna

Neighborhood: Hawthorne District Price: Expensive
Up-and-coming chef Matt Lightner's menu at this stylish bistro typifies Portland's recent culinary trend toward heartier flavors and dishes, while still adhering to the Willamette Valley natural foods ethos. Typical preparations include barbecued lamb with morels, ferns, nettles and watercress and New York steak with charcoal-roasted scallions and oysters. This culinary inventiveness takes place in a glittery split-level streetscape with large plate glass view windows for seeing and being seen. The adjacent cafe offers lighter, cheaper fare that's equally inventive.

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Paley's Place

Neighborhood: Nob Hill Price: Expensive
A charming Nob Hill Victorian is the setting for this romantic restaurant that stakes its considerable reputation on seasonal Northwest cuisine. Chef and owner Vitaly Paley won the coveted James Beard Award for "Best Chef—Northwest" in 2005. Here, well-seasoned waiters lend insights on the best ingredients from the region, like Idaho Kobe beef and our favorite: wild Columbia River salmon. Desserts—perhaps a lemon mascarpone tart or rhubarb sorbet—are among the city's top.

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Mother's Bistro & Bar

Neighborhood: Downtown Price: Moderate
This bright, airy room sparkling with chandeliers and gold filigree is reminiscent of a formal wedding venue, yet the food is homey, flannel pajama fare. Platters of mac-and-cheese and creamy pots of chicken-and-dumplings are among the signature dishes, and everything comes in one size: massive. Waits can be long, but electronic pagers allow time for strolls.

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Serratto

Neighborhood: Nob Hill Price: Moderate
Tucked into a Nob Hill corner locale, Serratto is a lively neighborhood restaurant and bar that serves the foods of Italy, France and the Mediterranean, based on fresh seafood, natural meats and local produce. Tall windows allow in plenty of natural light, and an unfussy elegance lends the spot a hint of romance. An extensive wine list, a well-trained wait staff and pastries created in-house have made this a longtime favorite for locals—and we concur.

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Wildwood

Neighborhood: Nob Hill Price: Moderate
The city’s iconic temple of Northwest cuisine, Wildwood offers an alchemy of fresh foods straight from the farms and orchards of the Willamette Valley, imbued with deep, complex flavors. Founder Cory Schreiber is a culinary scene leader and James Beard Award winner. Today, Dustin Clark runs the kitchen, turning out succulent local lamb, roast halibut and a mélange of harvested and foraged foods on a menu that changes weekly. Wildwood is wildly popular, and it can get a bit loud.

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Burgerville

Neighborhood: Hawthorne District Price: Budget
A burger chain with a menu that changes with the season? Welcome to Burgerville, Oregon’s burger bar that partners with local farmers and producers to bring customers all-natural hamburger (Country Natural beef) and artisan cheese (Rogue Creamery). Yukon gold fries and strawberry milkshakes—made with local berries when fresh—endear Burgerville to its customers.

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Kenny & Zuke’s Delicatessen

Neighborhood: Downtown Price: Budget
Few eateries on the West Coast lay as solid a claim to genuine East Coast deli food as this beloved upper downtown cafe. K&Z's makes its own pastrami, pickles, Caesar dressing, corned beef and such—and piles sandwiches high, in classic New York fashion. The Reuben is rightfully legendary.

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Kenny & Zuke’s Delicatessen  

Tábor

Neighborhood: Downtown Price: Budget
A crimson gypsy-like hut (one of the city’s famed food carts), Tábor serves exceptional Czech comfort food, including the famed “schnitzelwich.” This signature dish has garnered national attention and is also our top choice: A breaded chicken or pork cutlet is served on fresh ciabatta bread with zippy horseradish and a paprika-red pepper sauce. A rich, meaty goulash is another standout.

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Zell's - An American Café

Neighborhood: Central Eastside Price: Budget
Zell’s works with area farmers to procure seasonal ingredients, which end up on a lengthy chalkboard list of specials. Warm scones and jam will arrive at the table as you're seated at this warm-spirited breakfast spot. Soon, you'll be feasting on  smoked-salmon eggs Benedict or a lusciously eggy puff pancake, served with in-season fruit. Waits for a table are a regular occurrence, but management kindly offers coffee.

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Andina

Neighborhood: Pearl District Price: Moderate
For bold new flavors, intriguing combinations and an unusual (in these parts) international cuisine, nothing beats this nuevo-Peruvian restaurant. Lima native Hernan Castañeda ably runs the kitchen. Andina's cuisine fuses fresh Oregon ingredients with Latin American flavors. Our favorite dish is the quinoa-crusted diver scallops with potato-parsnip purée; the pork tenderloin, braised Arequipa style, comes in a close second.

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