A new day dawns for hotel restaurants in Portland. In a number of new boutique and budget hotels, eager young chefs bring innovative menus and fresh energy to a city center that suffered due to pandemic guidelines, staffing shortages and reduced foot traffic. Never fear, though. Portland is still one of the nation’s top dining destinations. Neighborhood favorite Coquine and Thai standout Eem landed on the New York Times’ Top 50 restaurant list for 2021, and the Rose City is constantly recognized for its dining innovations, even — and especially — during times of major setbacks. Visitors can help keep these businesses thriving by showing their love. Here are some places worth exploring for dine-in or take-out (or maybe even during a luxurious stay-cation).
New Spots Making a Splash
East Side River Views
In August of 2021, Metropolitan Tavern took over the sixth-floor rooftop restaurant at Hotel Eastlund, bringing with it a menu focused on small plates, like bacon-stuffed deviled eggs and buffalo cauliflower with a vegan peppercorn ranch. While the menu is new, the Met Tavern, located just off the MAX line near the MODA center, continues to offer 16 local craft beers on tap and sweeping sunset views of both sides of the Willamette River.
Vegan Food and DJs
When Fortune took over the lounge in the downtown Sentinel Hotel, vegetable lovers celebrated. The first downtown hotel restaurant to offer a fully vegan menu — conceived by Jewan Manuel of Plant Based Papi — it features some of the juiciest faux fried chicken in town. The sleek downtown lounge hosts DJs and serves craft cocktails until 2 a.m. on weekends, a boon in a city that tends to close down by midnight.
Smoked Ribs and Suffragettes
Mayrose opened quietly in October of 2021 in downtown’s Duniway Hotel — named for Portland’s beloved women’s voting rights activist Abigail Scott Duniway. Modern comfort food includes oysters on the half shell, an array of vegetarian starters and meaty mains. The smoked pastrami beef rib takes an extra 45 minutes to prepare, leaving you plenty of time to enjoy a house sazerac with honey syrup while you wait.
Diner Vibes on the Central Eastside
Bringing a retro diner feel to diner and coffee house classics, the Grand Stark Deli in Hotel Grand Stark on Portland’s central eastside makes a great gathering spot for a leisurely breakfast, lunch or coffee meet-up with friends. Homemade, herb-flecked English muffins serve as vehicles for smoked salmon or eggs benedicts. Hungry souls might also opt for a modern spin on chilaquiles — a fried egg atop tots tossed in carrot salsa — or a sauerkraut-stuffed reuben on marbled rye. After coffee, wander through the hotel’s modernist lobby with comfy seating areas to check out hip Bar Chamberlain in the back.
Sushi and Panoramic Skylines
Visitors have been carousing at Departure at The Nines, directly across from Pioneer Courthouse Square, since the space opened in 2009, in the early years of Portland’s foodie revolution. The sophisticated cocktails and modern pan-Asian cuisine have made it a go-to spot to see and be seen while sampling a duck fat-washed bourbon with seven-spice bitters or noshing on artfully plated sashimi with Southeast Asian seasonings. The panoramic rooftop views of the city skyline make for a glamorous, Instagrammable backdrop.
At Bullard Tavern in the heart of downtown, you’ll find romantically lit banquettes, pickle-back flights and sizzling platters of rib-eye fajitas. While the original chef has moved on, the marquee restaurant in the turn-of-the-century Woodlark Hotel continues to thrive under the lead of chef John Baxter. With an Oregon-meets-Texas menu, dishes like the juicy, hulking Lanroc pork chop, nestled in a swirl of sweet-potato puree and topped with punchy hazelnut-and-pepper relish, are sure to delight.
Prix-Fixe for Adventurers
In October of 2021, the Hoxton completely overhauled its menu at sophisticated lobby-level restaurant Lovely Rita in the heart of downtown, bringing on chef Joel Lui-Kwan, the former chef de cuisine at Jacqueline. Under his direction, Lovely Rita has grown into a fine-dining destination, offering both an à la carte menu and an adventurous off-menu tasting experience for $75 per person. If you’re lucky, it might include Lui-Kwan’s decadent, savory mushroom doughnut, featuring foraged mushrooms and a sherry whipped cream.
Sunset Cocktails on East Burnside
Not long ago, East Burnside Street went through a restaurant renaissance, with buzzy spots like Canard and Hey Love securing it firmly on the foodie map. Lolo Pass, a hip budget hotel/hostel hybrid, recently emerged on the scene to offer visitors eager to explore the area a comfortable and affordable landing pad. Led by former Ataula restaurant alum Martha Tiffany, the menu at the Lolo Pass lobby cafe features zingy, lemon-kissed, blueberry loaf French toast and rich, gooey chicken pot pie croquettes. Enjoy them in the spacious, plant-filled ground-floor cafe as sunlight streams in through walls of windows, or on the roof-deck lounge, great for relaxing with a book in the sun or sipping a cocktail at sunset.
West End Comfort Food and Fun
Fun is the name of the game at Bar Moxy, the colorful lobby bar at Hotel Moxy in Portland’s West End; think neon rope dangling from the ceiling like silly string, a selfie mirror, shuffleboard and playful cocktails. In March of 2022, Bar Moxy plans to ramp up their food program by launching three cart pods, two of which will be helmed by rising-star chef Anthony Brown of Unicorn Creationz Food Hall (and Nacheaux food-cart fame), who is a master of comfort food, including Cajun-spiced fried chicken and loaded mac-and-cheese bowls.
Old Town Rooftop Lounge
The Society Hotel in Old Town keeps its doors locked at all times for security, but once you’re buzzed in, you are greeted with lush couches, a cozy fireplace, a living wall and vibrant botanical wallpaper. If you desire a change of scenery, you can request access to their heated rooftop lounge. Society Cafe is the perfect spot to visit on Sundays, before enjoying the popular drag brunch at Darcelle XV across the street.