Top 22 Cool and Unusual Restaurants in Portland

If you fancy dining out somewhere a bit different, Portland has plenty of genuinely excellent stand-out places to choose from.

I’ve spent many evenings scouting out some of the most unique and stand-out places so whether you are looking for trendy Middle Eastern fare, a hip Asian fusion, or a fun spot serving up American dishes with an upscale twist, here are my personal favorite excellent and unusual hotels in Portland, Oregon…

Our Top 3 Cool and Unusual Restaurants in Portland
1.
Tusk l Global Grasshopper – travel inspiration for the road less travelled
Best For Middle Eastern Cuisine
Tusk
2.
Mucca Osteria l Global Grasshopper – travel inspiration for the road less travelled
Best For Unique Decor
Mucca Osteria
3.
departure lounge l Global Grasshopper – travel inspiration for the road less travelled
Best For Incredible Views
Departure Lounge
Best For Middle Eastern Cuisine

Tusk

Tusk Restaurant in Portland

I love this seriously stylish and trendy spot. Tusk is a Middle Eastern restaurant located in the Buckman District and this place is popular for a reason. Choose from various mezze dishes, including a mezze platter, mezze with chicken, and another option with falafel. There is even a mezze and salad option or I’d recommend the mezze family meal for larger groups. 

For dessert, make sure you try an exotic Moroccan pancake which is just delicious. It includes kewra grapefruit confit, rose-apple preserves, candied kumquat, and ricotta. 

On Valentine’s Day, they have dinner-for-two specials to select an appetizer, two entrees, and a dessert at a discounted price. 

Pros

Stylish and trendy ambiance

Creative Middle Eastern cuisine

Extensive mezze options and delicious hummus

Craft cocktails and exotic desserts

Cons

Crowded on special occasions

The wine is a bit expensive

Best For Unique Decor

Mucca Osteria

Mucca Osteria - Portland - Osteria

Downtown Portland’s Mucca Osteria offers organic Italian food in a Gothic-themed restaurant setting. 

Choose from a long list of half bottles, sparkling, white, red, and Piemonte Barolo. 

For food, choose from antipasti, primi piatti, dolci (homemade desserts). Most are pasta dishes with vegetables and herbs, for example, Tortellini ai Funghi.

It features homemade mushroom and ricotta-filled tortellini, almonds, Brussels sprouts, and glazed shallots submerged in a white wine cream sauce. 

Pros

Chic and Goth-inspired ambiance

Unique dishes like Tortellini ai Funghi

Organic Italian fare

Handmade pasta and extensive wine selection

Cons

The seating capacity is small

The menu is limited

Best For Incredible Views

Departure Lounge

Asian Departure Lounge Restaurant

I’m a big fan of modern interior design and the Departure Lounge is another excellent and unusual restaurant at the Nines luxury hotel in Downtown Portland. Here you can taste Asian fusion in a chic restaurant as you enjoy the local Downtown views. 

Pan-Asian cuisine includes Northwest Oysters, sweet shrimp spring rolls, pork belly, steamed buns, chicken tenderloin, kushiyaki eggplant, and much more. 

If you have a private event coming up, request Departure Lounge to provide you with indoor or outdoor space and catering. They can host a private event for as few as 12 people, with a maximum of 125 accommodated. 

Pros

Innovative Asian fusion dishes

Breathtaking views and chic ambiance

Ideal for private events and groups

Known for its delicious pork belly

Cons

The valet parking is expensive

Wait time can be a bit long

Best For Fondue

Melting Pot

Melting Pot Fondue Portland

Downtown Portland’s Melting Pot is an American restaurant specializing in fondue. You can also enjoy salads and tasty meat-based entrees. 

Choose from four-course dinner menus for two or an a la carte menu for dinner. You start your meal with an appetizer, a cheese fondue with food for dipping, such as fruits, vegetables, and artisan bread. 

Fondues include classic alpine, Wisconsin cheddar, fiesta, spinach artichoke, Wisconsin trio, and Quattro Formaggio. 

Pros

Unique fondue dining experience

Fun and friendly atmosphere

Four-course dinner menus for two

Exclusive romantic experiences available

Cons

Unique cuisine may not suit all

A bit pricey

The portions are a bit small

Best For South American Cuisine

Lechon

LeChon - Portland

Lechon is a South American restaurant specializing in tapas and hosting excellent value, delicious happy hour specials. 

Tapas options include pastel de choclo, pork belly burritos, pork anticucho, lomo saltado, and smoked bone marrow. 

Happy hour meals start as low as $5 and go as high as $12. Their $5 cornmeal fried olives are vegan, while their $5 small farmers’ green salad is vegan and gluten-free. 

Pros

Stunning views of Willamette River

Delectable Five-course tasting menu

The rustic-chic ambiance and outdoor seating

Creative South American tapas

Cons

Closed on Sundays

The vegan options are limited

Early reservations are needed

Best For Chic Korean Food

Han Oak Restaurant

Han Oak Restaurant Portland

Try the funky Han Oak Restaurant in the Kerns District for Korean food. The restaurant hosts dumplings and noodle nights for patrons who love such popular Korean dishes. 

Two dining options are available. You can get shaved meats to dip in broth and enjoy with their hand-pulled noodles and homemade dumplings. This is $75 per person.

A 5-course Mexican-inspired menu is yours for $55 per person. This menu includes dry-aged fish tostadas, red rice croquettes, charcoal-grilled pork loin tacos, masa colada, bay leaf, and Canelo churro ice cream for dessert. 

Pros

Combines Korean and Mexican flavors

Hand-pulled noodles and homemade dumplings

Unique drink pairings for an enhanced experience

Best For American Classics

The Observatory

The Observatory - Portland

Swing by the Montavilla District to try The Observatory. You can count on American classics and unique cocktails when you visit this restaurant. 

You can have an entree salad such as apple, beet, and chicken salad with crispy bacon for a lighter meal. 

Try the Capricorn, Lavender Gin Lemon Drop, Pink Cloud, Blood Orange Negroni, the spicy Tom Kah, and many other options to indulge in their signature cocktails. 

If you are in a different alcoholic mood, try one of their white or red wines or draft beers. 

Pros

Offers creative take on American classics

Wide variety of drink options

Delicious signature cocktails

Cons

Potential crowds during peak hours

A noisy ambiance may not be for all

Best For Trendy Design

Arden Restaurant Portland

Arden Restaurant Portland Oregon

Pearl District’s Arden Restaurant is located in the Gregory Lofts. This wine bar serves Pacific Northwest cuisine and offers upscale appetizers, and entrees with your favorite wines. 

If you are a party of 4, consider the Chef’s Prix Fixe, which is $65 per person and also includes wine pairings for an extra fee.

Sample fancy dishes such as truffled potato leek pierogi with chive creme fraiche or the Dungeness crab tagliatelle with crab butter and preserved lemon. 

Pros

Seasonal Pacific Northwest cuisine

Stylish rustic-modern ambiance

Chef's Prix Fixe menu with wine pairings

Central location in Pearl District

Best For Fun Vibe

Punch Bowl Social Portland

Punch Bowl Social - Portland

Punch Bowl Social is a gastropub situated in Downtown Portland inside Pioneer Place. It’s known as the most prominent Punch Bowl Social location. Indulge in various punch bowls and modern American eats while playing fun games. Choose from karaoke, table games, and bowling. 

During their Happy Hour, try sriracha, peanut fries, chips, guacamole, or a pulled pork sandwich in between your games. Sip on a margarita, whiskey sour, or beer to wash it all down. 

Pros

Unique modern American eats

Fun games for a lively experience

Large location with a variety of entertainment

Cons

Crowds during peak hours

Noisy ambiance due to activities

Best For Unique Experience

G-Love New American Kitchen

G-Love New American Kitchen

Northwest District’s G-Love New American Kitchen is inside the Carson Apartments parking lot. 

This New American restaurant fabricates its dishes using locally grown produce, and it’s known as the nation’s first reverse steakhouse. This means that fruits and vegetables are the central part of the dish as meat is a supplementary component rather than the other way around with usual American food. 

Try their Crunchmaster Crisp, Chirashi Bowl, charred hanger steak, or fried chicken with avocado rank. 

Pros

Unique “Reverse Steakhouse” concept

Modern and innovative cuisine

Central location for easy access

Cons

Parking space can be limited

Limited vegetarian options

Best For Small Plates

Mediterranean Exploration Company

Mediterranean Exploration Company Portland

The Pearl District’s Mediterranean Exploration Company is a Middle Eastern restaurant. 

They up house favorites such as radicchio salad, roasted eggplant dip, Turkish delight, Hummus Abu Hassan, and falafel, all during their Happy Hour for $10. Enjoy these prices Monday through Friday from 4 pm to 5 pm. 

Alcoholic beverage selections include American whiskey, international whiskey, agave, vodka, and more. 

Pros

Upscale Mediterranean-Middle Eastern cuisine

Creative cocktails in a trendy setting

Great vegan and vegetarian options

Cons

The portions are small

Compact space may not suit all

Best For Upscale Dining

Clarklewis Restaurant

Clarklewis Restaurant - Portland

The Clarklewis Restaurant is stationed at the Eastbank Commerce Center in the Buckman District. 

Their Italian dishes are exclusively farm-to-table made with local ingredients. What’s unique about Clarklewis is that their menu offerings change daily, contingent upon the chef’s discretion. 

Most dishes say where the ingredients were, such as Carlton Farms pork sausage, Montecucco Farms beets, and Topaz Farms carrots. 

The wood-burning in their establishment fashions delicious pizza options, including the Siri and Sons Honeynut Squash pizza. 

Pros

Locally sourced Pacific NW dishes

Chef-driven diverse daily menus

Vibrant and upscale ambiance

Delightful wood-fired pizza options

Cons

A converted warehouse can lack intimacy

Diverse menus may disappoint some

Upscale experience can be pricey

Best For Rooftop Garden

Noble Rot

Noble Rot - Organic Restaurant Portland

Noble Rot is an American restaurant and wine bar located on the 4th floor of a building to enjoy city views while eating. 

Indulge in regular American favorites such as hamburgers or indulge in one of their upscale dishes. Try their soup of the day or pasta of the day for a surprise dish. Unique dishes include Idaho Rainbow Trout, Grilled Octopus, Stuffed Squash, Burrata, and Tuscan Kale Salad. 

Pros

Stunning city views from the 4th-floor location

Fresh ingredients from the rooftop garden

Diverse menu with unique options

Extensive selection of wines

Cons

Closed on Sundays

Can be a bit pricey

Outdoor seating affected by weather

Best For Cuban Cuisine

Palomar

Palomar - Portland

Palomar is a Cuban restaurant located in the Hosford-Abernethy District.

Taste their signature cocktails such as the Americano, Moscow Mule, 20th Century, French 75, Violet Fizz, and others. 

The Harina Con Camarones include Creole spiced shrimp, squash polenta, pepitas, and carrot sofrito. The Frita Cubana consists of a beef and pork chorizo patty, garnished with onion and julienne potatoes and topped with cheese. Choose from 4 appetizers, 2 types of sandwiches, and 5 entrees for lunch and dinner. 

Pros

Cuban-inspired unique cocktail selection

Shared plates perfect for group dining

Authentic dishes offer Cuban flavors

Trendy atmosphere for a fun night

Cons

Closed on Mondays

The flavor profile may not be for all

Best For Scandinavian Dining

Broder Soder

Broder Soder Brunch Portland

Broder Soder is a Scandinavian restaurant in the family of Broder Cafe and Broder Nord throughout the local area. 

They serve the most extensive selection of West Coast aquavits, such as Krogstad Festlig from Portland, Krogstad Gamle from Portland, and Holen from Astoria. 

Try Danish pancakes, smoked trout eggs benedict, Swedish hash, ortasteget a delicious taste of Scandinavian fare. 

Their Swedish meatballs are in a sherry cream accompanied by a lingonberry jam, pickles, potato pancake, and levian toast. 

Pros

Offers a true taste of Scandinavian flavors

Unique items like Danish pancakes

Extensive selection of authentic aquavit

Cons

Doesn't offer dinner service

The table seats only four

Best For Vegan Dining

Blossoming Lotus

Blossoming Lotus - Portland

If you are a vegan, you will appreciate the vegan fusion at Blossoming Lotus I if you are a vegan in the Irvington District. 

They use only the best locally sourced plant-based ingredients and feature organic ingredients when possible from their suppliers. 

While Blossoming Lotus on NE 15th Avenue is a full-service restaurant, their Portland/Slabtown location is a cafe and juice bar. 

Try the full-service Chickpea and Kale Salad, Pesto Pasta, Yakisoba Noodles, Cheeseburger, Bibimbap, Tempeh Bacon Sandwich, and many other plant-based dishes. 

Pros

Locally sourced and organic ingredients

Diverse vegan menu options

Healthy options and sustainable dining

Two locations for diverse experience

Cons

Not for meat lovers

A bit pricey

Best For Hipsters

Tope

Tope Rooftop Restaurant Portland

Tope offers delicious Mexican snacks and tacos along with mezcal-inspired beverages. Located at Hoxton in the Old Town District, enjoy rooftop bar views as you sample Oregon Bay shrimp ceviche, pozole Rojo, carnitas tacos, pollo pibil tacos, and pollo con mole. 

Their signature cocktails include the Top Margarita (Blanco tequila, lime, and agave), the Michelada, the Either/Or with Dickle Rye, and other house favorites. 

Wines, beers, mocktails, and soft drinks are also available to refresh you after your meal. 

Pros

Hip and stylish ambiance

Stylish rooftop with city views

Unique mezcal-inspired cocktails

Authentic Mexican snacks and tacos

Best For Food Hall Concept

Pine Street Market

Pine Street Market - Portland - Oregon

Old Town District’s Pine Street Market includes restaurants under one roof headed by 9 famous Portland chefs. Try the Pine Street Taproom or the Pleasure Burger. 

Only the Pine Street Taproom has a link to its website, while the other available restaurants do not have a link from the Pine Street Market website. Get an idea of the overall nature of the other restaurants in Pine Street Market by visiting the Pine Street Taproom link on the home website. 

Pros

Culinary diversity under one roof

Unique food hall concept

Curated by 9 renowned Portland chefs

Cons

Not for a quiet conversation

Fine dining is not available

Best For Quirky Design

Oma’s Hideaway

Oma's Hideaway Portland

Oma’s Hideaway used to be known as Oma’s Takeaway. 

Located in the Richmond District, you can enjoy food and cocktails as a dine-in customer or order takeaway as their old name suggests. If you order delivery, it will come from a bike courier affiliated with Cascade Courier Collective. 

Select from coconut rice, the Oma-Zing Burger, Coulotte Tartare, sweet potato dumplings, and other unique dishes. 

Pros

Quirky and chic ambiance

Playful Southeast Asian and Chinese-inspired menu

Takeaway option available

Wide variety of unique dishes

Cons

Only serves Asian cuisine

The seating capacity is limited.

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