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…
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.
Stylish and trendy ambiance
Creative Middle Eastern cuisine
Extensive mezze options and delicious hummus
Craft cocktails and exotic desserts
Crowded on special occasions
The wine is a bit expensive
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.
Chic and Goth-inspired ambiance
Unique dishes like Tortellini ai Funghi
Organic Italian fare
Handmade pasta and extensive wine selection
The seating capacity is small
The menu is limited
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.
Innovative Asian fusion dishes
Breathtaking views and chic ambiance
Ideal for private events and groups
Known for its delicious pork belly
The valet parking is expensive
Wait time can be a bit long
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.
Unique fondue dining experience
Fun and friendly atmosphere
Four-course dinner menus for two
Exclusive romantic experiences available
Unique cuisine may not suit all
A bit pricey
The portions are a bit small
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.
Stunning views of Willamette River
Delectable Five-course tasting menu
The rustic-chic ambiance and outdoor seating
Creative South American tapas
Closed on Sundays
The vegan options are limited
Early reservations are needed
Han Oak Restaurant
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.
Combines Korean and Mexican flavors
Hand-pulled noodles and homemade dumplings
Unique drink pairings for an enhanced experience
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.
Offers creative take on American classics
Wide variety of drink options
Delicious signature cocktails
Potential crowds during peak hours
A noisy ambiance may not be for all
Arden Restaurant Portland
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.
Seasonal Pacific Northwest cuisine
Stylish rustic-modern ambiance
Chef's Prix Fixe menu with wine pairings
Central location in Pearl District
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.
Unique modern American eats
Fun games for a lively experience
Large location with a variety of entertainment
Crowds during peak hours
Noisy ambiance due to activities
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.
Unique “Reverse Steakhouse” concept
Modern and innovative cuisine
Central location for easy access
Parking space can be limited
Limited vegetarian options
Mediterranean Exploration Company
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.
Upscale Mediterranean-Middle Eastern cuisine
Creative cocktails in a trendy setting
Great vegan and vegetarian options
The portions are small
Compact space may not suit all
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.
Locally sourced Pacific NW dishes
Chef-driven diverse daily menus
Vibrant and upscale ambiance
Delightful wood-fired pizza options
A converted warehouse can lack intimacy
Diverse menus may disappoint some
Upscale experience can be pricey
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.
Stunning city views from the 4th-floor location
Fresh ingredients from the rooftop garden
Diverse menu with unique options
Extensive selection of wines
Closed on Sundays
Can be a bit pricey
Outdoor seating affected by weather
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.
Cuban-inspired unique cocktail selection
Shared plates perfect for group dining
Authentic dishes offer Cuban flavors
Trendy atmosphere for a fun night
Closed on Mondays
The flavor profile may not be for all
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.
Offers a true taste of Scandinavian flavors
Unique items like Danish pancakes
Extensive selection of authentic aquavit
Doesn't offer dinner service
The table seats only four
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.
Locally sourced and organic ingredients
Diverse vegan menu options
Healthy options and sustainable dining
Two locations for diverse experience
Not for meat lovers
A bit pricey
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.
Hip and stylish ambiance
Stylish rooftop with city views
Unique mezcal-inspired cocktails
Authentic Mexican snacks and tacos
Pine Street Market
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.
Culinary diversity under one roof
Unique food hall concept
Curated by 9 renowned Portland chefs
Not for a quiet conversation
Fine dining is not available
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.
Quirky and chic ambiance
Playful Southeast Asian and Chinese-inspired menu
Takeaway option available
Wide variety of unique dishes
Only serves Asian cuisine
The seating capacity is limited.
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Scott Balaam – writer and photographer
Scott started his travelling life back in 1999, when he headed off on a solo jaunt to South Africa, Australia, New Zealand and South East Asia with just a backpack, a camera and a spirit for adventure. After that, the travel bug bit hard and now he is always seeking to head off somewhere new. Over the years he has lived in Italy, Qatar, Australia, Ireland, UK and the USA but his spiritual home will always be Rome as this is the city which most satisfies his unrelenting thirst for culture, good food and great football. In his spare time Scott loves nothing better than to be behind the camera and also runs his own blog and Instagram page. He also counts Melbourne, the rest of Italy, Amsterdam, USA, Athens, Cape Town and Tel Aviv among his favourite places. Find Scott on Linkedin, Instagram, or Twitter.