About five years ago, Portland suddenly emerged as The Next Food Place: a handcrafted, farm-fresh, willfully eccentric island of pleasure, much of it enjoyable at grass-hut prices. As the rest of the country grew infatuated with rock-star chefs and outlandish theatrical dining, Portland cooks went their own way, conjuring food experiences other cities’ chefs could only dream of, courtesy of the world-class produce grown here, the cheap rents, and an artisan-loving audience eager to try almost anything—even when served on hand-me-down dishware.
What follows is our guide to the revolution. First, we show you eight venues that represent the latest evolution of Portland’s scene. Some of these barely feel like restaurants at all, offering instead an experience akin to a custom-crafted meal in a home (and something you’d never find in New York—and certainly not at these prices). Second, we offer a look at eight of the recent pioneers —what they achieved, and how they are innovating now. And finally, just for fun and adventure, we offer a look at some of the ever-more-worldly (and wallet-friendly) ethnic wonders to be found in the metro area.