Live Like A Local: A food lover’s guide to Portland

Live Like a Local: A Food-lovers Guide to Tel Aviv | Soho House

From the perfect casual wine bar to wood-fired Haitian eats, Soho House Portland member and local foodie Nori De Vega shares the best spots in the city

Monday 16 October 2023 By Soho House

Born in Manila, Philippines, foodie Norievelle (Nori) De Vega now spends her time in Portland, Oregon running Tikim, a collective that focuses on the advancement and celebration of Filipino food and culture in the Pacific Northwest. She’s also building the hospitality concept Kollectivo, with James Beard Award finalist, chef Carlo Lamagna, and rising stars in Portland’s food scene, Sun Rice.

De Vega’s passion for food grew from travelling all over the world, connecting with other cultures through their local cuisine. 

Below, she shares her top spots for your next Portland trip.

For dinner and drinks...

‘If you can get a reservation, go to chef Gregory Gourdet’s Kann, a modern wood-fire Haitian restaurant in southeast Portland. It’s a beautifully designed space with polished service. The dishes are bold in flavour, while also being completely dairy and gluten free (you don’t miss either, I promise). The drinks are another highlight, made with Caribbean flavour profiles – it’s Portland’s hottest restaurant.’ 

Magna Kusina 
‘Also located in southeast Portland, this is Filipino food through the Pacific Northwest lens at its finest.’

‘This is a fantastic Thai meets American barbecue restaurant in north Portland that’s walk-in only and delivers bold flavours and amazing cocktails.’

Live Like A Local: A food lover’s guide to Portland | Soho House
Live Like A Local: A food lover’s guide to Portland | Soho House
Live Like A Local: A food lover’s guide to Portland | Soho House

For catch-ups...

‘When I’m looking to catch up with folks locally or friends who are visiting, you’ll find me at Expatriate, a cocktail bar in northeast Portland that serves food by chef Naomi Pomeroy. It’s intimate and lively at the same time. The cocktails are some of the best in the city and the food is always excellent. Plus, owner Kyle Webster plays a great collection of records.’ 

For small groups...

Someday bar and Ruthie’s food cart
‘The wine list and cocktails from Someday are fantastic, and its food menu is perfect for sharing. Ruthie’s has to be one of my top favourite food carts in Portland, and they share the same courtyard. The level of cooking that the two chefs pull off in that little cart is otherworldly.’ 

For big groups and all-day parties...

Local food carts
‘Our food cart pods are especially great for big groups. One in particular that I highly recommend is Lil’ America, which shares the property with Fracture Brewing Taproom. Get cocktails and beer while having access to a diverse selection of delicious food: Korean fried chicken from The Oregonian’s Food Cart of the Year, Frybaby, a seafood boil (The Drip’N Crab), Guyanese food (Bake on the Run), Filipino meets American fast food (Makulit), and so much more.’ 

Cafe Olli
‘This all-day restaurant is ideal for big groups. Its bread and pastries are some of the best you’ll find in the city. Plus, the seasonal menu features gorgeous Pacific Northwest produce, wood-fired pizzas and house-made pastas that are always a hit.’

Live Like A Local: A food lover’s guide to Portland | Soho House
Live Like A Local: A food lover’s guide to Portland | Soho House

The best casual wine bars...

Grape Ape
‘I really love Grape Ape in the industrial southeast. It’s an intimate space with a great wine-by-the-glass list and tasty simple food. It’s very European in there.’ 

‘Another favourite, this is a wine shop that happens to be a great Italian restaurant, thanks to chef Patrick McKee. Next door at Lil’ Dame, they host resident star chefs, Luna Contreras (Chelo: Thursday to Sunday) and Richard Văn Lê (Matta: Monday to Wednesday).’ 

For breakfast...

The Moxy Hotel
‘Head to Downtown Portland to grab a Silog (protein and egg over garlic rice) from Sun Rice at this hotel. It’s the kind of food I grew up eating for breakfast.’

The Celery
‘For fellow light eaters in the morning, The Celery in north Portland has the best fresh pressed juices, smoothies and bowls to start your day right.

‘A few more of my favourites for breakfast are: Proud Mary, Sweedeedee and Enchanted Sun Breakfast Burritos (only available during the PSU and King Farmers’ Markets).’

For burgers...

Monster Smash Burgers and Sure Shot Burger are the two places I go any time I crave a cheeseburger. The fries are so good at both spots, too. Another favourite is Steamed Cheeseburgers at Canard, next to the iconic Le Pigeon.’

For coffee....

Reforma Coffee Roasters
‘I love this place, it’s a Mexican-owned coffee roaster. 

‘You can find its coffee at Electrica (north west), La Perlita (north), and Esperanza Trading Co. (south east). I also frequently visit Less And More Coffee in Downtown Portland and Deadstock Coffee in the Old Town/ Chinatown district.’

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