- American Local
- Block + Tackle
- Cafe Voilá
- Chez Machin
- Garden Bar Salad Company
- Hazel Room
- Jade Teahouse
- Lardo Eastside
- Laurelhurst Market
- Lovely’s Fifty-Fifty
- Meat Cheese Bread
- Mother’s Bistro
- Oven & Shaker
- Park Kitchen
- Red Onion Thai
- The Original
- Toro Bravo
- Verde Cocina
When I was little, we used to feed the family goats a strict diet of grass, failed cooking experiments, and fresh greens and vegetables. So, when Mom tried to give me a bowl of fresh greens and vegetables, I felt suspicious. Was I girl, or goat?! Since my mom was very fond of making salads, I spent a considerable amount of my childhood smuggling my roughage out to the goat pen in my napkin/pockets/shoes, but these days, now that I’m more mature, I see salad in a different light–taste sensation and savior of my thighs. Here are a few spots where you can find a salad so good you won’t even want to share it with your dining companions, much less your goats.
Chef Chris Whaley and front of the house gal Jenny Nickolaus’s izakaya-inspired Division Street dining hall dishes an eclectic menu in a fun, energetic, comfortably casual atmosphere where you just may find yourself sharing your honey-drizzled bacon beignets with your new friends at the communal table (we did). Lots of shared small plates is the way to go here, and there are so many tempting choices, like barbecued Netarts Bay oysters, crispy grit cakes heaped with salmon tartare, a spunky watermelon radish salad with black garlic, and skewers of octopus blanketed in harissa. Sip everything from local pale ale and organic sake to craft cocktails, and please don’t leave without downing the banana pudding parfait.
Block + Tackle
Fruits of the sea rule the menu at this cute, casual fishhouse along the increasingly tasty shores of SE Division Street–the smoked mackerel with watermelon, watercress, inky cured olives, mint and cayenne is mesmerizing, their Niçoise salad is one of the best, the hearty halibut fish and chips will satisfy even the most fundamental diner in your party, and gourmands will want to investigate the “seafood charcuterie” region of the menu, with its unusual marlin rillettes, ono confit, and pimenton-cured cuttlefish with orange and sherry. Desserts are few and simple, and refreshingly, never too sweet or cloying, like the apricot cobbler in a pool of warm milk, berry shortcake, and salted butterscotch pudding beneath Chantilly cream. It’s also perfect course to chart for happy hour–among other great deals, oysters on the half shell are half off.
Sometimes, we all want to feel like a Lady Who Lunches. You know–oozing old money, the kind of skinny only achieved with the help of a live-in personal trainer, dressed to the nines, and tucked under a white linen napkin come noon on a weekday. When such an urge strikes, I put on my best Chanel suit (the one I found at the Burnside Goodwill), walk up into the West Hills and stand in front of my favorite mansion, and call a cab to take me to ever stylish Bluehour, where I order a dirty martini and one of the excellent salads, like grilled chicken and blue cheese with baby green or Pacific albacore with radish, arugula, haricots verts, shaved fennel and boiled egg in a roasted garlic vinaigrette. At $15, it’s an indulgence, but a Lady Who Lunches never looks at prices, and besides, Visa bills are so much more fun when they aren’t opened.
Salad or sandwich. Salad, or sandwich. Salad? Or sandwich? It’s a debate many of us struggle with come lunchtime, especially people who still believe in the Great Carb Conspiracy. But this fine downtown lunch spot solves the dilemma for you with the BLT Salad–a salad that combines all the goodness of a classic bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwich with the healthy crispness of fresh romaine lettuce, ripe tomatoes, crunchy croutons and a creamy housemade basil dressing, creating the beautiful illusion of having your bacon sandwich salad and eating it too. If you aren’t in the bacon mood (what?? how is this possible?!), order the classic Caesar salad with juicy roast chicken, and since you’re making such smart lunch choices and all, you’ll feel completely justified in ordering a chocolate peanut butter shake. You earned it.
You’re in a hurry, and need lunch on the go, and that vending machine Snickers bar is looking mighty fine, but you know eating it would be wrong, and that what you really should be eating is a salad. Fortunately, this dilemma is resolved easily enough by visiting this bright and busy little downtown cafe, where all manner of fresh pre-made salads line the cold case. You can buy one to go and mix it yourself back at work (that never goes well for me), or the staff will kindly remove your salad from its shell, mix it for you, re-clamshell it, and send you on your way. Or, if you opt to eat in, they’ll mix it for you and plate it, with a few slices of bread and butter. If you really like salad and think variety is the spice of life, get the three salad special–a mix and match combo of any three salads, like French lentil, summer tomato and panzanella, and duck confit with Bing cherries and pancetta. Admit it, that’s so much better than a vending machine candy bar for lunch. (Okay, well, better for you at least.)
Simply breathing the fresh ginger and chlorophyll-scented air at this über-charming Sunnyside juice bar will make you a better person, so just wait until you’ve downed a Maca & Friends smoothie, apple and cashew-studded quinoa salad, maple tempeh-topped Portland bowl, and a slice of the shockingly good raw cheesecake. There’s also beer, wine, and kombucha on tap, plus a steady supply of impeccably-underdressed Southeast Portland hipsters of above-average attractiveness to impassively reject your overly enthusiastic E3Live-fueled advances. And for those who must get their 15 minutes of direct sunlight a day (when that’s possible), there’s a wide array of outdoor seating options, from log benches and bistro tables on the front patio to quiet two tops along the side of the building, plus a roomy covered all-weather patio.
Chez Machin most commonly comes to mind when one thinks of “Hawthorne” and “crepes” in the same mental sentence, but this sweet little bistro has plenty of other good things to eat, including some substantial salads. Being a bacon and egg lover myself, I’m fond of the Salade Lyonnaise–fresh greens tossed with bacon and homemade Dijon vinaigrette and topped with a poached egg, and classic Niçoise with rare yellowfin tuna, green beans, roasted red pepper, red potatoes, hard-boiled egg, tomatoes, kalamata olives, and the kitchen sink. Chez Machin is so cute that I never get my salade to go, I eat it there with a friend, or a newspaper, or just my thoughts, which are mostly about why the c in Niçoise has a goatee.
Portland loves a good from-cart-to-walls-and-central-heating story, and Chickpeadx is yet another—once a lone food cart bravely occupying a small patch of asphalt on no-nonsense N. Interstate, now a full-fledged falafel destination holding court in NE Sandy’s pie-shaped, “dreams”-themed The Zipper, a micro-restaurant project by the same team that developed nearby The Ocean. Owner/falafel master Yair Maidan is turning out the same delicious salads, bowls and pitas as before, but with the added comfort of abundant indoor seating, both at the restaurant’s sunny window bar and in the common area, which unites the complex’s four restaurants via a peaceful indoor-outdoor courtyard shielded from the NE Sandy hustle. If you’re having trouble choosing your meal, order the platter—you can mix and match from Yair’s scrumptious seasonal salads and dips, and don’t forget to request his savory zhug, a Middle Eastern cilantro sauce that’s excellent both drizzled on everything and for pita-dipping.
Ah the Portland winter—frosty harbringer of cold sores, elbow eczema, and legs so white they glow in the dark…through your flannel long johns. Bring your sexy back at this glammy inner SE wine and cheese bar, where Clay Pigeon Winery winemaker Michael Claypool and author/former affineur Sasha Davies preside deliciously over their respective passions, uniting them on a well-rounded menu that includes simple, comforting foods like blue cheese gougeres and the Monger’s mac ‘n cheese, outstanding seasonal salads like butternut farro and cabbage kumquat in apple lime vinaigrette, and rich desserts like apricot almond tarts and a deep, dark, mascarpone-iced chocolate cake that doesn’t care a whit if you haven’t shaved your legs since October.
Garden Bar Salad Company
Greens reign supreme at this tiny new tenant of the former Morso space just across from Powell’s Pearl District mothership, so if you had a little run-in last night with a double order of cronut bacon burgers or a bowl of deep-fried butter balls, you can eat your Hail Marys here in the guise of a Chicken Kale Caesar, Garden Chopped, quinoa and hemp seed stuffed Northwest Bowl, or a choose your own roughage medley, and wash it all down with a Portland Juice Press green juice, Brew Dr. kombucha or coconut water.
Every now and then, when I’ve had a rough stretch of deviled quail eggs, steak tartare, and pork belly sandwiches, I give my stomach a much-needed spa day at this Hawthorne haven, where you can cleanse your digestive system’s pipes with chlorophyll-laced lemonade, freshly-grated ginger tea, jalapeño and cilantro-spiced Shaman smoothies, vegetable-laden rice and quinoa-based bowls, and beautiful raw salads and pastas. Feel free to take your mini-herbivores along, there’s a kids menu with oatmeal walnut pancakes, a Littlest Dragon Bowl, mac ‘n cheese, and even a peanut butter and jelly smoothie. Read entire write-up>
Cozy can take you far in rain-besieged Portland, and this Sunnyside tea lounge has cozy to spare. Sharing a vintage bungalow on SE Hawthorne with eclectic boutique Mag-Big, The Hazel Room serves up more than 30 Townshend’s teas (straight or booze-infused) by the fireplace, as well as locally-sourced coffee, wine, beer, cordials and absinthe, along with an array of elegant salads, soups and sandwiches like the four-mustard egg salad, tamarind pork, and citrus-spiced cucumber with herbed cream cheese. And even if you and your sweet tooth are currently quarreling, don’t pass on the homemade rainbow, Linzer, or sea salted chocolate chip cookies for dessert. Seriously. On weekends, completely bypass the brunch lines clogging the Southeast and step right up to an open table, an ice-cold Bloody Gina, a piece of spiced coffeecake, and a hot skillet of baked eggs with fennel, bacon and a flaky little buttermilk scone. And homemade cookies for dessert, don’t forget those.
Jade is not the contemplative nest of tranquility that might come to mind when one thinks “teahouse.” It is an aesthetic win, blessed with copious amounts of natural lighting and a tidy bamboo-fringed patio, and it’s a lively meeting place for all manner of local folk—toned Lycra short pants-wearing patrons of the nearby Sellwood Yoga studio having heart-to-hearts over prawn and pork-stuffed lettuce rolls, Eastmoreland Ladies Who Lunch taking an exotic grilled tofu salad-fueled minibreak, and stay-at-home moms and dads sharing platefuls of stir-fried rice noodles with towheaded pixies in pink cowboys boots whose swinging feet don’t quite reach the floor. The great unifier? The bright green pandan-dyed Vietnamese wedding cake, one of the many delightful pastries you’ll find in the case on any given day, and a unique delicacy that goes very well with a pot of one of Jade’s beautifully-curated 70+ teas.
If you’re going to stray from the caloric straight and narrow, you might as well do it right—and there are few more enjoyable failings than this super popular Ladd’s Addition hotspot’s pork belly sandwich—glistening, hot fat-streaked slabs of this most hallowed Portland mainstay laid to rest on a pillow-soft, golden-crusted Fleur de Lis Bakery brioche bun, or the bacon-topped cold fried chicken sandwich slathered in buttermilk blue cheese dressing, or the epic Double Burger, or the pork scrap and marinated peppers-littered “dirty fries,” or the three microbrews/ grapefruit margaritas you wash it all down with. No need to steer clear if you’re an herbivore either, the meat-free offerings and salads are some of the best around. Get your meal to go, or settle into a picnic table on the vast Hawthorne-fronting patio.
You might be puzzled to find a steakhouse listed in the Salad section, but Laurelhurst Market offers up some of the finest salads in town—the duck confit and pickled strawberry salad was a revelation, the side of beets with pistachios and rhubarb gastrique was the best $5 I ever spent, and the Viridian Farms raspberries with blue cheese and mint almost made me wish the moon was made out of salad.
Lovely’s Fifty Fifty owners (and sisters) Sarah and Jane Minnick have carved out this sweet, homey little nook along buzzy North Mississippi Avenue, creating a space that walks the line between modern and vintage, with high ceilings, massive wood beams, a huge roll-up glass garage door, and an eclectic collection of precisely-hung vintage prints lining the softly hued walls. Young hipster couples and families alike occupy the tables and booths, making for a lively neighborhood melting pot of top-notch vittles and people-watching, and the kitchen turns out all the trappings of a well-rounded diet–remarkable wood-fired pizzas, seasonal salads and small plates, creamy housemade ice creams, and very good wine.
Meat Cheese Bread
Meat Cheese Bread is probably already one of your favorite spots to get a sandwich, but it should also be on your list of salad destinations too. Not just because the of their crisply delicious Blue Green salad–green leaf lettuce with big fat lardons of bacon, slivered apples, and creamy blue cheese dressing, or their flank steak salad with roasted beets and buttermilk-chive dressing, but because you can ask for any one of their hot or cold sandwiches to be transformed into a salad too. Think tarragon-fennel chicken salad with lettuce and avocado, farm fresh green beans with soft boiled egg and parmesan, and roasted mushrooms with goat cheese, sherry onions and frisee. As sacrilegious as this sounds, you’ll never miss the bread.
This popular downtown bistro is best known as a bastion of comfort food, but sometimes comfort food is food that allows you to leave the table without having to furtively unzip your pants after an unfortunate meatloaf overdose. Hence, when I’m craving healthy and hearty, I order the grilled salmon Caesar, the Greek salad and hummus combo, or maybe the zesty Mexican Chop with grilled chicken, avocado, and cotija cheese in a honey-lime vinaigrette. I’m able to finish my lunch without impromptu trouser alterations, I get a cookie at the end of my meal as is Mother’s custom (this Mother anyway, my mother never rewarded salad consumption with a cookie), and all is good.
Oven & Shaker
James Beard-award nominated chef Cathy Whims (Nostrana, Genoa) and Aviation Gin co-founder Ryan Magarian joined their culinarily complimentary forces to open this sleek Pearl District hangout, where the white hot wood-burning pizza oven bakes and blisters a steady stream of thin crust Neopolitan style pies while hot bartenders shake up icy Anejo Manhattans and Pineapple Trainwrecks for a trendy crowd. Lovers of the widely-worshipped Nostrana radicchio salad, it’s on the menu, along with three other pretty young leafy things, and a handful of “finger and fork” small plates. On weekends, go off the beaten pizza path with the inventive brunch dishes like broiled grapefruit with brown sugar caramel, duck Eggs in Purgatory, and the prosciutto plate with pimento cheese and a biscuit. Weather permitting, have your wood-fired meal and White Lady cocktail outdoors on the beautiful sidewalk patio–you’re smack dab in the middle of some of the Pearl’s prime people-watching terrain.
Chef and husband/wife team Greg and Gabrielle Denton’s widely worshipped Argentine-inspired Northeast Portland hotspot is many things to many people—a highly evolved steakhouse, a surprising source of superb plant-based dishes and allergy-friendly desserts, a purveyor of exceptional cocktails, aaand, originator of some of the best, richest, most memorable chowder you will ever eat. (And I eat a LOT of chowder.) Despite the restaurant’s beefy image, vegans and vegetarians needn’t steer clear—”from the garden” options are as compelling as the fleshy ones, and as for dessert, Gabi’s prowess with sugar and spice are legendary, and her cheese pairings and hazelnut brown butter torte with honey-chamomile ice cream have a near-fanatical following.
Sometimes when I’m stuck lucky enough to be in a long boring enthralling meeting at work, I play the “If You Could Only Eat One Thing Until The End of Time, What Would It Be?” game. Coming in a close second to “spoonfuls of melted Valrhona,” is the Park Kitchen flank steak salad. Always on the menu, probably because there would be a revolt and possibly a few bocce balls through the front window if they took it off, it’s the perfect meal–a combination of tender strips of flank steak gently mixed with blue cheese, parsley, and sherried onions. It’s exactly the sort of dish this beloved North Park Blocks bistro excels at–simple, true to the ingredients, and relentlessly flavorful. Order any of their other salads with confidence, but don’t be surprised if every other salad, that you ever eat henceforth, pales ever so slightly in comparison.
The first time I went to PREAM (Pizza Rules Everything Around Me), I developed tinnitus within 20 minutes, even though the hip hop wasn’t even that loud, reminding me that a) I’m getting old. That said, from salad to polenta to pizza to olive oil cake, the meal was solid, beautiful and inventive, and who really needs to be able to hear to enjoy a great pizza, anyway?
Red Onion Thai
I’m not prone to periods of silence by nature, so when I’m having one, I’m usually either ill or very interested in what I’m eating. Anytime one of this NW 23rd Avenue Thai bistro’s salads is placed before me, the table becomes as quiet as a monastery at midnight, and not because I’m ill, either. Red Onion salads are incredibly fresh, relentlessly flavorful, and teeming with exotic mixtures of herbs and vegetables. The beef salad is one of my favorites–strips of tender grilled rib eye tossed with tomato, cucumber, lettuce, shallots, lemongrass, Kaffir lime leaf, mint, ground roasted rice, and spicy lime juice, but I’m also partial to the lemongrass chicken salad, steamed squid salad, and glass noodle salad. So the next time you’re craving a slightly exotic salad experience, skip up to Red Onion and be rendered speechless, in a good way.
As fun to say as it is cute, funky, and downright delicious, this petite light-filled space sits quietly in a previously breakfast-barren stretch of North Albina Street, and from the moment they open the doors at 8am, the staff is cutting slices of ethereal homemade honey pie, doling out gooey sticky buns and blueberry cornmeal muffins, pouring hot cups of Extracto coffee into mismatched crockery, and dishing up hearty breakfast and lunch plates as fast as they can, to overjoyed neighborhood residents and gastro-tourists alike, all whom pack themselves into the handful of tables and window bar like happy hash-devouring sardines. Try the baked egg-topped corncakes, smoked trout plate with pickled seasonal vegetables, cream cheese and thick slices of rye bread, and any of the fantastically fresh salads and sandwiches.
I have mixed feelings about hybrid names–like Labradoodle, or ThaiTalian, or Hebberoy–so I wasn’t too sure what to think of The Original dubbing itself a “Dinerant.” But diner, restaurant, whatever it may be, The Original is a perfectly acceptable place to get a good old-fashioned salad–the menu offers a half dozen classics like the Caesar, Cobb, Greek and Green Goddess, but if you feel the need to mix things up, you can add grilled chicken, steak, shrimp and fish as you please. Presto, your very own hybrid salad, which might even be better than a Puggle.
If you have yet to fulfill that lifelong dream of running with the bulls of Pamplona but you have a low fear threshold and a lean pocketbook, just go to spirited little Toro Bravo on North Russell Street instead — it is as much zesty good fun as its “brave bull” moniker, and a lot less likely to gore you to death. The tapas menu can induce paralysis-by-indecision, because more than likely you’ll want to order each and every Spanish-inspired small plate on it–who can resist dishes like piping hot manchego and paprika fritters, radicchio Salad with green olive toast, braised lamb with apricots and coriander, oxtail croquettes dipped in spicy chili mayo, the infamous bacon and Manchego burger and impressive house Paella Toro? If trying to choose what to order is giving you croquette-sized hives, let the kitchen choose —the Chef’s Tasting Menu is a steal at $30 per person.
Dishing up some of the freshest farm-to-table cuisine in town, this Pearl District offshoot of the popular eponymous farmers’ market stand serves gorgeous Mexican classics that are filled, surrounded and smothered with seasonal vegetables, making it the ideal compromise between a craving for decadent favorites like chile rellenos and huevos rancheros and a craving to not increase one’s waistline twofold. Salads are hearty and inventive–think roasted sweet potatoes, black and white beans, corn and kale in a lime vinaigrette, and tequila-lime marinated steak and market veggies in housemade chile dressing. But if you find yourself feeling uncomfortably wholesome, worry not—the tequila and mezcal tasting menu will take care of that.