Formerly sleepy S.E. Division St. has recently become a hotbed of culinary activity. World famous Thai restaurants and trendy patisseries now line the strip. It’s easy to become overwhelmed by all the choices, so we’ve whittled down the list just for you.
Petite Provence Boulangerie & Patisserie
4834 S.E. Division St.
Although the recently opened branch of St. Honoré Bakery, located at 3333 S.E. Division St., is providing lots of competition, Petite Provence still holds down the French pastry fort at the northern end of the strip. The authentic bakery, which opened in 2006, offers buttery brioches, madeleines and éclairs, as well as exquisite single-serving cakes and tarts. Chocolate lovers will go crazy for the Black Beauty (chocolate cake with ganache, chocolate mousse and vanilla syrup) or the Trio Chocolate (dark, milk and white chocolate mousse). If you have your heart set on a particular variety, call ahead: The most popular cakes sell out well before closing time, which is 8 p.m. Sunday–Thursday, and 9 p.m. Friday–Saturday.
3226 S.E. Division St.
After opening Pok Pok in 2005, Andy Ricker has taken both Portland and New York by storm with an expanding empire of restaurants inspired by the flavors of Southeast Asia. The chef’s culinary explorations of Thailand are the subject of a new documentary called Farang. He’s done considerable research and now it’s time for you to enjoy the results. Discover the pleasures of kai yaang, a charcoal-roasted game hen accented with cilantro and lemongrass, cha ca “La Vong”, turmeric-marinated catfish served over thin rice noodles, and neua naam tok, a spicy flank steak salad. Jasmine, coconut and sticky rice will cool your palate. Don’t forget to finish your meal with the Vietnamese affogato—creamy, condensed milk ice cream floating in a sea of strong coffee, served with savory freshly fried donuts. Note: If you aren’t prepared to wait, come around 5:00 p.m.
3111 S.E. Division St.
This decadent comfort food joint is the brainchild of Jenn Louis, a recent recipient of Food & Wine’s Best New Chef award. Louis also presides over Lincoln Restaurant in North Portland. Although many diners frequent Sunshine Tavern for brunch, there are plenty of goodies to be had during a night out. Burgers, fries and pizzas are revolutionized with the Sunshine approach to toppings—the more exotic, the better! You can liven up your burger with extras like pork belly, spicy brined pickles or chicken liver mousse. Order your fries plain or with gravy and cheese. Try pizzas with imaginative combinations like hen egg with wild oregano or meatballs with provolone. If you’re ravenous, devour the fried chicken with waffles, ham and honey or the skirt steak with shallot-thyme butter. Whatever you do, come hungry!
The Woodsman Tavern
4537 S.E. Division St.
You could say that Duane Sorenson put S.E. Division on the map. The impresario opened Stumptown Coffee Roasters at 4525 S.E. Division St. in 1999. Recently, Sorenson has continued his colonization of S.E. Division with Ava Gene’s, Roman Candle Bakery and The Woodsman Tavern. The rustic tavern serves raw bar items, as well as a creative selection of small and large plates. Snack on four varieties of country ham or live large with the surf & turf. If you finish early enough, visit the adjacent Woodsman Market for gourmet groceries.
3715 S.E. Division St.
Not the province of ho-hum burritos, upscale Xico serves the most creative Mexican food in the city. Trout in chile-spiced broth with pozole and bone-in pork chops smothered with mole are accompanied by homemade corn tortillas. Leave room for dessert; the flourless chocolate cake with passion fruit chili-chocolate ganache is to die for. If you’re in the neighborhood but don’t have much time, opt for the takeout chicken dinner, available 5:00–9:00 p.m. daily.