Portland’s restaurant row

Are you tired of food carts? Or maybe you’re seeking some fancier fare for the folks? Fortunately, Southwest Portland’s emergent Restaurant Row is only a short walk from Portland State; the block of S.W. Washington Street between 12th and 13th Avenues explodes with culinary possibilities. Pick up a custard-filled doughnut topped with pearls of Valrhona chocolate, an overflowing bowl of pasta carbonara, or a Korean pork shoulder sandwich with kimchi and chili mayo. All of the below recommendations will leave you satisfied without taking too big a bite out of your wallet.

Blue Star Donuts
1237 S.W. Washington St.
(503) 265‑8410

At the northeast corner of Restaurant Row you’ll find the best doughnut shop in the city. The year-old Blue Star, which advertises that it values quality over quantity, doesn’t lie; it often runs out of its most popular varieties. Sample creative concoctions like blueberry-bourbon-basil, Cointreau crème brulee, blackberry compote with peanut butter powder, Valrhona chocolate cream, and Key lime and Meyer lemon curd. All doughnuts are made with traditional French brioche dough and are glazed to order.

1205 S.W. Washington St.
(971) 276‑8008

Next to Blue Star Donuts is the fanciest joint on the block, an open-kitchen tapas bar. Ración serves a menu of inspired small plates with surprising flavors. If you’re feeling adventurous, try the Spanish octopus or beef tongue. Take advantage of the happy hour, when each plate is only $8. Or convince your folks to splurge on the tasting menu.

1205 S.W. Washington St.
(503) 241‑1133
Not up for octopus? Well, who doesn’t love a plate of pasta? Grassa serves up handmade noodles in a variety of succulent sauces. Dive into a bowl of bucatini carbonara with pork belly and Pecorino Romano or pumpkin tortelli with brown butter. Don’t forget to order the garlic bread, it’s out of this world. Grassa gets mobbed pretty quickly, but turnover at the communal tables is brisk.

1205 S.W. Washington St.
(503) 241‑2490

Lardo is for the large appetite. As you might guess from its name, the restaurant focuses on pork, serving it in meatball banh mi, pork belly gyros, porchetta with gremolata and Korean pork shoulder sandwiches. There’s more though; Italian tuna melts, crispy beer-battered cod on a bun and even a vegetarian sandwich. If you’ve got the stomach for it, accompany your sandwich with a pile of Parmesan-dusted French fries with fried herbs or a side of house chicharrones.

Ruby Jewel Scoops
428 S.W. 12th Ave.
(971) 271‑8895

While this ice creamery isn’t technically on Restaurant Row, it’s an honorary member due to its placard right next to Lardo. Also, it’s right across the street.Ruby Jewel is famous for its ice cream sandwiches and signature sundaes. The extensive menu of flavors always includes a vegan variety. Get creative with your toppings—smother your fresh mint-chocolate flake with some peppermint fudge, or sprinkle rosemary pecans over your honey-lavender ice cream. If you need some caffeine, opt for “The Buzz”: chocolate and espresso ice cream, espresso caramel sauce, candied coffee and whipped cream. Ruby Jewel also serves housemade hot chocolate for those times when it’s too cold for ice cream.