Seasons and Regions
6660 SW Capitol Hwy.503-244-6400
Seasons and Regions is Southwest Portland’s best-kept secret. Just off the 44 bus line, Seasons provides some of the heartiest and tastiest eats around. Menu options for breakfast, brunch, lunch and dinner change with the season, and while most menu items run from $10 to $15, there is also a $3 “Cheap Food Menu” available during happy hour. The helpings are massive and well worth the price.
Viking Soul Food
1930 NE Everett St. #5503-704-5481
This food cart is only one year old, but I’m not sure how I lived without it. VSF’s lefse—a versatile and tasty Norwegian flatbread—delivers a wrap that won’t break open, and with fillings like house-smoked salmon and dill crême fraiche or lemon curd and toasted pecans, these wraps will satisfy any craving. Savory wraps are $4.50 ($8 for two) and sweet wraps are $3.50 ($6 for two).
Flying Elephants Delicatessen
812 SW Park Ave.
Flying Elephant’s Delicatessen offers a variety of hot foods, healthy prepackaged sandwiches and salads and dangerously delicious baked goods. Elephant’s has a location near Director’s Park, one block west from the Central Library Portland streetcar stop, and it’s only a 10-minute walk from campus. Be sure to try the incredible oatmeal raisin cookies and stop by right before closing for half-off fresh foods like salad and lasagna.
Little Big Burger
122 NW 10th Ave.
Situated in the Pearl District (with a second location on North Mississippi Avenue), this charming burger joint is one of my favorite spots. They serve pint-sized burgers that, while they may be small, are so delicious they are well worth their $3-and-change price tag. There’s not much else on the menu, but they do serve Little Big veggie burgers, and their floats and fries cooked in truffle oil round out the meal.
3 Doors Down Café
1429 SE 37th Ave.
This Portland gem is right off Southeast Hawthorne Boulevard. It’s been around for 17 years and has established itself as a go-to spot for anyone who needs to feel a little pampered. The menu is Pacific Northwest-inspired Italian with one of the best wine lists in town. Try the tortiglione with sweet Italian sausage and vodka sauce—you’ll be hooked!
Boonrod Thai Food
Southwest Fourth Avenue and Hall Street
With around 35 lunch combos to choose from—all for $5 and served with an egg roll—Boonrod will more than satisfy your lunchtime needs. Your options range from noodles to curry to fried rice, and Boonrod is well-known for serving the spiciest Thai food in town (although you can, of course, order everything “mild”). The food here is deliciously fresh with a remarkably short wait, and while it’s set a little apart from the rest of the food cart pod, it’s still easy to find.
1223 SE Powell Blvd.
This is Portland’s only 24-hour coffee shop, which makes it perfect for night owl students who need a place to study and drink coffee. They offer free Wi-Fi all day and ample seating with easy laptop hookup. The coffee is so-so but the staff is always friendly and the cafe is never empty, even in the middle of the night. Hot food, salads, pastries, tea and assorted blended drinks are also available.
1216 SE Division St.
With more than 50 beer taps that rotate on a weekly basis and a beer garden that would make any Czech nod in approval, Apex is a beer nerd’s safe haven (so long as you have cash—they don’t take cards). This is the perfect late night location for beer connoisseurs, as well as those who are simply curious about Portland’s beer culture. Bike parking a-plenty, and enough pinball machines to support a 10th birthday party.
Belmont Station Biercafé
4500 SE Stark St.
Belmont Station is probably best known for its store, which sells an incredible array of local and international beer, mead and sake (as well as British candies). That’s all fine and dandy, but if you haven’t stopped by the biercafé, you’re missing out. Sixteen constantly rotating taps are manned by bartenders who are not only able to answer your questions but eager to share what they know. Sandwiches, hand pies, salads, soups, nachos, cheese plates and desserts are all on offer, and special tastings and themed tap weeks are frequently scheduled.
5627 SW Kelly Ave.
Oregonians often search for challengers to California’s hallowed In-N-Out Burger, but for those longing for In-N-Out itself, there’s good news: A local restaurant has actually gone full replica. The Out-and-In Burger, courtesy of the Jolly Roger in John’s Landing, is modeled to look and taste exactly like the legendary concoction from down south—only this one comes with superior fries and a better selection of toppings.
The J.R. is a sports bar, so for the best drink deals go on College Football Saturday ($10 pitchers of Miller Lite) or NFL Sunday or Monday ($10 pitchers of Coors Light both nights).
5222 SE 52nd Ave.
With sticky tabs of kids’ drawings covering every inch of the wall, an open kitchen and local ingredients, Toast is pretty homey. It’s open seven days a week for brunch and Wednesday through Friday for dinner, offering friendly service, local flair and the real, healthy(ish) Bad Ass Sandwich. The sandwich offers over-easy eggs, bacon, goat’s milk cheese and greens on toast, with a potato rosti. Fork and knife in hand, it is simply delicious.
Panadería Santa Cruz
8630 N Lombard St.
St. Johns is a little out of the way for most students at PSU, but it is worth the trek for Portland’s best tacos. There is a hidden taquería in the back of Panadería Santa Cruz—walk past the exotic offerings of the Mexican grocery store and you will find what looks like a cross between your old high school cafeteria and a Mexico City market stall. A menu highlight is definitely the tacos al pastor.
707 SE 12th Ave. 503-232-2640
Camouflaged as an old Southeast Portland manor, Rimsky-Korsakoffee House is a quirky late night dessert café. No signs adorn the Victorian house; only word-of-mouth will bring you there. The pleasure is not only in the decadent desserts (ranging from pies to sundaes to perfectly prepared espresso drinks), but also in the interior decoration—the tables are covered with themed collages of Russian composers and iconic musicians, which gives the place an eccentric ambiance that you are sure to never forget.