Food & Drink

Where to Find Comfort Food in Portland: Fall/Winter 2021 Edition

Pizza, Dumplings, and More
November 10, 2021
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With fried chicken and handmade pasta, Gumba is a comfort food dream come true. (Gumba)

As we transition into the season of sunsets before 5 pm, we could all use some soul-warming nourishment to bolster our spirits. We've compiled this list of fortifying options, including ramen, pizza, dumplings, pasta, pho, fried chicken, and more, so you can get your comfort food fix. For more ideas, check out our food and drink guide.

PIZZA

Apizza Scholls
Serious Eats founder Ed Levine once dubbed this "Neo-Neapolitan" pizza destination "one of the top five pizzerias in America."
Sunnyside
Pickup

Ken's Artisan Pizza
Grab a cheesy pie topped with Calabrian chiles and fennel sausage or mortadella and charred leeks at noted bread baker Ken Forkish's wood-fired pizzeria. Add on a Caesar salad and a side of meatballs in tangy tomato sauce for a hearty, warming winter meal.
Kerns
Pickup, dine-in

Lovely's Fifty-Fifty
Sarah Minnick's acclaimed wood-fired pizzeria serves exquisite artisan pies with seasonally inspired toppings like squash and ricotta or chanterelle mushrooms.
Boise
Pickup

Pizza Jerk
You'll find offbeat combinations like the "Clam Jam" (made with a white wine cream sauce and clams) and the "It's Always Sunny in Cully" (pepperoni, pineapple, Bunk Sandwiches hot peppers, basil, and honey) at this Connecticut-inspired pizza parlor with Portland punk rock sensibility. The menu also includes salads, beer, boozy slushies, soft serve ice cream, and Rice Krispie treats.
Cully
Pickup, delivery, dine-in

Pizza Thief
This summer, Darby Aldaco (a former executive chef at Nancy Silverton's acclaimed Triple Beam Pizza) and Tony Pasquale opened this pizzeria serving naturally leavened pies in the former space of Acapulco's Gold, with an adjoining cocktail lounge called Bandit Bar through the archway. Toppings run the gamut from local produce to house-made sausage. In addition to whole pizzas and slices, the menu also includes whole or by-the-slice focaccia, hand pies, and triple chocolate-hazelnut cookies.
Nob Hill
Pickup, delivery, dine-in

Scottie's Pizza Parlor
Brooklyn transplant Scottie Rivera produces some of the most sought-after pizza in Portland, using naturally leavened dough made with Pacific Northwest-grown wheat. Toppings range from Calabrian chilis to cilantro arugula pesto.
Hosford-Abernethy
Pickup

PASTA

Gumba
Fried chicken and fresh handmade pasta in the same place is a comfort food dream come true, and it's also a reality thanks to this Northeast food cart.
Vernon
Pickup, delivery, dine-in

MAC'D
The childhood classic mac and cheese gets souped up with extras like bacon, pesto, and hot Cheetos at this fast-casual takeout window. You can go for a pre-set bowl like the "Goddess" (melted jack and garlic) or the "Hellapeño" (honey jalapeño), or build your own creation.
Westmoreland
Pickup, delivery

DUMPLINGS

Bao Bao
Nothing says comfort like a pile of pillowy dumplings, like the traditional Chinese ones from this popular steamed bun and dumpling house.
East Burnside
Pickup, delivery, dine-in

Duck House Chinese Restaurant
This former taproom turned Szechuan Chinese joint has become famous citywide for their delectable, must-have xiao long bao (steamed buns, $12.95-13.95), wontons ($10.95), and dumplings—seriously, if you’re not eating their delicious lamb dumplings ($11.95) at this very moment, you need to make some serious life corrections. But neither should you sleep on their more standard Szechuan fare, in particular their Mongolian beef ($14.95). I love this stuff. Spicy, marinated beef tossed in an array of peppers and grilled onions, this dish is a meaty, mouth-rockin’ pleasure from start to finish. (And smart diners swing by for their great lunch specials [$9.95] in order to beat the lines that form every night for dinner.) To make matters even better, their fantastic service is always on point, so... I’m sorry, but what are you waiting for? WM. STEVEN HUMPHREY
Downtown
Pickup, delivery, dine-in

Mama Chow's Kitchen
This food cart favorite dispenses pan-fried chicken dumplings and a restorative wonton soup.
Downtown
Pickup

XLB
This fast-casual counter-serve joint is a favorite for soup dumplings, baozi (yeast-leavened buns stuffed with fillings), wok-fried noodles, popcorn chicken, and other Chinese comfort food.
Boise
Pickup, delivery, dine-in

SOUTHERN FOOD

Delta Cafe
The iconic soul food destination is a prime spot for homestyle favorites like po' boys, fried chicken, pulled pork, chicken and waffles, mac and cheese, and more.
Woodstock
Pickup, delivery, dine-in

Erica's Soul Food
Erica Montgomery's soul food cart has gained a loyal following for its Southern menu of dishes like "soul bowls" (stuffed with delights like cornbread, greens, mac and cheese, and gravy) and Atlanta-style hot lemon pepper wings.
Montavilla
Pickup

Everybody Eats PDX
Everybody Eats, which started as a catering business in 2016, moved into its own full-fledged brick-and-mortar in the Pearl District in March. The spot features dishes like peach cobbler chicken and waffles as well as crab, lobster, and shrimp mac and cheese, plus indoor and outdoor seating and a full bar.
Pearl District
Pickup, delivery, dine-in

Miss Delta
This down-home Southern joint was opened by Delta Cafe owners Anastasia Corya and Anton Pace in 2007, along with cooks Jennifer Hazzard and Chuck Westmoreland, serving up soulful favorites like hush puppies, gumbo, po'boys, jambalaya, fried chicken, and "trashy mac" in a variety of flavors.
Boise
Pickup, delivery, dine-in

Po'Shines
This Black-owned Cajun and barbecue restaurant and church-operated nonprofit in Kenton is the place to go for a taste of Southern hospitality, dishing up homey plates like fried chicken and waffles, blackened catfish, po'boys, brisket, ribs, and pulled pork.
Kenton
Pickup, dine-in

Trap Kitchen
Malachi (a.k.a. "Chef Spank") and his best friend Roberto (a.k.a. "Sous Chef News"), members of rival gangs, partnered up to create the "underground culinary sensation" Trap Kitchen, a wildly popular Compton-based pop-up and catering company that counts Kendrick Lamar and SZA among its fans. The business's Portland food truck features the brand's signature "pineapple boats" with jasmine rice-filled pineapples and meat, as well as craveable comfort food like seafood gumbo, oxtails, enchilada pie, Cajun alfredo pasta, pastrami sandwiches, garlic fries, four-cheese mac and cheese, and the popular "Martha and Snoop" (blueberry waffles and fried chicken).
Roseway
Pickup, delivery

Yonder
Pacific Northwest cuisine meets classic Southern cooking at this restaurant from chef Maya Lovelace, serving fried chicken, hushpuppies, pimento mac and cheese, "angel biscuits," chicken and dumplings, and pork cheeks and grits.
Cully
Pickup, delivery, dine-in

RAMEN

Afuri / Afuri Ramen + Dumpling
This much-buzzed-about Tokyo ramen chain has locations in Beaverton, Buckman, and Old Town-Chinatown and plans to open a location in Slabtown in early spring 2022. The spot is famous for its specialty, a bright, well-balanced yuzu shio ramen, but its creamy sesame tantanmen, available with a rich tonkotsu or vegan hazelnut broth, is equally worth a try.
Beaverton, Buckman, Old Town-Chinatown
Pickup, delivery, dine-in


Kayo's Ramen Bar
Soothe your soul with a bowl of this authentic ramen bar's signature tan tan (a Japanese take on dan-dan noodles, a spicy, creamy Sichuan specialty), or any of their other ramen dishes.
Boise
Dine-in

Mugen Noodle Bar
Have your very own Tampopo moment and warm up with a bowl of steaming ramen from this family-owned noodle bar, which specializes in tori paitan broth (similar to a chicken-based version of the popular creamy pork broth tonkotsu).
Tigard
Pickup, delivery, dine-in

VIETNAMESE

Butterfly Belly Asian Cuisine
Though they're most proud of their bone broth beef pho—their bone broth is cooked for 48-hours to get all that delicious flavor—Butterfly Belly is also an underground hit with gluten-free eaters, vegetarians, and vegans. Butterfly advertises a dedicated gluten-free menu, and their menu is vast—everything from sweet potato fries to Vietnamese fusion tofu tacos! If you're a meat-eater, I heartily recommend their OMG Pho, which comes with delicious cuts of brisket and steak. The broth is everything they promised and more. But their Garden Pho, with its shiitake mushroom broth, is also a major crowd-pleaser and they pack the bowl with plenty of veggies. SUZETTE SMITH
Pearl District 
Pickup, delivery, dine-in

Pho Oregon
Sate your craving for aromatic broth and slurpable noodles at this pho restaurant, often cited as one of the best in the state.
Madison
Pickup, dine-in

Rose VL and Ha VL
Former Portland Mercury restaurant critic Andrea Damewood calls these sister restaurants "definitively the best places to eat soup in Portland." She writes, "James Beard-nominated Rose VL throws down the three best soups on its menu each Saturday: the super rare cao lau, a memorable Mi Quang, and a chicken curry noodle that won’t quit. Cao lau, which is technically dry noodles served with a side of broth, is shamefully unheard of in the US; because this specialty from the central Vietnam city of Hoi An heaps crispy pork bites, crackers, chicken, and all the fresh herbs over tapioca noodles for a truly wonderful bite. The turmeric noodles and curry noodle are also served at Ha VL, but you should just go to Rose VL every Saturday for the rest of your life." She also recommends the crabflake noodle soup at Ha VL, writing, "If you haven’t been to Ha VL, start with this unusual thick-brothed baby filled with udon-thick rice noodles, crab flakes, straw mushrooms, quail eggs, shrimp, and shredded pork meatloaf. It’s among their finest soups, and certainly one you won’t find anywhere else (other than Rose VL on Thursdays)."
Foster-Powell, Jade District
Pickup, delivery, dine-in

Xinh Xinh Vietnamese Bistro
XinhXinh's beef pho forced me back into a wholly human state. My main rave is their broth, which bursts with wonderful aromatic spices. There's more cinnamon and star anise than in other pho I've tasted, but XinhXinh really makes it work—it's not overpowering, just lovely and unique. Their vegetables game is likewise strong (although I did order extra veggies), with mushrooms, broccoli, and bok choy all making it into my bowl. SUZETTE SMITH
Buckman
Pickup, delivery, dine-in

KOREAN

Nak Won
Beaverton is home to many excellent Korean restaurants, but this hole-in-the-wall, beloved for its free banchan and generous portions, is consistently named as a standout. For extra comfort, try the oddly satisfying "Saving Private Ryan Canned Goods" military stew (a Korean soup with Spam, sausage, bacon, ramen, tofu, and vegetables), the fiery red kimchi stew, sundubu jjigae, beef bone broth soup, spicy seafood noodle stew, or the "Comfort Buttercup" (beef rib soup).
Beaverton
Pickup, dine-in

Toki
Peter Cho and Sun Young Park, the team behind Han Oak, opened this playful sibling restaurant in January. The menu features modern Korean comfort food like bao burgers, Korean fried chicken, pork dumplings, Spam hand rolls, hand-pulled noodles in chili oil, and the TikTok-inspired "gimbap supreme" (a rice sandwich with vegetables, crispy fried nori, and soy mustard sauce).
Downtown
Pickup, delivery, dine-in

EUROPEAN

Kachka
No one does Eastern European comfort food quite like chef Bonnie Morales's nationally acclaimed Kachka. The restaurant has plenty of options to warm your soul from within, including a weekly three-course meal box, mushroom stroganoff kits, khachapuri, dumplings (both fresh and frozen), chicken "in a clay pot" pie (a reimagined version of the popular "rabbit in a clay pot" dish), and more.
Buckman
Pickup, dine-in

Papa Haydn
The longtime Portland mainstay has hearty classics like French onion soup, chili, croque monsieur, house-made fettuccine with mushrooms and cream sauce, and more. Don't forget some sweets from their famous display case for dessert.
Nob Hill, Westmoreland
Pickup, delivery, dine-in

MISCELLANEOUS

Gado Gado
The menu at Thomas and Mariah Pisha-Duffly's acclaimed Indonesian-Chinese restaurant is full of deeply comforting dishes like chicken and leek dumplings, bakso noodle soup with pork meatballs and wonton noodles, and Sumatran-style beef rendang (a rich, spicy beef stew).
Hollywood
Dine-in


Gravy
This beloved breakfast spot serves hefty portions of pancakes, oatmeal, challah French toast, chicken fried steak, salmon hash, and other diner-style favorites.
Mississippi
Pickup

Eem
This Thai barbecue restaurant, which was featured in the Pacific Northwest episode of Eater's new show Eater's Guide to the World, received no shortage of local acclaim after its opening in 2019 (in addition to nabbing the top spot in the Mercury's roundup of best new restaurants, it was also chosen as Restaurant of the Year by The Oregonian and Portland Monthly). As Andrea Damewood wrote for the Merc, "Eem is the restaurant equivalent of Lizzo: infectious, critically and commercially acclaimed, and addictive AF. You cannot go wrong in ordering, from the hot fried cauliflower to the divine brisket in white curry to the fried rice with burnt ends. And both the cocktails and mocktails are some of the best in town—my favorite piña colada, made with coffee and salt to keep it from being too cloying, is on the menu again." 
Boise
Pickup, delivery

GrindWitTryz
The buzzworthy Hawaiian-Filipino cart-turned-restaurant, beloved for its Oahu-style comfort cuisine, serves "ono" (delicious) dishes like katsu-breaded ahi, kalbi short ribs, and meat jun (marinated beef battered in egg and fried).
Alberta Arts District
Pickup

Oma's Hideaway
Thomas and Mariah Pisha-Duffly's Indonesian-Chinese restaurant was just named one of Eater's 11 best new restaurants in America for 2021. Eater Portland editor Brooke Jackson-Glidden wrote, "Portland’s best party is just past the mirrored bar, at a table surrounded by anemone-adorned walls. Soon, guava-pineapple Jell-O shots arrive, and then tender, flaky roti canai to dunk into luscious sweet corn curry. Another round — maybe mai tai slushies this time — and then, the piece de resistance, a juicy game hen straight from the charcoal oven, with crackly, caramel-colored skin best torn off and dunked in jammy coconut sambal. This is Oma’s Hideaway, and it’s the offbeat hangout Portland needs."
Richmond
Pickup, delivery, dine-in


Portland Kettle
This counter-serve cafe is on a mission to "nourish Portland one home-cooked meal at a time" and does just that with dishes like cheese tortelloni with pesto, tater tot casserole, chicken noodle soup, chili, gumbo, and pastrami sandwiches.
Downtown
Pickup or delivery

Plant Based Papi
Owned and run by Jewan Manuel (AKA the Plant Based Papi himself), the creative menu at this Latin American-inspired vegan restaurant is constantly changing. With mouthwatering photos of dishes like truffle mac and cheese and chick’n sandwiches, business at the Black-owned brick-and-mortar experienced a big boom during the pandemic, selling out online orders in under 10 minutes. Today, Plant Based Papi currently operates via a residency at Bit House Collective, and more recently, took over the kitchen in the reopened Fortune location, which now lives at the coveted former Jackknife space inside the Sentinel Hotel. With his kitchen takeover at Fortune, he also brings some much-needed gourmet vegan food to SW Portland in a super swanky bar setting. JENNI MOORE
Buckman
Pickup

The Rambler
This North Portland tavern has a menu of filling gastropub fare, including poutine, smoked brisket chili, Frito pie, mac and cheese, and smash burgers.
Boise
Pickup

Vegan Junk Food
In a city that’s gained a reputation for elevated vegan cuisine, plant-based eaters can now find things like meatless burgers, dairy-free pizzas, and corn dogs not constituted from spare parts under one roof. Vegan Junk Food, which has been taking online orders for over a year, is now slinging vegan junk food for the masses in their very own dining room. Folks who find themselves missing a certain iconic fast food item can find the Crunchywrap Superior in the “tortilla” section menu, which also includes birria tacos, a Mexican dish which has gained popularity in the States in recent years. JANEY WONG
Creston-Kenilworth

Pickup, delivery, dine-in