As road trips go, this one is short and sweet, and sadly bereft of the delightful Morgan Freeman (at least it has been every time I’ve driven it), but no stretch of Portland asphalt packs more bang for your dining buck than delicious SE Division. Spanning Genie's celebrated tasso ham benedict to Mojo’s mango and strawberry-stuffed Japanese-style ice cream crepes (with a side of old-school Pac-Man), here’s your guide to the tastiest 73 or so blocks you’ll ever eat. Er, meet.
Come Sunday, there are only two things you really genuinely NEED in life, and that’s this enduringly popular inner Southeast café’s tasso ham benedict and a Genie’s Bloody with habanero-infused vodka. Oh, and the patience to wait in line for them.
Bringing a burst of color to Division with its pumpkin façade, things only get more festive when you actually go inside this cheerful Latin looker, especially once you’ve ordered a round of the exceptional house margaritas. My ideal meal is the Yucatan lime soup, pork tacos, cebiche special and naturally, the dessert crepes.
'Tis important to approach this Portland dining icon with a sense of adventure, an open mind about what constitutes Thai cuisine, and an affinity for spice, which is why we don't take my mother anymore. Everything's good, but...it's kind of all about the wings for me.
There are plenty of good reasons to spend the evening here—sexy lighting, good looking hipster crowd, excellent cocktails, great prices, but number one on my list is the incomparable spaetzle.
A Portland classic, you’ll get a beautiful meal and the wine to match at this cozy SE Division favorite. I love the roast chicken and savory fish stew, especially on a cold drizzly winter’s eve. Happy hour is one of the best around--it’s M-F from 5-6pm, so try to get there early so you can get a couple of rounds in.
Fine, maybe you don’t think bakeries should look like Design Within Reach studios, but you can’t argue with this modern Division Street destination's chocolate praline croissant, a flaky-chewy-buttery marvel that kind of leaves you wondering what just happened and how you can relive the experience. (This is why I get three at a time.)
Whenever I need a cheap flight of edible whimsy, I head east on Division until I reach this unwaveringly cheerful Japanese hot dog and crepe shop, where I proceed to eat the Purple Rain with one hand, while playing vintage Pac-Man with the other.
While you wait for your table at Pok Pok (and if you go anywhere remotely near dinner, you’ll be waiting), they’ve devised an ingenious way for you to spend some extra cash in the meantime—cross the street to this hip & happening sister bar for a few of the excellent cocktails and perhaps an order of the charcoal-toasted dried cuttlefish. I personally stick to the drinking vinegars, they’re uniquely delicious, refreshing, inexpensive, and a nice palate primer for the feast to come.
Everyone I’ve ever taken to this super popular vegan trattoria, even the most devoted of meat eaters, falls in love. Biggest hits include the Little T focaccia, beet tartare, Sweety-Peps, gnocchi, and hazelnut caramel bombe.
The talented team behind this Division Street heavyweight has created a compelling cocktail-dinner-brunch triad that draws the hungry beautiful people from all four corners of the city/earth. They come for the exceptional cocktails and wine list, now-legendary trout in crazy water, and the grand poobah of decadent dishes (especially in this laid back neck of the woods)—the $85 grand seafood platter.
When I get a ramen attack, and this happens fairly often, I make a dash for the counter of this buzzy Southeast noodle bar. Not only because I’m keen on the abura soba with spicy carrot, but because everyone knows that if you clean your ramen bowl, you get dessert, and Wafu’s desserts are usually something special. If the yuzu cream puff’s in stock, don’t hesitate.
Furthering the guisado cause here in PDX, this busy taqueria specializes in Mexico City-style stewed meat and vegetable-filled tacos, burritos & quesadillas served alongside unique cocktails like the Horchata Borracha and Señor Brown (mescal and apple soda). Excellent house salsas round out a Mexican experience that’s deliciously outside the norm.
Picnickers, stop at this impeccably stocked little market en route to Mt. Tabor or Laurelhurst parks, for scrumptious sandwiches (try the veggie with herbed feta & fig jam), McClure's potato chips, housemade cookies & cold bottles of Cheerwine (or, you know, real wine).
When I feel like eating a huge and hugely delicious sandwich that's ultimately going to put me to sleep all afternoon, I head here for the roast duck banh mi, or, gulp, the meatball banh mi (meatballs made with "beef, pork, and secrets"). Also outstanding--the rich curry & coconut milk ramen and the coconut cookies, made by a neighborhood baker.
There’s so much to love about this airy, elegant Division Street cantina, where bright splashes of color against white walls set the stage for the kitchen’s beautiful, fiercely seasonal, locally-sourced take on traditional Mexican food. Get the salsas & guac to start, the trout pozole and/or enchiladas, and without hesitation, the Woodblock chocolate cake with passion fruit-chile ganache for dessert.
It’s no wonder that Trent Pierce’s 30-seat jewel box of a seafood restaurant (tucked in the back of his buzzy Wafu noodle bar) is one of the hottest seats in town--exquisite 10-course chef’s tasting menus that culminate in a show of dehydrated chocolate mousse with coffee ganache can have that effect.
Since the day they opened, I've been waiting for this muy popular Division Street Mexican joint to take credit cards, and despite promises to that effect, they never have. Which is why I have to go to the ATM sometimes up to three times a week, preceding our very regular visits. Pretty much everything is solid, but if you’re in the mood for nachos, by all means indulge here, they are so worth it.
Seems like family-owned eateries are particularly alluring when owned by Italian families, and thus is the case at this divinely-perfumed Division deli, where you can buy one of chef Stefania Toscano's bechamel-drenched lasagnas to go, walk calmly to your car, and eat the entire thing while listening to Sarah Brightman and Andrea Boccelli's Con Te Partirò duet on repeat. Or you know, take it home and share it with someone.
Bypass the Italy trip and head here instead--for about $4,980 less you'll get comparably divine pastas, like the handmade fettucine tossed with heirloom tomatoes & basil, and Yukon Gold gnocchi with sage-brown butter sauce and hazelnuts. Might as well get the Italian chocolate torte too, you can afford it now.
From the fresh housemade pastries and relax-and-stay-a-while environs to the generous hours and frequent live music, there's much to love about this reliable Southeast cafe. The commuter corridor location makes it a good stop for happy hour (daily 5-7pm) on the way home from work, but beware the scarce parking.
This popular new Division Street tasting room showcases the talents of four wineries--Vincent Wine Company, Bow & Arrow Wines, Helioterra Wines and Division Winemaking Company, along with light bites. They also regularly host special events and wine dinners--check their Facebook page for info.
Open early, open late, this relaxed little Division Street charmer is just the place to while away a few hours with a good book, a cup of coffee, and a slice of cherry pie. Or a piece of Delicata squash, bacon, & goat cheese quiche, if you’re the savory type. Or a fresh flaky biscuit with homemade strawberry jam. Or a chocolate banana cream pie slider. Or…
Owner Duane Sorenson spared no expense in gilding this Division Street lily, so beware you don't spend more time admiring the interior's shiny pretty bits and jibblies than studying the menu. Not that you need pore over it too long, pretty much everything will satisfy, particularly the kale salad, housemade orecchiette with pork sausage and cannolo.