Despite the influx of hip new restaurant and business tenants in the past few years, the Willamette waterfront-hugging inner Southeast industrial district has retained its pleasantly gritty edges, and while I wouldn't run up and down the railroad tracks in the wee hours of the morning waving my wallet around, most hours of the day it's a charismatic place to hang out with friends and take advantage of the diverse culinary offerings. You'll find everything from micro-roasted craft coffee and expertly-mixed gimlets to Korean fried chicken to quite possibly the best pancakes ever, with some bottle-conditioned beers, bacon jalapeño mac 'n cheese, and live bands in between.
Sheridan's has a great meat counter, with a serious selection of housemade sausages, but I admit I'm most enchanted by their bulk bins. They just keep going and going...and you can find pretty much anything in there.
If you aren't already, definitely get acquainted with this hidden SE industrial gem's beautiful patio and happy hour s--from 4-7pm daily, you can get $5 cocktails du jour, $4 nachos, and $8 poutine.
Montage holds a special place in most drinking Portlanders' hearts--after all, what more do you want after a night of boozy excess than a huge bowl of hot spicy Cajun gravy mac 'n cheese or chicken and andouille gumbo? The slightly spooky aura, down 'n out location, and occasionally taciturn staff only add to the charm. Late hours are much appreciated--til 2am on weekdays, 4am on weekends.
With its low ceilings, flickery votives everywhere and intimate loft-like ambiance, this is one of the sexiest dining rooms in the city. They also mix A+ cocktails and have one of the best happy hours around--$5 gimlets and lots of tasty snacks for $6 and under. Which makes it a sexy AND very affordable date night if you go before 6:30pm.
With the same happy go lucky spirit and enormous sandwiches as its brother restaurant up the way, this popular bar is a destination for all manner of cool kids and industry types. No wonder, they've got pretty much every drink option you could want, live music almost every night, and brunch on the weekends. Plus, pinball.
This is the perfect spot to stop pre- or post-bike ride along the Esplanade, for an excellent espresso and flaky Nuvrei chocolate croissant.
A tiny bubble-sized space in the inner Southeast’s hip Olympic Mills Building, this bar is all about the champagne, with more than 50 champagnes and sparkling wines by the bottle and a half dozen diverse glass pours. Food selection is minimal, so plan to sup at a nearby eatery like clarklewis or Olympic Provisions.
I don't know what's more lovable at this bustling ramen restaurant, the tasty food or the delightful owners, but either way, it's a hit. Love the Brussels sprouts salad and the miso black cod ramen, and of course, the housemade twinkies. Go Thursday nights for the Korean Fried Chicken, aka Boke Bird.
This cozy little brick-walled annex of Bistro Montage is a perfect hidey hole in which to have a bottle of champagne and a few crawfish hushpuppies. Try and make it for happy hour--daily 5 to 6pm.
Portlanders don't lack for a wide variety of exceptional brunches, but the weekend morning fare at this charcuterie palace takes the cake. The pancake, to be exact. The feathery light house pancakes are nothing short of ethereal, and the dab of orange butter on top coupled with the absence of a grueling wait might have you seeing OP's brunch exclusively.
Hidden deep in the inner SE industrial district, this fun spot serves strong, beautifully-crafted beers with straightforward names (I'm fond of Fred, myself). Beware the cumulative effect of the beguiling 3-oz tasters...
This supercafeteria boasts nearly 10,000 square feet and river views that could command big dollar signs, but thankfully, lunch tends to top out at around $10 a person. Since this is OMSI, there are also neat special features, like educational wall art, pop up mini carts, happy hour before OMSI After Dark, and special exhibits. When the weather improves, there will be lots of patio space too, and Sunday brunch.