1. Gado Gado
1801 NE César E. Chávez Blvd., 503-206-8778, gadogadopdx.com.
The brick-and-mortar home of wildly popular pop-up Gado Gado makes a strong case that Indonesian food is Portland's next big cuisine. The radiant spices and displays of complementary textures remain dazzling—see the beef rendang, a simmering heap of coconut-braised beef paired with aromatic rice and a side of zesty sambal. It's a simple dish that's packed with flavor and damn-near perfect.
1414 SE Morrison St., fermenterpdx.com.
The food at this vegan lunch spot is uniformly excellent—not just "good for vegan food" but good no matter what you choose to eat for the rest of your day. The counter offers a prix fixe three-course lunch for $23 that changes daily. On a recent visit, that included a cucumber, tomato and nasturtium cold dish layered over hazelnut nepetella yogurt, followed by a slice of the best tempeh in town, served over quinoa and corn. Put simply, Fermenter rules. And yes, it's vegan. No asterisk required.
Read the full review: With Fermenter, Chef Aaron Adams Changes the Game for Vegan Food in Portland—Again
3. Lovely Rita
15 NW 4th Ave.
The ground-floor restaurant at Old Town boutique hotel the Hoxton got a reboot last week—out with the upscale Mexican fare, in with Pacific Northwest-influenced bistro food. We were unimpressed with the place when it opened as La Neta, but the menu sounds promising, whose early dishes include grain bowls, a Dungeness crab sandwich, and Kusshi oysters with melon mignonette.
2525 SE Clinton St., 503-395-8542, magnapdx.com.
Oh, it's on now. After multiple setbacks—including a full relocation, from Cully to Clinton—one of Portland's first major Filipino restaurants is finally open. Chef Carlo Lamagna has been teasing the public for months with an Instagram page full of tantalizing images of adobos and bibingka, but it's not just food porn—anyone who's attended his Twisted Filipino Dinner Series knows his stuff tastes as good as it looks.
4611 E Burnside St., 503-206-5916, wajanpdx.com.
"Selamat Makan," reads the sign in the flamboyantly decorated dining room at this Indonesian newcomer, a phrase that translates to "bon appétit." For the uninitiated, an order of nasi campur or nasi uduk sampler plates is a must. Those ready for the advanced course have plenty of options; a starter of rujak serut should be mandatory. Raw fruits and vegetables are anointed with palm sugar syrup and ground peanuts for an all-compass-point ensemble of sweet, tart, soft and crunchy. It's one of the standout local dishes of the year.