Dining: Downtown Portland
4 Essential Downtown Portland Restaurants
Dining in Downtown Portland
Whether you're visiting, recently relocated, or even a native Portlander (yes, we do exist), you need a "goto" list for every occasion. Nel Centro, Higgins and Departures are three Downtown restaurants that are some of the most emblematic of Portland’s food culture, and El Gaucho is just simply worth the visit. Obviously one cannot "know" the depth and breadth of Portland's commitment to world-class cuisine by visiting only four restaurants, so for those interested in the city's many other culinary offerings, you need only stay tuned for more.
Award-winning chef and restaurateur David Machado takes his inspiration from the Riviera for one of his most popular restaurants, Nel Centro. Conveniently located near the Keller Auditorium, Nel Centro is in the Hotel Modera and caters to a variety of tastes, from little sliders to the most elaborate French dessert pastries to gorgeous dishes of root vegetables or calamari. Breakfast, lunch, Happy Hour, dinner and bar food are all represented on its expansive menus, backed by an aesthetic none can beat: Italian marble, blown-glass lights, huge windows and a beautiful outdoor patio.
Higgins Restaurant and Bar is a popular option for those headed to or coming from the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall – fondly known in Portland as the Schnitz. Making the most of the Willamette Valley’s incredible range of veggies, berries, mushrooms and more, Higgins renown for its farm to table fare.
Whether you're people watching in the main dining room or enjoying an ale in the bar, think charcuterie boards, salmon salad sandwiches, stew, mushroom risotto and more. Enjoy it before a show or just for its own sake.
Located in luxury hotel The Nines, Departure Restaurant + Lounge juxtaposes its historic roots in the Meier & Frank Building with an ultra-modern interior for a truly unique dining experience. Departure is nothing less than a nexus of Portland's classic past and a glimpse into the city's future.
As for its fare, Departure combines classic sushi, dim sum, stir-fry and more for a pan-Asian flair with American touches. The menu offers up rice and seafood as well as more unexpected dishes such as Brussels sprouts with chili, lime and mint.
Another excellent restaurant nested within the storied Benson Hotel, El Gaucho brings the tunes and tastes of Southern Spain to Downtown Portland. With live flamenco guitar seven nights a week and delicious seafood, steaks, salads, wines and desserts, El Gaucho is certainly on our must-visit list.