Whether you’re a Portland native or just visiting, Alberta street is one of the best spots in town for grabbing a bite or having a refreshing snack. The Alberta Art District is known for hip, casual dining that blends great taste with an attractive, modern presentation and decor. One of the best things about this area is that it provides visitors and locals alike with something new—the level of variety to be found in this area is truly commendable.
This article is going to extend that variety to its limit, with three must-try dining spots that are about as different from one another as possible. Each one is definitely worth trying, though, so take a day or two off, go out and visit all three.
Number One: Salt and Straw
Salt and Straw is one of the more innovative and clever ideas to arrive on the scene in recent memory. While on the surface, the restaurant has the appearance of an upscale ice cream bar, the recipes and combinations they serve are what really makes them stand up above the rest.
Nobody is going to refuse a scoop of vanilla ice cream on a hot day, but at Salt and Straw you can take things several steps further. Enjoy a scoop of Pear & Blue Cheese or Arbequina Olive Oil ice cream in a cup or cone of your choice. One of our favorites is the Strawberry Honey Balsamic with Black Pepper—there is something unexpectedly dazzling about the bold hint of pepper in a summer dessert like this one.
Number Two: The Aviary
The Aviary is a great sit-down spot to enjoy something fresh and unexpected. The restaurant originally hails from New York City, and it brings the eclectic tastes that the region is best known for. Check out the fried chicken skin salad with watermelon, bitter greens and baba ganoush. For a heartier dish, go for the goat curry or the crispy pig ear served over coconut rice. Every dish offers something unusual and presents it in a uniquely delicious way.
To make the most of this locale, get there for Happy Hour and take advantage of the $2.5 oyster deal. House wine is only $5 a glass; this is a place worth becoming a regular at.
Number Three: Gojo
Portland has a surprising number of great Ethiopian restaurants, but between them all, Gojo takes the cake—or in this case, the tafach. This place offers authentic Ethiopian cooking, and the decor shows it. You are encouraged to eat with your hands here. You’ll find, in fact, that no utensils come with any of the dishes, but this is part of what makes it such a genuine experience.
Much of the food at Gojo is vegan, and all of it is exemplary in taste. Try the aterkik litcha (yellow peas served in a thick sauce) or atkilt wot (cabbage, carrots and potatoes served in sauce). If you’re into spicy food, you have a lot to enjoy from Gojo, where traditional spice mixtures are routinely used in the kitchen. As an extra bonus, Gojo’s owner is usually present and happily seats newcomers while explaining the basics of Ethiopian cuisine.
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