Why did we decide to do a family dining guide? Because we love
eating writing about food. And Portland’s legendary restaurant scene is not just for kidless 20-somethings. Family-friendly options abound in every quadrant for every type of cuisine imaginable. So whether you’re craving perfect croissants, off-the-wall pizza or comforting soup dumplings — we’ve got you covered.
[Peanut Gallery] Vegan and gluten-intolerant families searching for a fresh option for lunch or dinner out will dig Akadi’s bright and accessible take on West African classics. The menu, envisioned and executed by Chef Fatou, emphasizes traditional stews and soups, served up with rice or a side of fufu — a starchy, mellow cooked dough that fits well into little hands and pairs perfectly with the bigger flavors of the soups and entrees. Several of Akadi’s signature dishes incorporate or riff on kid-approved ingredients, rendering novel presentations and flavors accessible to young palates. Our tried-and-true kid picks: fried cassava sticks (they look like french fries!), and the peanut-butter stew, available with beef or chicken. — E.J.B.
3601 NE Martin Luther King Jr Blvd. akadipdx.com. $-$$ GF VG
[Conscious Snacking] When it comes to confections with a conscience, nobody beats Alma Chocolate, whose treats and sweets emphasize responsibly grown, traded and finished ingredients, locally sourced when possible (cacao — the star of the show — can’t abide our temperate climate). In store, try their insanely creamy drinking chocolate and buttery cookies. (Pro tip: Flourless options are available and awesome.) Then grab a few items to go; stockpiled Alma goodies make for great last-minute birthday gifts. (Pro tip: Do not store them in plain sight.) Our faves: the chocolate bars, which come bursting with crunchy almonds and hazelnuts, salty toffee or peanut butter; or the bon bon boxes. The packaging’s so pretty, you can forego wrapping paper — how’s that for sustainable? — E.J.B.
140 NE 28th Ave. almachocolate.com. $-$$ GF VG
[Aloha Flavor] Go to Ate-oh-Ate and you’ll be hooked on their perfectly charred teriyaki chicken. (Seriously, two out-of-towners I’ve taken there have described it as “the best teriyaki chicken I’ve ever had.”) My 4-year-old can pack away a kids’ teriyaki plate like nobody’s business. But don’t miss their generous plates of katsu chicken, kalua pig, beef short ribs or happy hour burger, either. The sides hit the mark, too — the creamy miso-sesame dressing for the green salad is addictive, and the macaroni salad is deliciously peppery. This order-at-the-counter joint helps put you into an island-time frame of mind with vintage surf videos playing on the TVs (oh, Kelly Slater), surfboards on the ceiling and umbrellas in the drinks. Pro tip: My kids love the non-alcoholic P.O.G. juice that comes garnished with pineapple, lime and a cherry. — D.C.
5200 SE Woodstock Blvd. and 2452 E Burnside St. ate-oh-ate.com. $-$$ VG
[Northwest Noshing] Hot on the heels of Kenny and Zuke’s filing for bankruptcy, PDX welcomes Beetroot Market & Deli to our city’s Jewish delicatessen scene. Beetroot serves up seasonally shifting deli classics with PNW flair, and this spot scores points as a quicker-than-a-restaurant weekend breakfast option offering kid-approved staples like bagels and schmear, house-made pastries and granola bowls. And, forget the Whole Foods counter: Takeaway options like classic deli salads, matzo ball soup and half-sour pickles also make this a great place for grabbing a quick-but-still-impressive shareable dish on your way to that social gathering you definitely didn’t have time to cook anything for. — E.J.B.
1639 NW Glisan St. beetrootmarketanddeli.com. $-$$
[(Cup)cake Walk] It’s a feast for the senses at Fat Cupcake, where fragrant, beautiful and edible works of art are baked up daily on a rotating menu at three Southeast locations. More than 15 signature cupcake styles pair classic frosting flavors (think: vanilla, caramel, lemon and chocolate buttercream) and standard cake flavors (white, chocolate, marble, champagne) with specialty adornments like Nutella, cinnamon sugar and sea salt. Feeling particularly celebratory (or just really hungry)? Order the Fat Cupcake — a ginormous, ornately frosted cupcake that serves eight. A smaller line of gluten-friendly, vegan cupcakes is also available. Pro tip: Call ahead for current menu and specialty orders. — E.J.B.
19273 Molalla Ave., Oregon City; 6011 SE 72nd Ave., Portland; and 13203 172nd Ave. Suite 170, Happy Valley. fatcupcake.com. $ GF VG
[Noodles That Rock] There’s just something about Grassa that keeps us coming back. Sure, there’s the hearty Sunday Pork Ragú or Carbonara studded with chunks of pancetta, both with pasta made in front of your eyes. Or the rotating list of seasonal veggie sides that shouldn’t be overlooked. Or the fact that the kids need no prompting whatsoever to scarf down the spaghetti and meatballs, mac ‘n’ cheese, or plain buttered noodles on the kids’ menu. But it’s also something about the vibe of the place. With the rock blasting from the speakers and the cool, kidless people who are sitting right next to you at the long tables and eyeing you somewhat apprehensively, it makes you fondly remember the time when you cared about being cool — and laugh a little. Because even though you’ve got red sauce smeared on your sleeve where your kid gave you a hearty smooch, you don’t care. And not caring whether people think you are cool or not? That’s as rock ‘n’ roll as it gets. — D.C.
1205 SW Washington St. and 1506 NW 23rd Ave. With a new
SE Hawthorne location slated to open soon. grassapdx.com. $-$$
[Go Nuts for Doughnuts] Warm, fresh doughnuts — they’re not just for breakfast! Celebrate the flavors of fall with a plateful of fresh-made mutabaq/mandazi — the African pumpkin doughnut holes served up daily at Horn of Africa, a long-lived MLK restaurant. The doughnuts (or beignets, if you please) showcase the talents of Mohamed and Khadija, who’ve been cooking up Northeast African favorites for their fellow Portlanders for decades. Beyond the sweets, the restaurant offers dinners and an eclectic lunch buffet. But back to the doughnuts: These tasty little nuggets are made with love, plus just the right amount of sugar, spice and everything nice. — E.J.B.
5237 NE Martin Luther King Blvd. hornofafrica.net. $-$$
[Kids in Bars]
Sate your nostalgia for those long-and-lackadaisical pre-kid happy hours at Jinx Bar & Restaurant, which offers New Orleans-inspired grub, an entire pinball room, and some of the family-friendliest service we’ve seen at a bar-style eatery in Portland. (Minors welcome until 8 pm.) The kid’s burger comes beautifully plated, the fries are addictive, the drinks are strong and the vegetarian/vegan menu options are generous. The cherry on top? Attentive and helpful servers sympathetic to the pitfalls and pratfalls of dining out with littles. Pro tip: Don’t forget your quarters for pinball! — E.J.B.
3000 NE Killingsworth St. jinxpdx.com. $$, VG
[Tea Time] Portland has an unapologetically casual dress code, but it’s fun to get gussied up sometimes, and the kid-friendly tea service at Lovejoy’s Tearoom of Portland offers the perfect pretense. Prepare for lace and doilies galore, plus a grand array of high tea snacks. (Pro tip: Reserve ahead and come hungry!) Sandwich fillings range from turkey chutney to cucumber and cream cheese, and dainty desserts include scones and petit fours. (Pro tip: Ask ahead for GF and vegan options.) For grown-ups, we recommend the Queen’s Tea, with its two sandwiches and assorted sweet-and-savory sides; a Wee Tea is perfect for littler ones. And tea-skeptical kids will go wild for the chocolate truffle tea with sugar and cream. — E.J.B.
3286 NE Killingsworth St. lovejoysportland.com. Reservations recommended. $$-$$$ GF VG
Think of Memoz Dessert Cafe as a Cold Stone Creamery for baked goods. You’ll be presented with a list of doughs and batters, and a dizzying amount of mix-ins and toppings options to create a custom dessert that’s baked in about 2 minutes. We tried several variations and liked the brownie and tartlet bases the best. Are there superior desserts in the Portland area? Yes. But the kids absolutely loved dreaming up their own creations and picking things like mint or cinnamon chips. Pro tip: The Baked Alaska topping is impressive, tasty and totally worth the extra
cost! — D.C.
3494 N Williams Ave. memozcafe.com. $
[Curry Favor] Indian food is something I don’t really know how to cook (with the exception of Instant Pot butter chicken), so my kids aren’t huge fans (yet!). But I know enough about the cuisine to know that the wonderfully balanced flavors at Open Tandoor are the real deal. Start with the spicy veggie pakoras, which come with absolutely delightful mint and tamarind chutneys at this order-at-the-counter fast casual spot. Move on to the saag paneer or butter chicken, and finish up your meal with a mango ice cream. (The kids’ plate comes with a drink, rice, a choice of naan, and chicken tikka or channa masala. And if your kids only eat the naan, then there’s just more food for you to enjoy.) — D.C.
4311 N Williams Ave. opentandoor.com. $$ GF VG
[Books and Brews] Got a tween whose nose is perpetually stuck in a book? Pack them (and their latest YA novel) off to the Rose City Book Pub for an afternoon reading date. This cozy pub/used book store is stuffed to the gills with reading material and comfy nooks, offering the perfect drizzly day family-date vibes. In a dedicated kids’ corner, old suitcases overflow with titles new and old for readers of every level, from toddler to tween, and browsing is encouraged. Pro tip: Skip the basic kids’ menu and opt for fun, shareable appetizers like ants on a log, cheese and crackers, or charcuterie. Full meals, from roast chicken to chopped salad, are also available, plus, of course, plenty of beer and wine. — E.J.B.
1329 NE Fremont St. rosecitybookpub.com. $-$$
[Cute + Tasty] Your kids will almost find the googly-eye adorned baked goods at Soro Soro Coffee & Dessert too cute to eat. But they’ll be rewarded for digging into the precious pastries. A bite of the chocolate cheesecake prompted my daughter to exclaim, “This is the best cheesecake I’ve ever had!” Don’t miss the colorful and subtly sweet rainbow cake or the peanut crumble. The relaxed vibe of the shop was a hit, too. We loved hearing languages other than English being spoken at this Korean-American-owned shop. Pro tip: Be prepared to become acquainted with the shop’s other customers if you order the snow affogato! Watching someone pour espresso on the mountain of cotton candy becomes a communal event. — D.C.
2250 E Burnside St. https://www.loc8nearme.com/oregon/portland/soro-soro-coffee-and-dessert/5259584/
503-265-8236. $ GF
[Small Plates for Small Fry] At first thought, John Gorham’s newest restaurant in the Tasty empire, Tasty n Daughters, might not seem very kid-welcoming. But consider that brunch and dinner at Tasty n Daughters revolve around family-style meals where plates of cumin-spiked yams, housemade pasta with basil pistou, and those chocolate-potato doughnuts are meant to be passed around the table — so of course kids are welcome. And if your kid’s not interested in sharing dishes, they’ve got a kids’ menu including a plain burger and fries, and mac ‘n’ cheese. (And seriously, it’s the most delicious “kids’” mac around.) They even dole out oh-so-PNW coloring sheets featuring salmon, bicycles and blackberries. — D.C.
4537 SE Division St. tastyndaughters.com. Reservations or walk-in. $$-$$$
[Get Twisted] Perfection takes time! That’s a truism baked into the DNA of Twisted Croissant, whose buttery-beautiful croissants require a three-day mixing, fermenting and baking process. Twisted Croissant began its life as a Saturday-morning staple at farmers markets around Portland metro, but now they’ve expanded their reach with a flagship brick-and-mortar bakery. Seating is sparse, but it’s a great stop off should the littles fancy a pain au chocolat or Morning Glory Cruff Puff during the long, rainy market off-season. And if you prefer your baked goods with a side of fresh air, don’t despair; the owners have no plans to abandon their bustling market trade when the season starts up again. — E.J.B.
2129 NE Broadway St. twistedcroissant.com. $
[Seafood, See the View] There are two good reasons to head to WildFin American Grill on Vancouver’s newly retooled waterfront: The food and the view. After just one trip, my 4-year-old kept asking to go back for fish and chips. (He talked it up so much, he got his grandparents to take him for lunch.) Pro tip: The kids’ fruit cup is the most impressive we’ve come across! And if the kids’ menu hits the mark for taste, you know the food for grown-ups is going to be on point, too. And Wildfin does that with a focus on local and fresh, offering (sustainable) grilled sockeye salmon, Pacfic prawns, Oregon coast Dover sole, and seasonal salads featuring Washington apples, pears and figs. And then there are the floor-to-ceiling windows that provide a beguiling eyeful of the Columbia River and the cable-stayed pier. Pro tip: With a large dining room, this restaurant can easily accommodate sizable parties, making it a prime spot for a big, celebratory meal. — D.C.
777 Waterfront Way, Suite 101, Vancouver, Washington.
wildfinamericangrill.com. Reservations recommended. $$-$$$, GF
[Soup’s In] Soup dumplings may be the world’s greatest comfort food — especially during our drab, gray winters. And at XLB, the dumplings, which burst a hot rush of ginger- and garlic-laced pork broth when you bite into them, can light up your winter like few other dishes can. But don’t miss the garlicky eggplant with tofu or the soy-soaked pickles (which my kids especially liked), either. Pro tip: If you are going for dinner, get there a little before the doors open at 5 pm to avoid a long wait. — D.C.
4090 N Williams Ave. xlbpdx.com. $-$$ VG
[Pizza a-go-go] Did someone say hot-dog pizza? Zapapizza sure did! This new St. Johns pizzeria, dreamed up by the creator of Burnside Street’s beloved Mi Mero Mole, serves up south-of-the-border-inspired pizza with a thick pan crust. Avocado, potato, cactus? Yes, these topping choices might strike kids as novel, but the tastes are also classic-adjacent enough to please the palates of more adventurous young eaters. If your kids are partial to pepperoni, order the salchicha pie. If they clamor for alfredo, try the sour cream sauce or add a bit of queso fresco on top. If all else fails, pepperoni, pineapple and other tried-and-true pie toppings are available. — E.J.B.
503 W Burnside St. zapapizzapdx.com. $$
Hopworks Urban Brewery, Laurelwood Brewery and Public House and Oregon Public House — the elder statesmen of Portland’s family-friendly pub scene — have lasted so long and inspired so many spin-offs because they know a universal parenting truth: People with kids want to get out of the house, eat some food that someone else cooked, and maybe even enjoy a malty ale, too. And these places make it easy for all of those things to happen by being exceptionally kid-accommodating. They’ve got play areas. And high chairs. And their kids’ menus balance things that children will actually eat with the healthy things that they should eat. Thanks guys, keep up the good work. — D.C.
Allergy Kids, Rejoice
Move over, gluey penne and mealy muffins — kids with allergies are spoiled for choice when dining out in Portland these days. If your wheat-sensitive kid is craving some classic fish and chips, check out the Hawthorne and Corbett Fish Houses, which pay homage to the traditional Midwestern fish fry with their light-and-delicious brown-rice-flour breading and high-quality rice-bran oil. Are you a parent who needs to double-check? Roll up to the Cruise In Country Diner in Hillsboro, a classic ’50s burger joint that keeps a book of labels and ingredients lists on hand and serves GF hamburger buns, chicken strips, fries and desserts. If your littles have wildly divergent food requirements (Kid No. 1 eats only meat, Kid No. 2 hates meat, Kid No. 3 can’t tolerate dairy, etc.), opt for Verde Cocina: All three locations are entirely gluten-free and serve Mexican dishes catering to paleo, vegan, vegetarian and omnivore diets. Those living with Celiac disease eat worry-free at Ground Breaker Brewing, a completely gluten-free brewery and gastropub that takes seriously its mission of serving high-quality, strictly GF beers and pub fare and offers an eclectic kids’ menu. Dairy-sensitive kids eat safely at Hawthorne Boulevard’s Harlow, whose kitchen is completely gluten-free and almost entirely dairy-free, too, minus the butter in just a few dishes. (Pro tip: The vegan mac ‘n’ cheese is so good, it occasionally sends moms-to-be into labor. Ask us how we know!) — E.J.B.
Out-of-towners marvel at our food-cart pod scene. And it is a wonder. Especially for parents. Most pods we know are super family-friendly, offering room for kids to roam and a variety of eats for a wide range of tastes. At the Portland Mercado, a grouping of Latin-themed carts voted multiple times as winner for favorite family-friendly pod in our reader poll, your kiddos can get a plain bean-and-cheese burrito from Fernado’s Alegría while you chow down on the satisfyingly crunchy and melty Cubano sandwich from Que Bolá? Or share a massive tlayuda from Tierra Del Sol. (We also love the family-friendly community events held at the space!) Over on SE Division and 50th, The Lot at Scout Beer provides a home to the deliciously healthy Garden Monsters, which serves wraps and huge bowls of customizable salads, and the kid-pleasing Smaaken Waffle Sandwiches among others. (The Lot also has a small play area for kids.) For more beer and carts, Level Beer in outer Northeast sports a big and airy covered seating area and well-stocked play area. The kids will dig a Plain Jane Dog from Bam Pow! Burgers and you might dig into a chicken shawarma wrap from Gyro King. On the westside, families love The French Quarter in Multnomah Village. From scallop nigiri to the vegan Lime Green roll, Yoshi’s Sushi Portland dishes up fresh sushi from a former Bamboo Sushi chef. And The Cluck Truck offers a Nashville-style hot chicken sandwich and kid-satisfying chicken tenders and fries. — D.C.
New Restaurant Spotlight Yonder
In Cully, Yonder’s kitchen of Southern delights earned the endorsement of this month’s cover family — Lisa Leslie, Chris Fitzgibbon, and their two littles: Elias Nault, almost 11, and Lucia Fitzgibbon, almost 2.
Friendly staff, a diverse menu and all-day drinks make this a great brunch option for hungry PDX families, they say.
When you’ve got a tween and a toddler in tow, it gets tricky finding a restaurant that pleases everybody, admits Leslie, but a menu bursting with biscuits, chicken and waffles helps, and if your kids are adventurous eaters like hers, even better.
Fitzgibbon, Kentucky-born and serious about his Southern grub, fancied the fried chicken — dark leg and thigh pieces, mind you, dipped and not breaded — and the bacon-studded braised collard greens, which he described as “tender and delightful.”
Eli also approved of the chicken — “salty and crispy and good” — served up with a side of buttermilk pancakes and huckleberry biscuits.
For a lighter take on Southern staples, Leslie recommends Yonder’s oh-so-pretty Big Brunch Salad: “It had edible flowers over the top, which added an extra splash of color,” she says. “It was delicious and full of flavor. It was filling, and I would definitely eat it again. Even my toddler enjoyed it!”
In addition to a generous brunch menu, Yonder features a build-your-own “Meat & Three” dinner offering fried chicken, catfish or oyster mushrooms, paired with classic Southern sides like greens, slaws, cornbread and, yup, biscuits.
Of course, the standard bearer of quality in any Southern restaurant is its sweet tea. On this count, too, Yonder delivered.
“We could have drank that tea all day,” says Leslie. — E.J.B.
4636 NE 42nd Ave. yonderpdx.com. $$