By Meg Asby, Tiffany Hill and Denise Castañon
Families with kids 5 to 11 years old may be feeling more comfortable about dining out these days. But we predict takeout meals will still be a go-to for many families. Maybe you need an idea for a special meal to celebrate a birthday kid, or want to switch up your normal takeout routine — or it’s Thursday and you just can’t stand the thought of cooking dinner again. We’ve got you covered. WalletHub recently ranked Portland as the best foodie city in America, and this roundup of 14 restaurants and carts that lists fresh and tasty to-go options across a wide range of cuisines shows how we got there. So get ready to dig in!
For an Entree:
$ Less than $10
$$ Between $10-$20
$$$ More than $20
GF Gluten-free options
VG Vegan options
There is great pizza to be had all over Portland, but Pizza Thief is poised to steal the top spot. They won’t split flavors on their NY style pies, but — even better — you can buy any pizza on the menu by the slice, which is perfect for families like mine who want to try it all. The creamy Wildwood with generous mushrooms was the best slice we tried, and my son was blown away by the sauce-to-cheese ratio: “The cheese doesn’t slide off when you take a bite!” Plus their rye-dough hand pies prove that they’ve mastered more than one type of crust. — M.A.
2610 NW Vaughn St.
Your kids may have never had a double chocolate melon pan, honey-sesame doughnut or vanilla cornet before, but after trying these delightful and subtly sweet Japanese pastries at Oyatsupan Bakers, they’re sure to become fans. The melon pan with its crisp, sable-cookie topping, reminded me of Mexican pan dulce. But these lighter Japanese sweet buns that come in several flavors are stuffed with pastry cream to boot. My daughter adored the cute cornet filled with chocolate cream and topped with candy googly eyes while my son devoured his cinnamon cream doughnut before I even had a chance to taste it. (Sandwiches and savory baked goods are available, too.) — D.C.
16025 SW Regatta Ln., Beaverton
If the name of your food cart is Jojo, then you better deliver when it comes to fried potato wedges. And Jojo does. My whole family raved over the seasoned potatoes. But the hefty fried-chicken sandwiches are the real reason to visit the cart. The chicken bacon ranch sandwich hits the spot. And if you like your chicken pleasantly spicy, don’t be afraid to make your sandwich “Nashville hot”— it won’t be an over-the-top, mouth-burning hot. Definitely order a side of fried Brussels sprouts topped with Crystal hot sauce and honey. Pro tip: The “little cheeseburger” is the perfect size for kids. — D.C.
3582 SE Powell Blvd.,
At Mama Dút, slow-cooked jackfruit and “chicken-fried” oyster mushrooms take the place of pork and chicken in banh mi sandwiches, bao buns and more. For proprietor and mom Thuy Pham, bringing Vietnamese cuisine back to its vegetarian roots is extremely personal — and luckily for Portland’s vegan families — extremely delicious. Pro tip: Don’t miss the pretty vegan cupcakes, whoopie pies and other desserts. — D.C.
1414 SE Morrison St.
Like much of Portland’s dining scene, many local sushi restaurants adapted to takeout over the course of the pandemic. And thank goodness. A favorite of the PDX Parent staff is Sushi Mazi on SE Division. This cozy restaurant offers classic and modern sushi rolls and Japanese standards like gyoza, tempura veggies and miso soup. For burgeoning sushi fans, there’s everything from the standard veggie or California rolls to the adventurous White Pearl Roll with creamy scallop, avocado and cucumber and topped with seared black-pepper tuna. (Sushi Mazi also has a great selection of nigiri and sashimi.) If your kids don’t like fish, order them the chicken teriyaki or the chicken katsu bowl. — T.H.
2126 SE Division St.
Birria may be one of the latest Mexican food trends on social media, but for the folks at Birrieria La Plaza in east Portland, it’s a family tradition going back to the 1960s. This fire-engine red food cart doles out our favorite birria tacos, filled with juicy, slow-simmered beef and encased in crunchy, cheesy corn tortillas. It’s the perfect vehicle to dip into the seasoned broth known as consome. If you want to truly experience birria — and the genius of Birrieria La Plaza — try the Plaza Plate, which includes a taco, mulita, tostada, quesadilla and a small cup of consome. For the pickiest of eaters, there’s even a plain cheese quesadilla. — T.H.
600 SE 146th Ave.
For fresh, house-made pasta, look no further than Gumba on Alberta. Upon picking up our order, we immediately noticed the stylish interior. Take note, this is a great date-night spot. Gumba has a rotating menu and its pasta, perfectly al dente, comes in portions that are great for sharing or leftovers. The Pappardelle is a great option for younger palates and is made with the most tender braised beef, breadcrumbs and Pecorino cheese. Pro tip: For kids who wanna skip the pomp, Gumba makes butter-Parmesan noodles upon request. Another standout for us was the frybread. Neapolitan style, it’s crispy on the edges, chewy in the middle and topped with Parmesan cheese. This was the best bread we’ve had all year. Get more than one order, because you will fight over it. And don’t miss dessert: We loved the cannoli, filled with whipped cream, chocolate and Butterfinger. Better order more than one of those, too. — T.H.
1733 NE Alberta St.
At 24th and Meatballs, the love for hearty, round balls of tender beef, chicken and pork is all in the name. And meatballs are what they do best. From the standout Costanza, a hefty sub made with three chicken-Parmesan meatballs and slathered in cheesy sauce to Nonna’s Special, with three traditional Italian meatballs atop spaghetti with tomato sauce. And vegan families rejoice. There are vegan meatball options, for both sandwiches and pizza. (You can also opt to build your own creation.) This Northeast joint also serves East Coast-style pizza — by the slice or whole pie — with thin, chewy crusts. With all these options, it’s the ideal choose-your-own-mealtime adventure for everyone in the family. — T.H.
2341 NE Glisan St.
Get those pinkies up as you sample the dainty sandwiches and pastries from Lovejoy’s Tea Room of Portland. A seasonal selection of tea sandwiches and salads, crumpets with lemon curd, sweet pastries and more come in the RoyalTEA, which will sate hearty appetites. And for the scaled down Royal Wee Tea, children 12 and under get a choice of kid-pleasing sandwiches such as Nutella and strawberries, or cream cheese and jelly. (And hey, no crusts!) Available for pickup or in-person dining. — D.C.
3286 NE Killingsworth St.
For years, my daughter and I spent “Thursdays with Mama” at The Daily Feast, a charming downtown diner. Beyond the menu full of kid-friendly home runs, it’s the staff that makes the magic. We’re always greeted warmly, often hugged (pre-pandemic) and asked about our lives. Children will love the greek-yogurt parfait, burgers and fries, pancakes, cheesy scramble, and, of course, the flavored hot cocoa. I recommend the chorizo breakfast burrito and roasted sweet potato salad. If you’re not ready to sit at the counter yet, the magic still translates through the takeout window. Come for the made-from-scratch food, come back for the people. — M.A.
837 SW 11th Ave.
We are new fans of Toki, a Korean restaurant downtown, brought to you by the team at Han Oak. Ordering brunch online is a breeze, and pickup is quick and easy. My kids are crazy for the steamed bao burger; if you’ve got cheeseburger fans in the house, this is a sure winner. For kids with a sweet tooth (all kids?), try the sweet sesame and walnut hodduk or the donut flight. The fried chicken sando with spicy chili oil is a burst of umami and texture perfection, and my husband and I devoured the kids’ leftovers. My daughter’s take? “Best. Brunch. Ever.” — M.A.
580 SW 12th Ave.
When we picked up evening takeout at Lil’ Shalom, a downtown Mediterranean restaurant, there were no other families with kids, but the atmosphere was casual and we felt welcome. My tweens ate their weight in pita bread and hummus with wild mushrooms, declaring the topping the best they’d ever tasted. Everyone in our family loved the crispy chicken schnitzel pita, but the flavor-packed lil’ shalomie beef and lamb burger was a close second. The Hawaij-spiced fries are sure to be a kid favorite, or the mezze-style shalom y’all plate for children who don’t want their food to touch. — M.A.
1128 SW Alder St.,
Deep-fried potato-cheese tacos. Those words alone might be enough to persuade your family to try the Little Conejo food cart at the Prost! Marketplace. But don’t skip the insanely good brisket tacos and tortas either. And for kids who just want a quesadilla, or beans and rice, they’ve got that, too. — D.C.
4233 N Mississippi Ave.
You’ll find a wide variety of Indian and Pakistani favorites at Silsila the Flaming Tandoor. Staffer Jill Weisensee says her boys love the rich, flavorful butter chicken, the marinated, tandoor-baked chicken, rice and naan flatbread. Bonus: There’s naan for every taste including garlic, green chile-stuffed, spinach and cheese, and plain. Vegetarians will rejoice over the long list of vegetarian and vegan curries. — D.C.
819 N Killingsworth St.,