Portland is home to a melting pot of different cultures – and the best way to experience it all is through food. Whether you’re craving Thai or Haitian, options abound at some of Portland’s best BIPOC-owned restaurants.
Oma’s Hideaway opened last year on SE Division Street, achieving plenty of praise from locals and travelers alike. This dinner-only joint – affectionately named for the chef’s “Oma” (grandmother), whose photo is printed on the bright-colored menus – serves up eclectic Southeast Asian-inspired fare such as sweet potato dumplings, fish soup, and charcoal-roasted hen. Cap off the feast with some shots: The house jello with passion fruit boba is delicious, as is the pumpkin five-spice pudding.
Owned and operated by Thuy Pham, a former hairstylist, Mama Dút serves up Vietnamese staples with a modern (read: vegan) twist. The restaurant’s name, which translates to “Mama will feed you,” pays homage to Pham’s young daughter, as well as her passion for food and community. The all-vegan menu features an array of flavorful dishes like fried mushroom banh mi, jackfruit bao buns, and ube cinnamon rolls. Just be prepared to wait in line: Come lunchtime, crowds of people flock here to place their orders at the counter.
This Southeast Portland food cart is the brainchild of husband-and-wife duo Ethan & Geri Leung, who operate as chefs and co-owners. At Baon Kainan, the Leungs serve made-from-scratch Filipino cuisine ranging from chicken adobo and veggie Sisig to ube bibingka, an ube-flavored rice cake dish with coconut frosting, and fries with spicy banana ketchup. Plus, its name is especially fitting: “Baon” refers to food taken to work, school, or a journey, while “kainan” translates to “eatery.”
This laid-back establishment from chef Diane Lam is especially beloved by locals for its Cambodian cooking and cocktails. The space – which has neon lighting, pretty pink tiling, a bustling bar, and a greenery-filled outdoor terrace – is just as alluring as the food. Pro tip: Try to snag a seat at the countertop to catch a glimpse of Lam and the rest of her team working their magic by the woks. Menu highlights include catfish spring rolls, lime pepper chicken wings, and Phnom Penh noodles. Save room for the strawberry shortcake, and wash everything down with an espresso martini made with Viet coffee and brown butter rye.
For mouthwatering Thai food plus delicious drinks, look no further than Phuket Café. The restaurant is run by chef and restaurateur Akkapong “Earl” Ninson and acclaimed bartender Eric Nelson. Here, diners can expect everything from curries and rice dishes to crispy rice noodles and whole-fried fish. The striking interiors – featuring pops of pink and green, plant-patterned wallpaper, and a bar area adorned with plants – set the scene for a fun and flavorful meal ahead.
Nico Vergara, best known for his namesake artisanal ice cream shop, opened Nico’s Cantina last month. Located in PDX’s Cully neighborhood, Nico’s Cantina has already become a popular gathering spot amongst locals. Come for the ice-cold Mexican brews – as well as a handful of craft beers from local LatinX-owned businesses – and stay for the tacos and guac.
Helmed by James Beard Award-winning chef Gregory Gourdet (you may also recognize him from Top Chef, for which he was a finalist), Kann is known for its authentic Haitian cuisine and open-fire cooking. While the menu changes seasonally, current offerings include crispy taro root, “coal-kissed” butterfish, twice-cooked pork, peanut-creamed greens, sweet plantains, and Jasmine rice smothered in red kidney bean sauce. Fun fact: The eatery’s name, “cane” in English, is in reference to one of Gourdet’s most beloved childhood memories in Haiti, in which he’d wait for vendors to come by with the sweet snack.
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