Kudos to the gourmet sandwich craze for bringing us a place like Lardo. While it may not have been first on the scene, for my money, it may be the best– sandwiches like the Pork Meatball Bahn Mi and the Chickpea with yogurt sauce can hardly be considered in the same category as the meat between bread variety. What sets Lardo apart? For starters, super fresh ingredients and it doesn’t hurt that the owner is a legitimate chef who has worked in some of the best restaurants on the East and West Coast. A former food cart, Lardo’s new digs on the corner of 12th and Hawthorne provide plenty of indoor and outdoor space. The patio has a beer garden feel with picnic tables and is a nice change from your typical hole in the wall sandwich shop. As if there weren’t already enough reasons to visit, Lardo offers 14 beers on tap and delicious craft cocktails. Open Tuesday- Sunday until midnight, it’s a great late night dining option, which in Portland is like finding the holy grail.
Luce on Portland’s East Burnside Street has been thrust into the spotlight after being named one of Bon Appetit’s best new restaurants in the country and I’m happy to say it lives up to the hype. There’s no doubt the recent attention has rocked the small space– waits can be up to two hours and the restaurant seems understaffed, but the experience transports you to a market in Italy and it’s charming. Exquisitely prepared dishes like farfalle with squash blossoms and simple grilled hanger steak are what Italian food should be– flavorful thanks to excellent ingredients but not heavy. Don’t miss the delicious, crisp homemade focaccia bread to start and the “choose your own” antipasti platter. This restaurant is not fancy—think paper napkins and wine in glass tumblers. Unless you get there before 6– expect a massive wait, but luckily the restaurant has a wine bar next door.
I must admit, I did a bit of a double take when I saw this industrial-chic new storefront on the corner of SE Stark and 28th. Long a coffee shop, the small spot had a new flat black paint job and slick block lettering. The appearance alone was enough to peak my interest but when I found out newly opened Canteen served fresh juice and gourmet vegan I was even more excited. This food cart turned brick and mortar is exactly what Portland’s lunch scene needs– delicious, healthy food served in a crisp-mod setting. The simple, clean, white interior with bistro tables and wooden counter tops just makes you want to sit and eat. The food which includes smoothies, juices, bowls and salads is awesome. Don’t miss the Portland bowl– quinoa, kale, maple tempeh and hazelnuts and the Verde juice (pure health in a glass). Canteen also serves beer and wine and is open into the evening.