Top 10 Portland eateries worth waiting in line for


Whether longtime locals like it or not, Portland has a number of charming characteristics that continue to draw outsiders in—food options being a major one. Whether you're seeking Southeast Asian cuisine or good ole' southern comfort dishes, you'll find the right place to dine in Portland. But you'll likely have to follow the line to get inside.

See, with an ever-present desire to indulge in all things unique, Portlanders don't mind wrapping around a restaurant's building for inventive meals (especially on a breezy, sunny day). And while there are plenty of nearly line-free culinary delights in town, if you can calm your growling stomach for 30 minutes to an hour (or two, depending on the place), a few gems are well worth waiting in line for. Here are our top 10 picks, rated in descending order based on online customer reviews.

10. Pok Pok

What began as a Thai-food takeout shack in a residential neighborhood has blossomed into a world-famous restaurant with six offshoots, thanks to the dedication of James Beard Foundation Award-winning chef Andy Ricker. The original location features top-quality Thai dishes like curry noodle soup and pork loin skewers marinated in coconut milk and turmeric, but the fish-sauce wings are the restaurant's star. The typical wait is anywhere from 20 minutes to two hours, depending on the day and time. Reservations for six or more are accepted, but only online.

9. Lúc Lác Vietnamese Kitchen

If you're craving something late-night and delicious after a couple cocktails (read: if you're tipsy and need a meal to soak up the alcohol), a visit to Lúc Lác Vietnamese Kitchen will leave you thanking the flavor gods. Open until midnight Monday through Thursday and 4 a.m. Friday and Saturday, the late-night menu offers small plates like cream cheese wontons, along with vermicelli bowls and rice plates. Lengthier options are available on the regular-service menu. It's first-come, first-serve at this counter-service restaurant, so be prepared to wait about 10 to 25 minutes if you're in a small group, or 20 to 40 minutes if you're with six or more people. Be sure to show up with your full party to be seated on time.

8. Jam on Hawthorne

Since brunch seems to be the unofficial favorite mealtime in Portland, it's no wonder multiple waffle-serving spots made this list. Jam on Hawthorne draws customers in with house specialties like lemon-ricotta pancakes and corned-beef hash, plus a full-bar menu featuring 12 flavors of mimosas and seven types of Bloody Marys. Vegans, vegetarians and gluten-free dieters can rejoice over plentiful options, and a children's play area is a bonus for parents. Jam doesn't take reservations, and people from neighboring cities have been known to add to its common out-the-door line, but you can warm up with some self-serve coffee while you wait.

7. ¿Por Qué No? Taqueria
Plate of fish tacos with chips and lime.Wesley Hitt

This hole-in-the wall establishment may not seem like much from the outside, but there is a reason why people are always lined up by it. Inspired by a dining experience owner Bryan Steelman once had in the heart of Mexico, ¿Por Qué No? Taqueria's atmosphere is vibrant, unpretentious, and almost as inviting as its mouthwatering menu. Twelve taco variations are offered on warm, homemade corn tortillas, and Mexican staples like tamales and flautas are also available. The line for counter service moves rather quickly, but you have to order before snagging a table. You're often offered a drink while you wait, so sipping a margarita in the meantime makes the line easier to swallow.

6. Multnomah Whiskey Library

If you're a lover of whiskey and fine distilled spirits, many will tell you Multnomah Whiskey Library is worth the two-plus-hour wait. The dimly lit lounge is adorned with swanky leather chairs and shelves upon shelves of sophisticated liquors, and it provides cocktail service for ever-changing selections. Oh, and did we mention there's food? Reservations can be made Tuesday through Saturday if you're a monthly member, otherwise you can reserve a spot as a visitor with a $25 hall pass.

5. Mother's Bistro & Bar

Mother's Bistro & Bar claims its food is "like mom's cooking, only a bit better," and judging by its always bustling atmosphere, the bold statement seems rather accurate. Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, menu items are made from scratch and border on traditional American, with some international influences. The full-service restaurant even boasts "Mother of the Month" specials, with signature recipes from a nominated mom. Long lines tend to form during brunch, but limited reservations are welcome.

4. Tasty n Sons
Two mason jar Bloody Marys or Caesars  with  bacon on wood backgroundshutterstock

If you're planning to taste the brunch at Tasty n Sons, be prepared to wait at least an hour on most days. Diners can't seem to get enough of this neighborhood favorite, which serves up New American eats like baked eggs and tomato stew and beef-bacon omelettes with brussels sprouts and creme fraiche. You can curb your hunger while you wait with a bar-ordered Bloody Mary (if you're particularly starved, make it a "Tasty Jerk," or Bloody Mary with house-made beef jerky). Limited reservations are taken for parties of six or more.

3. Screen Door

It doesn't get much more southern than shrimp and grits and buttermilk-biscuit sandwiches with fried chicken and country sausage gravy, which are just some of the crowd-favorites at Screen Door (vegan and vegetarian options are also available). Primarily a walk-in restaurant with limited reservations available for large parties, waits can last over an hour for weekend brunch, especially during summer (waiting outdoors is a particularly effective way for Portlanders to get their much-awaited sunlight). However, if you want to try your luck in the middle of the week, you may be able to grab a table right away.

2. Broder

With three locations under the Broder name, you may wonder why you still have to wait in line, but one bite at any of the Scandinavian restaurants and you'll be able to understand the number of people ahead of you. Open for breakfast and lunch, Café Broder, Broder Nord, and Broder Söder have slightly different menus, but Swedish meatballs, beef franks with potato pancakes and "lost eggs" (two eggs atop ham, spinach and cream baked under parmesan-panko crust) are some of the shared staples. You can also order coffee while you wait.

1. Salt & Straw
Ice creamOkan Metin

For some reason, Portlanders can't get enough of Salt & Straw's oddly delicious ice-cream infusions (like Pear & Blue Cheese and Strawberry Honey Balsamic with Black Pepper), and their willingness to line up blocks out the door for them earns the parlor the top spot on our list. You can sample flavors before you commit to a cone (hence the lines), or dive right into one of their seasonal delights. You'll have better luck ordering a quick scoop at one of the three Portland locations during the slower winter months, but first you'll have to explain to yourself why you'd would want an icy treat during a freezing, rainy day.

Melanie Pagan is a Portland-based writer, editor, and social media strategist. Learn more about her at MelaniePagan.com.