As the second biggest city in Oregon’s most diverse county, Beaverton has long been a destination for those craving fluffy Persian rice, late-night Korean pub food or goblets of Puerto Rican mofongo. But something has changed. Fueled by generous city grants and increased interest from Portland restaurateurs, Beaverton has added dozens of new restaurants and bars since 2017, a stratospheric rise barely slowed by the pandemic.
If you haven’t been to Central Beaverton lately, a return visit can be head-spinning. The once sleepy downtown, cleaved by a pair of busy state highways, with established restaurants such as Nak Won and Decarli (moving to new digs on Hall Boulevard this spring), has added new cafes (Milk+T, Lionheart), beer bars (Raindrop, Ex Novo, Loyal Legion) and outposts of well-known Portland restaurants (Big’s Chicken, Top Burmese, Afuri, Sizzle Pie, The Sudra, Matt’s BBQ). In 2020, a stretch of Southwest First Street fronted by five mostly new food businesses was closed to cars — firepit tables, stump chairs and a small covered playground sprouted up in the makeshift pedestrian plaza. Everywhere you look, people seem to be having fun.
Across Oregon 10, landmark local businesses such as Gloria’s Secret Cafe, Beaverton Sub Station and Broadway Saloon have navigated COVID-19′s roller coaster of restrictions. On the other side of Oregon 8, BG’s Food Cartel has become one of the metro area’s premier food cart pods. Nearby, The Round development has delivered on the promise held when construction began two decades ago. A Hyatt House hotel and bar opened here in 2019. Steps from the back door of long-running Italian restaurant Mingo, the Patricia Reser Performing Arts Center made its debut in a stunning building overlooking Hall Creek.
Does Beaverton’s restaurant scene suddenly rival Portland’s? Not quite. Chains — from bakery multinationals Tous Les Jours and Paris Baguette to global burger brand Shake Shack — are still drawn here like moths to a flame. And fine-dining remains elusive, as does the kind of seasonal, chef-driven menus that most large West Coast cities stake their reputations on.
But between the new arrivals and the largely immigrant-owned mom-and-pops — including Oregon’s most dynamic Korean dining scene, its only Puerto Rican restaurant and one of its only dedicated Persian restaurants — there’s more than enough to merit a deeper dive. Over the past month, The Oregonian/OregonLive set out to explore the restaurants that define Central Beaverton, the area roughly west of Oregon 217, north of Southwest Allen Boulevard, east of Hall Street and north through the thicket of serviceable sit-down restaurants at Cedar Hills Crossing.
Those tight boundaries meant missing out on some of our favorite Beaverton restaurants, including the great Chinese restaurant Taste of Sichuan, wok-fired Peruvian specialties at Lima, Indian snacks and sweets at Apna Chat Bhavan or better buffet at Swagat, vintage Japanese dishes at Ikenohana or Toshi’s or great ramen at Kizuki and Ryoma. Even so, we sifted through more than 100 restaurants, bars, cafes, bakeries, food carts and fast food chains to bring you this guide.
And as deep as we dove, new restaurants kept popping up. Across from Shake Shack, smoothie spot Moberi celebrated its grand opening as construction continued on Beaverton’s first Bamboo Sushi and Salt & Straw. Several exciting new projects were in the planning stages downtown: Breakside’s new food cart pod, tap room and tavern. Hapa Pizza’s Broadway Street brick-and-mortar. Burger Stevens’ upcoming Italian restaurant. Ranch Pizza’s split pizzeria and cafe. And In-N-Out loomed as the next major chain expected to make landfall nearby.
When they open, those newcomers will bring even more excitement to what is already Portland’s most exciting dining suburb. But there’s no need to wait. Read on for our guide to Central Beaverton’s 30 best restaurants.
1st Street Pocha
Korean food fans have lined up for last-call at the narrow, dimly lit pub next to Nak Won for more than a decade. Before the pandemic, that meant hand-pulled noodles, sizzling kalbi and bottles of soju at Du Kuh Bee, one of Beaverton’s most lamentable pandemic-time restaurant closures (a second location lives on in Northeast Portland). Nowadays, it means boxes of crispy fried chicken wings and mozzarella-stuffed corn dogs at 1st Street Pocha, a Korean street food restaurant along First Street’s new car-free plaza. Order the wings; the bossam, a sliced pork belly platter with pungent sauces and cabbage leaves for making wraps; and the rose tteokbokki (the penne alla vodka of the spicy rice cake world), with chewy rice tubes tossed with bacon in a creamy sauce. And get there early — on a recent visit, the narrow, dimly lit dining room was already full by 4:30 p.m. Despite the crowd, our wings were delivered to the plaza in less than 30 minutes, just enough time to drink a can of light Korean beer while our kids ran amok in the play area. (12590 S.W. First St., Suite B, 503-567-1322)
Outside of Nak Won and the Italian pillars Mingo and Decarli (a trio with a combined 54 years in business), Beaverton lacks much in the way of destination dining. That might have begun to change with the arrival of Afuri, a Tokyo-based ramen chain that chose Portland for its first location due to the quality of its water. With its distinctively light broths — still made in Portland using that Bull Run water, CEO Taichi Ishizuki notes — cut with aromatic Japanese yuzu citrus, Afuri is at least a top 5 metro area ramen shop. As with the original in Southeast Portland, the Beaverton restaurant goes beyond noodles, with a surprisingly deep izakaya menu of housemade tofu, lacey winged gyoza, tasty robata skewers, some of Beaverton’s best sushi and a full bar. Prices remain at Portland levels, including $15 and up for ramen, and the kitchen has its lapses — on one visit, our karaage went unseasoned, on another, our kids’ simple shoyu ramens took 45 minutes to arrive. But most dishes are well executed, and the dining room is as sleek as they come. Families should angle for a plaza-adjacent patio table to let your kids go free range while you wait. (12555 S.W. First St., 503-336-0027, afuri.us)
Too much has been made of the process of finding Always Spring, not enough about the food itself. The homestyle Korean restaurant (previously just Spring, and before that, Umma’s) sits on the mezzanine of Beaverton’s quirky little G Mart grocery, past the aisles of dried ramen and seaweed and up a winding wooden staircase obscured by cardboard boxes. Fans come for some of the best Korean soups and stews in Oregon, some chilled and chewy, others red and bubbling. Dduk mandu guk, a milky bone broth with soft rice cakes, beef, egg and bobbing dumplings, is a chicken noodle soup-level cure-all. Dolsot bibimbap, with sautéed and seasoned veggies over rice with a fried egg, all tucked into a super-heated stone bowl, has a crispy, golden crust at the bottom worth fighting over. Dressed in subtly sweet sauce, the cross-cut kalbi short rib sizzles in its skillet, perfect for nibbling between bites of kimchi and other banchan. First timers should spend time with the big pictographic menu hanging between the restaurant and market below. (3975 S.W. 114th Ave., 503-641-3670, alwaysspringrestaurant.com)
Beaverton Sub Station
Have you ever complained about the state of Portland’s sandwich scene after encountering a fancy $18 turkey club downtown? Beaverton Sub Station is the place for you. Though indoor dining remains on hold as the business awaits a sewer line repair, the old-school vibe at this train-themed sandwich shop remains largely unchanged after 40 years on Beaverton’s old main street. Chuck Wilson, the restaurant’s smiling mascot and co-owner with wife and fellow former Chicagoan Gina, also owns the surrounding Fisher Rossi building, home to many of Beaverton’s oldest businesses. The Sub Station’s handwritten menu is a throwback to a simpler sandwich era. The Clancy and The Smitty are the signatures, though as a creature of habit, I usually end up with a 6-inch “two car” salami ($8). Besides the temporary lack of indoor dining, at least one other thing has changed: After Beaverton Bakery closed in 2018, the sandwich shop switched to Portland’s Dos Hermanos for its rolls. Quality remains high. (12448 S.W. Broadway St., 503-641-7827, beavertonsubstation.com)
The best Vietnamese sandwiches find a balance between their essential ingredients: grilled or deli-sliced meats, jalapeño spears and cilantro, pickled carrot and daikon matchsticks, smears of mayo and pâté and, most crucially, a light, airy baguette. In Portland, Best Baguette is best known for its drive-thru, a pandemic-time boon, especially for those with kids. But the Beaverton Best Baguette, which lacks the drive-thru but duplicates the massive rotating oven for baking bread throughout the day, actually makes better sandwiches. That’s according to our 2018 blind taste test, which placed the shop in a tie for the metro area’s second best bánh mì with Portland’s Binh Minh. Best Baguette fills out their menu with pastries, croissant sandwiches, salads, Vietnamese-style beef stews, durian smoothies, iced coffees and boba drinks in the same strip mall as so-so soup shops House of Ramen and Pho King Good. (3635 S.W. Hall Blvd., 503-626-2288, thebestbaguette.com)
[Read more: We blind tasted and ranked Portland’s best banh mi]
Big’s Chicken started life as a pop-up, serving “Five Napkin Chicken” sandwiches slathered in two sauces — a fiery Fresno chile and a mayo-based Alabama white — in the parking lot of Portland steakhouse Laurelhurst Market. But as far as brick-and-mortars are concerned, the Beaverton Big’s Chicken actually predates Portland’s, courtesy of a fire that destroyed the original location in 2017. Searching for a new home, the Your Neighborhood Restaurant Group landed on downtown Beaverton’s former Peddler’s Pack space, becoming the first in a coming flood of Portland restaurateurs to test the waters out west. Here, chef Ben Bettinger added a burger, fried wings, more seats and bigger TVs to the restaurant’s roadhouse-style menu of smoked and grilled chicken, perfectly fluffy jojos, fried mac and cheese bites and other Southern-inspired sides. Turns out, the water was just fine. (4570 S.W. Watson Ave., 503-747-3190, bigschicken.com)
Eight years in and still Oregon’s only dedicated Puerto Rican restaurant, Boriken brings Caribbean flavors and a splash of tangerine color to the stretch of Oregon 8 (aka Canyon Road) just west of downtown Beaverton. The menu is built around arroz con pollo and an array of mofongos rellenos — plantains fried and mashed, flattened around the inside of a wooden chalice then and filled with chunks of chicken, conch or fried pork in a creamy garlic sauce. Visit at lunch, when you can order half-sized mofongos or a variety of sandwiches, including tasty Cubanos, media noches and jibaritos, the Chicago-born mashup with planks of fried plantain instead of bread. Tropical juices come by the quart, while desserts feature pastries stuffed with Bavarian cream or guava paste. Those are good, but the pro move is to head across the highway to Mexican ice cream shop Ome Calli, with its rainbow of individually wrapped paletas. A chile-flecked pineapple popsicle and a short walk through the Round are the perfect finish to a brilliant meal at Boriken. (12800 S.W. Canyon Road, 503-596-3571, borikenrestaurant.com)
At what’s already our favorite Washington County dim sum restaurant, two changes in the past two years have converged to make Chinatown even better. First, the restaurant moved from its awkwardly placed original location opposite Nike World Headquarters to the old Jin Wah space, a short walk from Beaverton Transit Center. Second, the pandemic forced Chinatown to park its carts and shift to a mostly, um, a la carte menu, meaning most dim sum is now cooked to order. I’ve yet to see the banquet-sized room fill up to pre-pandemic levels, but drop by any day of the week and you’ll find at least a few tables with families eating siu mai, har gow, fluffy pork buns, sweet chicken feet, chewy tofu skin rolls, braised tripe, congee perfumed with ginger and plates of crispy roast pork belly and glistening fried noodles. If you live near Portland’s Pure Spice or HK Cafe or Aloha’s East Harbor you can probably stick closer to home, but Beaverton residents should be thankful for Chinatown. (4021 S.W. 117th Ave., Suite E, 503-641-4153, chinatownbeaverton.com)
Gloria’s Secret Cafe
Time moves slowly at Gloria’s Secret Cafe. On a recent visit, we flashed back to our first, as if nothing had changed in the previous decade. Back then, as with now, a friend of owner Gloria Vargas had been marshaled to help take orders and deliver food. House plants and tropical colors filled every nook of the (generously) four-table restaurant. Once settled, meals began with tortilla chips and house-made salsa and, as you scan the menu, you’ll take note of which items have been crossed off. Vargas, who moved from Hollywood, California, to Beaverton in the 1990s, first made a splash serving food at the Beaverton Farmers Market. Depending on when you visit, she might be serving cheesy pupusas, pork chile verde or enchiladas blanketed in tangy green salsa, each main presented with black beans, golden rice and a crisp salad. If there’s a secret to Gloria’s, it’s one that needs to be shared. (12500 S.W. Broadway St, 503-268-2124, glorias-secret-cafe.business.site)
Hapa Pizza (at Beaverton Farmers Market)
Sandwiched between a park playground and the main library, Beaverton Farmers Market offers plenty of reasons to bring the family to downtown Beaverton on a Saturday. And that’s before you get to its habit of launching exciting new food businesses, including Gloria’s above. Newcomers to watch include Dutch-style stroopwafel kiosk Wafeltje, Cuban pastry stand La Floridita and this up-and-coming pizzeria, which tops its Neapolitan pies with ingredients inspired by phở, bánh mì and other Asian dishes, then cooks them in a trio of super-heated portable backyard ovens. It works thanks to owners Aaron and Natalie Truong’s attention to detail and focus on quality — the simple cheese pizza we ordered for my kids was as good as any pizza we’ve found in Beaverton. Hapa plans to open a brick-and-mortar pizzeria to this summer at 12755 S.W. Broadway St. (Hapa Pizza will continue operating its farmers market stand, 12375 S.W. Fifth St., each Saturday, even after its pizzeria opens this summer, 971-246-7050, hapapizza.com)
[Read more: Inspired by Asian dishes, Hapa Pizza serves some of Beaverton’s best pies]
Happy Lamb Hot Pot
Previously Little Sheep, this modern Mongolian-style hot pot parlor near Beaverton Transit Center walks a narrow path. For savants well versed in premium hot pot elsewhere, Happy Lamb might seem too basic. For novices, the multi-step ordering system and hands-off service could be a barrier to enjoyment. Yet Happy Lamb is still the metro area’s best everyday hot pot option, with bubbling broths, good quality meat and an abundance of add-ons. Described as “All You Can Eat,” the menu technically offers three ordering rounds, letting you fine-tune as you go. Don’t overthink it: Most groups go with the half-and-half pot, with a cloudy white chicken broth on one side, a vibrant red bobbing with Sichuan chiles, cardamom pods, goji berries and other spices on the other. Check off your order for paper-thin curls of meat (lamb is available, naturally), seafood, dumplings and tofu skin rolls that soak up broth like a sponge, plus bok choy, enoki mushrooms, and some fresh noodles to start, then flag down your server and hit the sauce bar while your broth begins to boil. (3861 S.W. 117th Ave. Suite A, 971-238-9798)
Karver Sandwiches (at Lascala)
You don’t see Karver’s name listed with Lardo, Bunk and Devil’s Dill on guides to the region’s craft sandwich shops. But that hasn’t stopped folks from gathering here at the LaScala Apartments, a mixed-use building also home to Carina’s Bakery, Maiale Rosa Wood Fired Pizzeria and the mostly shuttered LaScala Food Hall (waffle sandwich window Batter Up was the only open business on a recent visit). Karver has a menu of some 20 hot and cold sandwiches handwritten on butcher paper menus, including a shaved tri tip French dip and a smoked turkey apple, plus a friendly staff to help you navigate them. We don’t agree with every choice — we can accept the puffier pressed roll on the Cubano, but swapping out yellow mustard for whole grain goes too far. Yet even here, the roast pork is juicy, the smoked ham tender and the pickles acidic enough to replace some of what was lost with the mustard swap. There’s no doubting Karver’s commitment to sandwich craft. (4725 SW Lombard Ave #106, 503-626-1648, karversandiwchbar.com)
K-Town Korean Barbecue
When it opened in Portland in 2016, K-Town was the city’s first modern all-you-can-eat Korean barbecue spot, and stuffing your face for two hours cost less than $20. The restaurant’s Beaverton location debuted during the research for this guide, recently enough to still be listed as “coming soon” on its website, with a still-under-construction sun room up front. Between Kingkong, Kkoki, and the other nearby Korean restaurants that offer a la carte grilled meats, competition is a bit fiercer in Washington County. But we still appreciate K-Town for its relatively good quality meats and sleek dining room lit by K-Pop videos bouncing neon bright off the large metal ventilation hoods. All You Can Eat now starts at $31.99 (add $3 for lamb and seafood), with guests choosing from a variety of meats, including chicken, kalbi or thick-sliced pork belly for DIY cooking at each table’s inset grills. Banchan, rice and a green salad arrive promptly, though meats have been slow to emerge in the early going. As with Happy Lamb, those familiar with super premium KBBQ in Los Angeles or Seoul might leave disappointed. Unlike those other cities, Beaverton is only a short MAX ride away. (4570 S.W. Lombard Ave., ktownkoreanbbq.com)
Lin’s China Jade
This old-school Chinese restaurant at the far end of the BG Food Cartel parking lot might be hiding the least secret of any secret menu in the metro area. At first glance, the menu is as much of a throwback as the decor, which resembles a 1980s breakfast chain preserved in amber. But beyond the chop suey and egg foo young, the restaurant has long been known for its Korean-Chinese dishes, including japchae, zhajiangmian and the outrageously tasty “house special” Korean-style fried chicken, fish or shrimp. We ordered the chicken, which arrived with a soft, crunchy fry and a soy garlic sauce with an emphasis on a sharp garlic pang, and barely made it to the parking lot before scarfing half the box while leaning over our open trunk. Ask for extra napkins. (4050 S.W. Cedar Hills Blvd. 503-626-2487)
Since taking over the historic Bank of Beaverton building, Loyal Legion’s second location has become a showcase for new breweries and a great place to hang out, with its giant wide-screen TVs playing sports and its deep blue booths (far roomier than the original’s). Out back, a former parking lot has been converted into a kid-friendly fenced patio, complete with fire pits, oversized Jenga and cornhole games. Food plays second fiddle to the beer, but you will find a decent smash burger, plus bratwursts and frankfurters from Olympia Provisions, the great Portland sausage maker. For more, see our guide to Beaverton’s suddenly bubbling beer scene. (4500 S.W. Watson Ave., 503-372-5352, loyallegionpdx.com)
[Read more: How downtown Beaverton has become a magnet for craft beer lovers]
Maria Bonita Mexican Grill
Sizzling fajita skillets, cheesy enchilada platters and massive strawberry margaritas are a familiar sight in the Tualatin Valley — we found a half-dozen family-style Mexican restaurants in and around Central Beaverton alone. Our favorite after much tasty research happens to be the most conveniently located, sitting just across a muddy bend in Hall Creek from the new Patricia Reser Center for the Arts. There’s been a Mexican restaurant in this space for nearly two decades, but “new” owners Jose Antonio Perez Paz (a former Maria Bonita server) and Ulises Gonzalez took over in 2017, filling the space with colorful Oaxacan crafts and kindhearted service. You know the drill: The tortilla chips are warm (and free of charge), the mole is sweet, the shrimp come wrapped in bacon and the margarita goblets are available in a highlighter-hued rainbow of strawberry, mango, peach and classic lime. (3893 S.W. Hall Blvd., 503-372-6742)
In the Portland barbecue world, there are two eras: before and after Matt’s. When Matt Vicedomini opened his scrappy cart in 2015 in the parking lot of a Northeast Portland pawn shop, his slow-smoked brisket and house-made sausage links were a revelation, with technique inspired by Austin, Texas, but honed in Melbourne, Australia. Earlier this year, while waiting for Breakside to break ground on its upcoming restaurant, tap room and food cart pod, Matt parked a second cart around the corner from Top Burmese’s Beaverton location and began selling smoked meats and sides from Friday through Sunday. More barbecue is always a good thing, but don’t expect a second revolution: In the years after Matt’s opened, the West Side has developed its own sneaky good barbecue scene, including another barbecue cart further down on this list. (Matt’s BBQ’s new cart sits at the corner of Southwest Angel Avenue and First Street, on the site of Breakside’s upcoming cart pod, taprooms and an American tavern from the owners of Portland’s Please Louise pizzeria, mattsbbqpdx.com)
[Read more: Meet the new and upcoming restaurants bringing heat to Portland’s best dining suburb]
The dream of the 90s is alive … in Beaverton? Though Mingo has occupied this curving space at The Round since 2004, becoming an institution all its own, it started as a spin-off of Caffe Mingo, a slightly older, much smaller Italian restaurant with a devoted following in Northwest Portland. Those sturdy roots show through in the rustic wooden tables, the tall curtains dividing the room, the Italian wines, the scratch-made gnocchi and especially the signature shrimp spiedini, hallmarks of a dining style all but lost in Portland. To step off the MAX here is to step into a time machine, but quality ingredients and attentive service keeps things from feeling dated. Start with those salty shrimp skewers and the gnocchi alla bolognese, or dive right into a classic ravioli or lasagna, paired with a glass of Super Tuscan red. And poke your head around back — Mingo’s bar-side entrance sits steps away from the Reser. Earlier this year, the restaurant added a late-night menu with items you wouldn’t normally find at Mingo, including a cheeseburger and barbacoa tacos, served from 9 p.m. until an hour after the curtain drops on performance nights. (12600 S.W. Crescent St., 503-646-6464, mingowest.com)
Mo Cha Tea House
Found in a distinctive building just behind Loyal Legion, Mo Cha Tea House has been serving boba drinks, popcorn chicken and inventive Taiwanese desserts since before central Beaverton became the beating heart of Oregon bubble tea culture. Now surrounded by outposts of cult-favorite chains including Tiger Sugar, Happy Lemon and Milk+T, Mo Cha’s short menu of tea drinks hold their own. But desserts are the reason to visit, with a distinctive form of milky folded shaved ice and brick (aka honey) toast, a Texas-thick slab of golden toast topped with a variety of ice cream balls, fruit, candy and other sweet treats. I used to live in Taiwan, but besides grabbing an elaborate sundae at the world’s most stunning Haagen-Dazs (now a Starbucks), I never dove too deep into the country’s elaborate dessert culture. Thanks to Mo Cha — and the just-opened Ooo Nobibi (3905 S.W. 117th Ave., Suite G, in the Canyon Place Shopping Center), which specializes in Dalgona coffee, gold-topped and charcoal-coned ice cream and other sweets for the TikTok era — I’ve filled that hole in my eating resume. (12520 S.W. Farmington Road, 503-747-2712, mochateahouse.com)
After more than two decades in business, Nak Won remains the godfather of Beaverton’s unofficial Little Korea, a family-run business that rewards deep exploration. Mandu (Korean dumplings) are lovely when steamed. Haemul pajeon (seafood pancake), a must-order, is crisp and comes with a fiery soy dipping sauce. Dolsot bibimbap (rice, veggies and meat in a searingly hot stoneware bowl) hides a well toasted crust. It’s hard to leave without an order of sundubu jjigae, a lava-red tofu stew with a choice of vegetables, seafood or meat, plus a raw egg for cracking into the roiling broth. It’s not widely advertised, but you can order tableside barbecue here, and it will likely be better than most all-you-can-eat places. In fact, whether you’re hunting for well-executed banchan, a sizzling skillet of bulgogi or naengmyeon, the seasonal cold buckwheat noodles, most of Nak Won’s comforting Korean dishes are among the best versions you’ll find in Oregon. (4600 S.W. Watson Ave., 503-646-9382)
Is it possible to fall in love with a taco truck? After trying a half dozen in and around Central Beaverton, we fell hard for El Rinconcito. The chrome-lined truck parked outside Fresh Start Detail Co. serves some of the tastiest tacos, tortas and burritos in Beaverton. The menu is simple — carne asada, carnitas, pollo, chorizo, plus lengua (beef tongue) cabeza (head) — standard issue fare for most Pacific Northwest taquerias, plus a few modern touches, including large, orange-stained goat quesabirria tacos. But the tortillas and sopes are hand-pressed to order, the meats are all well seasoned and, if you time it right, Oaxacan mole might be features as a special. Now that you mention it, it’s been a while since we’ve gotten the car detailed. (12130 S.W. Broadway St., 971-294-9881)
Soon, anyone curious about one of the great American foodie debates — which is better, Shake Shack or In-N-Out Burger? — should be able to find an answer without leaving Beaverton. Until In-N-Out debuts, here’s our take: Shake Shack, a publicly traded company with locations from Alabama to Abu Dhabi, might resemble fast food. But without combo meals, a simple dinner including a Shack Burger, crinkle-cut fries and a milkshake will put you back more than $15 before tip. (A comparable meal at In-N-Out costs less than $8.) In other words, between its outdoor dining area strung with patio lights and food with a greater emphasis on ingredient quality and execution, Shake Shack almost belongs in a separate category. Fans of Portland’s Burger Stevens fans will recognize the burger’s build: A super-smashed patty topped with crisp lettuce, tomato and special sauce on a griddled Martin’s potato roll. Don’t miss the panko-crusted fried mushroom sandwich oozing with melted muenster — at Shake Shack, vegetarians eat as well as the carnivores. (2597 S.W. Cedar Hills Blvd., 971-204-8477, shakeshack.com)
In Portland, most traces of Typhoon, the region’s dominant pre-Pok Pok Thai restaurant, were scrubbed clean in the years after owners Steve and Bo Kline were accused of unlawful labor practices. But the chain’s roots run deeper in Beaverton, with several restaurants owned or run by former Typhoon employees. If this were a popularity contest, we would highlight Thai Bloom, a perennially packed Thai restaurant with an excellent, intensely spicy blue crab Lao-style papaya salad. But on back-to-back visits, this spin-off of West Union’s Siam Village impressed us more with its silky curries and fluffy crab pad Thai. And though there’s a Thai Bloom nearby, it’s hard to beat Siam Lotus’ location, with its deep booths and stylish bar directly across from the new Reser auditorium. (12600 S.W. Crescent St. #150, 503-718-7101, siamlotusoregon.com)
Many of Washington County’s best Indian restaurants are across the Hillsboro city limits (Chennai Masala) or outside the Central Beaverton core (Apna Chaat Bhavan). But this Portland chain is bringing plenty of excitement with its plant-based takes on Indian street food. As with their other locations, most people here order mango lassis, brassica pakoras and the chewy tikka masala soy curls. For more on The Sudra, see our guide to Beaverton’s vegan dining scene. (4589 S.W. Watson Ave., Beaverton; 503-268-1578; thesudra.com)
Tan Tan Cafe & Delicatessen
With its generous portions, central location and clientele as diverse as the city itself, Tan Tan has long been something of a small-town diner for Beaverton. A recent remodel — courtesy of Portland’s Skylab Architecture and a matching city grant — has given the restaurant a modern refresh. Walk into Tan Tan today to find a bright, airy dining room reimagined with white walls, quartz tables, pendant lights and an eye-catching mural of lush green plants. Perhaps it’s the new surroundings, but the food feels refreshed as well, from the carefully wrapped salad rolls to the lacey banh xeo (a savory rice flour crepe stuffed with ground pork, shrimp and bean sprouts). Tan Tan has all the soups, including a popular bún riêu cua (tomato broth and crab noodle), bún bò Huế (spicy beef and pork noodle) and of course phở bò, served with ruby-tinted beef slices that finish cooking in the steaming, clove-scented broth. The small market is worth a glance — on our visit, we picked up a flaky pâté chaud from the warming case, a bottle of Tan Tan’s house-made hoisin sauce, some roasted coffee beans from Portland Cà Phê and a pandan-green soft tofu dessert cup from the fridge. (12675 S.W. Broadway St., 503-641-2700, tantancafedeli.com)
Along with paella and dolsot bibimbop, Persian tahdig, the crunchy, golden crust at the bottom of saffron rice, is one of the world’s great crispy rice pleasures. But you wouldn’t know it in Oregon. Outside of a few food carts and bakeries, Persian cuisine is almost impossible to find, and places that regularly serve time-intensive tahdig are even rarer. In fact, Tehroon, a peaceful restaurant overlooking a central courtyard at Beaverton Town Square, might be the only one, offering its tahdig alongside a pair of stews, rich and herby ghormeh sabsi and a gheimeh, with yellow split peas, little beef chunks and fried potato matchsticks. Though you might wish it were cooked in a slightly more characterful oil, that tahdig makes Tehroon worth a visit on its own. Skewered meats are another — our koobideh kebabs get the nod over similar versions at Central Beaverton’s other good Mediterranean kebab spots, Ur and Somar. Tehroon won’t be Beaverton’s only exclusively Persian restaurant for long: Later this year, former Portland food cart Caspian Kabob plans to open a brick-and-mortar in the upcoming West End District development. (11795 S.W. Beaverton-Hillsdale Highway, 503-672-9229, tehroonrestaurant.com)
Tom’s Pancake House
A reliable breakfast spot is a blessing. For the past half century, Beaverton has had that in Tom’s, a full-service diner with consistently friendly service that still squeezes its own orange juice and serves breakfast food tasty enough to replace a few trips to that other famous pancake house in Southwest Portland. Like The Original Pancake House, Tom’s kitchen makes a good Dutch Baby, with towering walls of crunchy risen batter joined at the table by a plate stacked with syrup, powdered sugar and lemon. But it also nails a house-made corned beef hash with the kind of meaty crust that would make some nearby taqueros envious (next time, I’ll ask for a side of tortillas and some hot sauce). And while you might not know the brand of coffee in your mug, the refills will be free. (12925 S.W. Canyon Road, 503-646-2688, tomspancakehouse.com)
Top Burmese Bistro Royale
Each of Top Burmese’s restaurants has its own fleet of robot food runners and signature specialties. Beaverton’s Bistro Royale location specializes in Indian-influenced dishes, including one of our favorite dishes of the year, a hearty chickpea stew with chopped up chunks of golden fried samosa. For more on Top Burmese, see our guide to Beaverton’s vegan dining scene. (12655 S.W. First St., 503-809-5060, topburmese.com)
Wolf’s Head BBQ (at BGs Food Cartel)
Any ranking of Oregon’s best food cart pods would be incomplete without BGs Food Cartel, the sprawling Beaverton taproom and lot that opened in 2018 and has become a destination for Washington County lunch-goers and families alike. The cart list is impressive, with wood-fired pizza from Pizza Forte, a solid ramen option in Magokoro, a good boba truck in Pre-tea, tasty Mexican sandwiches from Cemitas Poblanas, one of the metro area’s best fish and chips shops in the Frying Scotsman and — with apologies to Roxy’s, L&L and 808 — my favorite local plate lunch spot in Palenaka’s. But the star cart here is Wolf’s Head Smokehouse, which smokes the best Texas-style brisket in Washington County (Matt’s BBQ brings its meats from Northeast Portland), available sliced or chopped into a popular burrito. Like most Portland-area barbecue spots, chef Jason Wittek draws inspiration from across America, but of all the meats, it’s the chopped pork made from skin-on picnic hams that keeps me coming back. Oh, and the tasty smash burger was good enough to inspire a spin-off cart in Forest Grove. (4250 S.W. Rose Biggi Ave., 503-380-8055, wolfsheadbbq.com)
[Read more: Sampling the barbecue joints, stands and trucks on Portland’s west side]
If Portlanders know Yuzu at all, it’s as the secret ramen shop in the same strip mall as Jim & Patty’s Coffee. But that’s a misunderstanding. Yes, the ramen is good, with thin, pale noodles and large chunks of sweet marinated kakuni pork lurking in a murky tonkotsu broth. But Yuzu is at heart an izakaya, home to one of the best selections of Japanese drinking food in Oregon and a solid sake list to boot. Wait for the sun to set behind the tinted windows with their gold stenciled “Yuzu,” then glance at the large laminated menu filled with familiar dishes like crispy gyoza, chicken karaage, ramen and soba noodles. But look closer and you’ll see dishes found only at a handful of Japanese restaurants in Oregon, including motsuni, the ginger-spiced pork stomach stew; menchi katsu, a deep-fried ground beef cutlet; and shiokara, a small bowl of fermented squid squiggles. We only wish it were a block or two closer to MAX. After muscling through a few bites of that intensely funky shiokara, you might find yourself craving a second Sapporo. (4130 S.W. 117th Ave. Suite H, 503-350-1801)
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