Local Flavors

Spring is here! Tuck into these bounteous fresh salads and savory seasonal soups.

We know Spring weather in Portland can be, shall we say, fickle. If it’s a sunny May afternoon with the scent of flowers and fresh-cut grass in the air, you might find yourself craving a fresh salad of local greens, beets, herbs, and other farmers market produce. But on a cool day with April showers, perhaps it’s a hearty, piping-hot soup you’re in the mood for. Given the possibility of either outcome, here’s a selection of delicious dishes from both sides of the menu.

Sinju Sushi

Within the serene confines of this contemporary Japanese restaurant by Jamison Square, sushi—as the name suggests—is the star. But Sinju has also made a name for itself with its several types of ramen (pictured above), including the champon variety, a robust base of shio broth with a mix of sautéed vegetables and shrimp, clams, mussels, and seafood. It’s umami in a bowl. 1022 NW Johnson St, 503-223-6535, sinjurestaurant.com

Paragon Restaurant

Who would have guessed 20 years ago that the humble beet, which grows hidden in soil, would become a darling of creative salads? Paragon’s statuesque stack of roasted golden and red beets is given a complex flavor boost with basil oil and goat cheese, and a crown of microgreens. 1309 NW Hoyt St, 503-833-5060, paragonrestaurant.com

Nicoletta + Beppe’s

This intimate and stylish new kid on the block specializing in simple yet boldly flavored Tuscan fare features a stellar rendition of the classic caprese salad. Rich, soft whole-milk burrata cheese is the focal point of this artful arrangement of roasted heirloom tomatoes, basil pesto, and a balsamic reduction. 1230 NW Hoyt St, 503-208-2992, nicolettabeppes.com

Henry’s Tavern

This venerable restaurant inside the grand 1860s former Blitz-Weinhard Brewery features more than 100 beers on tap—and more than a few as key ingredients in the food. Consider the velvety-smooth Tillamook sharp cheddar soup, made with locally brewed lager. 10 NW 12th Ave, 503-227-5320, henrystavern.com


Glamorous, high-ceilinged Bluehour is rightly renowned for its innovative takes on Northwestern fare, but it’s also our pick for one of the best Caesar salads in town. Long spears of romaine lettuce are tossed with a heavenly dressing of fresh anchovies and Parmesan, and the crunchy croutons are a treat. 250 NW 13th Ave, 503-226-3394, bluehouronline.com

The Hairy Lobster

If it’s spring in Oregon, it’s mushroom-foraging season. At this luxe regional American restaurant, chef David Root celebrates these divine fungi with a creamy bisque of flavorful shrooms topped with pickled shimejis. 900 NW 11th St, 971-229-1166, thehairylobster.com

—Andrew Collins | Photos by Paul Wagtouicz