An exemplar of savory gastropub fare, well-crafted cocktails, and self-assured affability, Paragon dispenses both great food and conversation.
You can’t miss it, especially on a chilly winter day, and even when the soaring garage-door-style windows open to bustling Hoyt Street. The first thing everybody notices upon entering Paragon Restaurant & Bar (1309 NW Hoyt St, 503-833-5060, paragonrestaurant.com) is the soft glow of the white-tile fireplace. It’s the focal point of this beloved neighborhood bistro that’s as popular for happy hour snacking as for artfully plated romantic dinners.
Part of the Moana Restaurant Group, which operates about two-dozen mostly West Coast eateries (including nearby Irving Street Kitchen), Paragon opened two decades ago, back when dining establishments were a rarity in the still nascent Pearl District. Plenty of competitors have come and gone, but Paragon remains relevant and fashionable. Many among the gracious staff have worked here for years (and know the regulars by name), and the owners just signed a 10-year lease.
The success lies partly in the welcoming vibe but also in the approachable but consistently interesting food, which ranges from lighter tavern fare—mac and cheese, pan-roasted mussels, corned-beef sandwiches, rosemary fries—to more substantial entrées, such as grilled wild salmon and New York strip steak.
Many locals appreciate the two art-filled private dining rooms. Aglow with natural light, these stylish spaces are perfect for get-togethers of 10 to 55 guests. But you needn’t arrive with a group to feel as though you’re among friends—it’s easy to soak up Paragon’s conviviality, whether seated by yourself at the mirror-backed wooden bar or with a few hungry companions at a sidewalk table. This is the sort of place where it always feels natural to clink glasses with your neighbor. – Andrew Collins | Photo Courtesy Paragon