Portland’s Hottest Restaurants Right Now, According to Lyft Data

Charley Locke - Feb 13, 2024
Illustration by María Jesús Contreras

Lyft riders know: It’s easy to stay home, but it’s more fun to experience the world with friends and family. This guide uses aggregated rideshare data to find the restaurants, bars, and other destinations that Lyft customers love — and inspire your next trip out.

The Washington Post once named Portland the best food city in America. But that was back in 2015. Where are the hottest restaurants right now? To find out, we looked through Lyft data to find the eateries that saw the largest growth in drop-offs last year. Read on to find the city’s buzziest spots — and call ahead for a reservation!

Hottest Portland restaurants, by growth in rides 2022 to 2023

West Coast Japanese: Obon Shokudo and Murata

Fresh fish from the nearby Pacific make for delicious sushi. Downtown, Murata is known for its authentic Japanese offerings, from thick cuts of sashimi to its house-special fried chicken, and side rooms with traditional tatami mats. The restaurant has been around for years, but with recent rave reviews in Eater and The Oregonian, it’s no longer a well-kept secret.

Fans of noodles are especially welcome at Obon Shokudo in the Buckman neighborhood. The restaurant started as a stall at local farmers markets, opening up a brick-and-mortar restaurant in July 2021. Step inside to enjoy authentic plant-based Japanese comfort food based on co-owner Humiko Hozumi’s family recipes, including onigiri made with umeboshi, or pickled plums, breaded tofu, and miso vegetable stew.

Elevated Comfort: Free House, Luce

There’s nothing wrong with pub grub, but sometimes you want something a little fancier. Free House in the Sabin neighborhood gives you the best of both worlds: Craft cocktails at tavern prices (all under $15) and elevated comfort food like smoked cheddar mac & cheese can be enjoyed in sleek booths or at a picnic table in the heated, verdant backyard. 

If you’re more in the mood for Italian, head to Luce in Buckman. From the same team that brought you the tapas restaurant Navarre and upscale cocktail bar Angel Face, Luce’s candlelit tables and house-made pasta sauces draw crowds — but they are worth waiting for. 

Cozy Pubs: McMenamins Ringlers Pub and Rose City Book Pub

McMenamins is a well-known name in Oregon; the family-owned company runs historic venues across the state, from hotels to performance spaces. McMenamins Ringlers Pub is a great spot to catch a drink before a show at the Crystal Ballroom (located just upstairs). Sidle up to the enormous mosaic-tiled bar and start with a whiskey (they feature over 160), then grab a quick game of pinball, pool, or shuffleboard before heading up to the concert hall. Keep in mind: Patrons get early entry

If you’re more of a “read a novel over a pint” person, head to Rose City Book Pub, a restaurant in Sabin designed for reading. Literary extroverts bring their latest reads (or pick up one on-site), order a local tap, and settle into a nook. Keep an eye out for local performances, like open mic nights too.

Latin Cuisine on the East Side: Pambiche, ¿Por Qué No?

For Cuban family recipes and a cozy atmosphere, head to Pambiche in the Kerns neighborhood. The daiquiris are strong, the empanadas are beloved, and the Cuban coffee, delicious. For more of a margaritas-and-tacos vibe, head to ¿Por Qué No? in Boise, where the ingredients are local and fresh, including house-made corn tortillas; pork, beef, and chicken from nearby Cascade Farms; and queso Oaxaca from Ochoa’s Queseria, an Oregon family-run cheese shop.

Unique Dining Experiences: The Zipper, Pips and Bounce, The Melting Pot of Portland

Portlandia doesn’t lie: Rose City residents love quirk. If you’ve got an appetite for adventure, call a ride to one of these proudly weird Portland institutions. Suspenders, tutus, and tie-dyed corduroys encouraged.

Portland is a city of food cart pods (which are particularly popular on a sunny day), but, according to Lyft data, The Zipper in Kerns is the hottest right now. With ample space inside its zipper-shaped building and on the outdoor patio, it’s especially great for big groups. There are many diverse food options, from fried chicken sandwiches at Basilisk to burritos at Tight Tacos to bibimbap at Sari to Detroit-style ’za at Boxcar Pizza. Don’t forget a drink, either: The on-site Paydirt bar has an extensive menu, including four versions of an old-fashioned and Fernet Branca on tap.

Two brothers, Eugene and Michael Jung, who spent their childhood playing ping-pong in their home basement, pitched their idea of franchising their ping-pong-focused bar and social club on Shark Tank. The investors didn’t bite, but plenty of Portlanders have; the Buckman spot Pips and Bounce saw a three-fold increase in ride visits from 2022 to 2023. Visit the bar for sport, “pong-tails,” and pizza. Why? As Pips and Bounce’s website attests: “Because ping pong.”

Speaking of specialty spots, Portland’s downtown outpost of fondue institution The Melting Pot is on the upswing, with over twice as many visitors year-over-year. (What can we say? Fondue is having a moment.) Come for the novelty of melting cheese; stay because it’s actually delicious.

Also in this series: