Portland

Like a Local: The Best Restaurants in Alberta Arts District

by Jeff Rindskopf  |  Published January 8, 2017

Though far removed from the city’s metropolitan center, the Alberta Arts District in Northeast Portland still enjoys the forward-thinking culinary excellence for which the city has become known. In addition to art galleries and blocks of historic wood-paneled homes, a stroll along the neighborhood’s vibrant main drag of Alberta Street reveals a plethora of unique restaurants and food trucks.

The Chatfield at Pine State Biscuits (Photo: holly via Flickr)

The Chatfield at Pine State Biscuits (Photo: holly via Flickr)

Jouk li Jou

Like many of Portland’s greatest culinary treasures, Jouk Lik Jou is housed in a tiny, unassuming roadside stand. They specialize in affordable yet generous plates of comforting Haitian food, including slow-roasted cuts of chicken and pork served with sides of basmati rice, pickled cabbage and fried plantains. Stop by on a Tuesday or Thursday to enjoy the respective daily specials of curried goat and oxtail stew.

1505 NE Alberta St

Pine State Biscuits

Frequently voted one of the best breakfast spots in the nation, Pine State Biscuits began refining their fresh-baked sandwiches at local farmer’s markets in 2006. Now with three brick-and-mortar locations throughout the city, their biscuits are buttery perfection stuffed with fresh ingredients like seared flank steak, fried chicken, apple butter and blue cheese. The menu also includes comforting soul food items like shrimp-n-grits or their corn dog made with Andouille sausage.

2204 NE Alberta St

A mural in Alberta Arts District (Photo: Miriam Price via Flickr)

A mural in Alberta Arts District (Photo: Miriam Price via Flickr)

Vita Café

The organic-minded Vita Café ranks among the very best of Portland’s many vegan-friendly restaurants. A wood-accented interior, decorated with local art, welcomes diners for breakfast, lunch, dinner and happy hour. Their extensive menu focuses on meatless versions of comfort food classics like biscuits and gravy, chicken-fried steak, chili and Philly cheesesteak, all of which ably emulate their meat-centric counterparts while offering new flavors of their own.

3023 NE Alberta St

The Big Egg

The Big Egg’s food menu generally consists of only a few breakfast sandwiches, but the contents of those sandwiches are always changing to accommodate the latest seasonal ingredients available from their local vendors. They create delicate balances of flavor using sustainably-produced, often organic vegetables for favorite dishes like the Portobello-egg or lemon curd & bacon sandwiches. They’re best enjoyed with a cup of French-pressed coffee or organic juice, depending on the season.

3039 NE Alberta St

Bella Pizza

The crisp thin crust of East Coast pizza meets the agricultural bounty of Oregon’s Willamette Valley at Bella Pizza. Their brick storefront on Alberta Street caters to both meat-lovers and vegetarians, with a diverse selection of breadsticks (vegan or meatball-stuffed), salads, calzones and hand-tossed pies. Besides the typical toppings, guests can try unusual ingredients like Sriracha aioli, marinated tempeh, blue cheese and their signature “fairy dust” cheese & herb mixture.

2934 NE Alberta St

The storefront of El Nutri Taco (Photo: Rebecca Dru via Flickr)

The storefront of El Nutri Taco (Photo: Rebecca Dru via Flickr)

El Nutri Taco

Look for the bright orange and green façade of El Nutri Taco to find some of the best Mexican food available this far north of the Mexican border—all of it totally meatless. Their burritos are cheap and enormous, stuffed with beans and rice, topped with rich house-made salsas, wrapped in lightly-toasted flour and corn tortillas. Even those skeptical of a Mexican restaurant without meat will find something to love among their selection of meat substitutes like tempeh, apple sausage, chipotle soy curls and fresh cactus.

2124 NE Alberta St

DarSalam

Within the intimate space of the Iraqi restaurant DarSalam, the walls are covered with framed photos and the menu is filled with traditional Middle Eastern dishes. Friendly servers bring hugely-portioned rice plates and mezza platters of chicken shawarma, dolmas, homemade hummus and pillowy fried falafel pieces ideal for sharing with friends of family.

2921 NE Alberta St

The Vada Pav at Bollywood Theater (Photo: Amol Panchabhai via Flickr)

The Vada Pav at Bollywood Theater (Photo: Amol Panchabhai via Flickr)

Bollywood Theater

Bollywood Theater is devoted not just to emulating the flavors of India but to recreating the experience of eating there as well. Guests enter a lively dining room playing Bollywood productions on one wall and overflowing with authentic knick-knacks. You can order steel cup cocktails infused with masala syrup and seasonal street food specialties not often seen in the States, like their delicious kati roll and dumpling-like vada pav.

2039 NE Alberta St

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