February always seems to skip along so quickly that before I even realize it has arrived it’s gone again. Luckily, in rainy Portland, that means that it’s finally dining month! For those of you who aren’t familiar with dining month, let me just clarify that it’s the best month of the year. No, I don’t say that because we’re finally seeing more sun and the flowers are blooming, but because there are 129 restaurants in Portland offering a specialty three-course meal for just $33 a person all month long. During every other month of the year entrees at many of these restaurants start at $33 - so it’s a deal that attracts every foodie in the city. To help you make the most of dining month I’m sharing a few insider tips as well as my top five restaurants you shouldn’t miss during this year’s dining month. Enjoy!
How to Win at Portland Dining Month
Check Places Off Your List
Portland is known for its restaurant scene, and there are constantly new places opening up. So, chances are, you have a few restaurants on your list that you’ve been wanting to try. Well, now’s your chance! Restaurants will typically highlight their best dishes on their dining month menu, as they know it’s a great chance to gain new fans and impress people that might not usually eat at their restaurant.
The one obvious downside to dining month is its popularity. At restaurants that accept reservations I highly suggest making one, otherwise you might find yourself waiting at the bar for upwards of an hour. Some more popular restaurants get completely booked up on Friday and Saturday weeks in advance, so if you run into that issue I’d suggest trying to make a reservation during a weeknight. Tuesday might not be your typical date night but it will add a little extra excitement to your otherwise normal work week!
Keep an eye out for restaurants that offer multiple options for each of the three courses on their dining month menu. This is nice if you want to be able to choose chicken over steak, but it’s also a great way to try more dishes. Round up a few friends, make sure that everyone gets a different choice, and you could all get to sample upwards of six different courses during your meal!
Restaurants You Shouldn’t Miss During Portland Dining Month 2018
Bamboo Sushi became the world’s first certified sustainable sushi restaurant in 2008, and their food certainly reflects the care they put into their business. The restaurant is sustainable in every way possible, from sourcing fish locally and ethically to using 100% renewable energy and plant-based to-go containers. Bamboo has three locations in Portland, in Southeast, Northeast, and Northwest. All three locations have the same dining month menu but one course is a chef’s choice of four nigiri, which definitely means you can justify going more than once!
Bistro Agnes is a brand new restaurant that replaced Superbite in SW Portland just this year, so dining month is the perfect time to give it a try! Bistro Agnes has the same owners as Superbite, the James Beard award-winning duo Greg and Gabrielle Quinonez Denton, who are also the brains behind Kask and Ox. Their dining month menu starts with a pork pate maison (yes, that translates to pate wrapped in bacon) and includes mussels cooked in white wine, shallot, thyme, and creme fraiche which are served with garlic-rubbed baguette. They clearly have nailed French comfort food and I’m so looking forward to enjoying another Denton restaurant!
Andina’s doors have been open since 2003 and they have been a hit ever since. Located in the Pearl district of Portland, this Peruvian restaurant should be on every local and traveler’s list! Dining month is a particularly busy time for them, and with menu options such as a wok-fried Cascade natural beef with onions, tomatoes, oyster sauce, garlic, yellow chili pepper and garlic rice or a quinoa risotto with Grana Padano cheese, golden beets, local mushrooms, and truffle oil, it’s easy to see why. Andina is definitely a place that you should make a reservation for - and step on it!
Meriwether’s Restaurant & Skyline Farm
Meriwether’s, a Northwest Portland mainstay, is one of the only truly farm-to-table restaurants in the country. They run a working five-acre garden on Skyline Boulevard and whatever they are unable to grow they carefully source from local providers. Meriwether's dining month menu showcases some of their best winter vegetables in a “From the Farm” course of rutabaga, delicata squash, carrots, glazed Tokyo turnips, and sunchoke puree.
This last restaurant isn’t exactly a restaurant... but I had to include it. Feastly is an online marketplace working towards building a social network of food-lovers by connecting diners and chefs. For dining month this year, Feastly is offering a custom pop-up dining experience every single night of March, each showcasing a different local chef or style of food. The options all sound so good that I still haven’t decided which to choose - a vegan Nigerian cuisine pop up, an evening of cuisine and culture of Venezuela, a Breton coastal fest, or a St. Patrick’s Day Caribbean style feast? At least there are no bad choices during dining month!
Hannah Morrison is a Local Expert with Locals Compass, a travel marketplace that connects travelers with locals for personalized travel itineraries with recommendations on where to eat, what to see, and what to do.