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What’s open for a sit down lunch? Dining out for lunch is a lovely break in the middle of the day, not eating off paper plates at a food cart, but actually sitting inside. So many lunch spots closed during covid but some great lunch places must still exist.
Hey, Suzanne — As a fan of both lunching with ladies and “The Ladies Who Lunch,” I can appreciate your question. We’re all, as a culture, missing Davenport lunches and mid-day Ripe Cooperative pasta. A few spots come to mind, though I suppose it depends on the type of experience you’re looking for.
Based on the phrasing of your question — “a lovely break in the middle of the day” — I’m guessing you’re looking for something sort of leisurely, maybe a little elegant. I’m picturing a full-service deal, maybe even a cloth napkin. If that is, in fact, what you’re seeking, my immediate answer would be Maurice. I’m not sure if you’ve done the whole Maurice thing, but a visit there is truly such a luxurious way to spend a lunch break. Grab one of the sun-bathed window seats if you can. Start with a pot of tea, maybe a glass of wine if that’s the vibe, and order a few of the rotating plates on the oft-changing menu. For a two-person lunch, my typical move is to go with one salad, one smorbrod, and something with seafood (Maurice is underrated for its seafood dishes; I’ve had some of my favorite in Portland there). Of course, I save room for fika — the cheesecake and the souffle pudding cake are musts.
Higgins is another natural choice for a full-service, sit-down lunch mid-week; there’s a reason it’s been a favorite for downtown power lunches for so long. Higgins also changes its menu pretty frequently, but one constant is its in-house charcuterie — it’s a smart way to kick things off. Something I like about Higgins is that you can dress it up or down, lunch wise; it’s a nice spot to grab a sandwich or a salad, or you can get oysters and risotto.
Another option downtown serving old-school realness is Murata; when I’m craving sushi bento and teriyaki chicken, this is a fun option. I recently had lunch here in one of the tatami rooms, which is such a cool way to step away from the work day and focus on the people with you. I tend to go the teishoku route here — essentially a pre-set menu — though Murata is also a lovely spot for donburi and udon. For something a little more new-school, Takibi offers a nice teishoku lunch on the weekends.
I really didn’t expect so many of these options to be in downtown Portland, but I suppose that makes sense. Bullard, within the Woodlark Hotel, offers lunch during the week, kind of meat-and-three (well, two) style: You choose a protein, like buttermilk fried chicken or smoked-and-braised beef cheek, and then choose two sides, like kabocha squash stew or beet salad. Alternatively, the menu also includes things like burgers and fried chicken sandwiches. Speaking of, Jojo in the Pearl District also serves lunch, if you’re craving a gargantuan fried chicken sandwich or a pile of crispy fried potato wedges.
On the east side, Olympia Provisions serves lunch throughout the week; of course, the move here is charcuterie, pickles, and sandwiches made with its cured meats, though I’ve really loved OP’s garlic soup and cassoulet in the past. Rukdiew Cafe is a cheery spot for a mid-week lunch — when I’m feeling a little burnt out, I like to stop in and treat myself to a bowl of khao soi. The food is great, of course, but the pops of pink in the dining room feel like a little serotonin boost as well. And, this is no surprise, but if I have the time to drive out there, lunch at Rose VL Deli is one of my favorite things to do with out-of-town guests. Seat in the window, Vietnamese iced coffee, salad rolls, one of the soups of the day. Boom, done.
For more lunch inspiration, we do have a mid-week lunch map, though most of the spots on there are counter service. And of course, the sandwich map and the ramen map will have plenty of options for lunch. If you find a new favorite we haven’t mentioned, Suzanne, definitely let us know.