When friends, colleagues, and readers ask me for Portland restaurant recommendations, there is one restaurant that almost always makes the list: Aviary restaurant. The food is creative and delicious, and the drinks are expertly crafted.
Located in the fun and funky Alberta arts district, Aviary opened in 2011 and consistently serves up inventive, eclectic dishes showcasing fresh local ingredients. Three chefs – Sarah Pliner, Jasper Shen, and Kat Whitehead – work together to create artistic small plates packed with flavor.
Recently, Chef Pliner received two top award nominations: she was a semifinalist for the James Beard Award for Best Chef Northwest and a nominee for Food & Wine magazine’s Best New Chef award. Aviary hosted an all-night happy hour to celebrate, giving me a delicious excuse to meet up with fellow food bloggers and revisit some of my favorite dishes.
Aviary barman Russ Hunsinger crafts some of my favorite cocktails in town. The Brix Layer: Buffalo Trace bourbon, Cabernet Sauvignon, cubed sugar, cherries, slices of orange. You can read about this drink and other happy hour eats in my previous post on Aviary.
I have had the pleasure of dining at Aviary many times, and I honestly can’t think of a dish that I have eaten that I did not enjoy. Each plate is a feast for the eyes, which I always appreciate, and then a sumptuous exploration of intriguing flavor combos that somehow always just work. Beautifully.
Here’s a little visual tour of the delicious bites I enjoyed on my most recent visit:
deviled tea eggs – $4, happy hour menu
oysters – $2 each, happy hour menu
trotters and eggs (my personal favorite!) – $5, happy hour menu
pulled pork slider – $5, happy hour menu
silken tofu with sweet hot bean paste, scallions, cantaloupe, sesame, peanuts, – $9, dinner menu
Aside from the fabulous food & drink, I love Aviary’s space itself. It’s industrial chic, Portland-style. The main dining room is roomy, the bar is cool and cozy, and there is a back room which can be used as private dining room space for 8-18 people. If you’re on a romantic date, I definitely recommend the back room. Intimate and sweet. Next to the private dining area is the restaurant’s gardens, where they grow many of the produce used in their dishes.
What to Wear & Who to Bring
This is Portland, so truly anything goes – except perhaps athletic wear or hiking attire. While jeans and tees are perfectly acceptable here, this is a spot where I like to dress up a little, mainly because it’s where I go on date nights with my husband or for girls’ night outs with a small group of dear girlfriends. While I’ve seen children dining here, and we’ll probably bring our kids here eventually, it’s not the first place I would take my kids, mainly because the menu is a little too eclectic for their tastes and the space is just sophisticated and “adult” enough to where they might feel uncomfortable. I would, however, bring a group of out of town guests and work colleagues here. It’s an excellent opportunity to give them a taste of Portland cuisine without having to deal with long waits and loud noise levels, and I have always been able to find street parking on the same block as the restaurant.
1733 NE Alberta St.
Portland, OR 97211
Happy Hour: Monday-Friday 5 – 7pm
Dinner: Monday-Thursday 5-10pm