Reader Survey 2012: Best Restaurant in Portland #13 Tabla

Tabla Restaurant Portland Oregon

Interior. Photo by Ryan Ribary

Tabla may feel like a local, neighborhood restaurant, but it strives to be something more. Located on the NE corner of Davis and NE 28th, it has plenty of windows for a bright airy feel. The space is long and thin, a full bar taking up a good part of the north side, and a large open kitchen in the back. For the spectator among us, there is a chef’s counter that puts you in the center of the action. Down a hallway, separate from the rest of the dining room, is a private party space that holds up to about fourteen people. Additional tables stretch down the Davis street sidewalk. The atmosphere of the entire restaurant is very comfortable and relaxed, though the noise level can get fairly high on busy nights.

You are made to feel welcome the moment you walk through the door. Unfortunately, the total service experience doesn’t always stand up to the greeting. On some visits, service has been excellent, on others, the staff has obviously been overwhelmed. To be fair, this has only happened to me when they have a packed house.

Tabla Portland Chinook Salmon

Pan-Seared Chinook Salmon

One of the best deals in town, Tabla has a $28.00 three course dinner. If you go with this choice, you’ll be choosing one item from each column of the menu: an appetizer, one half pasta portion, and one full entrée. This is a great introduction to the restaurant, and the portions are large enough to satisfy most people. A few of the more expensive choices have a slight surcharge of a couple of dollars. Of course you can ignore these prix-fixe options, and order as you normally would.

Pastas are my favorite items. Five are available, all homemade, and all of excellent quality: tajarin, just like I’ve had in Piedmont – thin house made pasta, truffle butter and grana Padano cheese. The pasta is perfectly made, almost elegant, giving ever so lightly to the tooth, the truffle butter and cheese setting off a wave of aroma that washes over your palate. The Tabla ravioli is a similar sensory experience. A ring of chard and ricotta is layered atop a thin sheet of house-made pasta. An egg is nestled within the ring, and the pasta shell applied to the top. After a quick cooking, it is brushed with poppy-seed butter and cheese. The overall effect was of a silk purse on the tongue, the egg flavor throughout, unexpectedly bursting as you bite into it like warm velvet river.

Tabla Portland

Fettucini Verde

The green fettuccine adds an unexpected element by using pistachio in a lighter than expected sauce. The cherry tomatoes are bright little bursts of flavor, and the milky white dry Ricotta puts it over the edge. Another winner is the tagliatelle with a porky sauce of tomato, basil, and grana Padano cheese. A slight spice gives a long, unexpected finish.

Overall, complaints are few. The staff is friendly and knowledgeable. When queried about a specific dish, the servers know the ingredients, and can rattle off suggestions from the excellent wine list with no trouble. You can read my more detailed review here.

  • Address: 200 Northeast 28th Ave., Portland OR 97232  Map
  • Phone: (503) 238-3777
  • Hours: Mon-Fri 5:30pm – close
  • Happy Hour: bar menu served all evening – at the bar only.
  • Reservation Policy: 
  • Noise Level: moderate/high on busy nights
  • Price: moderate. $28 pre-fix meal available
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