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Fearless Critic restaurant review
Upmarket restaurant

Mon–Thu 5:00pm–10:00pm
Fri–Sat 5:00pm–10:30pm
Sun 4:30pm–9:30pm

Features Date-friendly, good wines, outdoor dining, veg-friendly
Bar Beer, wine
Credit cards Visa, MC, AmEx
Reservations Not accepted


Northwest Portland
807 NW 21st Ave.
Portland, OR
(503) 226-4646
Caffè Mingo
A neighborhood restaurant with even food and service that’s worth a wait

Caffè Mingo is a stalwart of the Portland dining scene, a place that’s pretty routinely overlooked as the clamor of new and exciting ventures reaches a high crescendo. And while its next-door annex, Bar Mingo, satisfies the casual, trendy crowds, Caffè Mingo maintains a reputation for having more serious food and a superb waitstaff, many of whom have been at Mingo for years. There’s actually an homage to every staff member who has worked here in the front of the restaurant, and it’s a surprisingly short list. Caffè Mingo must have one of the lowest turnover rates in the business.

It’s no surprise, then, on any given night, that servers are incredibly helpful and knowledgeable about the menu and wine list. Unlike next door’s Italian fare, which serves as more of a supporting chorus to the wines, these dishes are memorable and impressive. We’ve had good risotto with sweet, fresh corn and heirloom tomatoes; expertly braised meats; and decent fish specials. The kitchen has shown a particular way with melt-in-your-mouth braised cod. As at Bar Mingo, pastas are made in-house, but they’re matched by nearly everything else. This may not be the city’s most exciting Italian restaurant, but the execution is generally there.

Just because the restaurant is a bit more dressed up than its popular neighbor doesn’t mean that it isn’t cozy. Quite the opposite: there’s a totally approachable neighborhood vibe here. And where Bar Mingo’s wine program is a little…egalitarian, this wine list is restrained and predominantly Italian, with the big stars from Tuscany and Piedmont. A generous corkage fee of only $15 also invites you to bring in some of the bargain Italians not on this list, but remember to be polite and offer your server a taste. (Reward good service in this way, and you’ll find more of it around town.)

Reservations aren’t accepted for parties of less than six, but if you can’t wait, it’s nice to know there’s always the adjacent overflow bar—even if it won’t be quite so splendid.

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