1987 NW Kearney St
Portland, OR 97209Neighborhood:
Downtown Portland - NW
FrenchPrice: $30 and under
- Dining Style: Casual Dining
- Website: http://cafenell.com/
- Phone: (503) 295-6487
- Hours of Operation:
- Payment Options:
- Cuisine: French
- Dress Code: Casual Dress
- Accepts Walk-Ins: Yes
A word from Cafe Nell
Located in the heart of Northwest Portland, Café Nell serves French inspired American classics simply prepared from Northwest ingredients. Entering its fifth year, Café Nell has become known for lively brunches featuring signature cocktails which never fail to impress. A full bar, friendly atmosphere, rotating taps, and a glowing fireplace create a welcoming environment. During summer, our patio seating is perfect for happy hour, or a candle-lit dinner on a warm Portland evening.Continued
Foodspotting photosSee all photos
Awards voted by OpenTable diners
- Diners' Choice WinnerNeigborhood Gem
- Diners' Choice WinnerFrench
Cafe Nell - Best Restaurants in Downtown Portland - NW ›
Cafe Nell reviews from OpenTable diners
49 reviews since July 25, 2014
- Ambiance3.7Noise LevelModerate
neighborhood gem (32)great for outdoor dining (20)fit for foodies (19)romantic (15)great for brunch (13)great for lunch (11)notable wine list (7)good for groups (7)vibrant bar scene (5)hot spot (5)kid-friendly (3)special occasion (3)late-night find (1)Show More
- Good Service Noisey PatronsChrisAVIPDined on 11/2/2014My wife and I enjoyed the food and the service was excellent. The only drawback was a group of overly loud patrons. I will go back but will likely eat in the bar where it's quieter.Special Features:
- Hire someone who can cookThomasVIPDined on 11/2/2014Service lovely. Food on par with IHOP but IHOP doesn't try to be more than it is. "Wild" mushrooms soggy and pre-refrigerated, oven-roasted potatoes nasty. Pass until someone in the kitchen actually cares about food.
- Crowded space but SO worth it!LateinlifefoodieDined on 10/30/20143 of us went on a Thursday evening as I read about the date night "2-fer" meal offered. The entrees were ALL delicious. We had the Chicken liver mousse & the Mushroom tart as starters which we all really liked & would have again! The tables are a bit close together but overall we had a Good experience! Next visit I want to have a Bloody Mary ...Special Features:
- A downward shiftBJ2013VIPDined on 10/25/2014I've been to Café Nell numerous times, this last experience left me a little disappointed. Their famous Mary Nell was lacking flavor, seemed watered down. Presentation, taste and garnishes were scaled down. I ordered the Huevos Rancheros, tortillas were semi cold, food was warm. Prices seem to have gone up, understandably, but the quality has taken a hit.Special Features:
- We'll Give it Another ChanceOpenTable Diner Since 2013Dined on 10/18/2014Due to a party of 16, a table away, the four of us could not hear each other. Decibel level was rock concert. Salmon was great. Bouillabaisse was overly tomatoey & risotto was thick.
- Delicious, as alwaysNWfoodieVIPDined on 10/12/2014Fresh, creative comfort food. We go here when we want great, seasonal food and a place to talk. I have many favorite foods, and I love that I can depend on them to always taste the same, absolutely wonderful! On Tuesday, all their bottles of wine are half price. A perfect neighborhood spot.Special Features:I would recommend this to a friend.
- Mediocre.Love2dineDined on 10/10/2014We expected more. It took 15 minutes for our waiter to come to the table to take our cocktail order, and other 15 until it arrived at our table. And it wasn't even busy. Clams and fries were good though.Special Features:
- NellnwportlandDined on 9/23/2014Friendly and quiet local restaurant on a Tuesday evening, great for after an event earlier in the evening in that area. Good wine list and adequate choices on the menu for all tastes. Had been there before when the intimate bar with tables was hopping.Special Features:I would recommend this to a friend.
- One and donegracenrichDined on 9/20/2014Food good but not great. Bar is on adjoining wall. Bar patron to much perfume and way to noisy.
- Nice neighbourhood restaurantTijjersDined on 9/19/2014We visited on Friday eve, easy to get a table. We ordered oysters to start, unfortunately our server didn't know much about the ones on the specials list, we tried 2 and didn't like them, her description was off. My son had steak frites, I had scallops my husband had cod. His cod dish was on the small side. All were very tasty, average fodder fairly priced. I ordered the bread n butter pudding which was warm around the outside and cold in the middle, the creme anglais would have been better on the side rather than poured on top for me. Service was a bit a slow. Lots of tables outside if you want to dine on the pavement. I ordered the port to pair the dessert, they didn't have it. We had an ok evening, would I go back? Probably not.Special Features:
- Don't do dinner during happy hour!!PegnPeteDined on 9/17/2014We ate dinner before going to a play, so were there earlier than we'd usually eat and while happy hour was still going on. There were only two tables seated in the dining room while we were there but the bar must have been full. We've always found it a great spot for a good, perhaps even romantic meal, but at that hour the bar music was loud and hammering and it definitely spoiled the mood. Felt more like a bad teenage clothing store than a nice restaurant. I think the food is quite good; we always think it's perhaps just a little bit higher than it ought to be; the service has always been very, very good. We'll go again, but not for an early dinner!Special Features:I would recommend this to a friend.
- Sunday Brunch was okayPortlandbornVIPDined on 9/14/2014Sunday Brunch was okay, not great. My omelet was blah. My three dining partners also thought their meals were blah. The Bloody Marys were excellent however. Also, please clean your rest rooms Cafe Nell!
- Has potential to be betterOpenTable Diner Since 2008VIPDined on 9/13/2014Slow service wasn't so bad if food hadn't been cold... Cold steak frites... Not so good but my friend liked her food and left happy. The bread pudding was very eggy and just okay. I think I would give it another try. Nice ambiance and the waiter was nice.Special Features:
- A Place For Guests and FoodiesOpenTable Diner Since 2011Dined on 9/9/2014Cafe Nell is always a good call, weather dashing in for a bite with a friend or taking out of towers to one of Portland's Neighborhood Gems! The food is impeccably prepared and presented and the what staff is attentive but also knows when to give time for enjoyment and interaction with friends. A nod to the chef and imagination of combinations of seasoning, and ingredients. The Bloody Mary is a meal in itself and not to be missed! It stars with great vodka and builds to a presentation of appetizer toppings (crisp bacon, celery, olives, shrimp, cheese and salami bit. It was a shared appetizer at out table. Definitely an A++++++ dining experience!Special Features:
- Charming, with agile servicemariquailDined on 8/17/2014Delightful food served on a quiet street with trees and sunlight. Our waiter was an absolute dream, the kind of professional waiter that Portland needs more of. We had between us shrimp and grits, the hash, the Monte Cristo and a Benedict and everyone enjoyed their own (and bites of everyone else's food) immensely. I was absolutely charmed by this place and will definitely be back.Special Features:I would recommend this to a friend.
- A Neighborhood Gemlemons4uVIPDined on 8/16/2014We love Cafe Nell. It is right in our neighborhood, so it is our go-to place for dinner after a day of traveling or shopping or whatever! Like when I don't feel like cooking! We have been two times and the food is consistent and so is the service. We highly recommend it and cannot wait to go back to try all the entrees on the menu! Looking forward to sitting in front of the fireplace on a cool fall night soon!Special Features:
- Very pleasant experienceMomofDanaDined on 8/16/2014We had very good service and enjoyed our dinners. Overall, the evening was delightful.Special Features:
- good food, sub-par servicerh894Dined on 8/8/2014Food was great for lunch, and I love the atmosphere here. Our server was pretty bad though - I was with two other women, and all three of us were on a lunch break from work and communicated this to our server. Took almost 20 minutes just to get our drinks, and the food took twice as long. Also, as soon as our orders were brought to us, the server never checked back in. No additional drink orders were taken, and we had to get up from our table just to track her down for the bill. Even after trying to communicate our time urgencies, she seemed as though she was in no hurry. I'll be back to give it a second shot because the food and the menu are good, but would ask to be re-seated if I was placed in her section again.Special Features:
- MrSamAdamsVIPDined on 7/31/2014Cafe Nell has great food, a beautiful room and knowledgeable and friendly server. Plus, the owner is a gem! The place has sidewalk seating that is on a quieter street in the heart of the Nob Hill/Alphabet Historic District. I had the pasta and pesto with grilled chicken and it was perfect.Special Features:
- Nice meal midweekLovejacksonVIPDined on 7/28/2014Just dropped by and was treated to very good service and food. A neighborhood french bistro with decor and menu to match. Will go backSpecial Features:
- The following 61 reviews are from the Cafe Nell reviews archive.
- Small portions fully satisfykrislarsVIPDined on 7/18/2014Flavors meld perfectly, with creative combinations and unusual ingredients. Outstanding quality. Loved it so much for dinner that we went back for brunch, equally delicious.Special Features:I would recommend this to a friend.
- Cafe NellOpenTable Diner Since 2013Dined on 7/12/2014Slow service, food was boring to terrible. I ordered the $24. Salmon with quinoa and roasted summer vegetables, my husband had the steak and frites with béarnaise, which I have to tell you, was not a true béarnaise, more like warm mayo made with brown butter no other flavor, unless you count salt. The steak and fries were fair, nothing notable about it. My salmon was okay and the roasted summer vegetable amounted to small dice of something hidden in the fluffy quinoa. Bottom line we will not return and it you are truly a French inspired American bistro you must get the béarnaise right. Service in a place that is only 1/3 of its capacity should be prompt, 20 minutes for a fruit and bread appetizer is unacceptable. Will not return.
- Charming Corner SpotDWeats503Dined on 7/9/2014I really enjoyed the ambiance most of Cafe Nell. This was my first visit and it was a very low attendance night. The service was really good, as was the food. Most importantly, it was a wonderful location. I can imagine it's lovely in the winter with the fireplace…I enjoyed the table inside but by the open window. Can't wait to return.Special Features:
- ScoobypdxDined on 7/9/2014Been to Cafe Nell 3 times previously. All three previous visits were much better than this last dinner. Red wine was hot- not even just warm. Had to have it chilled to just be warm. Main course way over cooked. Service slow and unengaged.
- 1st but not last time at Cafe NellPdxrunnerVIPDined on 7/5/2014The restaurant has a charming atmosphere and dining outside on the sidewalk is nice too. The food was great. The Bloody Mary is a feast in itsself- loaded with seafood garnishments. The wait staff always was present with a smile and a pour of more coffee. I'll be back often.Special Features:I would recommend this to a friend.
- Lovely Relaxed Dining ExperiencepdxcoffeeguysDined on 6/21/2014We scheduled our Wedding Day Brunch here, and it was wonderful! Even for a large party our server was accommodating and relaxed. The drinks and food were excellent and arrived quite quickly after we ordered. Most surprising was the fact that we were not rushed out of the restaurant after we finished eating; our server kept water glasses and coffee mugs full even though we had paid out and were just sitting at the table chatting. My sincerest thanks to the staff at Cafe Nell for helping begin our wedding day in the most comfortable, stress free, and welcoming manner.Special Features:I would recommend this to a friend.
- OpenTable Diner Since 2011Dined on 6/17/2014My friend and I enjoyed our lunch and the leisurely time we took to visit. No one bothered us to finish up and leave. We will definitely be back.Special Features:I would recommend this to a friend.
- Cute neighborhood placeMWMBDined on 6/14/2014Food was very delicious and portions were good (the mac and cheese is huge)! Wine was a little on the warm side, but not too expensive. In fact, the restaurant was quite warm! The vibe is nice and we saw a group of 6 walk in and be seated, which is great for groups.Special Features:I would recommend this to a friend.
- Delightful DiscoveryOpenTable Diner Since 2006VIPDined on 6/9/2014We tried Café Nell on a whim after reading the reviews on Open Table. We had an excellent meal. Everyone ordered something different and we tasted everything. For starters we enjoyed the flatbread, beet salad and macaroni and cheese. All were delicious and the mac and cheese was as good as we have ever tasted, a real treat. We had salmon, lamb ragu and a burger for our dinners. Again, it was all beautifully done and delicious. They were all winners. We had great service, as well. The only drawbacks were, there was no one greeting customers and the inside space is not particularly attractive. However, the good service and great food made up for our initial hesitation. We will be back and we highly recommend this restaurant.Special Features:I would recommend this to a friend.
- Good and BadjudyDined on 6/1/2014This visit was for Sunday brunch. I have been to Café Nell many times and always found it to be the best. The menu is excellent with a wide variety of breakfast choices. The wait staff is also excellent, attentive, efficient, and friendly. This visit was good, but not best. The noise level was such that every table was literally shouting at each other to be heard. One table of six women created the chaos. I will go back to Café Nell as past visits have been excellent.Special Features:I would recommend this to a friend.
- A Neighborhood Gemlemons4uVIPDined on 5/24/2014Cafe Nell was an unexpected find! A neighborhood restaurant on 20th. Not trendy; but great food and ambiance. It's like dining in a cute bistro in Paris! Will definitely go back!Special Features:I would recommend this to a friend.
- SalemjanSalemjanDined on 5/23/2014A group of women had a lunch out last Friday. The Open Table reservation system made it easy to make a large group reservation and some special requests. The table was waiting for us and the wait staff very accommodating as our group had shrunk. The wait staff was very knowledgeable regarding the menu, the food was wonderful and the service was very nice. Highly recommended!!!!Special Features:
- Cafe Nell fits the bill!!!LovetoeattoomuchDined on 5/18/2014Second time I was there and it was just as good both times!!! The omelet was deeeelicious, the Bloody Mary was the BEST ever, and everyone else at my table enjoyed their food. The biscuits were perfect and prices were within reason. The only minus at all, would be the level of customer noise. If they put rugs down or something to absorb the sound it would be ideal. There's nothing to absorb it and it's a small space...and they need to put up something like cork boards or rugs, etc... Otherwise, we LOVED it! Good service, friendly place....we'll be back!!Special Features:I would recommend this to a friend.
- RoxanneDined on 5/17/2014never seen the place so dead before. there were 2 other tables in the dining room at 1 pm on a saturday. was nice though.Special Features:
- Excellent food and great serviceOpenTable Diner Since 2009Dined on 5/16/2014We recently enjoyed a lovely dinner here. We had the pork tenderloin over sweet potato mash, the lamb ragu, and the cobia over cauliflower puree. Everything was wonderful! the flavor was full, but not overpowering, and the balance of the vegetables was delightful. we will definitely go back and try HH and brunch!Special Features:
- "Meh" service, ear-splitting soundMeeshPDXDined on 5/7/2014Cafe Nell is one of my favorite happy hour destinations, but the dining room was a big disappointment. While our waiter was friendly, he was slow and inattentive. It took him 15 minutes to bring our wine and then we saw him only once after that. My starter, a roasted brussels sprout "salad," was dullsville...just a homely plate of warmish roasted sprouts with a bit of parmesan. Fortunately, the spring risotto was light, bright and lovely. The sound level: not so lovely. It climbed higher and higher over the source of our meal, making "no dessert" an easy decision. We were eager to escape. But because our waiter had vanished, we had to flag down the hostess to pay our bill. Thankfully, she got us out the door quickly.
- OpenTable Diner Since 2011Dined on 5/2/2014Great food--a friend and I split a lovely beet salad and scallops with pea puree . Our waiter was friendly but tired and acted inconvenienced at one point, which is never good.
- Dinner Date with Fianc'eJewelsDined on 5/1/2014We were a few minutes early and the staff allowed us to be seated at a table for two. Staff were very professional. Our waiter was kind, and gave great suggestions. The selection had many seasonal, locally supported, fresh produce. Our Portions were adequate, and each dish was presented in a timely fashion. The salmon with lentils was prepared well. The Salmon was perfectly prepared and the herbs flavoring enhanced the overall interaction of the dish. A Fruit, bread & cheese appetizer was a deliteful prep for the main dish.Special Features:I would recommend this to a friend.
- Top NotchMeetmehereDined on 5/1/2014Great ambiance and food! Long term service staff are always delivering top notch friendly service. Two all time favorites are their bloody marys, served with ALL your favorite garnishes and then some. And I dare you to find a better mac n' cheese with bacon! Tops for lunch, happy hour, and dinner!!Special Features:I would recommend this to a friend.
- Not as good as I had heardArdnatDined on 4/28/2014Cute building n I'm sure nice to have in the'hood but I can make better food at home. Nothing unique. It was a slow Monday night and instead of getting attention from one of the 2 waiters, the service was poor. Such a cute place, was hoping for more. Won't be returning.Special Features: