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Cafe Nell
Cafe Nell

Cafe Nell Details

  • Dining Style: Casual Dining
  • Website: http://cafenell.com/
  • Phone: (503) 295-6487
  • Hours of Operation:
  • Cuisine: French
  • Dress Code: Casual Dress
  • Accepts Walk-Ins: Yes

Getting there

  • Cross Street: NW 20th Ave
  • Parking: Street Parking
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 photos
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Awards voted by OpenTable diners
  • Diners' Choice WinnerFrench
  • Diners' Choice WinnerGreat for Brunch
  • Diners' Choice WinnerNeighborhood Gem
Diner Reviews
  • "Delightful 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."
    Dined on 8/17/2014
  • "We 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!"
    Dined on 8/16/2014
  • "We had very good service and enjoyed our dinners. Overall, the evening was delightful."
    Dined on 8/16/2014
  • "Food 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."
    Dined on 8/8/2014
  • "Cafe 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."
    Dined on 7/31/2014
  • "Just dropped by and was treated to very good service and food. A neighborhood french bistro with decor and menu to match. Will go back"
    Dined on 7/28/2014
  • "Flavors meld perfectly, with creative combinations and unusual ingredients. Outstanding quality. Loved it so much for dinner that we went back for brunch, equally delicious."
    Dined on 7/18/2014
  • "Slow 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."
    Dined on 7/12/2014
  • "I 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."
    Dined on 7/9/2014
  • "Been 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."
    Dined on 7/9/2014
  • "The 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."
    Dined on 7/5/2014
  • "We 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."
    Dined on 6/21/2014
  • "My 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."
    Dined on 6/17/2014
  • "Food 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."
    Dined on 6/14/2014
  • "We 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."
    Dined on 6/9/2014
  • "This 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. "
    Dined on 6/1/2014
  • "Cafe 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!"
    Dined on 5/24/2014
  • "A 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!!!! "
    Dined on 5/23/2014
  • "Second 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!!"
    Dined on 5/18/2014
  • "never seen the place so dead before. there were 2 other tables in the dining room at 1 pm on a saturday. was nice though."
    Dined on 5/17/2014
  • "We 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!"
    Dined on 5/16/2014
  • "Cafe 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."
    Dined on 5/7/2014
  • "Great 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."
    Dined on 5/2/2014
  • "We 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. "
    Dined on 5/1/2014
  • "Great 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!!"
    Dined on 5/1/2014
  • "Cute 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."
    Dined on 4/28/2014
  • "Great food! Great space! Great service! The noise level at lunch was overwhelming loud, and made it very difficult to have a conversation and probably because there were 3 groups having lunch. "
    Dined on 4/21/2014
  • "Two friends and I were visiting from out of town and hadn't made any reservations, so we were thrilled that Cafe Nell was open. We had a pleasant brunch sitting outside. Good service; they even split the plates on an item we shared. Food was good (though it could have been hotter) and it was VERY reasonably priced. I had hoped there might be a special or two for Easter, but we weren't disappointed with the regular menu. I'd go back! "
    Dined on 4/20/2014
  • "I took my family for Easter and we loved it! Creative menu, amazing staff and a total delight!"
    Dined on 4/20/2014
  • "Charming NW Portland neighborhood location. I liked the fact you could make reservations for Sunday Brunch, many other neighborhood locations don't allow reservations on the weekend. By their website, the place looks great!!! The place simply didn't deliver on their online presence. Too noisy for Sunday Brunch to have a conversation without having to speak loudly and not be heard half the time. The waiter was rarely around and when he was he was hesitant (must of been his first day on the job with little experience). The guy simply wasn't on his game!!! The food was VERY AVERAGE. The whole experience was easily forgettable. Sadly to say!"
    Dined on 4/13/2014
  • "Clean, Lightful, and Airy. We loved this place for brunch/lunch. The Monte Cristo was a WIN!!! It was SOOOO wonderful that I think of it from time to time...hahaha. Yes I'm serious though. Recently, my love and I returned for dinner with reservations. We were seated promptly by the windows, service was great, but we found the place quite loud. The ambiance, with mostly candlelight, was a highlight. The food was very good but not outstanding! That is why I will return many times but mostly for lunch or brunch. Go check it out!"
    Dined on 4/4/2014
  • "Took mom for her almost 80th, with the whole family. Perfect choice. Will, our waiter, was amazing. Great service, great food."
    Dined on 3/28/2014
  • "Went there for Portland dining month. Had Oxtail for the main course. It was fantastic!"
    Dined on 3/19/2014
  • "Where better to spend a rainy day with a fireplace and great brunch. The hamburger looked like a real winner, too . Next time!"
    Dined on 3/2/2014
  • "Great neighborhood cafe to meet for business. Good location in NW Portland with easy access from all neighborhoods. Good menu with a nice small brunch menu served during the week."
    Dined on 2/24/2014
  • "With so many good restaurants in Portland, why waste your time eating someplace that has less than stellar performance. For example, the ciopinno was bland, the mac and cheese was good, steak delicious with a tasteless Bernnaise Sauce, the bread pudding was ho-hum."
    Dined on 2/22/2014
  • "The table was fine for our foursome. We all ordered drinks and began to talk, but, and I realize not everyone would mind, my soup came about four minutes after I ordered it! I then had to eat it while my wife and our friends talked. The soup itself, Potato, Corn and Ham Chowder was very thick and arrived lukewarm. It tasted fine, but I kept thinking about what made it so thick (flour??). My buddy and I both ordered the Bavette Steak Frites medium rare. Mine came medium, while his was perfectly medium rare. The fries were barely warm and soft, not hot and crisp as expected. A good but not excellent experience."
    Dined on 2/21/2014
  • "We had lunch at Cafe Nell... the menu sounded terrific! The ambience at this little "cafe" is great... with a bright red fireplace in the middle of it. And, we had a great time... just a few suggestions: a) Roasted Kale salad -- not really "roasted" kale, but still good. Added salmon to it, and it was ok... but a bit fishy! Had their special flatbread -- and it was tasty, but a bit greasy. I'm trying to watch my carb intake, or I would have had one of their hamburgers with fries, which looked incredible! I will go back... because I loved the feel of the place!"
    Dined on 2/20/2014
  • "The food was good and the service was good as well. Small intimate restaurant with great selection of wine and specialty cocktails. Valentines Menu was nice and it was difficult to choose on which dinner! We will be back to try the other selections!"
    Dined on 2/14/2014
  • "Cafe Nell is one of our go-to restaurants when we are scheduling dinner before a BodyVox performance. But I guess we hadn't been there for a little while, as this was the first time when the new chef and menu. The asparagus / egg appetizer is gone (darn), but the roasted brussel sprouts salad was excellent and my grilled salmon dish (I'm a salmon fiend) was also excellent. There were two others in my group and their salads and entrees (lamb ragu; ciopinno) also were raved about. But for this evening what made it special was that this was a Friday night of a snow storm, and we had reservations for 5:45 p.m. They closed at 6:00 pm.., but the server never made us feel rushed to get out. It was quiet, with only 2 other tables."
    Dined on 2/7/2014