Cafe Nell
Cafe Nell

Cafe Nell

  • Dining Style: Casual Dining
  • Website: http://cafenell.com/
  • Phone: 5032956487
  • Hours of Operation:

  • Payment Options:
  • 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.
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Foodspotting photos
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Awards voted by OpenTable diners
  • Diners' Choice WinnerNeigborhood Gem
  • Diners' Choice WinnerFrench
Cafe Nell reviews from OpenTable diners
54 reviews since June 27, 2014
Overall Rating3.9
  • Food3.9
    Service3.8
  • Ambiance3.8
    Noise LevelModerate
82% of reviewers would recommend this restaurant to a friend.
neighborhood gem (40)great for outdoor dining (22)fit for foodies (21)great for brunch (17)romantic (16)great for lunch (13)special occasion (8)good for groups (7)notable wine list (7)vibrant bar scene (5)hot spot (4)kid-friendly (3)late-night find (1)Show More
  • We'll Give it Another Chance
    OpenTable Diner Since 2013
    Dined on 10/18/2014
    Due 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.
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
  • Delicious, as always
    NWfoodieVIP
    Dined on 10/12/2014
    Fresh, 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:
    fit for foodies, good for groups, great for brunch, great for lunch, neighborhood gem, notable wine list, romantic
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Mediocre.
    Love2dine
    Dined on 10/10/2014
    We 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:
    neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • Nell
    nwportland
    Dined on 9/23/2014
    Friendly 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:
    neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • One and done
    gracenrich
    Dined on 9/20/2014
    Food good but not great. Bar is on adjoining wall. Bar patron to much perfume and way to noisy.
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • Nice neighbourhood restaurant
    Tijjers
    Dined on 9/19/2014
    We 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:
    good for groups, great for outdoor dining, kid-friendly, romantic
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • Don't do dinner during happy hour!!
    PegnPete
    Dined on 9/17/2014
    We 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:
    good for groups, neighborhood gem, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Sunday Brunch was okay
    PortlandbornVIP
    Dined on 9/14/2014
    Sunday 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!
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • Has potential to be better
    OpenTable Diner Since 2008VIP
    Dined on 9/13/2014
    Slow 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:
    great for outdoor dining, neighborhood gem, romantic
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
  • A Place For Guests and Foodies
    OpenTable Diner Since 2011
    Dined on 9/9/2014
    Cafe 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:
    fit for foodies, great for lunch, great for outdoor dining, hot spot, neighborhood gem, notable wine list, vibrant bar scene
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • Charming, with agile service
    mariquail
    Dined on 8/17/2014
    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.
    Special Features:
    great for brunch, fit for foodies, great for outdoor dining, romantic, neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • A Neighborhood Gem
    lemons4uVIP
    Dined on 8/16/2014
    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!
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, great for outdoor dining, neighborhood gem, notable wine list
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • Very pleasant experience
    MomofDana
    Dined on 8/16/2014
    We had very good service and enjoyed our dinners. Overall, the evening was delightful.
    Special Features:
    great for brunch, great for outdoor dining
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • good food, sub-par service
    rh894
    Dined on 8/8/2014
    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.
    Special Features:
    great for lunch, neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
  • Mr
    SamAdamsVIP
    Dined on 7/31/2014
    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.
    Special Features:
    great for brunch, kid-friendly, fit for foodies, great for outdoor dining, great for lunch, neighborhood gem, vibrant bar scene, notable wine list
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • Nice meal midweek
    LovejacksonVIP
    Dined on 7/28/2014
    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
    Special Features:
    great for brunch, great for outdoor dining, neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • Small portions fully satisfy
    krislarsVIP
    Dined on 7/18/2014
    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.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Cafe Nell
    OpenTable Diner Since 2013
    Dined on 7/12/2014
    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.
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
  • Charming Corner Spot
    DWeats503
    Dined on 7/9/2014
    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.
    Special Features:
    neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
  • Scoobypdx
    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.
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • 1st but not last time at Cafe Nell
    PdxrunnerVIP
    Dined on 7/5/2014
    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.
    Special Features:
    great for brunch, fit for foodies, good for groups, great for outdoor dining, romantic, special occasion, great for lunch, neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Ratings-Only Reviews
    Based on 33 ratings-only reviews submitted since June 27, 2014
    • Overall Rating4.1
    • Food4
    • Ambiance3.9
    • Service3.9
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • The following 56 reviews are from the Cafe Nell reviews archive.
  • Lovely Relaxed Dining Experience
    pdxcoffeeguys
    Dined on 6/21/2014
    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.
    Special Features:
    great for brunch, kid-friendly, fit for foodies, good for groups, great for outdoor dining, special occasion, great for lunch, neighborhood gem, vibrant bar scene
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • OpenTable Diner Since 2011
    Dined on 6/17/2014
    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.
    Special Features:
    special occasion, great for lunch
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Cute neighborhood place
    MWMB
    Dined on 6/14/2014
    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.
    Special Features:
    good for groups, romantic, neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Delightful Discovery
    OpenTable Diner Since 2006VIP
    Dined on 6/9/2014
    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.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Good and Bad
    judy
    Dined on 6/1/2014
    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.
    Special Features:
    great for brunch, great for lunch, neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • A Neighborhood Gem
    lemons4uVIP
    Dined on 5/24/2014
    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!
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Salemjan
    Salemjan
    Dined on 5/23/2014
    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!!!!
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, good for groups, great for outdoor dining, great for lunch, neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • Cafe Nell fits the bill!!!
    Lovetoeattoomuch
    Dined on 5/18/2014
    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!!
    Special Features:
    great for brunch, fit for foodies, great for lunch, neighborhood gem, vibrant bar scene
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Roxanne
    Dined on 5/17/2014
    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.
    Special Features:
    great for brunch, kid-friendly, fit for foodies, good for groups, great for outdoor dining, great for lunch, neighborhood gem, hot spot
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
  • Excellent food and great service
    OpenTable Diner Since 2009
    Dined on 5/16/2014
    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!
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, great for outdoor dining, neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • "Meh" service, ear-splitting sound
    MeeshPDX
    Dined on 5/7/2014
    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.
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
  • OpenTable Diner Since 2011
    Dined on 5/2/2014
    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.
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • Dinner Date with Fianc'e
    Jewels
    Dined on 5/1/2014
    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.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, good for groups, great for outdoor dining, romantic, great for lunch, neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Top Notch
    Meetmehere
    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!!
    Special Features:
    Great for Brunch, Great for Outdoor Dining, special occasion, Great for Lunch, Neighborhood Gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Not as good as I had heard
    Ardnat
    Dined on 4/28/2014
    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.
    Special Features:
    Neighborhood Gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • Fuja
    Dined on 4/21/2014
    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.
    Special Features:
    Great for Lunch
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
  • Nice Easter brunch
    CindyS
    Dined on 4/20/2014
    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!
    Special Features:
    Great for Brunch, Neighborhood Gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Easter bliss
    Bestofpdx
    Dined on 4/20/2014
    I took my family for Easter and we loved it! Creative menu, amazing staff and a total delight!
    Special Features:
    Great for Brunch, Fit For Foodies, Good for Groups, Great for Outdoor Dining, Romantic, special occasion, Great for Lunch, Neighborhood Gem, Notable Wine List
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Wasn't what I expected
    rambagirl
    Dined on 4/13/2014
    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!
    Special Features:
    neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic