Happen to be in town for Feast too? Thinking about planning a trip anyway? Here's how to eat (and drink) your way through Portland's best.
Portland and I had a good run: I turned 21 at a now-thriving cider bar where my roommates and I tried to start an under-handed darts league, I slung cupcakes while taking a postbac class in archeology, and I built my own bike.
Honestly, I moved to Portland, Oregon on a dare, before Portlandia had aired or Pok Pok had become famous. It was there I witnessed “put a bird on it” first hand, watched as the small restaurant Jam grew to five-times its size, and benefited from classic food carts going brick and mortar. It’s been about three years since I called Portland home, but I go back every year—here are the places I cannot miss when I visit. (Please add yours in the comments, too!)
More: Our community has slew of recommendations, too. Find them here.
To get around Portland like a pro, you’ll need a crash course in PDX navigation. Portland is divided into quadrants: Southwest, Southeast, Northwest, and Northeast (which, for this purpose, includes North Portland). Each “quadrant” has a few different commercial streets where you’ll find most of the shopping, eating, bookstores, coffee shops, and other ephemera. And look out for Burnside, the street that divides the city north and south on both sides of the Willamette river.
Southwest: You’ll find downtown Portland, Powell’s books, the farmers market, and the biggest food cart pod in Portland. Don't stay here, but do check it out at least once.
Southeast: I lived here, so I speak with an acknowledged bias when I say it’s the best. The main streets to check out are Hawthorn, Division, Clinton, and Belmont. Sellwood is a little further south, but it’s quaint and worth the treck.
Northwest: This part of town is a little more mainstream, but if you're looking for a fun day of shopping and pastries, 23rd Ave is hard to beat.
Northeast: N.E. is hip—get lost in art fairs, independent bookstores, and beer bars; Mississippi, Williams, and Alberta are all worth exploring.
Getting Around: Portland is best seen by bike or foot. (The more exploring you do, the more likely you are to find a bungalow that will have you calling your realtor.) Remember, if your legs are tired, or you are trying to go the distance, public transit (buses and the MAX) is your friend.
The Must-Do List:
Drink coffee at Heart. Go to the Burnside location—this is a coffee shop that knows how to cortado. Give yourself a little extra time, get your coffee to stay, and snag a sidewalk seat for one of the best Portland pastimes: people watching.
Shop at New Seasons Market. You may not be on vacation to go grocery shopping, but New Seasons Market is a fun stop all the same. They sell local produce, have an amazing sampling policy, and I like to use their home goods section as a souvenir shop.
Spend an Afternoon at Powell’s City of Books. If you haven’t heard of Powell’s, better late than never: This Portland book store takes up a whole city block, has color-coded rooms, a café, and everything your book-loving, board-gaming self could ever desire. If you're only in it for the cookbooks, they have a store dedicated to the home on Hawthorne.
Your new motto? Brunch early. Brunch Often.
Get your food cart badge.
Where to take your dinner date:
Where to grab a beer:
Things to do when you can’t eat anymore:
Do you have a favorite, can't-be-missed spot in Portland? Tell us in the comments!
All photos by Hannah Petertil unless where otherwise noted.