I adore Portland, Oregon for many reasons: the diverse people, the relaxed atmosphere, the forward-thinking cafes---but my favorite part about this quirky city by far is the food scene!
Walk into any hole in the wall and the menu will be oozing with eggs from a local farm and coffee from a local roaster. Supporting the local food system is the norm, not the exception. And let's not forget that the beer, coffee and donut culture in this funky town is out of this world!
Before we get deep in the grub, I wanted to fill you in on where we stayed. I visited Portland with a group of five girlfriends in early August and we completely lucked out with the weather--early eighties and sunny, but not excruciatingly hot. We stayed at an AirBnB in Southeast Portland and I'm so glad we did. It has more of a charming, quiet, neighborhood feel but is in walking distance to Southeast Division street which is known as a foodie capital of America. Use my link and get $40 off your stay!
I'd also recommend renting a car for your stay. Public transportation and Uber/Lyft are available, but the city is pretty spread out and a lot of the hiking activities are a ways out. Onto the eats!
A ten minute walk from our cozy AirBnB, Southeast Division Street was a gem. It's chock full of coffee shops, ice cream spots, precious patios, breakfast nooks as well as more upscale dinner options. For breakfast and/or a yummy coffee drink, be sure to take a pit stop at Little T American Baker. The freshly baked bread will have you melting.
The avocado toast with dukkah, lime, and pickled veggies on thick AF spelt bread was the best avocado toast I'd ever had. Pair it with a creamy almond milk latte. We even went back on the last day of our trip and I adored the house smoked salmon toast.
When you're feeling like indulging the weirdness Portland is known and loved for, give PokPok a go. Now, I will say that this is not a very vegetarian-friendly restaurant (if you're vegan, no way.) While there are a couple veg-friendly options, they're most known for the interesting and super authentic Thai menu items that have meat. My friends loved their wings!
Go very early or make a reservation because there will definitely be a wait. If you're not good with spice, ask for everything very mild. They love their chili peppers! While you wait, enjoy a delish cocktail across the street at their sister bar, Whiskey Soda Lounge. The salted lime Tom Collins is not to be missed.
If and when you're craving something sweet after dinner, get in line (there will be one) at the beloved Salt and Straw. You can't go wrong with the flavor, but I thoroughly enjoyed the Cinnamon Snickerdoodle and Almond Brittle with Salted Ganache. If you want something more out there, try the arbequina olive oil. And don't skip the waffle cone! It's essential. You'll see these all over the city, not just on SE Division. Fifty Licks and Eb & Bean frozen yogurt are other tasty treat choices for the walk home.
Portland is famed for their food cart scene and Fried Egg I'm In Love is simply unforgettable. They serve up crave-worthy egg sandwiches with rock and roll names on fresh sourdough. And they have some of the best vegan sausage I've ever laid mouth on. There are tons of "normal," vegan and gluten-free options for all. I got the Sriracha Mix-a-Lot with vegan sausage instead of ham, local fried eggs, avocado, tomato, havarti cheese, and sriracha.
If you want to grab some coffee on the way, try Grand Central Bakery for the best everything croissant in the world. It's right across the street from Jam on Hawthorne, another famous breakfast spot on Portland. Be prepared for a long wait! Another beloved coffee spot is Heart Coffee. The Woodstock location has a full breakfast menu as well.
If you need to get some work done or just chill, try Tea Bar for countless tea choices (or vegan froyo)or Coava for more good java. For a super funky space and unforgettable post-dinner desserts, Rimsky-Korsakoffee House is the place. Speaking of coffee, Heart Coffee looks super cute.
Now let's talk pizza! We didn't have time to check it out, but Apizza Scholls is known for having the best pizza in Portland and it's right in the SE area. Lovely's Fifty Fifty or Hot Lips for takeout are other options!
Nestled in the Alberta Arts District, Proud Mary is a hip Aussie cafe from Melbourne. Go for brunch (and coffee). Since I'd already had avocado toast earlier in the morning from Little T, I went with Cauli Town with warm spiced cauliflower, chickpea dahl, sumac, onion, tahini, crispy chickpea and sesame granola. The Avocado Succotash and Peachy Keen are other favorites.
Needing a biscuit? Head to Pine State Biscuits but be ready to wait in line! Looking for something more crunchy-hippie-vegan? Prasad is your jam.
Bamboo Sushi...ahhh. Not only some of the best sushi I've ever had, but with an entirely sustainable menu featuring an array of wild-caught fish and locally soured produce. They even have an interactive fishery map on their website. Gah! My dream come true. The Chasing Dragon and Sunset rolls were our favorites, but try a bit of everything and share. Tasty N Adler and Bijou were other recommendations for brunch, but we didn't get a chance to try them.
For vegan Indian fusion food and drink centered around fresh produce, try The Sudra. They have a full bar (try the Beet Tequila with garam masala and cilantro) and brunch menu.
Northwest Portland/Nob Hill & Beyond
This walkable neighborhood (you may hear it as NW 23rd Street) is absolutely adorable, brimming with boutiques and cafes. It's also super close to Forest Park if you're up for a hike.
Another classic with multiple locations around the city, Blue Star Donuts' unique brioche donuts with intriguing toppings are absolutely stellar. I ordered the Raspberry Rosemary Buttermilk because it was bright pink and irresistible but the satisfying flavor did not disappoint. I also had bites of the Chocolate Bergamot, Lemon Poppy, and Maple Bacon., Next time I need the Blueberry Bourbon Basil and the Passionfruit Cacao Nibs! Vegan options are available as well. Go early for the biggest (and warmest) selection.
Don't miss the Portland Japanese Garden! It's the most authentic Japanese Garden in the country. I highly recommend doing the guided tour to learn the history and really understand the purpose behind the garden (you can find the times on their website).
For brunch or dinner, Tusk brings exquisite middle-eastern flavors to the Pacific Northwest featuring producer from Oregon farms in an instagram-worthy setting. We didn't get a chance to dine there, but I've heard rave reviews from everyone that has.
Por Que No Taqueria was one of my favorite restaurants in Portland. Amazing tacos made with line-caught fish, local meats and produce. After tacos, grab a drink at BarBar, a renovated church in Portland's Historic Mississippi District with a sprawling patio. If you're craving a cocktail, walk down to the rustic Interurban.
There are SO many incredible places to eat, drink, and enjoy company around Portland. The list keeps growing! Feel free to leave a comment with your favorite spot, especially if I didn't mention it. Our next travel adventure is visiting Bar Harbor, Maine and Acadia National Park in mid-September. If you've got a must-see or must-eat recommendations, leave a comment. Until next time, friends!