Food Guide – Portland
Portland, a city best known for its vibrant cafe culture, thriving craft brewery scene, and eco-friendliness, as well as its many parks, bridges, and bicycle paths, has stolen my heart in a major way.
Although Nick and I have visited a handful of times, Portland has never let us down. We are still in love with it and here are the reasons why:
Portland is a city that we both feel at ease in. We love walking aimlessly along the streets (especially the ever-photogenic NW 23rd stretch), popping in and out of cafes (getting hyped up on caffeine), indulging on one too many doughnuts, grabbing a craft brew (or cider) at one of the many microbreweries, savouring every bite at one of our favourite restaurants in The Pearl District, and of course, catching up with one of our dearest friends and her gorgeous family.
As you can see Portland’s varied dining scene has certainly shaped the way we’ve seen and more to the point experienced the city, and it continues to whet our appetite for more. With so many fantastic options I’ve gone ahead and listed a few must-try eateries that I believe should not be missed on any Portland itinerary (take note food lovers!). I would also love to know your PDX food hotspots so please feel free to jot them down in the comments sections below.
Cafe junkies and coffee
snobs connoisseurs will feel right at home when they drop by one of Barista’s four locations. Grab a seat and unwind in a Pinterest-inspired setting, while sipping on an expertly poured coffee. Refer to the blackboard at Barista for a list of roasters (from near and far) as well as the flavour profiles of the beans themselves.
Salt and Straw
For me, a trip to Portland is not complete without a visit to Salt and Straw. This wildly popular Portland-based ice creamery (which now has locations in LA and San Francisco) consistently scoops up a range of lip-smacking flavours. There’s a reason why this frozen treat purveyor sees a lineup form out the door and around the corner most days, and nights for that matter, of the week. Once you make it to the counter reward yourself with a generous scoop or two in either a cup or a crisp waffle cone. Classic flavours, like Double Fold Vanilla and Sea Salt with Caramel Ribbons, are offered alongside new favourites, including Honey Lavender (delicious!), Almond Brittle with Salted Ganache, Pear & Blue Cheese (personally, this is not my first choice), Strawberry Honey Balsamic with Black Pepper, Cinnamon Snickerdoodle, and more.
Irving Street Kitchen
Special shoutout to my dear friend HJ for recommending Irving Street Kitchen. Nick and I had one hell of a meal here. I would even go as far as saying it was one of the best meals we’ve ever had! Big call, I know!
Located in The Pearl District, this insanely charming restaurant is difficult to fault. The warm ambience, the server’s friendly and knowledgeable spiel, the dazzling cocktails, and the delectable (change-your-life!) southern-spun Northwest cuisine, are all fabulously on point. For those who visit in the evening, whatever you do, be sure to order the ham, buttermilk biscuits and pepper jelly — you will not be disappointed.
The Screen Door
Traditional southern cooking with NW food values is what you’ll find at The Screen Door. Tuck into soul-satisfying dishes like the Screen Door Praline Bacon (smoked bacon caramelised with toasted pecans, brown sugar and a hint of cayenne), Screen Door’s famous buttermilk battered fried chicken served with sweet potato waffle and syrup, warm fluffy buttermilk biscuits topped with country sausage gravy, and a whole heap more. With such hearty and generously-sized meals, this wonderfully casual spot is, unsurprisingly, a popular hangout for both local folk and out-of-towners, so be mindful that there may be a wait for a table, especially if you arrive between prime brunching hours.
Pok Pok PDX
Thai food at its best. That’s what you can look forward to at Pok Pok PDX (as well as at the eatery’s sibling restaurants). The menu is best enjoyed when served family-style here, so turn up hungry, order a few dishes, and prepare to feast. Ike’s Vietnamese Fish Sauce Wings is a must-try dish. Marinated in fish sauce and sugar, deep fried, tossed in caramelised Phu Quoc fish sauce and garlic and served with pickled vegetables, these wings are as delicious as they sound.
Blue Star Donuts
Calling all doughnuts lovers: If you’ve already tracked down (and undoubtedly waited in line at) Voodoo Doughnuts (a donuterie known for their wacky and overloaded creations), be sure to check out Blue Star Donuts, the next time the craving for a seriously sweet treat arises. This ‘gourmet’ doughnut shop whips up a variety of tempting options, made from a classic brioche recipe. Although selections change seasonally, expect to find flavours like Blueberry Bourbon Basil, Lemon Poppyseed, Mexican Hot Chocolate, and a grown up favourite — Cointreau Crème Brûlée. With a handful of locations sprinkled around the city, one is never too far away from a Blue Star Donuts fix.
KURE: Juice Bar
After scoffing down all those doughnuts, balance your PDX diet out by heading on over to KURE: Juice Bar, where vibrant fruit-based concoctions are prepared right before your eyes. Those who prefer solids over liquids will be happy to note that KURE also offers a range of Acai Bowls and salads, as well as hot oatmeal, which is made with almond milk, coconut sugar, cinnamon, sliced almonds, strawberries, banana, shredded coconut, and chopped apple.
Coava Coffee Roasters
Those in need of an afternoon caffeine fix should hit up Coava Coffee Roasters, in particular, their Brew Bar, which acts as the tasting room to the roastery. Simplicity is key here, so patrons can expect to find two selections of hand-poured coffee and two selections for espresso-based drinks. The pastries on offer are made locally by Little T American Baker and Petunia’s Pies & Pastries.
Pips & Bounce
Priding itself on being Portland’s ping pong social club, Pips & Bounce provides its patrons with a welcoming space to eat, drink, and play ping pong, of course. Armed with a local cold draught in one hand and a racket it the other, serve, slice, and hit your way to victory over an afternoon of laughs.
Ex Novo Brewing Co.
A pioneer of the craft beer movement, Portland is absolutely brimming with breweries. If you fancy a pint and want to do good, head on over to Ex Novo, a non-profit brewery in north Portland. Passionate about social justice and helping others, Ex Novo distributes all of their net profits evenly amongst their partner organisations. Not only that they also pour an excellent selection of lagers and IPAs.
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