So as SCAA approaches later this week, I decided to post something for the visitors to show you that Portland is more than coffee, and kind, stunningly attractive baristas. If you have four days to discover Portland, start here.
Foods. Yeah Portland has a great restaurant scene. Here’s where to go:
Best breakfast spots that are open on weekdays:
Broder (2508 SE Clinton) The theme here is Scandinavian. The atmosphere is warm and inviting, and the food is amazing. Seriously, everything on the menu hits it out of the park, but the specialty is different variations of baked eggs.
Pine State Biscuits (3640 SE Belmont, 2204 NE Alberta) Biscuit sandwiches. Not just any biscuit sandwiches, the most over the top, wonderful biscuit sandwiches in the world. Get the reggie deluxe. A biscuit sandwich with fried chicken, bacon, cheddar cheese, a fried egg, topped with gravy. Head rush.
Best Weekend Brunch spots. Portland loves to brunch. I mean seriously loves to brunch. Keep in mind that you’ll be on a wait list at most places you go, but that’s part of the charm.
Screen Door (2337 E. Burnside) The epitome of brunch spots in Portland. Sure you’ll have to wait two hours to get a table, but it’s worth it. The theme here is soul food, and with more than generous portions of such favorites as chicken and waffles and praline bacon, it’s well worth the wait. Plus, you won’t have to eat for the rest of the day. Also, it’s a few doors down from Heart, so while you wait, you can get some coffee. (shameless plug)
Ned Ludd (3925 NE MLK Blvd.) Brunch from a wood fire oven? Yes. It’s amazing.
Tasty n Sons (3808 N Williams Ave) These guys have taken the art of brunch to a whole new level. You can’t go wrong here, but the must tries are the radicchio salad, the baked apple with bacon lardons, and anything they make that has a fried egg on it.
Best Weekend Hangover Brunch:
Club 21 (2035 NE Glisan) The best place to get a greasy brunch when you can’t wait or your head will explode. The Monte Cristo is sexually good, and their chicken fried steak meal is enough grease and carbs to make you feel human again. Oh, and best part: Eight dollar bottomless mimosas with Cristalino and Odwalla juices. Don’t worry, day drunk is okay in Portland.
Best lunch spots.
Boke bowl (1028 SE Water Ave) A hopping lunch spot with delicious handmade ramen noodles. Closed Sundays.
Laurelhurst Market (3155 E Burnside) This butcher shop/steakhouse does amazing sandwiches for lunch. Get the number three.
Meat, Cheese, Bread (1406 SE Stark) The name is pretty self-explanatory, but they do sandwiches, very good sandwiches. House made bread, great ingredients, and creative but simple sandwiches. I recommend the green bean sandwich.
Por Que No? A Portland take on the taqueria. No burritos here, just good old fashioned tacos and bowls. House made tortillas, and slow cooked meats.
Best places to eat a lot of meat:
Olympic Provisions (107 SE Washington) A mecca for all lovers of cured meats, pates, and terrine. All made in house with skill and care.
Laurelhurst Market (3155 E Burnside) Modern steakhouse. Grass fed goodness butchered in house. An amazing burger to boot.
Best burger(arguably)- Little Bird. (219 SW 6th) Le Pigeon’s downtown sister restaurant. They have the famous burger available all of the time along with other excellent bistro fare.
Best french bistro gone wild: Le Pigeon. (738 E Burnside) Consistently among the best restaurants in Portland for a reason. A passion for great ingredients, and an unabashed love for foie gras makes this tiny restaurant a must visit.
Best simple italian: Luce. (2140 E Burnside) Great, simple, classic italian food with great ingredients straight from Italy.
Best pizza: Nostrana (1401 SE Morrison). Hit them up after nine for happy hour where you can get their outstanding wood fired margarita pizza for only five bucks.
Best ambience: Ned Ludd. Beautiful space, amazing hospitality, and wonderful food. It’s a wood fire kitchen done right, with a hyper-local sensibility. Must try.
Best super hyped Portland restaurant: Pok Pok. (3226 SE Division) Yeah, my parents saw Pok Pok on the Travel Channel, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t great. The fish sauce wings are the best wings you’ll ever eat, and they have drinking vinegars!
Best places to sober up after a few barista parties:
Voodoo doughnut: (22 SW 3rd Ave) They had a maple bacon doughnut when people thought that was weird. This Portland icon is open till the wee hours, and is great for people watching after a few drinks.
Pine State Biscuits: Open Friday and Saturday night until 1 am, nothing cures a case of the drunkies like gravy.
Luc Lac Vietnamese kitchen (835 SW 2nd Ave)- If your cure for the drunkies is more brothy and healthy than greasy and regretful, you can’t beat this place. Some of the best pho in town, and a lot of wonderful sharing dishes as well. They’re open till 4 am on weekends, making them one of the only places in Portland to get food really late.
Best places to see another side of Portland. Portland isn’t all bicycles, yard chickens, and vintage shops. We’ve got, you know, normal stuff like strip malls, poverty, and crime. To see where we hide all that stuff, you have to venture past the 50th block. That’s also where a lot of the city’s best food is:
Ha and VL- They make two soups a day, from scratch. They’re life changing. Call ahead to reserve before they sell out.
Taqueria Santa Cruz- The best taqueria that I’ve found in Portland hands down. It’s in the St. John’s neighborhood which is a trek, but while you’re there check out Cathedral Park, and the St. John’s Bridge: one of the most beautiful bridges in the country.
Drinks. Portland knows how to drink. Maybe it’s our lack of sunlight, but we’ve mastered the art of liquid depressants. From craft beer, to craft cocktails, to good old fashioned PBR, you won’t have a problem getting a drink around here.
Best craft cocktails:
Clyde Common: it’s inside the Ace Hotel for crying out loud! This place is on the cutting edge of the craft cocktail world right now, so do yourself a favor and stop in.
Beaker and Flask: really knowledgeable staff, and a great cocktail list.
Teardrop Lounge: a go to for craft cocktails, and a second home/job for barista competitors.
Places to go for a drink when you’ve spent all your money on craft cocktails:
Club 21: This place looks like a little Bavarian castle from the outside, but it’s all dive bar on the inside. Stiff drinks, decent whiskey selection, and surprisingly one of the best burgers in town.
Swift Lounge: Mason cocktails. That’s right. Cocktails in mason jars. They’re surprisingly (scarily) delicious and drinkable too. One jar will set you back 8 bucks, but you should probably only need one.
Tony’s Tavern (1955 W Burnside): Mini pitchers are two dollars, and they have a happy hour that might as well be all day. Great place to go on Saturday nights to pretend you went to the Timber’s game and get a member of the Timber’s Army to buy you a drink. Warning: don’t wear anything even vaguely associated with Seattle on the weekends if you value your safety.
Deschutes Brewery. Yeah it’s big, and it’s in the Pearl, but hey, it’s freakin’ Deschutes Brewery! It’s a Northwest institution! Sample the flagships such as Mirror Pond and Black Butte Porter, but you should really go for the rotating taps.
Cascade Brewing Barrel House (939 SE Belmont)- all barrel aged and sour beers. Unique, and delicious. The most eclectic, creative beers in town.
Upright Brewing- Farmhouse style ales that are nuanced and balanced. Best new(ish) brewery in the city by my vote.
Best Bars to rub shoulders with the painfully hip:
The Sweet Hereafter- and woah, they’re also vegan!
Dig A Pony- You might just meet the DJ/Graphic Designer/Barista/Vintage clothing model/Producer/Photographer of your dreams.
Best Place to regret singing Elton John’s “Tiny Dancer” in front of your colleagues- Chopsticks Express II- A chinese lounge that hosts karaoke every night! Let the embarrassment begin.
Best Place to weird out your conservative friends- CC Slaughters- Portland’s premier gay bar. They feature a drag show almost every weekend, and it’s actually a lot of fun. Be ready for cheap drinks, neon bars, and to feel really affirmed in your choice of footwear.
Best place to feel like you’re in an episode of Portlandia-
The Hawthorne Strip- it’s the Haight-Ashbury of Portland. Loads of vintage shops, Thai restaurants, and head shops. A great place for instagram photo-ops that you can add witty captions to like: “Put a bird on it!” and “Woah, that girl is totes riding a unicycle topless!”
Best Place to walk around in the rain and re-think what you’re doing with your life:
Washington Park: An expansive complex of parks in the West Hills overlooking downtown. It includes in its proximity a beautiful Japanese Garden, the rose test garden, Hoyt Arboretum, and Forest Park. Seriously gorgeous and peaceful.