I recently got an email from my mom’s good friend Phyllis asking for some recommendations for things to do, see and eat in Portland. Despite the fact I have now taken up residence in San Francisco, Portland will forever occupy a large piece of my heart. So, after spending a good chunk of time putting together a list for Phyllis, I decided it was too good not to share elsewhere. Plus, now when people ask, I can just direct them to this link. So, here it is:
Getting out of Town
1. Multnomah Falls - It’s only about a 30 minute drive out of Portland into the Columbia River Gorge, but you’ll be greeted by stunning views of the Columbia, and the falls are impressive anytime of year.
2. Hood River - It’s about 60 miles from Portland (another 30 past Multnomah Falls) and can make for a great day trip. Really cute town perched on the bluffs overlooking the Columbia. Stunning views of both Mt. Hood and Mt. Adams. There’s some great shopping along the main drag in down. Make sure you hit up Double Mountain brewery for awesome pizza and beers too.
3. Wineries/Vineyards near McMinnville and/or Newberg - Located southwest of Portland, this is some gorgeous wine country with a bunch of great wineries and vineyards where you can taste etc.
1. Portland Rose Garden in Washington Park - Provided you get a clear day, there are awesome views of the city, river and mountain from up here.
2. Japanese gardens - Located right above the Rose Garden, the Japanese gardens are beautiful and worth a visit any time of the year.
3. Powells bookstore - Great for a rainy day, Powells is worth a visit. Largest independent bookstore in the country.
4. Portland Saturday Market - This runs through December 24 downtown and is chock full of food, produce and artist/craft vendors.
Portland has an awesome live music scene you should try to take advantage of.
1. Doug Fir - One of my absolute favorite venues in town. There are usually great shows here several nights a week that range from small indie bands to bigger acts. Super intimate venue with great sound and tickets are usually $15 or less. There is also a fun bar upstairs worth checking out even if you don’t see a show.
2. The Blue Diamond - This is my SECRET spot and hidden gem in Portland. I’m reluctant to even tell friends about this place because I don’t want hipsters to find it and ruin it. GREAT live blues music here 5 nights a week - Wed-Fri are my favorite nights here. Cheap stiff drinks, a colorful crowd and high quality, great music. And people dance. It’s just the best. Ask my mom.
Food and Drink
This is the main and arguably best attraction in Portland, so I’m going to break it down into sub categories.
Stumptown is the local favorite and is definitely delicious (the cold brew is awesome), but my personal favorite is Heart Coffee. So. Freaking. Good.
1. Hop n Vine - Bit out of central Portland in North Portland, but it’s a great little bar with a ton of great beers on tap, wine, scotch etc. Great food menu too. Delicious burger.
2. Oso Market - This place is brand new, but it’s a hip new spot that serves up wines by the glass and beers in inner SE.
3. Rum Club - Also located near your house, this is one of my favorite bars in Portland. It has a great happy hour and awesome cocktails.
4. Burnside Brewing Company - Solid brewery in town with tasty beers.
5. Cascade Barrel House - If you like sour beers, this is the place to go.
6. Hair of the Dog - Good brewery in industrial SE
7. Produce Row - Another great spot in industrial SE and another great happy hour menu.
8. Migration Brewing - More good beer. Near below listed Pambiche.
9. Holmans - great, divey, old school Portland spot.
1. Bamboo Sushi - This place is seriously delicious and awesome. SUPER fresh fish, just so great. One of my favorites in the city. Paprika cup cocktail is a favorite. Sit at the sushi bar and let the chef serve you up what’s fresh.
2. Apizza Scholls - Located on Hawthorne. Great wood-fired pizza.
3. Nostrana - Another one of my favorite Portland go-tos. It has an awesome late night happy hour that starts at 9 pm. Wood fired pizza, Italian food. Great bar.
4. Podnah’s Pit - Delicious freaking BBQ. Seriously so good.
5. Screen Door - If you are a fried chicken fan, this is the place for you. This is the best freaking fried chicken I’ve had in my life. It’s ridiculously delicious. They have an incredibly popular (aka long wait) brunch, but dinner here is great too).
6. Meat, Cheese, Bread - My fave sandwich shop in Portland. Good for casual lunch.
7. Pok Pok - James Beard award winning chef. Authentic thai food that is far cry from boring pad thai places. Portland staple. Get the chicken wings and tamarind whiskey sour. And a bunch of other dishes. Delicious.
8. Ping - Owned by same owners as Pok Pok and also totally delicious asian cuisine. I have a thing for the baby octopus skewers. And the pork salapao buns.
9. Clyde Common - A little more on the upscale side, but not terribly priced. Really good, well known Portland restaurant with great farm-to-table food.
10. Blue Star Donuts - You’ve probably heard the hype about Voodoo. Skip Voodoo and go here. Donuts made from brioche dough. Marionberry basil one will blow your mind. And they have one with fried chicken.
11. Olympic Provisions - Great food, but they are known for their cured meats and salamis. Great brunch menu too.
12. Laurelhurst Market - Mainly a meat driven place - but solid, delicious menu and one of my favorites. I have dreams about the steak tar tar. High quality meats. Great if you are craving steak and red wine on cold, rainy night.
13. Pambiche - Bomb Cuban food. The pescado con coco is a fave.
14. Bunk Bar - Also a casual spot with great sandwiches. Sometimes live music at night.
15. Accanto - Great happy hour.
16. Pho Hung - If you are craving Vietnamese. Great pho.
17. Frank’s Noodle house - Hand pulled Shanghai style noodles.
There are a bunch of great pods around town. If you hit up downtown pod go to Nong’s Khao Man Gai. But really, there are so many good choices, you can’t go wrong.