For those who think Portland is all about rain, a trip to this lively city will open your eyes to its other liquids – beer, coffee, tea, wine and spirits. But life isn’t all about drinking and Portland shines with its inspiring cuisine. During a recent visit, it did rain some, but who cares when there is so much to taste?
Portland has more than 200 neighborhoods that give it a small town feel. The city is one of the most environmentally friendly places in the country. A light rail line is easily accessible and free in downtown. Bicycles abound especially when crossing any one of the 12 bridges over the Willamette River. Warehouses have been renovated and entire districts have come back to life. It’s all about restoration and reuse. Anyway you look at it, Portland is home to artisans perfecting their crafts.
Visting Portland is also about getting out of town. Southwest 20 miles is the lush Willamette Valley wine country. To the east is the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area.
Here’s a closer look at what you’ll find.
Where to Eat :
Food Carts: At any time of day, there are more than 200 carts serving all kinds of food. Find them in parking lots and parks, alone or in groups. Lunch averages $6. http://www.foodcartsportland.com. Beaker & Flask: Located on Distillery Row and known for its cocktails and small plates. Cocktails $8, small plates from $2 (bread), large plates from $17, desserts from $8. 720 SE Sandy Blvd., 503-235-8180, http://www.beakerandflask.com.
Urban Farmer: Enjoy the breakfast scene in this casual restaurant in the atrium at the Nines hotel. Breakfast with cappuccino from $10. 525 SW Morrison St., 877-229-9995, http://www.urbanfarmerrestaurant.com. Bamboo Sushi: Certified sustainable seafood offered in a wide range of Japanese cuisine. The food is healthy, affordable and creative. Signature rolls and specialty plates from $9, sake flights from $14. 310 SE 28th Ave., 503-232-5255, http://www.bamboosushipdx.com.
Lovejoy Bakers: All natural bakery and restaurant that revolves around the art and craft of bread making. Pastry and coffee from $3.25. 939 NW 10th Ave., 503-208-3113, http://www.lovejoybakers.com.
Evoe: This lively snack bar in the middle of a European-like market offers tasty salads, sandwiches and soups featuring ingredients straight from the market. Selections from $4.50, wine by the glass from $7. 3731 SE Hawthorne Blvd., 503-232-1010, http://www.pastaworks.com/evoe.
Ping: a scrumptious selection of Southeast Asian street foods, cocktails and drinking vinegars. Skewers from $2, cocktails from $7, drinking vinegar: $4. 102 NW 4th Ave., 503-229-7464, http://www.pingpdx.com.
South Store Café: A favorite in wine country, find satisfying picnic food in this historic clapboard building. Sandwiches from $7.25, salads from $3.25. 24485 SW Scholls Ferry Rd., Hillsboro, 503-628-1920
Where to Drink:
Cacao: This intimate shop features chocolate from around the world. For a decadent treat, try the flight of three chocolate shots. Flight of shots: $6. 414 SW 13th Ave., 503-241-0656, http://www.cacaodrinkchocolate.com.
Stumptown Coffee: At the Annex location, taste single varietals from around the world. Participate in a “cupping,” learn the nuances of coffee and get buzzed. Complimentary cupping. 3352 SE Belmont St., 503-467-4123, http://www.stumptowncoffee.com.
Steven Smith Teamaker: Sip handcrafted small batch, whole leaf tea in an unusual atelier. Flights: $5.75/person. 1626 NW Thurman St., 503-719-8752, http://www.smithtea.com.
Spella Caffe: The proprietor uses micro-roasted Brazilian beans then hand pulls each shot with a lever machine. Coffee from $1.50. 520 SW 5th Ave., 503-752-0264, http://www.spellacaffe.com.
Oregon Beer Odyssey: For the inside scoop on all things beer in the Pacific Northwest, this is the go-to company. They offer regular events and tastings at breweries around Portland. Most events $35. http://www.oregonbeerodyssey.com.
Clear Creek Distillery: At this artisan distillery, fruit from the Hood River Valley is fermented into liqueurs using traditional European brandy-making techniques. Pears and apples are grown in bottles and filled with their eau de vie. The pot-distilled single malt whiskey is a winner. Complimentary tastings. 2389 NW Wilson St., 503-248-9470, http://www.clearcreekdistillery.com.
House Spirits Distillery: The unique influence of an old world distilling philosophy on today’s sophisticated palate makes these hand crafted spirits standouts. Either straight or in cocktails, try the Aviation Gin, Medoyeff Vodka and Krogstad Aquavit. Complimentary tastings. 2025 SE 7th Ave., 503-235-3174, http://www.housespirits.com.
Teardrop Cocktail Lounge: Handcrafted libations in a late night place. Cocktails from $8. 1015 NW Everett St., 503-445-8109, http://www.teardroplounge.com.
Full Sail Brewing: This employee-owned brewery in Hood River sits atop a bluff overlooking the Columbia River Gorge. It’s all about sustainability, social responsibility and great beer. These folks are “stoked to brew.” Taster: $1. Pub serves lunch and dinner daily. 506 Columbia St., Hood River, 541-386-2247, http://www.fullsailbrewing.com.
The Gorge White House: Enjoy exclusively Columbia Gorge wines, micro-brews, fruit and flowers in a picturesque setting. Open Apr-Oct., wine and beer tastings $1. 2265 Highway 35, Hood River, 541-386-2828, http://www.thegorgewhitehouse.com.
Hawk’s View Cellars: This boutique winery is located in the Chehalem Mountain AVA in the Willamette Valley. Relish their estate Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris and stunning views. By appointment only. 20210 SW Conzelmann Rd., Sherwood, 503-522-0789, http://www.hawksviewcellars.com.
Alloro Vineyard: Inspired by Italy and driven by the Chehalem Mountain terroir, the estate Pinot Noir is not to be missed. Open Feb. – Dec. Tastings $10 (refunded w/purchase). 22075 SW Lebeau Rd., Sherwood, 503-813-0063, http://www.allorovineyard.com.
SakeOne: A unique kura (brewery) that crafts premium Junmai Ginjo styles in a range of profiles across several brands. Flights from $3. 820 Elm St., Forest Grove, 800-550-7253, http://www.sakeone.com.
Lan Su Chinese Garden: Considered the most authentic Chinese garden outside of China. Features over 400 traditional Chinese plant species. Admission: $8.50/adult. 239 NW Everett St., 503-228-8131, http://www.lansugarden.org.
Powell’s Books: A mecca for people worldwide. Nine rooms are color-coded by subject area and spread out on four floors of one city block. 1005 W. Burnside St., 800-878-7323, http://www.powellsbooks.com.
Farmers Market: With six locations throughout the metro area, find produce, cooking demos, classes, experts and more. http://www.portlandfarmersmarket.org.
Multnomah Falls: Falling 620 feet, it’s the second highest year-round waterfall in the country. Part of the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area. http://www.fs.usda.gov.
Where to Stay:
The Nines: This LEED Silver certified hotel sits next to Pioneer Square in the historic Meier & Frank Building (a department store chain started in Portland). The hotel’s name honors the nine floors it occupies as well as dressing stylishly. The soaring atrium, contemporary art, bold colors and luxe rooms make the Nines a chic choice. Rooms from $199. 525 SW Morrison St., 877-229-9995, http://www.thenines.com.
Hotel Vintage Plaza: Celebrating Oregon’s wine country, each room is dedicated to a winery. The “Silver Tier” Green Seal certified boutique hotel is centrally located and delivers everything you expect from Kimpton – comfortable rooms, gracious service, complimentary wine every evening in the lobby and pet friendly policies. Rooms from $139. 422 SW Broadway, 503-228-1212, http://www.vintageplaza.com.
Portland is a welcoming city with a laid back local vibe. Experience the creativity and fun this play land has to offer.