If I had to explain my Portland experience in 3 words, it would be food, coffee and beer.
I recently spent a weekend exploring Portland and had a really amazing time! I did a ton of research beforehand and arrived with the intention of trying new food, drinking the local craft beers, visiting the popular sights and enjoying the things that make Portland unique. I had such a good experience that I decided to share my findings with you!
I ate and drank way too much… but it was worth every calorie.
If you are like me at all, you will enjoy this helpful list of must-sees and must-eats.
Portland, Oregon is a beautiful place. It’s very green, all the people I came in contact with were really nice, there were so many unique restaurants and bars and the transportation around the city was super easy. Here are the places that I went to and loved:
Eat and Drink
Deschutes Brewery – This is a very large brewery/restaurant on 11th, you can’t miss it. There is a wide variety of beer on the menu and the food is SO good. I got the buffalo burger which has to be the BEST thing on the menu. The food runner came out with our food and he talked about the buffalo burger, how they make it and why it’s so good. Such passion! I love it!
Rogue Brewery – This was the second brewery we stopped at. This was a really good place to chill. It wasn’t as “fancy” as Deschutes Brewery, but it was just what we wanted. We sat at a back table, enjoyed each other’s company and tried a few different delicious beers.
Ground Kontrol – This is the coolest place EVER. It’s a bar that is also a freaking arcade! The ground level has all the classic arcade games from Street Fighter to PacMan and upstairs has a ton of pinball machines! Here’s the best part – all the games are only 25 cents!! We played arcade games with the intention to beat them. Not an easy task but we got close. What can be better than drinks, video games and electronic music?
Lardo – This place was on my list as one of the top recommended restaurants in the city. The food was delicious but very heavy (the name of the place could have given that away). Lardo specializes in pork. We got a mortadella grilled sandwich and the porchetta sandwich. The porchetta was recommended by the staff and it was by-far the best sandwich. The fries blew my mind too – the fresh herbs were deep-fried along with the fries. BOMB
Alder Street – Portland has street pods! They are kind of like food trucks, but more like permanent food booths. This area has so many different types of food to choose from. It was a convenient place for us to grab lunch. We had German sausages from the silver truck on the corner and a Shawarma Gyro from another.
Voodoo Doughnuts – I can’t talk about Portland without talking about VooDoo Doughnuts! We went twice. This place is open 24 hours. The line gets pretty long during the day so I recommend going at night. We didn’t have to wait too long at night but during the day we did. It was our last day so we decided it was okay. Some girl even gave me money to buy her a giant bear-claw-like doughnut that was almost as big as my face. They say the bacon maple doughnut is the best doughnut there and THAT IS TRUE! I don’t even like doughnuts, really, and that doughnut was damn good.
Salt & Straw Ice Cream – I read about this place and all the unique flavors of ice cream that they feature. It was a little bit of a journey on the tram but it was totally worth it. They make the ice cream fresh and have flavors like balsamic strawberry and pepper, almond brittle with salted ganache, salted caramel, coffee and bourbon…
The Bent Brick – This restaurant is off of the tram route, so you would need to take a taxi but I will tell you that I had the BEST damn chocolate cake I ever had in my life.
Courier Coffee – Portland has an awesome coffee scene. I really liked Courier Coffee the best. It’s like a hole-in-the-wall place and I pretended it was my little secret discovery. The shop’s decor consists of a few tables, the owners large record collection, bags of fresh roasted beans, mixing bowls and fresh pastries that were just baked that morning. I was in heaven. The second time I visited, the Portland Food Tour was making a stop there – that’s when you KNOW it must be good.
My whole Portland trip was one giant food-fest. I don’t normally eat like this, but it’s like they say… “When in Portland…” Right?
Now that I rambled on about food, I still have to mention a few other things to see in Portland. Definitely pay a visit to Powell’s Bookstore. The fact that bookstores are so rare makes this place cool and this bookstore is gigantic! I spent an hour in the food section and every time I went down the next aisle, there was a whole new subject on food! I could have spent many hours there. Courier Coffee is not that far away – which makes it a great place to sip espresso and read your ridiculously large bag of recently purchased books.
The Lan Su Chinese Garden is really nice. It’s exactly what a Chinese Garden should be. (I recently went to the one in San Diego that was super lame, so Lan Su was refreshing). The buildings, plants and sidewalks were just so calming. As we were walking through, a few people invited us in a room to taste tea and talk. I was blown away at how nice everyone here was! That kind of thing doesn’t usually happen where I’m from…
The Portland Sky Lift was pretty cool. It starts down by the river and is actually how a lot of people get to and from work at the hospital hgh up on the hill. So we piled in with all the people dressed in scrubs and enjoyed the view. You can buy a ticket that gets you up and back down. I had a coupon for buy one get one free, but there was no human to talk to, so we just had to buy our tickets full price at the machine. Oh well.
Last but not least, if you’re there in a Saturday, you gotta check out the Portland Saturday Market. It’s a large craft fair and the best part is that nothing has taxes! “Oh, that shirt is $20? Here’s a $20!” The food was just okay. I advise to save your money and get something better at a permanent street pod or restaurant.
I’d say Portland is my favorite US city (that I’ve been to). There was so much good food, the people were awesome and the vibe I got there was just so great. I almost feel like describing Portland like Owen Wilson describes Paris and how it just “speaks to him” in the movie, Midnight in Paris.