Welcome to my hometown! I am absolutely in love with this city and deciding to move away in a van was tough on my heart. Having spent many years in hospitality, I know my way around the city for good food and a good time. Here are some of my personal favorites I would suggest you hit if you have a day or two in the Rose City.
• Mississippi Marketplace (google says its permanently closed, that it s a dirty LIE!) – Grab a beer at Prost and eat in the bier garten provided outside with your selection of 6-10 food carts. My personal fave is the Koi Fusion, a delicious fusion of Korean and Mexican. I don’t know how they do it, but its amazing!! This form of dining is very popular and food cart “pods” can be found all around town. These carts are held to high health code standards and with so much competition, they are constantly upping the creativity being served!
• Just north a couple blocks is my fave coffee shop: Albina Press **Burrito cart in the Albina Press parking lot is also amahhhzing!
• Best donuts: Pips Original and Blue Star – Pips serves made to order mini donuts that are crispy on the outside and soft and warm on the inside with classic toppings like honey, cinnamon and sugar or Nutella and sea salt. Be sure to visit on your birthday for a FREE DOZEN!! Blue Star goes bigger and bolder! Don’t let the price shock you, you will only need one large, uniquely flavored donut to fill that craving and leave you swearing it was worth every penny. May I suggest the blueberry bourbon basil glazed classic donut!
• Best happy hour: Jakes Famous Crawfish – One of Portland’s oldest restaurants (open for almost 130 years!!) serves a reliable menu of fresh seafood and is the perfect spot for a special occasion. But over at the bar, during the week, the Happy Hour menu is the best value for your buck in town. For less than $10 you can have a cheese burger, fries and a beer. And none of those sliders calling themselves burgers. This thing needed a to-go box! If you find yourself here, try the crab and shrimp cakes, they are to die for with housemate jalépano aioli.
• Best breakfast burrito: Antojitos Mexicanos – don’t judge a book by it’s cover. This may not be the flashiest building, but I promise you this is the best chorizo breakfast burrito West of Denver Colorado. Do not, I repeat, DO NOT miss this stop in Portland!! Be sure to get the peanut inspired hot sauce. Good lord, its sin-worthy.
• Best breakfast/brunch/place to watch the Timbers play: NePo 42 – great breakfast menu served late as well as lunch and dinner. No non-sense cocktails and a good spot for catching any Portland Timbers match.
• Best burrito & tacos: Robo Taco – great location, no nonsense menu, get the al pastor burrito, thank me later. Side note- this is excellent pre-Blazer game grub!
• Best spots for river & bridge views: Eastbank Esplanade – this walk along the east side of the Willamette River will provide river-level views of Portlands downtown skyline and it’s many bridges. Cathedral Park right underneath the St John’s Bridge, a great picnic spot. The St Johns bridge is a beautiful location for a photoshoot or just a spectacular backdrop for a quiet evening on the water. Any artist would love to spend time here practicing their craft, be it music, painting or photography.
• Best place to cool off on a hot day: Sauvie Island – lots of places to U-pick berry pick or hang out at the beach. (Optional nude beach available). Columbia River Gorge – any one of the small hikes into the waterfalls on the historic Columbia River Highway. A few great stops would be Oneonta Gorge Hike Lewis and Clark State Park. This is also a pull out spot if you’d like to float the Sandy River. Drop in points include Oxbox Regional Park (approx 8hr float to Lewis and Clark) or Dabney State Park (approx 4hr float to Lewis and Clark). Parking at Lewis and Clark is free, expect to pay a $5 day parking fee at your launch spot or get yourself an annual state parks pass (one-year $30 or two-year $50)
• Best day trip: Hood River!!! Wine tasting at Naked Winery, Beer and snacks at Pfriem, good food, waterfront park, fruit picking, and tons of vans by the waterfront park where kite boarding is world class!
Of course this list is only a short version and so many other favorites didn’t make the list. The general rule when visiting Portland is there is never enough meals in the day! I lived here for thirty years and I’m still discovering delicious dishes hidden in this City of Roses. Be sure to leave a comment if you have questions or more suggestions for this list. And as always, eat dessert first!