portland - updated.
[portland soundtrack. loud places]
Perhaps it was the instant familiarity we felt to our hometown of Melbourne, but this friendly, laid-back city stole our heart on our first visit here back in March 2012, shortly after moving to the US.
Portland, we share the same passions. With your seriously impressive food scene – local, seasonal, creative; amazing coffee (the best you will find in the States); good people; good music; and awe-inspiring wilderness and nature; its so beautiful here. This unpretentious, easily navigable town is filled with a mix of fix-geared biking, bearded and tattooed hipsters, and laid-back, friendly types who come from all over the US (and the world) to reside in this special place (largely drawn here by either Nike or Adidas), as well as an ability to live well and affordably.
Despite the frequent rain and cloudy days, there is no better place than Portland when the sun is shining. Bike paths, food trucks, amazing outdoor music venues (we love Edgefield), farmers markets, gardens…and when Spring rolls around, the eye-popping, fluffy pink cherry blossom trees that burst alive along the banks of the Willamette River. The perfect town to cruise on foot or by bike. Not only that, but with the stunning Oregon coast only an hour away, and Mt Hood the same distance – there is plenty to keep you occupied. Stunning beaches, awe-inspiring mountains, rivers, waterfalls – Oregon is nature’s playground.
Good Coffee: opening in late 2014, this became our new favorite spot on our trip to Portland at Christmas time. Owned and run by Nik Purvis, an old friend from Santa Barbara, Good Coffee is exactly that – and more. Friendly vibes and great coffee. We want to steal the two antique black leather chairs they have in the corner of the space. Their custom-made sofa is beautiful as well.
Courier Coffee: a tiny spot. We love the coffee here. Grab the window seat.
Barista: three locations, the Pearl one is our pick.
Coava: we love the brew bar on SE Grand, a beautiful space.
Case Study Coffee: a few locations, great almond milk lattes.
Stumptown: a few locations across Portland, but the ACE one is our go-to. Locations also in Seattle, LA and New York City.
Ristretto: also a few locations across town, but our favorite is in NW Nicolai Street, in the Schoolhouse Electric Building.
Water Ave Coffee: on the banks of the Willamette, this factory is both a roasting and retail space.
Sweedeedee: we visited here for the first time at Christmas (2014) and only wish we had have found it sooner. This is our heaven. A cozy, adorable corner cafe in a former kaleidoscope factory, next to Mississippi Records, Sweedeedee is a pie paradise. Come here for all things sweet – cakes, pie, desserts – as well as ginormous salads and sandwiches. You will be surrounded by colorful cookbooks, warm and sunny vibes, white walls and wooden floors. And you’ll find Mexican coke as well.
Salt & Straw: come here for Portland-style “farm-to-cone” handmade, small-batch, all-natural ice cream. Made from local, sustainable and organic ingredients – do as the locals do, and order two scoops of the Sea Salt with Caramel Ribbons (their best selling flavor). Also look out for the Honey Balsamic Strawberry with Cracked Pepper; and the Coffee and Bourbon. Four locations.
Blue Star Donuts: bypass the super touristy Voodoo (and their crazy queues) and head straight for Blue Star for doughy donut goodness.
Little T’s: mighty fine breads, pastries and cakes from this cute little outpost in Union Way.
Bake Shop: we were introduced to our friend Beth, who once ran the kitchen here. A little out of town on NE Sandy Blvd, come here for their peach hand pies.
Check out these other sweet spots as well: TheSugar Cube bakery on Alberta Street; Ken’s Artisan Bakery; Roman Candle; Tabor Bread;Sprinkle Fingers; Quin Candy Shop. MUST SEES/EATS for all lovers of good bread/pastry/candy. Oh and Maurice! Try Maurice as well!!
Broder: our all-time favorite brunch spot. This Swedish restaurant is so crazy busy on weekends, be prepared to wait for hours (literally). The wait is worth it though. Order the baked eggs in the skillet. So good.
Irving Street Kitchen: we loved our brunch here recently. Try the Moroccan Poached Eggs with Garlic Rubbed Toast, or the (super sweet and decadent) Oatmeal with Glazed Apple and Cocoa Nibs.
Grassa: for a quick (handmade) pasta lunch, this place on Burnside is perfect.
Tasty N Sons: a Portland institution. Be prepared to queue…around the block.
Portland Farmers Market (near PSU) held every Saturday morning from March through December. Grab breakfast to-go, as you cruise the stalls. Everything from coffee to bread to dairy to fruit to meat and fish. Seasonal, local, often organic, and always delicious.
Luc Lac: this would have to be the best, most delicious (and reasonably priced) Vietnamese we have found so far in the US. Fresh, healthy and humungous serves. Amazing pho! If you don’t do pho, order the grilled chicken or grilled prawn with rice and salad. SO good. Friendly, quick and consistent. The best option for a quick downtown lunch.
¿Por Que No?: our favorite taqueria with a focus on sustainable (line caught fish and local meats) Mexican food. Order Bryan’s Bowl with Micheladas. A few locations. We prefer the one on N Mississippi.
Cedo’s: head to this falafel joint on NE Martin Luther King JR Blvd for a serious hummus hit, and for the best falafel and gyros in town! Tender meat, fresh vegetables, and minty tsatziki.
Canteen: one of our favorite vegetarian stops. A cute black box of a building, with a small, but delicious, menu. We love popping in here for healthy and organic bowls, salads and smoothies. Try The Portland Bowl (organic kale, quinoa, black beans, maple-baked tempeh, “Northwest sauce,” hazelnuts and carrots) and the Walnut Taco Salad (organic mixed greens, avocado curry sauce, shredded carrot and cabbage, house-made pico, walnut taco crumbles, cashew nacho spread and avocado). YUM.
Food trucks: Portland loves a food truck. Recently recognised by US News as “the city with the world’s best street food” it is home to 475 of them! You will find a bunch downtown, some on N Mississippi Ave at Skidmore, and even more at the corner of SW 10th Avenue at Alder Street. Its hard to pick a favorite, but we do like El Nutri Taco on SE Woodstock Blvd for vegan tacos and burritos at a little food card parked in the front yard of a family home.
Woodsman Tavern: so hipster it hurts. Opened by the founder of Stumptown Coffee, Duane Sorenson, this place is beautiful. Waiters with scraggly beards; waitresses with messy ponytails and dainty aprons. All wear plaid. This couldn’t be more “Portland” if it tried. We love it here. The ham plate is always a great place to start…
Ned Ludd: this seasonal and rustic American craft kitchen is housed in a cute little industrial cabin on NE MLK Blvd. Jason French serves up simple and seasonal farm food, out of a wood-fired oven. We love this space, with its walls filled with hanging branches, flowers, old botanical prints and historic Portland photos. Like everything here, the beer, wine and cocktail menus change seasonally. Coffee by Heart. ** Check out also Ned Ludd's new gathering space - ELDER HALL - focused on gathering people and ideas through communal gatherings around the table. We love this **
St Jack: previously on SE Division, now locatedon the corner of NW 23rd and Raleigh. A cute corner French bistro, serving up excellent rustic French cuisine.
Urban Farmer: come here for local, organic and delicious steaks.
Biwa: for ramen. We love this cute little underground spot. Great Japanese.
Navarre: come here for seriously good tapas and delicious wine (with over 50+ wines by the glass). It’s all about sharing. Let your waiter pick the menu for you.
Clyde Common: this European-style Portland classic is part of the ACE, and is always a fun and buzzy option for dinner and cocktails. Try the popcorn with truffle oil, grana padano and black pepper.
DOC: Italian-inspired, northwest ingredient-focused fare. Fresh, local produce with great wines and delicious cocktails.
Olympic Provisions: bring your carnivorous cravings here. Meat, meat and more meat. Hit up the SE location (not to be missed, under the glowing MEAT sign)!
Dove Vivi: if you like your pizza deep-dish, this is the place to be. Famous for their cornmeal crust – you can also request your pizza be available par-baked, to take it with you to cook at home. A great option if you don’t feel like eating it immediately. – for deep dish pizza with a cornmeal crust.
Little Bird: cute little bistro serving up French fare with a Pacific Northwestern influence. Order the burger.
Smallwares: modern Asian tapas-style food, with creative spice-infused cocktails. Try the chicken lollipops! And have a drink at Barwares (out the back) first.
Luce: a lovely space on E Burnside, next to Heart coffee. The same people behind Navarre.
Bamboo Sushi: the first certified, sustainable sushi restaurant in the world. Great Japanese.
Sizzle Pie: for pizza. Perfect for a late night, post-gig snack. Opposite Powell’s.
Caffe Allora: this cute little neighbor Italian, in the Pearl, dishes up super fresh and authentic pasta dishes with super friendly service. Pop in for a Campari, and say hi to Paolo.
Multnomah Whiskey Library: this relatively new whiskey-forward ‘clubhouse’ is tucked down a 20-foot corridor and up some stairs hidden off Alder St. With a library-meets-British gentleman’s club vibe, it is a spectacularly impressive space. Dark, and surrounded by brick walls, aged wood, and seventeen bookshelves holding 1500 spirit (mainly whiskey) bottles, it’s a whiskey lover’s paradise. Watch as the bartenders pull bottles off the wall and wheel them around the room on carts – its whiskey on wheels. A must.
Teardrop Lounge: one of the city’s pioneering craft cocktail bars, come here for impeccably professional and experimental cocktails in the Pearl.
Prettyman’s General: a specialty beer and wine bar, and general market, on SE Hawthorne.
The Richmond Bar: pop in here before or after dinner at Pok Pok, and drinks at Whiskey Soda.
Pepe Le Moko: is the perfect place for great cocktails after dinner at Clyde Common (its just downstairs).
Pok Pok & Whiskey Soda: a good eating/drinking combo.
Spare Room: check out this converted bowling alley space for live-sax karaoke and its endless charm.
Beech Street Parlor: pop into this restored Victoria home, off MLK Blvd, and head up to the second story nook for cozy herb-infused gins, whiskeys and tequilas.
Barwares: cocktails and sake out the back of the Smallwares resto.
Doug Fir: for live music and good times.
Tannery: come to this North Tabor spot for craft cocktails.
Ava Genes: a cute spot for dinner, or just a drink. Good cocktails.
Frances May: our favorite PDX boutique. Conveniently located, just around the corner from the ACE, come here for a beautifully curated designer threads, jewelry and shoes. Beautiful one-off pieces.
House of Commons: we love this new retail and gallery space, centered around one specific theme that changes every couple of months. A beautifully curated space. Beautiful brands and artists.
Alder & Co: a little bit of everything. A collection of carefully curated and beautiful finds from the owners’ travels – from locally, or across the US.
Beam & Anchor: we love this space – part shop, part work studio – housed in a beautiful warehouse in North Portland. A beautiful range of aesthetic influences, ideas and concepts – come here for lovely rugs, blankets, mugs, leather goods, jewelry, candles, furniture and so much more. Partner store to our favorite Austin TX shop – Spartan – as well as Voyager in San Francisco.
Powell’s: a Portland institution, and the world’s largest bookstore – taking up an entire city block.
Nationale: located on E Burnside, part art gallery, party specialty shop – promoting the arts through exhibitions, performances and a selection of carefully curated goods.
Lowell: on N Russell. For a bit of pretty.
We love cruising the shops on NE Mississippi, SE Hawthorne and SE Division.
Appetite Shop + Studio: we love popping into this little textile store on E Burnside with our Heart coffee in hand. Come here for cute homewares (many handmade in-house), antique furniture and more.
There is a cute vintage dress store we love – opposite Broder – but we can’t remember the name. You will have plenty of time to check it out while waiting for your table…
Schoolhouse Electric & Supply Co: an old favorite. Come here for beautiful handmade vintage lights, bedding, letterpress cards and art. A stunning warehouse space that was once a building for hardware storage than wool storage and then paint supply storage. The Schoolhouse Electric & Supply Co took over in 2010. Even better, Ristretto Coffee have an outpost within the building as well…and there is a super cute florist. We love the off the beaten track location, amongst other dilapidated warehouses, by the river.
Union Way: opened in the summer of 2013 – a bright alleyway that connects the West End with the Pearl district (opposite the ACE). Grab ramen from Boxer Ramen, coffee and cake from Little T’s, and then shop your heart out at the cute boutiques that dot this indoor alleyway. You will find a Danner store, Steven Alan, a Spruce Apothecary for beauty, and Quin for sweet stuff (popcorn-flavored caramels anyone?).
If you are wanting to take home something really “Portland”, check out any one of these mainstays:
Tanner Goods: quality Oregon-made leather goods (both here and in LA).
Danner: come here for a pair of one of Portland’s most infamous hiking boots.
And Poler, too. For all your outdoor stuff!
There is only one option in our mind. The ACE. A longtime Alex Calderwood fan, his PDX outpost is one of our favorites (along with Seattle and LA). Testament again to Calderwood’s understated cool design aesthetic, this “hipster-chic” hangout is perfectly located downtown, just a block from the Pearl. You can bike, bus and train everywhere from here. Or walk. Take out one of the ACE’s beautiful handmade bikes. Grab cocktails and dinner at Clyde Common next door, and of course, coffee from Stumptown. Free Wifi. Good vibes. Always.
Other sleeping options: Modera, The Tiny House Hotel, or many awesome Airbnb apartments.
Pearl District: pound the pavement through this industrial part of town. Our favorite hood. Renovated warehouses full of cafes, boutiques, interiors stores, galleries, bars, restaurants, yoga studios and more.
Rent bikes: cruise the city by bike…over bridges, along the river, and through all the different neighborhoods. Portland is small and easy to navigate. The best way to explore.
Check out the Portland Farmers Market (near PSU) held every Saturday morning from March through December. So many awesome local farmers and artisan goods on offer. And pop into the Portland Art Museum while you are there (the seventh oldest museum in the United States and the oldest in the Pacific Northwest).
Check out galleries, homewares stores and vintage shops in the area near North Mississippi Avenue (often being referred to as Portland’s equivalent to Williamsburg in NYC).
Catch a film at one of Portland’s many old theatres: $4 movies at the Laurelhurst – old classics and new-ish releases with craft beers and good pizza.
Mt Hood: only an hour from Portland, a trip out here is essential. Ski in winter, hike in summer. At over 3000m high, fresh air and stunning views await. A beautiful day out of the city. Check outTimberline Lodge.
Check out the Falls: also only an hour outside Portland, on the way to Mt Hood along the Colombia River Gorge, check out Multnomah Falls (quite touristy), or hike the short distance toWahclella Falls (less touristy and spectacularly beautiful). The power and beauty of the water here will motivate and inspire you.
Visit the Willamette Valley: a region with over 300 wineries that produce 72 varieties of wine. Famous for their pinots.
If visiting in winter (and if massive lovers of real-deal Christmas trees like we are), check outSauvie Island Farms to choose and chop down your very own tree! Our most favorite Portland experience to date. Come to the same farm in summertime to pick strawberries instead.
Clackamas River Gorge: Hideaway Lake.
And don’t miss our guide to the Oregon Coast (incl Crater Lake) for more Oregon inspiration, including our favorite coastal spot Manzanita.The Oregon Coast offers hundreds of miles of beautiful sandy beaches, great waves, rocky shoreline, incredible mountains to hike, and thousands of waterfalls and rivers. It’s a nature wonderland. Read our guide for more.