Portland, a City Tasting Tour
Birthplace of the American culinary legend James Beard, Portland is a food lover’s mecca with good food and drink anywhere there are commercial or office buildings. Divided into four quadrants – northwest, northeast, southwest, southeast – the laidback west coast city is made for walking. You could spend days just walking from microbrewery to food cart to restaurant happy hour specials indulging in food and drink. On the northern edge of the fertile Willamette Valley, the river of the same name splits the city into east and west, while Burnside Street, home to Powell’s, the world’s largest bookstore, separates north from south. Whatever the quadrant you find yourself in, Portland is for food and drink lovers at all hours of the day.
Food Cart City
Nearly 700 food trucks dot metropolitan Portland (here you find the complete map). Anchored at fixed locations, in parking lots, parks, or the local university, food carts are often set up in “pods” or clusters for choices galore. The Alder Street Pod is the largest downtown with 60 tiny kitchens offering everything from traditional English fish and chips to Korean-Mexican fusion. At Nong’s Khao Man Gai, there are only two simple items on the menu: Chicken and Rice, and Chicken and Rice Big Size. The chicken is oh-so-tender and the sauce - well, I went back two times over two days.
Portlandians line up for Breakfast and Brunch
The only lineups you’ll likely see at restaurants in Portland is for breakfast or brunch. Bedecked with chandeliers above and country wood tables and chairs, Mother’s Bistro & Bar is a perfect blend of classy and comfortable with eggs made in frittatas, scrambles and omelettes, and pancakes, waffles, and French toast. Tasty n Sons adds spice and kick with all-day brunch offering international fare such as shakshuka and Morrocan chicken hash.
Happy Hour? Good food all day long
Good eating isn’t particularly pricey in Portland, but Happy Hour can make your dollar, pound, or Euro stretch even further with a focus not just on drinks but on the food. Clarklewis has a menu by price ranging from $1 for roasted nuts to $7 for grilled hamburgers. Jake’s Famous Crawfish offers calamari, mussels and shrimp for under $6.
Beervana: Craft Beer Capital of the World
A visit to Portland isn’t a visit without imbibing at one of their 51 and counting microbreweries. Oregon is the second largest hop-growing state in the US. Fourteen types of hops are grown in the Willamette Valley, which provide fresh ingredients for great beer. A few craft breweries based elsewhere in the state have both breweries and brewpubs in Portland, bringing the total to 61. In the Pearl District, Deschutes Public House is a sleek modern brewpub with 19 taps and chicken wings that are both spicy and savoury, while Rogue Ales has more casual outdoor picnic tables where you can enjoy hearty sandwiches like pulled pork sandwiches, and reubens smothered in sauerkraut and swiss cheese.
Coffee is a serious art, Tea is handcrafted
Portlandians are serious about their coffee, and it shows in the plethora of local coffee roasters – each with their own house roast. While a certain American coffee empire whose shops can found around the world may be headquartered only a few hours away, it’s Stumptown Coffee Roasters that restaurants and hotels around town turn to for their coffee. Stumptown also have several cafes in Portland, where you can sip and linger. If tea is more your thing, head to Smith Tea, where Steve Smith, founder of both Stash Tea and Tazo Tea, has started a new line of high-quality teas and offers a tasting room where you can see how the teas are made, while sipping, of course, on a cup of tea.