Portland is a fun city to visit with seemingly endless options for food and drink. Having lived in Portland for 2 years now, I’m starting to get a better idea of some of the best places to go. That said, this list is constantly evolving and I am finding that I keep adding to it as I learn and discover more about where to go.
Pizzeria Otto is my favorite pizza place in Portland. The traditional Italian pizza oven bakes the bread in a way that gives it a perfect char. The menu is always changing as their toppings depend on what is in season. The happy hour here is also hard to beat, with a margarita pizza and a drink costing you only $10 a person. Additionally, for you GF folks, Pizzeria Otto offers a gluten-free bread option that is truly the best that I have come across.
Saraveza is my favorite place in Portland! I almost didn’t want to publish it because it’s very much under the radar. They have the best food and beer selection and the service is always really good. Every time we go, we get the cheese curds and they are they best cheese curds that I have had outside of the Midwest. After you order the cheese curds, I recommend splitting a salad and main course with a friend. This is the type of place where the portion size is good, the quality is always high and everything on my menu is delicious. Enjoy!
Fire on the Mountain
Known in Portland as FOTM, Fire on the Mountain is the place to go if you are looking for the best chicken wings in town. I do not take chicken wings lightly, and these win the #1 spot in my heart for their crispiness and quality. My favorite part about this restaurant is that they offer a variety of sauces, my favorite is the Jamaican jerk and the spicy peanut. For the vegans in the world, FOTM also offers amazing meatless wings that have really great texture and flavor!
Petite Provence is one of my favorite breakfast places in Portland. The food is always so good, the service is friendly, and they have mimosa flights. My favorite thing on the menu is the Baked Eggs a la Francaise. It is also the best place to bring your mom, I don’t know why but mom’s love it! Also, did I mention they have mimosa flights? Maybe that’s why. While you are there, make sure to grab a pastry to go. They always make them fresh, and they are some of the best in town.
Pok Pok is practically a household name in Portland. If you live in Portland and haven’t heard of it, you might be living under a rock. This Thai street food inspired restaurant has surely made a name for itself here and rightly so. There isn’t a bad thing on the menu. Whether you get their famous wings, or one of their many noodle or curry dishes, I guarantee you will not be disappointed. Quick tip: expect
long lines for dinner!
Having been born in Russia and raised in a Russian family, I wasn’t very keen on the idea of a trendy Russian Restaurant. Expecting lots of cultural appropriation, I was apprehensive that they could pull it off. However, after visiting Kachka, I was impressed and also very much in awe of how great the food was! My favorite thing is the Herring Under the Fur Coat (pictured above), a cold salad that is layered with herring, beets, potatoes, eggs and cheese. It’s a Russian dinner table classic and is made perfectly here. My mother, who is very difficult to impress (typical Russian) was taken aback by the quality of this dish. She even told me that it was the best Herring Under The Fur Coat that she has had AND she said this in front of my grandmother who was not to pleased. Overall, Kachka is a unique and tasty experience that I recommend to all!
One of my favorite things to do in Portland is to ride my bike around downtown and stop at different spots for a cocktail and a snack. If you time it right, you can hit up all three places during happy hour – each of them have excellent offerings!
Imperial is located at the base of Hotel Vintage. The best part about this bar is that they have a great happy hour with really nice cocktails on tap. Their Vieux Carre, a cocktail originally from New Orleans, is one of the best versions that I have had. Strong, sweet and smooth!
Clyde Common is another great spot with an awesome happy hour! My favorite drink that seems to frequently make an appearance on the menu is the Southbound Suarez, a concoction of reposado tequila, lime, agave, Becherovka, and house horchata.
Palomar is the place to go if you feel like being transported to Cuba! I love coming here because it makes you forget that it’s cold and rainy outside. My recommendation would be to grab a daiquiri and some fritters. The happy hour menu is there for a reason, take advantage of it!
Beer and Breweries are almost synonymous with Portland. Portland has a great beer scene and a lot of variety to chose from. With big names like Breakside, Rogue, 10 Barrel and Modern Times along with smaller breweries like Culmination, Baerlic, and many others, Portland has a good balance between big and small. There are quite a few amazing breweries to chose from but the ones that make it on my list are because they offer a little bit of everything which allows people with different palettes to come together and enjoy a good brewski.
Great Notion is my favorite brewery right now! They keep amazing me with their creativity and their knack for adding crazy flavors to their beer. Although it’s not everybody’s cup of tea, my favorite beer here is the Blueberry Muffin beer that tastes every bit like a blueberry muffin. They do other types of beer as well, and if you are a Hazy IPA fan, Great Notion has their hazy dialed in. I love this brewery because they have something for everyone, and that is truly a mark of being on top of the game.
Hair of the Dog
Big high ABV% beers are difficult to find year-round in Portland. Especially during the summer when session ales and IPA’s are prevalent. However, if you mosey into Hair of the Dog you will notice that they almost always have an 8% or above beer on tap, and this is why I love them so much. AND they also age their beer in a gigantic concrete stone egg. That’s pretty unique!
Upright Brewery is definitely a local spot, and one of my favorite because it is slightly hidden. Across the street from the Moda Center, Upright is a gem that is hiding in plain sight. The brewery is in the basement of an eclectic building that seems to house shared workspaces and offices. But the real reason I love this brewery is that they are doing really great stuff in the beer world, and kicking butt at experimenting and expanding their barrel program. Who doesn’t like cask conditioned beer blended together perfectly that is both quenching and palatable?
Baerlic Brewing is easily one of my favorite breweries in Portland because they do not make bad beer. Even if it’s a style that I do not like, they still do a good job. Baerlic has been showing up at Portland brew festivals, by supplying some really solid brews. Recently at the Fresh Hop Festival, I had a Baerlic barrel aged saison called Milo that really hit the spot. The beer was well balanced and very easy to drink! I recommend any Portland newcomer to visit this brewery as you will never be disappointed.
Things To Do
Cruise the River
Cruising around on the Willamette River is one of the funnest things to do, especially during the summer months. Lucky for you, there are plenty of ways to get out on the water without spending a fortune or having your own boat. The Portland Spirit has daily river cruises and special events. If you’re the type of person that likes to party, you might enjoy the Brew Barge, a group peddle boat that is BYOB and allows you to drink on board. And if you want to get up close and personal with the water, you can rent a kayak and enjoy the river from a different perspective.
Enjoy A Great View
Portland is not short on places where you can see a great view of the city. My favorite view of the city is from the SkyTram that takes you up to OHSU from the Southwest waterfront. If you are afraid of heights, you can opt to go to the top of Big Pink (the gigantic pink skyscraper), take a short elevator ride up to Portland City Grill and take in a beautiful view. If you like history, check out Pittock Mansion for a good view of the city and a chance to see one of the oldest mansions in Portland. Or if you like gardens, hop over to the other side of the road and visit the Japanese Gardens which are beautiful and also provide an amazing view of the city as you exit the property.
One of the best reasons to get out of town is to explore Oregon’s beautiful wineries. There are wineries to the east and south of Portland. Just an hour south out of town, the wineries around McMinnville are a great way to spend the day and there are plenty to choose from! Stoller Winery is a great one to visit because of its rolling hills and expansive outdoor space. Head over and grab a bottle, sit back, relax and listen to a band play while you enjoy the good life! If you go east you will hit the wineries along the Columbia River. Drive along 84 and the cross over to Washington to visit Maryhill winery and take in a beautiful view of the Columbia River from their patio.
Explore the Coast
The Oregon coast is beautiful, and if you are feeling landlocked it’s a great place to escape the city. You have many options for where you can go, from Cannon Beach to Astoria every little town has something to offer – you just have to look for it. Cannon Beach is my favorite place for a hike, and there are plenty of trails along the cliffs to explore. Or just take a stroll along the beach and enjoy the beautiful scenery. Astoria is a quaint little town, and also houses my favorite brewery in Oregon; Fort George. Walk around town, stop in for a beer at Fort George or head over to Buoy for a bite to eat and a view.
Visit Trillium Lake
Trillium Lake is only an hour and a half away from Portland, is a perfect way to get away without having to go too far. The lake is open for fishing, which brings many families to its shores. If you are not an avid fisher, rent a kayak and paddle around the lake. The view will not let you down!
Go on a Hike
Not even sure if this needs to be said, but Portlanders LOVE to hike! The great thing about the Pacific Northwest is that there are a lot of beautiful hikes within an hour drive of the city. Heck, you can get a great hike in the city if you go to Forest Park! One of the more famous areas to hike is the Columbia Gorge. The gorge is home to a plethora of waterfalls and beautiful views. Unfortunately, some of the trails are closed due to a destructive file that burned much of the gorge last year. However there are still many options for you. Check out where to hike here.