Portland – A Foodie’s Guide
It’s no surprise to anyone that I’m a huge foodie. Eating good food is my calling. And my purpose in life. Luckily, my husband and I just got back from a glorious 4 days in beautiful (surprisingly sunny!?) Portland. We were there officially for “work” purposes to attend a conference, and so we left the little one home…but not our appetite.
But I’m a blogger and my husband is a full time travel hacker, part-time business owner…so for us, work is pleasure. Just like food, actually. Anyway, “work” conference or not, a foodie’s gotta eat.
I love Portland. If spirit cities were a thing, Portland would mine. Because it’s a little quirky. And a little hipster. It’s a city filled with writers and coffeeshops. Passionate vegans and Paleolithic diners. The farm-to-table movement is pretty much on display everywhere you look.
In short, Portland is a city for anyone who is a a foodie.
And in four days, we could hardly scratch the surface of what the city has to offer, but here’s the best of what we sampled.
We stayed at the Northwest Portland Hostel, because of course.
Hostels = quirky passionate fun loving peeps and we wanted to experience the true vibe of the city ASAP. And wouldn’t you know, our first delicious meal came from the humble hostel cafe?
The world’s best BLT sandwich.
Perfectly crisp bacon, buttery toast, fresh lettuce and tomato, creamy mayo and topped with…pickles! PICKLES ON A BLT!? Why didn’t I think of that? And for our vegan friends, the hostel cafe also serves Vegan BLTs. Because, Portland.
Stumptown Coffee Roasters
This is the local hangout. You’ll always find Stumptown coffee packed with locals relaxing, sipping, reading and writing.
For something a bit classier, head over to Case Study. They had a fantastic daily special – Thai Iced Tea. It wasn’t sickly sweet like most Thai teas. The coffeeshop has a chill vibe and I could see myself writing here for hours.
Portland is the land of food carts. There’s an entire city block lined all the way around with carts. You can find vendors peddling food from around the world. Grain bowls and green juices? Check. Stirfry and curry? Check. Donuts? Check. Cheesecake? Check. Sandwiches? Check. It’s enough to send this foodie into “paralysis by analysis”.
Oh boy! Tamale Boy was fresh and delicious! Try one of everything. The pickled red onions are freaking amazing. Tacos, tamales and tequila pairings!
Thai Kee Mao
I have a soft spot in my heart for good Thai food. We once went to Chiang Mai with the intention of spending 4 days enjoying the sites, and ended up extending our stay by six weeks. At Thai Kee Mao we tried their signature dish “Pad Kee Mao”(I mean, we pretty much had to.) It didn’t disappoint.
Have you ever Iraqi food? Yeah, me neither. And it wasn’t really on my radar until I walked by this place and the smell of the roasting meat made me stop. Then, as I turned to stare, the nice man slicing meat off the spit asked me if I’d like to try a sample. And it was SO GOOD. Unlike anything else I had tried, and I know my way around Middle Eastern food. It was kind of like chicken schwarma, but had hints of rosemary and oregano. It was delicious!
Clyde Common is a cozy spot to meet up with friends. I LOVE their cocktails. I can vouch for the Pacific Standard (a delicious mix of vodka, lemon, ginger, honey and soda water) or the Strawberry Aperol Spritz (a flirty mix of Aperol liquor, strawberry, cava, water, carbonated and bottled in house!)
Swank & Swine
If you’re in the mood for something a bit more “swanky,” head over to Swank & Swine. You’ll love the dark wood interior of this place. Walking in will transport you to an era gone by. This is a Moonshine and Whiskey bar and you’ll find some amazing drinks. They have a pretty awesome happy hour and the food is a work of art. Are you brave enough to try a Whisky sour with egg white?!
Portland takes donuts seriously. Don’t believe me? Ask a local. But really, Portland knows donuts. (Or is it doughnuts?)
But in the battle for the title of “Portland’s Best Donuts” – there are really only two contenders. You know what I think is funny? They can’t even agree on the spelling…is it doughnut? Or donut? I still don’t know, but I do know you should try both spots!
Voodoo Doughnut is the cult favorite. If you visit Portland, you pretty much have to come here. It’s the tourist spot, the requirement on any visitor’s checklist. It’s also open 24/7 so you have no excuse not to try this place! And it doesn’t disappoint! Make sure you sample the Maple Bacon donut, but no need to stop there!
Blue Star Donuts
This is the local favorite. It’s classier and more “chef-inspired.” Their mantra is “quality over quantity.” Blue Star isn’t on any tourist bucket list but I’m certain it should be. Yum.
Boxer Ramen was such a jewel. It was fast, cheap, and fantastic. The trifecta. Definitely get the Spicy Red Miso ramen bowl. Soooo good. I also recommend the Tiny pork sandwich and the Okonomiyaki tater tots – tots served with spicy sauce, Tonkatsu sauce, bonito flakes, nori and togorashi.
We were totally feeling the Asian vibe and decided to stick with this theme.
According to their website, Bamboo sushi is the world’s first “certified sustainable sushi restaurant.” That’s pretty awesome, and I will tell you that the food and service here are fantastic. Before I even opened my menu, I went into the restroom to wash my hands and to my delight, there were Japanese language lessons being piped through the speakers. Super cute and it perfectly set the theme. Every time we walked by this trendy spot, there was a line out the door. We really wanted to try it and decided to just sit up at the sushi bar. Best.Decision.Ever.
First, we started our meal with a little amuse-bouche sent to us by the chef – a delightful cucumber pickle salad.
After that, a complimentary side of edamame. By this point, we were already in love.
And then, the sushi. Holy mother of all things raw fish – this was some amazing sushi.
This was the best we could manage in 4 days. Suffice it to say that Portland really is a place for foodies. You should go. And eat.