I recently went on a road trip to Portland with my sister and our Dad for his birthday. We planned our trip just like how we normally do, around where we were going to eat. We are the kind of people who make sure everyone orders something different on a menu so that we can share and try as many dishes as possible. So you can imagine our excitement about all the food trucks, coffee shops and huge food, beer and wine culture we had heard Portland had to offer.
Our pre trip research generally involves cross-referencing recommendations from bloggers, food and travel sites, food critics and friends, until we come up with a list of THE most recommended places. Before we left for Portland we had a list of about fifty places we absolutely HAD to eat at for our 5 day trip. This meant we were pretty much going to be eating all day long. We fell asleep with visions of donuts dancing in our heads.
Portland turned out to be such a wonderful discovery, we wondered why we had never made the 5.5 hour drive from Vancouver before! Everyone we met exuded hospitality and immediately offered suggestions for their favourite local haunts and watering holes. You won’t find your typical big box stores in Portland, instead you’ll find lovely little boutiques, cafes and restaurants that all celebrate their local brands, crafts and produce. We saw the word “handcrafted” on almost every sign and it drew us in every time!
Handcrafted ice cream?
Yes, let’s go in!
Yes, let’s try it!
Handcrafted coffee, handcrafted pizza, handcrafter subs?
Yes, yes, please!
To be honest, I don’t really know what handcrafted means. But I do know it made us feel warm and fuzzy as if the food was prepared with extra care and we felt like we could taste the love in every bite.
Portland has a huge food truck scene and you’ll see parking lots filled with food trucks all over town. Nong’s Khao Man Gai was the most talked about online so we had to try it. They only have one item on the menu – Chicken and Rice and it tastes just like Hainanese Chicken Rice but with a different kind of sauce . We LOVE Hainanese chicken rice. We got the bigger portion to share with chicken liver because we LOVE chicken liver. It’s all about the sauce which they even sell at the local Wholefoods.
Tasty N Alder came highly recommended by friends, online and by locals. We loved their brunch menu so much that we came back again on our last day. They have an extensive eclectic mix of offerings from Bi Bim Bap to Fried Chicken and Fried Egg Biscuit Sandwich to the most delicious Ricotta Pancakes that were so light and fluffy it was like eating soft clouds. I highly recommend all 3, they were all equally delicious.
We tried the pork belly bahn mi at Lardo and we devoured every fatty delicious bite with grease dripping down our chins. Not something I could eat everyday but it was sooooooo good. Next door is a great homemade pasta bar called Grassa, um, I mean handcrafted pasta.
We had heard about Voodoo Dougnut before going to Portland and everyone and everyone’s mom was telling us it was a must. When we spoke to locals, however, they steered us in the direction of Blue Star Donuts instead and it was possibly the highlight of our trip. Recommendations from locals will always trump any other recommendations and these donuts were easily the best I’ve ever had!
We found this postcard lying on a coffee table at the Ace Hotel on our last day. We told Dad it was for him and it made his day! I can’t wait for my next trip back to Portland.
Other places locals raved about that are top on my list for the next time I’m back:
Pok Pok – They don’t take reservations and the wait time was 2.5 hours when we got there. We tried to kill time at their bar the Whiskey Soda Lounge across the street but we were too hungry to wait that long. They serve Pok Pok’s famous chicken wings there so at least we got to try that. Unfortunately, the rest of the menu isn’t the same.
Salt and Straw – The line was down the block before and after dinner! We heard that you can skip the line if you order a pint but we were leaving the next morning so we decided not to get one. Probably a huge mistake.
Pine State Biscuits – We just didn’t have enough time to eat here but we heard their biscuits are delicious.
What are you favourite places to eat at in Portland?