A Food Lover's Guide To Portland, Oregon
Portland has something many cities do not: access to incredible produce and meats from the magnificent Willamette Valley, allowing chefs to play with a plethora of the country’s finest ingredients. Everyone in Portland really, really cares about good food, good coffee and good cocktails, and this is not an overstatement. Over the years, the smorgasbord of top-notch dining experiences in Portland has made it one of the most interesting places to eat in the United States.
Start the day at... Proud Mary
One might say that the last thing that Portland needs is another coffee shop, especially an import from the other side of the world. But the opening of Proud Mary by a group of tasteful Australians raised the bar with its modern, high ceilinged space, warm service, excellent coffee roasted on-site, and beautifully plated (and delicious) food made from local ingredients. It has quickly become one of the best and most popular breakfast and brunch spots in a city that does breakfast very well. Some standout menu items include ricotta hotcakes, potato hash, and savoury French toast.
Proud Mary, 2012 NE Alberta Street, Portland, Oregon 97211; +1 (503) 208-3475.
For a taste of history, head to... Olympia Provisions
You could be excused if the only thing you consume at Olympia Provisions is meat. Sausages, salami and pâtés are some of the best you’ll ever have at Oregon’s first and finest certified dry-cure salami house that also has two restaurant locations in Portland. If you appreciate a good charcuterie board, begin your meal with either the Spanish, French or Italian board and accompany it with a glass of local wine. While the restaurant could get by with only serving cured meats and cheese, it does also excel at making soups, salads and sandwiches for lunch as well as a fantastic braised lamb shoulder for dinner. The newer Westside location is brighter and airier than the Eastside branch, which sits in an old warehouse by the Morrison Bridge, though either locations promise a fantastic meal.
Olympia Provisions, 1632 NW Thurman Street and 107 SE Washington Street, Portland, Oregon; +1 (503) 894-8136
For a taste of local produce, try... Tusk
In a city accustomed to gloomy skies and rain, Tusk offers a temporary getaway with its light and breezy coastal interior. While many restaurants claim to be farm-to-table, Tusk actually lives up to the name, as the chef works closely with farmers to bring new produce to Oregon.The Middle Eastern spot is known for its colourful plates of fruits, vegetables, grains and tangy pickles, as well as its mélange of dips to go with their irresistible homemade whole wheat flatbread. Add grilled chicken, lamb or pork skewers to round things out. Every cocktail on the menu is a winner and you’ll be remiss to not start your meal off with one.
Tusk, 2448 E Burnside Street, Portland, Oregon 97214; +1 (503) 894-8082
Splurge on a meal at... Han Oak
Considered by many to be one of Portland’s best restaurants, Han Oak serves high-end modern Korean food in a relaxed space that doubles as the chef/owner’s home. Nondescript wooden doors in the rear of a parking lot lead to a majestic, grassy courtyard that serves as a lounge and waiting area. The restaurant sits in a refurbished garage, with a roll up door that exposes the restaurant to the outdoor oasis. Seating is communal, which further creates a backyard party atmosphere. While there is an à la carte menu, we recommend you trust the chef’s selection with the $58 family style set menu. Reservations fill up more than a month in advance, but they do save a few seats for 8-10 lucky walk-ins each night.
Han Oak, 511 NE 24th Ave, Portland, Oregon 97232; +1 (971) 255-0032
Grab a drink at... Multnomah Whiskey Library
Home to more than 1700 bottles of whiskey and spirits, the famed Multnomah Whiskey Library is a must-visit for any whiskey enthusiast. Memberships are available for those who wish to reserve a table ahead of time, otherwise be prepared to wait upwards of an hour to secure a table in the dimly lit, wood-and-leather clad bar. The bar-to-ceiling shelves are lined with some of the finest and rarest bottles, which are accessible via tall, rolling ladders. Vest-clad bartenders mix drinks tableside on vintage cocktail carts, and pours range from US$5 to US$800. If you’re unsure of where to start, don’t be shy to pick the brains of the highly knowledgeable staff.
Multnomah Whiskey Library, 1124 SW Alder Street, Portland, Oregon 97205; +1 (503) 954-1381
Bring a taste of Portland home at... PSU Farmers Market
The Portland Farmers Market at Portland State University is ranked one of the best of its kind in the country, and is the only farmers market in the area that’s open throughout the year, rain or shine. Every Saturday from 8:30am to 2:00pm, locals and visitors alike weave through more than one hundred stalls of freshly harvested produce and unique prepared foods. If you’re a coffee lover, this is a good place to pick up a bag of artisanal beans to bring back home. Bags of fragrant hazelnuts, which are an Oregon speciality, are sold by a handful of vendors, and no visit to the market is complete without a stop at Pearl Bakery for a cookie.
Portland Farmers Market, 1831 SW Pedestrian Trail, Portland, Oregon 97201; +1 (503) 241-0032