Headed to Portland, Oregon for the first time, but unsure where to eat? I’ve got you covered. I lived in the Portland area for 11 years and can steer you right. Here are my top picks for all the major food groups you’ll find in Portland:
VooDoo Doughnut, while heavily associated with Portland, is more of a tourist location than a spot for doughnut-y good eats. If your heart is set on getting a doll shaped doughnut, go to VooDoo Doughnut Too and save yourself the wait while treating yourself to seeing some killer decor.
If you’re looking for doughnuts with interesting combinations you may not have tried, turn to Blue Star Donuts. If you’re looking for a lower end option that will blow your mind with that sweet, sugary rush, try Heavenly Donuts.
2. Ice cream
Here’s the thing about ice cream in Portland: Salt & Straw is the VooDoo Doughnuts of Ice Cream. Do yourself a favor: try Cloud City Ice Cream, Fifty Licks or Cool Moon Ice Cream. You’ll find fun and interesting flavors (I’d start with “Kulfi” at Cool Moon) while getting a truer sense of Portland. Not to mention, Cloud City has a huge chalk mural with a unicorn in it. So, that’s worth seeing.
3. Food trucks
Food Trucks… I can’t slam. They’re great. Groupings of food trucks can be found all across the city, but my personal favorite is Cartopia in southeast: home of Potato Champion and Perierra Creperie, among others. It has a great atmosphere and seating, which is rare for food carts.
Another great grouping can be found next in north Portland at the Mississippi Marketplace. There you can find Pastrami Zombie for sandwich lovers, as well as Teppanyaki Hut Ramen and Sushi Bar and others.
4. Vegan eats
In true Portland style, the number of vegan eateries is immense. However, I do have some standouts for those interested.
First, let me recommend a.n.d cafe -- the best vegan brunch you’ll ever have. Oh, you want a hearty breakfast burrito, but vegan? They got you. Miss biscuits and gravy? They got you. Jonesing for chicken and waffles? They. Got. You.
Now that the most important meal of the day out of the way, let me direct you to The Bye and Bye. Located in northeast Portland, The Bye and Bye is a bar/vegan-heaven-on-earth. They can provide you with a (vegan) meatball sub that I can personally vouch for, a BBQ platter, a Reuben, and other mouthwatering delights, alongside great drinks. And if you’re under 21, don’t fret! Minors are allowed in until 8 p.m.
If you’re over 21, however, the next category is for you.
Admittedly, I’m still a few days short of my 21st birthday, but I couldn’t leave you without a complete guide! (So, shout out to my father for some help in this area.)
First up: Lucky Labrador Brewing Company. They have locations across Portland and are great for meetings, game nights, etc. They brew their own ginger ale and root beer, so your D.D. can have more than the standard Sprite. They also serve solar-powered beer, which is about as Portland-esque as you can get.
But if that isn’t your thing, maybe playing arcade games drunk does. Head up to northwest Portland to visit Ground Kontrol. They host over 90 arcade games in their establishment for your enjoyment and most of their foods can be ordered vegan or gluten-free.
This is where my expertise really lies. Once you’re done partying at the various alcohol-serving establishments, head over to one of these fine shops in the morning to help shake it off.
First up, for the weirdos who really belong in Portland, is Rimsky-Korsakoffee House, situated in southeast. They offer live performances, desserts and great coffee. Arguably their biggest draw, though: the bathroom. I won’t spoil it for you, it’s an experience you just have to see.
But for those looking for a more brightly-lit morning sippery, try LoveJoy Bakers. Along with their excellent roasts, they serve soups, salads and breakfast foods. (And it’s just a short walk to Powell’s, if books are your thing.)
Now that you’re equipped with advice from an expert: go forth! Eat, drink and be merry!