A Hiking and Food Lover's Guide to Portland, OR
Food & Wine
Portland is a gorgeous, green city in the United States' Pacific Northwest that is home to a mind-boggling number of delicious restaurants, cafes, and food pods brimming with food trucks. The hard part about visiting Portland isn't finding a good place to eat; it's filtering the choices down to where you want to go during the time you're here. As a local who works in the food industry, here is my food lover's guide to visiting Portland.
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Where to stay in Portland
The Ritz-Carlton, Portland
The Ritz-Carlton, Portland, is an urban sanctuary in the heart of the city's cultural district. With luxurious accommodations, fine dining, and a commitment to sustainability, the hotel provides a sophisticated and eco-conscious retreat for guests exploring the vibrant arts and culinary scene of Portland, Oregon.
$100 hotel / resort credit.
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The Nines, a Luxury Collection Hotel, Portland
Your heart-of-the-action pick in Portland, with a statement atrium lobby and farm-to-table restaurant.
$100 food / beverage credit.
Upgrade & extended check-in/out whenever possible.
This modern, stylish boutique stay in Portland's Central Eastside district boasts sleek rooms with floor-to-ceiling windows and coveted city views.
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Things to do in Portland
Before visiting Portland, you should know that the city is broken into quadrants:
Northwest (NW), Southwest (SW), Northeast (NE) and Southeast (SE).
All Portland streets will have the prefix of their quadrant, and it's an easy way to determine which part of the city you're heading to. North and South are delineated by Burnside St, and East and West are determined by the Willamette River.
There is technically a fifth "quadrant" (we know):
North Portland, which is almost an island of its own. Most visitors don't make it up there on their first time coming to Portland. But if you're hiking in Forest Park, you're already very close and it's worthwhile to pop into the town of St. John's - if only just to drive across the gorgeous and gothic Cathedral Bridge.
If you're looking to get the most out of hiking and eating in Portland, I recommend you rent a car.
The best thing about Portland is its natural attractions. Portland is a city in the forest, and locals love being outside, rain or shine. And since you're visiting for the food, it's a good balance to have a stroll or hike before you stuff your face. Forest Park in NW Portland is the largest city park in the United States and has over 50 miles of hiking trails. It's the quickest and easiest way to feel like you're in the woods when visiting Portland because, well, you are. Forest Park is as Portland was before it was settled and developed, so you can expect lots of trees, moss, lichens, and mushrooms. Most trails weave in and around the Wildwood Trail, and you can pick your difficulty level and distance through hiking apps like All Trails. I love The Wildwood Trail and Leif Erickson Drive trail loop.
In the same NW quadrant of Portland, you can also check out the Hoyt Arboretum, the Pittock Mansion (tickets required for entry), the Japanese Garden (tickets also required for entry) and the International Rose Test Garden. Roses bloom in the summertime, and all three have beautiful views of the majestic Mt. Hood on a clear day. The tearoom at the Japanese Garden is a relaxing and lovely way to spend an hour in the afternoon, and it's a good visit if you like garden design. If you're looking for a challenge, the uphill hike from Macleay Park to Pittock Mansion rewards you with a gorgeous view at the top - and afterwards you can stop for a bite in the NW district.
Another fabulous outdoor adventure near Portland is a visit to the Columbia River Gorge. The most famous is Multnomah Falls, which are absolutely gorgeous, but be prepared to be slightly annoyed by the parking situation. Go early, park in the first parking lot, and be aware that if visiting during peak season (Memorial Day weekend to Labor Day weekend), you will need a permit to visit. Multnomah Falls is an easy hike - so easy that locals don't even refer to it as a "hike". If you want a true hiker's hike, some fantastic options from moderate to hard are Eagle Creek to Punch Bowl Falls, Devil's Rest, Angel's Rest, and Tunnel Falls.
If urban hikes are more your thing, a stroll up and down one of the city's many enclaves should do the trick.
Some of the best are:
SE Division between SE 30th and SE 38th Aves
SE Hawthorne between SE 30th and SE 50th
Mississippi Street between N Fremont and N Skidmore
NW 23rd Ave between NW Glisan and Savier Streets.
These thoroughfares feature plenty of shops, restaurants, cafes and bars, and you can easily spend hours sauntering up and down the streets.
A visit to the famous Tillamook Creamery in Tillamook, OR: About an hour and a half drive west of Portland lies Tillamook, a coastal dairyland where proud farmers make some of the best dairy products in the Western United States. They're famous for their cheddar cheese, but don't miss the ice cream counter where you can pick a scoop of your choice from 30+ flavors. The newly built visitor's center features a self-guided tour of the history of the farmers and the production facility, and you can taste test different cheeses, shop in their creamery store, or buy a decadent grilled cheese and tomato soup from the counter-service cafe. The weather is best in the summer, but that is also when crowds are at their highest. Shoulder seasons - end of Spring and all of Fall - have smaller crowds.
Wine Tasting in the Willamette: The Willamette Valley should be the next Napa Valley. This section of Oregon is known for its volcanic soil and award-winning Pinot Noir. Hire a private car to take you to wineries from Portland or coordinate your own group. I especially love the towns of Newberg and McMinnville for their walkable main streets loaded with tasting rooms, boutiques, and cafes; but if you're hoping to just visit wineries, start with Soter, Brickhouse, and Alexana.
Silver Falls State Park: This verdant park has the famous seven-mile hike that features 10 waterfalls - one you can even walk behind. It's about an hour's drive south of Portland, and a great alternate excursion if you've already been up the Gorge.
Places to eat & drink in Portland
The hard part about Portland, again, isn't finding a good spot to eat - it's picking how many places you can visit while you're here.
How does Portland take its breakfast? Seriously.
Sweedeedee: A cozy, neighborhood counter-service joint that spins vinyl tunes while slinging seasonal breakfast plates and pastries. I like to visit the Mississippi district afterwards to shop and stroll.
Jinju Pattisserie: Another spot close to the Mississippi district, Jinju has serious layers: the best croissants in Portland. The croissants range from sweet to savory, and sell out daily. It pairs perfectly with a coffee - and it's always a good idea to grab a dessert from the cold case while you're here.
Fuller's Coffee Shop: Take a step into the past in this old-school downtown diner that serves mainstays like omelets, pancakes, and french toast. I love the pigs in a blanket: breakfast sausage rolled in a buttery, fluffy pancake.
Pine State Biscuits: You can skip lunch after breakfast after a visit to these Southern-style restaurants where biscuits reign supreme. There are several breakfast biscuit sandwiches (I love the Wedgie) along with a choice of biscuits and gravy available.
Sandwiches, soup and pizza are always a good choice in PDX.
Ranch Pizza: Portland is one of the best cities in the US for a slice, and Ranch pizza serves them up on a fluffy, Sicilian-style meets Detroit-style dough topped with your choice of fresh cheeses, veggies, and meats. I love the #4, made with aged mozzarella, red sauce, sausage, ricotta, Calabrian chilies, pecorino romano, and basil.
Güero #1 Tortas: I admit that before visiting this restaurant I didn't give the Mexican torta the respect it deserves. Güero has perfected the sandwich recipe, and there's not a single bad version on the menu. I love the Carnitas torta, which comes on perfectly toasted talera bread and is topped with avocado, cabbage and chili mayo, or the Masa y Papa torta, which is a dreamy vegetarian combo of a crispy fried masa and potato pancake topped with avocado, queso, cabbage, picked onion and roasted tomato.
Hawthorne Asylum or Cartopia Food Pods: Every visit to Portland should include a visit to a food cart pod or two. My favorites are these two in East Portland, which are located one block apart from each other. Stroll between them to pick your favorite. I love Pelmeni Pelmeni at the Asylum for Slavik dumplings, and BKK PadTai at Cartopia for Thai.
Ha VL: If you have a rental car during your stay, make a visit to this hole-in-the-wall shop that serves some of the best pho in Portland. The menu is set daily, so check ahead to make sure you like their soup of the day. While they also serve bahn mi's and other Vietnamese dishes, you really should get the soup. Closed on Tuesdays.
Nong's Kao Man Gai: This is a Portland institution. Chicken and rice are the main fare on the menu, but don't let that fool you into thinking it's plain. The Haianese chicken dish comes with perfectly cooked rice, deeply flavorful broth, a rich ginger sauce, and tender chicken. It's fabulous on a rainy day, and the bottled sauce makes for a great gift or souvenir.
Some of my favorites.
Toki Restaurant: There are a great number of Korean restaurants in Portland, and one of my favorites Downtown is Toki. They serve delicious comfort food like bibimbap, Korean fried chicken, Bo Ssam, and handmade dumplings. Be sure to try the kimchi omurice.
Kann: It's notoriously hard to snag a reservation (set your calendars for two months ahead of time), but if you can get into Gregory Gourdet's James Beard winning restaurant, you should. The Haitian menu is naturally gluten and dairy-free, and is updated seasonally. Don't miss the Griyo Twice Cooked Pork for an appetizer, but really you can't go wrong with anything on this menu. If you can't get into Kann, try sousòl - the basement bar. It has a great menu and extensive cocktail menu, including outstanding non-alcoholic options. Gourdet has openly shared his journey with sobriety, and thoughtfully incorporates non-alcoholic beverages beyond traditional sodas and syrups.
Afuri Ramen at the Kennedy Building: It's known to rain in Portland, and there's nothing like a hot bowl of soup on a rainy day. Afuri Ramen delivers rich, Japanese ramen alongside sushi and fresh steamed bao. They have several locations, but I especially love their location in the Kennedy Building on Portland's Eastside. I always order the Tan Tan Men.
Scotch Lodge: What a vibe. If you're a whisky, whiskey, or scotch lover, this is the place for you. But it's not just hard to find the whisky that the Scotch Lodge serves, it also has a stellar kitchen with great pairing snacks like fried brie, fresh oysters, and larger fare options like fresh pappardelle and a soft-shell crab sandwich. Reservations recommended.
Cafe Olli: This is a stellar farm-to-table restaurant with a wood-fire oven serving delicious seasonal PNW fare. Don't miss the pomodoro pizza with fresh stracciatella cheese. Reservations recommended.
Casa Zoraya: This top-notch Peruvian restaurant serves fresh ceviche, tart pisco sours, and a variety of Peruvian plates and meat skewers. Be sure to order the Ceviche de Pescados.
Kachka: This wildly influential restaurant helped shape the Portland restaurant scene as it is today. Kachka serves Soviet/Slavic cuisine like caviar, pelmeni dumplings, rabbit stewed with cherries, and rye toast topped with fish. If you're game, try the house-made zubrovka vodka. It's a must-visit. Reservations recommended.
Need to Know
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This guide is part of our ongoing series on travel to Portland.