A Local's Guide to Best Activities, Bars & Restaurants in Portland, Oregon

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The Modern Travel Agency


    a man sips a drink outside of a yellow food truck

    In many ways, Portland, Oregon is the perfect city. It’s bustling and cool, while also keeping a quirky and artsy vibe to it. It’s near ample nature escapes in case you need a little reset. And it boasts an excellent gastronomic scene.

    We recently met up with a few Fora Advisors who are local to the Pacific Northwest. Below, they share their top places to eat and drink, plus can’t-miss things to do, in PDX. 

    Ready to travel? Connect with the featured advisors to plan and book your PDX getaway today. 

    Where to eat in Portland

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    Portland has a little bit of everything: incredible ethnic food, casual cafés, high-end haunts… For the latter, Seattle-based Fora Advisor Rick Szeto recommends Le Pigeon. The beloved Portland mainstay serves a hyper-seasonal tasting menu (venison with burdock, legendary foie gras profiteroles) in a warm, homey gem of a space. Also on the more refined (but never stuffy or stiff) end of the spectrum is the James Beard Award-nominated Coquine, which champions sustainability and local ingredients. (Don’t miss the restaurant’s next-door market and café.)

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    Advisor - Rick Szeto
    Rick Szeto
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    For well-sourced Thai fried chicken, curries and roti, Rick loves Hat Yai. The 24-seat Langbaan offers a beautiful Thai tasting menu, while Khao Man Gai offers mouth-watering variations of its namesake, chicken and rice. Too much Thai food is impossible. Get your Thai barbecue fix at the fun and trendy EEM.

    Also on Rick’s list is Bollywood Theater, a no-frills local staple serving some of the city’s best Indian food.

    For seafood and steak with a view of the Columbia River, head to Salty’s, said Oregon-based Fora Advisor Matt Hodges. For additional river views and an elegant atmosphere, Stone Cliff Inn is a solid choice, although it’s a bit outside Portland proper. Rick shared that G-Love is one of Portland’s best farm-to-table spots, and Queen Mama’s Kitchen is a woman-owned hidden gem serving up stellar Middle Eastern cuisine. 

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    Advisor - Matt Hodges
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    Portland’s food-truck game is strong. Matt loves the Prost! Marketplace, a food-truck pod that boasts several of the city’s “heavy hitters,” including Matt’s BBQ. For homemade northeastern Chinese food (and delectable dumplings), Chin’s Kitchen is the obvious choice. For locally sourced fare inspired by flavors from around the globe (Afro-Caribbean bollitos, kalua pork, bulgogi BBQ tacos) — and lots of heat — Salvador Molly’s is the place to go, Rick added. And be sure to check out Pine Street Market, a gourmet food hall. 

    Finally, Voodoo Doughnuts is famous for a reason, and very much worth a visit, said Portland-based Fora Advisor Jennifer Klinger. Options range from their award-winning Bacon Maple Bar to Marshall Mathers, a cake doughnut covered in vanilla frosting and M&M’s. 

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    Advisor - Jennifer Klingner
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    Where to drink in Portland

    a small glass filled with yellow liquid sits on a round black table

    As for fun places to drink, Portland delivers. Jennifer loves the membership-based Multnomah Whiskey Library. Non-members will need to get a “Hall Pass” beforehand (it’s worth it). 

    At the Kennedy School Hotel — which, true to its name, is a renovated school —  “the bar is an eclectic place to hang, with decent food and great tots!” Jennifer said.

    Matt recommends the 30th-floor Portland City Grill for a great happy hour and sweeping city views. Raven's Manor offers an interactive experience in a space inspired by The Haunted Manor.

    “What would you expect from a city that has an unofficial motto of ‘keep it weird’: a horror-themed bar with insane drink recipes,” Matt mused.

    Enjoy a vast selection of craft beers at Loyal Legion and whisky cocktails as the handsome Scotch Lodge, a great alternative if you can’t get a reservation at Multnomah Whiskey Library, Matt noted.

    Head to Horse Brass Pub for traditional British pub vibes, the super-casual Sandy Hut for a “blast from the past” and Hale Pele for a top-tier tiki-bar experience. For a fun neighborhood spot with fantastic cocktails, Matt loves HOLY GHOST.

    What to do in Portland

    a marquee on a squat urban building reads "Powell's Books."

    Powell’s, one of the country’s largest independent bookstores, is a Portland staple. 

    “This is certainly a place where you will get lost for hours!” Jennifer said.

    Another staple is the Friends of Washington Park International Rose Test Garden. (This is the City of Roses, after all.)

    Also on Jennifer’s list is the Pittock Mansion, where guests can tour the home of the influential Pittock family, whose patriarch, Henry, was a notable publisher of The Oregonian, a newspaper that’s still in print. Guests will also get a crash course on Portland's history as a whole. 

    “The history nerd in me cannot get enough of this place,” Jennofer said.  “Getting to see original pieces in this home is a treat.”

    See the city from above via the Portland Aerial Tram, Matt advised, or from the river via Yacht Tubs and their locally made hot-tub boats. For a delightful, traditional movie-theater experience, make a beeline for Hollywood Theatre, a historic PDX landmark.

    Portland is calling. Connect with one of the advisors mentioned above to plan and book your trip. And if you want to extend your trip to the Pacific Northwest, check out our local’s guide to the best of Seattle.

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