Weekend Wanderings: Portland, Oregon Guide
Portland: A Weekend Foodie Destination
We love Portland, Oregon! We visit the Rose City at least once a year. Portland makes for a perfect long weekend destination. So why do we love Portland so much? Portland has an incredible food, coffee and craft beer scene. Portland is way more than just Downtown. Granted, the downtown area (particularly Pioneer Courthouse Square) is great, but Portland has some incredible neighborhoods full of vibrant restaurants and shops. And on those sunny, clear days, you have a view of Mount Hood in the distance.
How to get there: The PDX Airport has been consistently rated the number one Airport in the United States for several years now. After you arrive at PDX, it's easy to get into downtown. The TriMet Max Train will take you straight from the airport to Downtown Portland. For only a few bucks, the 40-minute TriMet bypasses all of the Portland Traffic and you'll end up being able to choose between several convenient Downtown stops.
Where to stay: We like Hilton Hotels (in case that wasn't obvious yet) so consider us a bit bias. But The Duniway, a Hilton Hotel, which recently reopened following a massive renovation is an incredible hotel and probably one of our favorite Hilton hotels. The Duniway is located near Pioneer Place and a mere three blocks from the TriMet Pioneer Courthouse stop. One thing you'll notice in the hotel is all of the nods to the Portland Culture (art, history, etc.). The Duniway is a full service Hilton Hotel and Gold & Diamond guests receive a complimentary breakfast at the Jackrabbit restaurant located in the lobby of the hotel and the breakfast is top notch (try their fresh squeezed juices). Be sure to check out our complete review of The Duniway.
Where to get coffee: Portland is full of incredible coffee shops, so you definitely won't have trouble finding a Cup of Joe while you are visiting PDX. One of our favorite coffee shops in Portland is Barista Coffee. Another favorite for us is Stumptown Coffee (known for their incredible cold crew coffee). Our other favorites include Courier Coffee and Water Avenue Coffee (located just across the street from The Duniway Hotel).
Where to eat: This one is hard. Portland has SO MUCH good food. So we'll throw a few of our favorites at you. Mother's Bistro is an absolute must for breakfast/brunch. Mother's is extremely well known in the Portland area and for that matter much of the Pacific Northwest, so grab a reservation if you can (you'll need to call 2-3 weeks in advance).
We love Picnic House PDX for lunch (but would also be good for a romantic dinner). Picnic House PDX is located in the extremely Historic and original Heathman Hotel building and they utilize classic French techniques to prepare creative dishes that playfully reference the nostalgic comfort foods of childhood.
For dinner, we really enjoy the Departure Restaurant, located on the top floor of the Nines Hotel. The Departure Restaurant serves up Asian cuisine in a sleek, cosmopolitan setting with two outdoor decks and stunning views of the city, mountains and river. Another great place is Little Bird Bistro, an eclectic, inventive French bistro fare served in a sexy spot with red banquettes & a mezzanine level.
The same owners of Little Bird Bistro also one one of the most famous restaurants in Portland, Le Pigeon. Le Pigeon serves up a rotating menu of creative French-inspired fare served at communal tables or the bar in a snug room.
If you decide to stay at The Duniway Hotel, be sure to check out the Jackrabbit located adjacent to the lobby of the hotel. The Jackrabbit combines the creative approach of Chris Cosentino's behind the scenes kitchen craftsmanship with the grit, flavor, and character that makes Portland one of the country's premier dining and lifestyle destinations.
Finally, it wouldn't be a trip to Portland without a visit to one of their famous food carts (food trucks). Portland has over 500 food carts available at any given time. Most of the food trucks are organized into what are call “Pods.” And there is a food truck for everyone. One of our favorite food trucks is the Grilled Cheese Grill.
Where to get dessert: Without a doubt, we can't visit Portland without a stop at Salt & Straw. Salt & Straw is a farm-to-cone ice cream shop scooping up artisanal flavors (Nick's favorite is the pear, blue cheese and I'm a sucker for the cinnamon snickerdoodle).
If a scoop of artisanal flavored ice cream isn't quite what you had in mind, you could always stop by Ruby Jewel for a homemade ice cream sandwich. Ruby Jewel is a scoop shop selling freshly made, handcrafted ice cream sandwiches in both standard and the Portland style unusual flavors.
A few of our other favorite dessert places include Lauretta Jean's Bakery. Lauretta Jean's is a counter-serve bakeshop with seasonal handmade pies, breakfast & lunch sandwiches, plus beer & wine. But you'll want to try one of the delicious slices of homemade pies (flavors like Chocolate Banana Cream and Strawberry Short Pie).
And of course you can't forget about the famous Voodoo Doughnuts. Located in Old Town’s popular nightlife district, Voodoo Doughnut is one of Portland's most unusual (and delicious) foodie spots. The doughnuts are topped with creative ingredients such as bacon, Captain Crunch cereal and Oreos. And they are almost as fun to look at as they are to eat. You could try the official doughnut of the City of Portland, the Portland Cream. It's raised yeast shell is filled with Bavarian cream and then topped with chocolate and two eyeballs. Or you could try the namesake Voodoo Doughnut which is shaped like a voodoo doll and oozes blood red jelly. Voodoo Doughnuts is open 24 hours a day, and you'll almost always find a line out the door. If you are heading to Portland for a romantic weekend, good news! Voodoo Doughnuts offers legal wedding services, complete with doughnuts and coffee for the reception.
What to do: Yes, there is more to do than just eat and drink in Portland, haha! Portland is full of amazing neighborhoods, cute boutiques and plenty of outdoor activities. On our last trip to Portland, we took time to visit the International Test Rose Garden. The International Rose Test Garden is a rose garden in Washington Park where there are over 7,000 rose plants of approximately 550 varieties. The International Test Rose Garden will be holding their centennial/100 year celebration on Saturday, August 26 2017 from 11:00 AMto 8:30 PM.
We also took time to hike through Forest Park. At 5,157 acres, Portland's Forest Park is one of the largest urban forest in the United States. Forest Park flanks the hills on the west side of the city, just 10 minutes by car from downtown and has over 70 miles of walking and hiking trails.
Then when you need a break from the heat (or humidity), stop in Powell's City of Books. Powell's City of Books is the the largest independent new and used bookstore in the world. Located in the Pearl District on the edge of downtown and occupies a full city block between NW 10th and 11th Avenues and between W. Burnside and NW Couch Streets. It contains over 68,000 square feet, about 1.6 acres of retail floor space. CNN rates it one of the ten "coolest" bookstores in the world.
And our last two recommendations are to take time to explore a couple of the great neighborhoods in Portland. The Pearl District which was formerly occupied by warehouses, light industry and railroad classification yards is now noted for its art galleries, upscale businesses and restaurants. On a side note, another hotel we are looking forward to opening is the Canopy by Hilton which is under construction in Portland's Pearl District.
Another great neighborhood in Portland is NW 23rd Street/Nob Hill. There are so many wonderful and unique attractions around NW 23rd Avenue. Walk the street and find inspiring shops and boutiques, tantalizing restaurants, and comforting coffee houses.
The Bottom Line: Portland is incredible. As foodies and coffee lovers, we absolutely love spending a long weekend in PDX and having two or three cheat days in a row! Portland is a vibrant, culturally rich city and we could write a book about all of the wonderful things to do. Needless to say, you won't find yourself bored or hungry in Portland!