Oregon Travel Diary :: Feasting on Portland


[trip style = food + drink + urban]

Editor's Note: While TS Sis was recently investigating Scandinavia, I was exploring the Oregon Coast's Northern beaches and tasting what's new in Portland's food scene. Here's the first of a few dispatches from that late-August city-to-beach jaunt.

I chose to write about the restaurants I frequent and drool over in Portland's food scene today for a buffet of reasons: 

1/ This weekend is Feast Portland, one of North America's prime-cut food festivals, and something I've reported on for Trip Styler and Fodor's for the past two years. Sadly, I'm not able to make it this year, but pl-ease go in my absence, K?  
2/ When I visited The City of Roses {which I'd like to rename "The Center of Taste"} in August, a bunch of restaurants had just been named by Bon Appétit Magazine to their prestigious list of 50 Best New Restaurants in America. Not surprisingly, one little luncheonette made the Hot 10 {more on this below}. 
3/ I make a point to visit Portland a few times a year to keep up with the latest dish and drink, so here's the complete menu of TS musts.

MÅURICE - I dined at MÅURICE, a pastry luncheonette, a few hours before they found out they'd been crowned one of the Hot 10 new restaurants in America by Bon Appétit Magazine. From the first bite of my current-rosemary scone, I knew they were a strong contender. As I ordered more, it was settled; this French-forward pastry kitchen was catapulted into the "always visit" realm in my Portland restaurant repertoire.


Ava Gene's - Pair rustic Italian fare sourced from the surrounding foothills, a brasserie-style setting {and Grappa}, and you've got Portland's Italian stallion of restaurants. Don't visit without trying the burrata, topped with an eclectic mix of what's in season {in late-August: corn, jalapeño, mint, fig, walnuts and olive oil}.


Olympic Provisions - Aside from the word "bounty," which would be a weird name for a restaurant, there are two buzzwords which accurately describe Portland's obsession with local and meat, combine them and you've got Olympic Provisions, the embodiment of Oregon cuisine in the form of fresh food and local wine.  


Luce - If Luce's black and white vinyl floor, wood tables topped with tiny vases of in-season flowers or shelves stocked with Italian cooking basics aren't enough to entice you to try everything on the menu, then the collection US$2 appetizers or US$5 tumblers of house wine should do the trick. From there you'll transition into the pasta and more tumblers of wine until you lose track of time and the stars light your way home.


*There are a bazillion restaurants I could write love letters to in PDX. Other not-to-miss picks include: St. Jack, The Woodsman Tavern, Ned Ludd, Grüner, Pok Pok 

Pépé Le Moko - One of the most anticipated speakeasy openings in the past few years, Pépé Le Moko is a throwback to the drinks your parents would have sipped at happy hourhello Amaretto Sour and Grasshopper Milkshakein a subterranean space rimmed by black vinyl booths and lit by vintage task lights.   


Clyde Common - ...Because I don't visit Portland without stopping by this Euro-meets-West-Coast food gem. Plus, they employ one of the best bartenders in the USA, and their happy hour is my happy place. 


Driftwood Room - I first discovered the Driftwood Room when I was writing the Jetsetter hotel review for the Hotel deLuxe, and immediately fell in love with the retro landmark that's remained frozen in time since 1954.


Tasty n Sons - A neighborhood bistro with a menu that's anything but. Think breakfast tapas like griddled bacon-wrapped dates with maple syrup and almond, or sweet biscuits with warm blueberry compote and crème anglaise.


Broder -  Where Nordic and PNW cuisine harmonize in a pitch-perfect breakfast. Whatever you do, make sure you sample a potato pancake.


Blue Star Donuts - In case you're still basking in 2010's trends, know this: Blue Star is the new Voodoo, so stop by to satisfy your carb craving with flavah-flavs such as Hard Apple Cider Fritter or Blueberry Bourbon Basil. And in case there was ever a feel-good donut, it's from Blue Star where the scratch and locally-sourced dough is made from certified sustainable bread flour, cage-free eggs, whole milk and European-style butter. Bonus: They serve dog donuts for US$0.25.  


Stumptown Coffee Roasters - As the West Coast's most popular indie roaster and bar, Stumptown takes coffee as seriously as Portland takes foodsee the website's detailed brewing guides as evidence. Find five locations in Portland, plus a bevy of others in buzzed cities like Seattle, LA and New York. 


Heart Coffee Roasters - When I go into Heart, I long to linger and be that coffee devotee who stays for two-hour stints while listening to a self-made mix of ambient beats and planning their next terrarium design. With two locations in Portland and a number of shops around the US who carry Heart's brew, this sip is to coffee as craft is to cocktail. 

heart coffee westside

Coava - For serious java aficionados with a proclivity for minimalismboth in design and coffee cultureCoava's craftsmen are dedicated to making balanced and sweet espresso, perfect milk drinks and brewed coffee so good, nothing needs to be added. 


Salt & Straw - Raised in Portland and now expanding to LA, Salt & Straw is an ice cream institution {in the summer, line-ups can run 150 people long; in this case, buy a pint to skip the line] made famous by its farm-to-cone connection, creamy texture and inventive flavors (think: Bone Marrow Cherry or Black Olive Brittle and Goat Cheese). While I love to try these haute takes on crème glacée, it's Salt & Straw's classic tastes such as Sea Salt with Caramel Ribbons or Salted, Malted Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough that make my eyes flutter when I scoop them from my cup to my mouth.  


Trip Styler Tip: Not all of Portland's restaurants congregate downtown. Be prepared to drive or bike to most of these hot-to-trot eateries

[photos: a mix of my own and restaurant website snaps]