Portland, Oregon: My Top Picks
Portland City Grill:
This restaurant on the 30th floor of the US Bank Tower has a fantastic view and a fantastic happy hour. You’d think that dining in the tallest building in Portland, with panoramic views, would not come cheap but if you visit during happy hour, you will be offered $5 appies, $5 beers, $26 bottles of wine and even $6 cocktails (which are definitely strong). The great thing about happy hour in Portland is that it is usually offered twice a day between 3-6pm and again from 9pm until close (but this varies) so it is great to visit Portland City Grill after 9pm and take advantage of the happy hour and the views at night (unless of course its the time of year when it gets dark at ridiculous o'clock, then the 3-6pm happy hour would be great for sunset)! I have never visited during the day but apparently there are great views of the Cascade Mountains!
Again, another establishment that we have visited just for their happy hour. They have a great selection of beer and cider and I love the design of the building (but then again, I love any building with exposed brick). We have never eaten here (yet) but the Gorgonzola Waffle Fries seem to be a hit amongst the patrons as we always see them being delivered to tables.
No trip to Portland is complete without a visit to Powell’s Books. This really does feel like a “City of Books”, occupying multiple floors of an entire city block and offering new, used and out of print books. You could spend hours here and it is not often that you walk away without purchasing anything. They even have a café and gift shop!
Salt and Straw Ice Cream:
This place is really a gem and I always go on and on and on about it each time we visit and to everyone that asks what they should visit in Portland. Not only is the customer service exceptional but when you try their ice cream, you will understand why the line up to order extends outside and around the corner of the building. They have some incredibly unique flavors and they are constantly experimenting with ingredients that are in season. When we took my English brother in law here, who is a “meat and potatoes” kind of guy and not usually interested in experimental flavors, he was certain he was not going to like anything. But boy did we prove him wrong. He was amazed. The great thing is they let you sample as many of the flavors as you like and with a menu that includes bizarre combinations such as Brown Ale and Bacon, Salted Caramel Thanksgiving Turkey, and Sea Urchin Meringue, it may be safe to try a few flavors out beforehand (or not, if you are the adventurous kind). Their ice cream is so fresh that most combinations are likely to please the palate! A few of my favorites are the Pear and Blue Cheese, Honey Balsamic Strawberry with Black Pepper and Sea Salt with Caramel Ribbons. You do not want to skip this place when you visit Portland. Trust me on this one!
One of the, if not THE biggest craft brewery in Oregon. Amazing selection of beer and the food is amazing too. They also have some very pretty growlers if you’re looking for a souvenir. Always a great atmosphere here.
Like Powell’s Books, no trip to Portland is complete without a visit to Voodoo Doughnut. That is, if you feel like waiting in line. If you get there at the right time, you can usually walk right in without having to wait. Why is everyone fascinated by this joint and prepared to wait in line? I guess its the novelty of it and the out of the ordinary doughnut flavors they create using ingredients such as Oreo cookies, Fruit Loops cereal, Bacon and so on. The one thing I dislike about this place is that they only take cash but I guess this is understandable considering they usually have a lineup and it would not move as quickly if they had to process card payments. Being open 24 hours makes up for it though!
10 Barrel Brewing Company:
Okay so I have not actually visited the Portland location of this brewery because it was not opened yet when we were last there. However, we did visit the Boise, Idaho location and were so impressed with their beer and food items that I can’t imagine the Portland location would be much different. I also fell in love with their Cucumber Crush beer and had never had anything like that so this brewery gets bonus points!
The food truck scene in Portland is pretty incredible and you will find trucks of every cuisine imaginable all over the city. There are even parking lots that occupy only food trucks. Taqueria Villanueva is actually a stand alone food truck that is parked at the corner of SW 3rd Ave and SW Oak St and offers some amazing (and not to mention MONSTROUS portioned) Mexican food for next to nothing. I mean their tacos are only $1.50 and giant burritos around $5 or less! I must admit that I have no self control when I visit this truck, ordering multiple items as I want it all and can’t pick just one. This usually means that I have to return to the hotel room and lie flat for a while, or just unbutton my pants so as to not be in pain. If you want to try out some food trucks in PDX, make sure to add this one to your list! Portlandians also seem to love this truck as it has great ratings on Yelp!
Bailey’s Tap Room:
This tap room was introduced to us by a friend that lives in Portland and we had a really great time when we visited. It has a really great vibe and we loved the concept of it. It features a real time screen that shows what beers they have on tap and how full the kegs are as well as board games to keep you entertained. It’s definitely a good time! Only thing is they don't serve food but they have resolved this by allowing outside food to be devoured in their establishment and there is a conveniently located Mexican joint next door that is apparently very tasty.
About 30 minutes outside of Portland, this waterfall makes for a nice and short getaway from the city. There are actually a number of waterfalls all in the same area as Multnomah Falls and you can hike between a lot of them. When we visited, Benson Bridge, which is a bridge that you can walk to about halfway up the falls (and one of the most photographed landmarks in Oregon), had faced some damage after a boulder smashed a part of it, but the bridge has since reopened and offers a great photo op of the falls! The bridge allows you to cross the width of the waterfall and to continue on to further viewpoints. We did not get to enjoy anything on or past the bridge because it was being repaired but if anyone has hiked to the top, I would love to hear about your experience!
Lodekka – Double Decker Dress Shop:
So we totally stumbled upon this “dress shop” by accident. On our first visit to Portland, we were meeting up with a friend for brunch in a trendy area that I don’t remember seeing any tourists in. I saw this cool looking double decker bus and discovered it to be none other than a vintage shop! That’s right – a vintage shop in a double decker bus! I loved the novelty of it and was pretty certain I would not find anything for myself as I never have luck in vintage shops due to items not fitting me but I still wanted to explore. This shop was much smaller as well seeing as it is in a bus so I was VERY certain that I would not find anything. I wanted to just look as I loved the unique idea of a business in a double decker bus. There were some great items for sale and surprisingly, I walked out with not just one, but TWO items that fit me: A Michael Jackson-esque coat and some shoes that remind me of a witch. I was really excited about this and Lodekka has since become one of my favorite shops in Portland.
So there you have it folks, a few of my favorite things to do and see in Portland. This list does not even come close to scratching the surface when it comes to what to do and see in the city. Writing about Portland sure makes me want to hop in the car and road trip down ASAP (but not having a car or license makes that a bit difficult)! This list will expand with each visit to the City of Roses. In the meantime, I would love to hear about your favorite things to do and see in PDX. What should I visit next time I'm there?!
I leave you with some photos of the hubby and I contributing to keeping Portland weird. Enjoy!