CAFÉ'S & COFFEE

Stumptown Coffee Roasters

Barista Coffee

Coava Cofee

Courier Coffee

Heart Coffee

I love coffee and I'll drink it at any given time of day. It could be morning or night and I'll still enjoy a perfectly brewed cup of coffee. It was fantastic because the city had so many high-end coffee shops (probably the most I'd ever seen in my life) / cafes essentially every couple blocks within walking distance. It was great because every morning I would wake up looking forward to try something new at a new a different spot and then aimlessly roam around the city. When I would get tired or in the mood for another, there was more spots to visit. One major thing I did notice is that local's didn't squat with their computers all day but actually used the shop space as a rendezvous place to chat and drink coffee.

Each shop I stopped at meticulously dedicated themselves  producing small-batch and artisanal coffee for your caffeine fix. It was all from french press to pour-over 's, you'll always get a freshly brewed cup of coffee. They'll have beans and blends of all sorts but don't get too overwhelmed by it. Ask your barista and they'll give you their recommendation. They're aficionado's in this stuff.

DRINKS

Pepe Le Moko

Deschutes Brewery

Deschutes Brewery

Pepe Le Moko

Pepe Le Moko

Beer, beer, cocktails, and more beer. Any local could absolutely agree with me. The entire city is filled with breweries all over. I was kind of blown away by it considering the size if the city. Any beer connoisseur could dedicate an entire month touring each one since there's roughly 75 or so breweries within the city limits. I visited only six breweries and there wasn't a moment in my day where there wasn't a local brew and or cocktail in my hand. Whenever I had down-time roaming one place to another, I would stop at a brewery to see what they had to offer on tap. I always tried to get an IPA of whatever place I was at and every so often, I would try a different beer from their drafts to change up the scene. 

I mentioned to my friend while at Base Camp Brewery - "Why is everyone standing in line at the bar just to get a drink? The entire bar is empty and everyone is in...line?" She mentioned that people do this everywhere and it kind of blew my mind. Makes sense for the "first come, first serve" mentality but what? Let me explain a bit. The entire bar was filled with people in seats but the crowd lined up  one by one waiting to get their beer order in. I felt like a jerk for just cutting the line and walking to the bar to order a beer.  The bar is a bar and that's what it's meant for, right? Sorry everyone for who I cut, I was on the clock and had to do other things. 

As much as I am a whiskey fan, I basically converted myself into a beer person during my entire time here and I had to limit myself to one drink per place. Usually drank an IPA but every so often I would change it up to a sour or a wheat beer. I knew if I drank a few more beer's, I would get sucked into this brewery and bar abyss never coming back out again. 

BEER

COCKTAILS

EAT

Olympia Provision's SE

Cheese & Crack

Olympia Provisions SE

Clyde Common

Nong's Khao Man Gai

Lardo East

Boxer Ramen

I won't lie I love eating food, a lot of it too. Being from Chicago, I've been spoiled here and any where new is exciting and a lot of fun. You get to see their take on operations, design, and the chef's presentation of the dish(es) you're eating. You're the out of town'er and the best part about it is that you can be so selfish! You're allowed to be. I mean, I sure was! Take your time and choose what you think looks/sounds good. If you're indecisive, ask for recommendations from your server. You essentially have no idea what it'll be like other than the words that sprung out to you while reading the Lardo East menu such as "Piquant gremolata and perky caper aioli" (via Jason Frenchw/ arugula, parmesan. I was like "Oh man, this sounds good." It'll be a mystery till it comes out and when it does, you'll the only person to judge whether you liked it or not. I wasn't disappointed at all and I'm sure you'll feel the same way. By the way, the sandwich was really amazing. I couldn't walk for the remainder of the day. 

The brunch scene here is a thing. When I say it's a thing, I think it was way more popular than the dinner scene.

At certain places like Screen Door, a southern style spot, people were already queued up in line before the place even opened on a THURSDAY. It was insane. I just wanted my fried chicken and waffles. 

Some other places that I really enjoyed was more of the meat friendly spot, Olympia Provisions for their delicious hash -  kielbasa, breakfast links, lardons, yukon gold potatoes, white cheddar, frisée, poached egg (pic above).

Can't forget to mention the aesthetically pleasing board of Cheese & Crack to snack on their most popular plate - Beecher's Flagshi Cheeddar & Brie Brulee w/ seasonal preserve (pic above). Perfect to sharing with another person. Definitely an Instagram worthy spot. 

Nong's Khao Man Gai started as a food cart and blew itself up into a food empire. Friends of mine were hyping about this place up to me and I almost didn't want to go anymore because they kept talking about it. Alas, I went and I was not disappointing. Had the pork and rice (Khao Kha Muu) and it basically felt like eating something my mother would make for me. Felt like home again. 

If you guys want to really experience the food scene here, you're going to have to venture out of your comfort zone and go to these hidden gems in various pockets of the city. I probably gained a few pounds eating a lot and it was totally worth it.

RESTAURANTS

  1. Olympica Provisions 
  2. Nong's Khao Man Gai
  3. Lardo
  4. Tasty N' Son
  5. Clyde Common
  6. ¿Por Qué No?
  7. Pok Pok
  8. Harlow
  9. Kachka
  10. Screen Door

TOURIST

White Stag

Multnomah Falls

Elowah Trail

Powell's Books

Powell's Books

Blue Berry Bourbon Basil Donut

Blue Star Donuts

Portland Art Museum

You absolutely cannot go to a place and not be somewhat of a tourist. You have to at least dive into this scene a little bit and see what it's like since every where you go, there's always that thing you should do. There was a few things that I wanted to, like try their donuts, go to a museum, go to the famous Powell's Bookstore, hike the trails, see Multnomah waterfall, etc. I'll get into some detail on each one. 

Multnomah Falls was absolutely beautiful and quite the touristy spot. Pretty nutty, I'd say. Everyone was taking selfies from selfie sticks or with their front camera just to get the waterfall in the background. I wanted to go on the bridge but hung back to soak in that wider view. If you get a chance, I recommend the easy/moderate trail of Elowah Falls. It was about 1mi~ and lead you to this gorgeous waterfall. 

Blue Star Donuts > Vodoo Donuts, that's all I got to say. Even the local's recommend it. 

Powell's Book Store is ginormous. Any book worm can get lost in there with their massive collection and variety of books they offer. I walked out with a new notebook to keep notes in.

The White Stag Sign is on Burnside St heading into downtown Portland and it illuminates yellow, green, blue, and some red. It's big as a billboard and you can't miss it. During the summer there's tree's that obtrude the view but I think I got a decent shot of it. 

The Art Museum had an amazing fashion exhibition displaying contemporary Native American fashion from designers across North America ranging from 1950s to today. There’s plenty of other exhibitions displaying other great work from all kinds of designers and artists. I could've stayed inside all day just roaming around. 

TOURIST

SHOPPY SHOP

Tanner Goods

Backtalk

Communion

Frances May

Wildfang

Wildfang

Communion

I really liked what Portland had going on in the shopping scene. Every place I walked into had an eclectic collection of designer names apparel and accessories or it was a stand-alone designers boutique shop. It's always fun to walk into these shops because you can see what they have in stock, talk to the staff working there about anything, and then soak in what makes their store unique.

One of the stores that I first stopped by at was Tanner Goods and it was essentially the modern man's (some women's accessories) store. Just filled with leather goods, travel, and apparel either in-house brand or some brand to their fit their aesthetic. I loved this place so much and wanted to buy a lot of their stuff.

Not too far down the street, I walked into Wildfang - women's industrial tomboy chic boutique, they had a variety of clothes and accessories. Of course this isn't for me but what attracted me inside was that they had this wall with customers names and designs scribbled in on wood. Can't forget to mention that they had a bar filled with PBR and wine too. After striking a conversation with the staff and about my travels, they gave me a PBR tall boy to drink while hanging out.

On the east side of the city, I stopped by Communion and it had both men's/women's modern apparel. They had such a variety of different brands names that I adored and the staff was very sweet. I basically talked to them the entire time while I was "shopping" talking about life and whatnot. 

STORES

GETTIN' AROUND

Portland has the Tri-Met which consists of the WES Commuter Rail, MAX Light Rail, and then buses. Right when you get off the plane, walk to the end of baggage claim at PDX and the MAX is right there. For $2.50 / 2.5hrs, you can get directly to downtown within 30-40 minutes. Not so much of a scenic view but hey, it gets you to the city pretty cheap. For $5 / all day, you can basically go anywhere on the Tri-Met has routes to. It isn't a robust system but hey, it's cheap!

If you're the walker type, you'll be surprised how the entire city is extremely walkable. Essentially 2-3 Portland city blocks equaled 1 Chicago city block. I recall on my first day roaming downtown, I pretty much knocked so much off my list because my perception of the city was a lot bigger when looking on Google Maps. Essentially you could walk in any direction and you'll be in a new spot within 10-15 minutes.

For the Lyft/Uber fans, they're all readily available but just be prepared to buck up a bit more because it can get pricey going neighborhood to another. It's pretty convenient but if you got the time to spare, the buses here come pretty frequently and then it's all a short walk to your destination. 

TRANSPORTATION


MISC THOUGHTS

TL;DR (too long, didn't read) & notes written on my notepad.

  • So many high-end coffee shops that's worth a visit.
  • No sales tax! You see a price and that's literally what you pay (ex. $2 for a cup coffee is $2).
  • Pub trans is very cheap. $2.50 for 2.5 hours / $5 for entire day. They don't really check if you paid too. Don't get caught!
  • Marijuana is legal and dispensaries are everywhere.  "Blue Dream" is the best at like 27-28% THC. They make you wait as if you were in a doctors office and then call you in for a 1:1 experience. 
  • Food is seriously incredible. Just as good Chicago but not as robust. 
  • Extremely walkable city. You can literally walk everywhere if you wanted to. 
  • The Gorge is fucking beautiful. So many trails and waterfalls to hike and see. Multnomah Falls can get nutty and touristy. 
  • Japanese Garden is gorgeous. A must for anyone to see. Such a tranquil oasis. 
  • Downtown get's weird at night. They block off streets and surbanites come into the city to party/get drunk. 
  • Foodcarts are everywhere. Felt like street festival foods but better.
  • Most people live in houses that are shared with other's. Made me miss having a back yard/patio/porch so much.
  • People wait in line's to get a drink at a bar. What?
  • Donut's are hyped (imo) and weren't that great. Blue Star Donuts > Vodoo Donuts.
  • Everyone is extremely nice. Probably nicer than the mid-west people. 
  • They're all good about recycling. Made me realize I suck at it so much.
  • Homeless are everywhere. They're all ridiculously very nice and never heckle you.
  • Random rain storms here and there. No joke. A rain cloud just basically created itself and poured for a minute and dissipated. 
  • Best beer town I've been to. Every beer I drank was amazing. Trying to avoid that beer gut though.
  • PBR actually tasted better over here than PBR's I've drank in Chicago. I was so confused.
  • The city may have the same address but it's separated in quadrants like NE, SE, etc.
  • Restaurant staff servers and bartenders are really attentive. 
  • Cafes/Coffee shops are pretty popular late evening.
  • Portland is one fucking cool small city.

Check out my Radisson Red: 12 Hours in Portland