We’ve been to pretty much every major city in the U.S., and Portland remains one of our favorites (if not our absolute favorite). We’ve been many times, in fact, that we’ve recorded multiple podcast episodes featuring the city.
If you’re going to Portland for the first time (or returning, we can’t blame you), this guide will take you through some of our current favorite places to eat, drink, and see. This guide also incorporates lots of recommendations from Portland local (and our good friend) Sean Ogle.
Neighborhoods and Where to Stay
- Downtown Portland – Not an area where we’ve ever stayed, but it’s where you’ll find more of the chain hotels as well as the business/financial district.
- Northwest Portland – This is where our friend Sean Ogle lives, and it’s a bit more “normal” compared to the rest of Portland (though that doesn’t mean it’s boring).
- Northeast Portland – One of the weirder, quirkier parts of Portland (probably what you’re imagining if you’ve watched Portlandia). Lots of great restaurants, bars, and art galleries.
Where to Eat
Portland is such a fantastic food city that we’ve broken down this section into several categories to make it easier to find the food that interests you.
- Paley’s Place – Get the bacon cheeseburger and the Hemingway daiquiri.
- Brix Tavern – Upscale pub food at great prices, plus margaritas served in mason jars.
- Departure – Located on top of the Nines Hotel, it’s one of Portland’s few rooftop bars. Great place for taking in views of the city or grabbing a drink if you’re staying downtown.
- Mediterranean Exploration Company – Fresh pita bread, baked feta, and so good that Trav went there 3 times in 2 weeks.
- Gravy – Some of the best French toast Heather has ever had
- Mother’s Bistro – Has a delicious scramble and features recipes from real mothers each month.
- Screen Door – An iconic Portland spot for chicken and waffles (totally worth the wait).
- Ken’s Artisan Pizza – Delicious pizza, Heather’s favorite in Portland.
- Lovely’s Fifty Fifty – Very unique pizzas featuring obscure vegetables and edible flowers.
- Oven and Shaker – Get the spicy salami pizza with honey.
- Life of Pie – Not as good as the above options, but the $5 margherita pizza during happy hour is a great deal.
- Laurelhurst Market – A deli with some of the best sandwiches in Portland. Get the Italian or the turkey sandwich.
- Lardo – Some of the best sandwiches in the world, according to Sean (multiple locations around Portland).
- Laurelhurst Market – A modern Portland take on steak and other meats, located in a beautiful part of town.
- RingSide Steakhouse – If you’re looking for a traditional steakhouse experience with waiters in tuxedos, this is the place.
- Tusk – An open, beautiful restaurant with delicious Mediterranean food and great cocktails.
- The Hairy Lobster – A “Northwest tapas” restaurant, great for getting small plates and sharing.
- Toro Bravo – An iconic Portland restaurant located in the middle of the Pearl District. Also great for getting shareable small plates (are you noticing a theme?)
- Crisp – Humongous salads, and they even ask you how you want your salad chopped.
- Kure – A smoothie, juice, and açai bowl place with several locations around Portland.
- Quesabrosa – Some of the best al pastor tacos that Trav has ever had.
- ¿Por Qué No? – Sean’s favorite taco spot in Portland
- The Country Cat – A well-known spot for Southern food located in the Portland airport.
- Pok Pok – A well-known Portland Thai restaurant.
- Nong’s Khao Man Ghai – Thai chicken and rice that’s just like what you’d get in Thailand (according to Sean).
- The Whole Bowl – Rice bowls with a special tahini sauce and vegetables, great if you’re looking for something lighter and healthier.
- Salt & Straw – Still Trav’s favorite ice cream place (which is saying a lot if you know Trav).
- Fifty Licks – Another great ice cream place. Get the coffee ice cream.
- Cool Moon – Less well-known than the two previous places, but also worth visiting if you’re an ice cream lover.
- Voodoo Doughnut – The most famous doughnut place in Portland, but a bit overrated in our opinion (plus they now have locations all over the U.S.).
- Blue Star Donuts – Sean’s favorite doughnut place in Portland, less touristy (and better) than Voodoo.
- Pip’s Original Doughnuts – A small menu of mini doughnuts that are made to order.
- Papa Haydn – A classic spot for decadent desserts. Great to visit after dinner.
- Le Happy – Go for the dessert crepes. Sean recommends the banana Nutella crepes.
Where to Drink
- Water Avenue – One of Sean’s favorite spots.
- Stumptown – Very popular and still quite good.
- Coffeehouse Northwest – A great place to work.
- Barista – A local Portland coffee chain that’s better than Stumptown in our opinion.
- Great Notion Brewing – Trav’s favorite brewery in Portland, plus good food.
- Ex Novo Brewing Co. – Great sour beers, a tasty turkey sandwich, and they’re a non-profit.
- LAbrewatory – Built around experimentation, their beer list is constantly rotating and features some very unique options.
- Culmination Brewing – A cool brewery with great smashed potatoes.
- Breakside Brewery – One of Sean’s favorite breweries in Portland, though Trav didn’t love it as much (you’ll just have to check it out and decide for yourself).
- Cascade Brewing – A primarily sour/barrel-aged brewery, with some of the best sours in the world according to Sean.
Cocktails & Wine
- Teardrop – Sean’s favorite cocktail bar in Portland. No matter what you order, it will be phenomenal.
- Rum Club – Get the rum old fashioned, which features two different rums.
- Hale Pele – A tiki bar located in a strip mall, widely recognized as one of the best bars in the world (especially for tiki).
- Noble Rot – A superb wine bar located in Portland, great if you want to taste Oregon wines but don’t have time to take a day trip to wine country.
- Soter Vineyards – Excellent vineyard around an hour southwest of Portland.
- Ponzi Vineyards – Great wine, plus they have a bocce ball court.
- Argyle Winery – An exceptional place for sparkling wine (get the sparkling pinot noir)
- Willamette Valley – More well-known than some of the above wineries, but their tasting room and property are gorgeous (like an enchanted forest).
- Silver Falls – A 6-mile hike, great for seeing waterfalls.
- Oneonta Gorge – You get to climb over a big beaver dam and then swim over to a waterfall.
- Columbia River Gorge – An excellent place for kiteboarding and wind sports.
- Smith Rock – One of the ten best spots for rock climbing in the world.
- Pittock Mansion – Located in the hills of Northwest Portland, it’s surrounded by great day hikes and is generally a wonderful place to take in nature without going far from the city.
- 4T Loop Hike – A great way to see Portland via trails, train, trolley, and an aerial tram (hence the 4 “T’s”).
- Washington Park – A massive park featuring a spectacular rose garden, plus one of the most authentic Japanese gardens outside of Japan.
- Powell’s Books – One of the largest independent bookstores in the world, you could easily spend a whole day (or week) browsing the selection.
- McMenamins – A chain of restaurants across Oregon built in historic, renovated properties. They range from small restaurants in strip malls to massive entertainment complexes with movie theaters, bars, breweries, and more.
- Cathedral Park – A beautiful park located on the Willamette River.
- Sauvie Island – Located northwest of Portland, this park features a nude beach, pumpkin patch, and a variety of swimming holes.
Want to see all of our favorite Portland destinations on a map that you can access from your phone? We’ve pinned each location mentioned in this guide on the Google Map below:
As many times as we’ve visited Portland, we always find a reason to come back. The places we discussed in this guide barely scratch the surface of what the city has to offer, so we encourage you to check it out for yourself!
Prefer listening to reading? Check out the accompanying podcast episode.