As I say this over and over again, one of the perks of living in the Pacific Northwest is a short drive to so many amazing places. Seattle is a great city to live in, but Portland admittedly wins over in the food scene.
Besides the fact that Oregon’s sale tax is 0%, there is no doubt that the food scene in Portland is my absolutely favorite category when writing up this Travel Guide. When hitting up a new city, I often look on Yelp and search for the ones within a few mile distance that have decent reviews and stand-out food pictures. Lots of restaurants or places in Portland can get over-hyped, but at least I can say that I have checked off quite a few in my bucket list thanks to Yelp!
Please note that most of the Yelp-famous restaurants here, it is worth it to call in and ask for their table availability first. Most of them are first-come first-serve, meaning you need to come in to put down your name in the wait-list, then they’d let you know the approximated wait time. Usually, the wait is about 30 minutes to an hour, not bad, but it does require some patience.
A (*) means it’s my personal favorite. Worth it. Must-visit.
2337 E Burnside St, Portland, OR 97214 | 503-542-0880
We got to Screen Door the first time right at 9 am, and there was already a long line that wrapped around the block. Some even had their suitcases with them, hah! We were short on time, so we drove South and gave up on the brunch idea in Portland. I took my cousins to Portland a few months after, and we were able to get in after 30 minutes wait. It was around noon! I thought it was worth it for the price, and Screen Door food is definitely a great hang-over food. I liked my fried chicken and waffles. Their pancakes, mac & cheese, and my boyfriend’s buttermilk biscuits and gravy were pretty great!
Nong’s Khao Man Gai*
417 SW 13th Ave Portland OR 97205 | 503-208-2402
You’d be surprised as to how simple their menu is. Khao Man Gai means Thai chicken and rice wrapped in butcher paper. There is plenty of street parking, and their fast service is why I have been here for lunch twice. You can order a PISET (larger) size to share. My favorite has got to be the Khao Kha Muu, pork and rice, with an order of fried chicken skin.
Tasty & Alder
580 S.W. 12th Ave., Downtown | 503-621-9251
Tasty & Alder is another Yelp-famous restaurant that has an award-winning sister restaurant called Tasty n Sons. The wait for Tasty n Son was 1 hour and a half, so I have yet to tried their food. But we were lucky to get in at Tasty & Alder for some Mid Day food. We stood near the bar to order and got some chairs to sit before we got our food. We had Spiced Beef Kebabs with tzatziki sauce, some fries, an Alder Bowl, anda Steakhouse Sandwich. All costed exactly $40, no tax! Gotta love Portland for this!
8115 SE Stark St, Portland, OR 97215 | 503-445-6284
We did a food marathon on our day-trip to Portland last Christmas. The Observatory was out next stop in a rainy and cold Sunday. We had just had some donuts prior to coming here, so we tried a bunch of their Happy Hour small plates and some drinks. My favorite was the $6 chicken pate plate.
1355 NW Everett St Ste 120 Portland, OR 97209 | 503-894-9528
TILT’s interior is pretty cool, industrial and modern. They do classic hearty burgers with lots of options and OMG-humungous portion. Mine had 4 patties, and eating that at mid-night was not a good idea. They open late here, and the restaurant can accommodate a large group of people which is nice!
Sivalai Thai Restaurant
4806 SE Stark St, Portland, OR 97215 | 503-230-2875
Sivalai staff was so polite and lovely! I thought their portions were quite small, but the free gyozas and mango sticky rice dessert offer at the end really made it all up. I’d go back here for quick service and easy street parking.
Bun Bo Hue*
7002 SE 82nd Ave, Portland, OR 97266 | 503- 771-1141
This place makes the best version of Bun Bo Hue in the PNW hands down in my opinion. I am Vietnamese and noodle soups are my favorite things to eat. So of course, I know what a good Bun Bo Hue bowl is all about. Their broth is deep, flavorful, well-seasoned that requires no extra fish sauce. If a restaurant has a lot of Vietnamese people eating there, that means food is cheap and good. One thing that I have to warn you is that the stinky strong smell from the shrimp paste and fish sauce used to season the broth, but you’d get pass it quickly once you are inside for a while though.
3226 SE Division St, Portland, OR 97202 | (503) 232-1387)
I highly recommend making reservation in advance on their website for 5+ people or call them prior to coming. We did not make reservation and ended up having to wait around 30 minutes for a table for 2. There is a cute stationary store just across the street from Pok Pok, called Little Otsu, so we just went there in the meantime. I had the Papaya Pok Pok, some Vietnamese Fish Sauce Wings that was a bit too salty, and a Chinese influenced dish called Kung Op Wun Sen (bean thread noodle with prawns, prok belly, and veggies). Oh, and a Vietnamese milk coffee to prepare ourselves for the drive home.
1314 NW Glisan St, Portland, OR 97209 | 503-228-9535
Dinner at Andina is such a treat. The restaurant has outstandingly high review for good reasons! They offer a huge selection of exotic Peruvian dishes including tapas and shareable plates. Luckily, our group has 5 people, so I have got to try a handful of dishes on the menu (taste tried from my friends’). Quite unique flavors and experience, different than the normal Asian and American food I have tried, so I enjoyed it a lot! The place is huge, so loud noise is inevitable.
113 SW Naito Pkwy, Portland, OR 97204 | 503-219-9000
835 SW 2nd Ave, Portland, OR 97204 | 503-222-0047
Their price point is amazing considering you’re dining in at such a stylist restaurant. Plus they’re open until 4 am. You wouldn’t believe it’s Vietnamese food. This place is popular!! Our first time was a fail since the line was so long. We made a stop here before heading to Crater Lake last time, around min-night, and the line was quite long. I tried their Tom Yum pho which had half of an avocado. Quite weird but it was not bad at all.
Oysters – If you are a fan of the delicate, briny, sweet, and raw oysters, Pacific Northwest oysters are the best. While they can be a bit pricey at times, there are a few spots around town that I have bookmarked in my phone. Spots with dollar oysters during happy hour include Trifecta Tavern, La Moule, Jacqueline, Headwaters, and EaT: an Oyster Bar, the last of which offers them all day on Tuesdays.
DRINK & DESSERT
Coffee shops are ubiquitous in Portland, and there is no excuse for grabbing Starbucks, really!
4747 SE Division St, Portland, OR 97206
Coava Coffee Roasters*
1300 Southeast Grand Avenue (a), Portland, OR 97214
539 NW 13th Ave Portland, OR 97209 – A block away from MUJI store, downtown.
My coffee list that I have yet to try: Stumptown Coffee, Prince Coffee, Oui Presse, Never Coffee, Upper left Roasters, Peaks Coffee PDX, Street 14 coffee, Figlia Americana, Water Avenue Coffee, Compass Coffee, Dapper & Wise Coffee Roasters, POA Cafe, Heart, Never, and Nova Coffee.
It is quite difficult to find a good and unique bubble tea shop here in Portland i have got to admit. I feel like people here like coffee and tea much more than the artificial flavored milk tea.
Bubble N Tea
3496 SW Cedar Hills Blvd, Beaverton, OR 97005 – Bubble N Tea does huge $5 fresh milk tea, pretty good but is is quite a far drive from downtown.
Alberta St., Division St., Mississippi Ave., & Montavilla – Townshend’s teahouses kept coming up in my search for bubble tea. They are more famous for their home-brew kombucha and large selection of tea. I stopped by a Townshend’s in Bend (quite far South from Portland) and tried their fresh milk tea once. I picked up some kombucha to-go as well!
806 NW 23rd Ave, Portland, OR 97210 – I didn’t quite remember if their bubble tea was good, but my cousins said they liked it. If you’re nearby, I’d suggest to get some ice cream from Salt & Straw, just next door from Fat Straw.
Pip’s Original Doughnuts & Chai
4759 NE Fremont St, Portland, OR 97213 –We waited for almost 45 minutes in line for donuts here! We got a flight of chai (5 flavors) and 2 of everything donut on the menu. My favorite was the bacon topping for sure, sweet and savory. Other sweet ones were okay since I am not a fan of sweet desserts. It’s a nice place to hang with a group of friends on a cold rainy day, sipping some hot milk or chai and enjoying these tiny treats.
Other doughnut shops on my list: Blue Star Donuts, Voodoo Doughnut
Salt & Straw
3 locations – If you’re a fan of their ice cream or have yet to tried, definitely stop by for their Portland flavor!
621 SW 5th Ave, Portland, OR
MUJI name derives from Mujirushi Ryohin, meaning No Brand, Quality Goods. We picked up some oak benches for our apartment last time at the pop-up store. They had opened a permanent store in November last year. I highly recommend checking out their stationary section, pens, travel accessories and pick up some acrylic makeup storage and brush holders.
935 SW Washington St, Portland, OR 97205
If you are into home goods, furniture and unique Scandi designed things, Woonwinkle is your dream. It’s by far my most favorite stationary shop to shop at ever.
3225 SE Division St, Portland, OR 97202
Little Otsu is located right across the street from Pok Pok in Division Street. “Otsu” means strange, quaint, stylish, chic; spicy, witty, or tasty depending on the context. They have great selection of paper and stationary goods like notebooks, maps, calendars, and pens, etc. Make sure to talk to the owner as they can literally tell you the origin and story accompanied to how they have acquire their pieces sold in store.
Frances May Portland
1003 SW Washington St, Portland, OR 97205 – High-end designers for both men and women, worth to check out if you’re in town.
I don’t read, so there is no point to stop by here. But if you’re a reader, this place is neat! It is located right in downtown where the shops are.
I would stop by to browse for some sneakers at Nike, stock up some makeup products at Nordstrom, or pick up some home stuff at the West Elm store downtown. If you have a car, drive to Woodburn Premium Outlets if you love shopping for outlet clothes.
My go-to stores that I have yet to check out: Wild Poppy Goods, Rejuvanation, The Good Mod, Maak lab, Solabee Flowers & Botanicals, Pistils Nursery, Maven Collective, Vintage store: House of Vintage.
815 SW Park Ave, Portland, OR 97205
Tanner Springs Park
NW 10th Ave & Marshall Street, Portland, OR 97209
South Park Blocks
SW Park Ave, Portland, OR 97204
The Grotto Portland
8840 NE Skidmore St, Portland, OR 97220
The Grotto is a Catholic outdoor shrine and sanctuary located in the Madison South district of Portland. We did pay for $7 to go up the elevator where the garden, the Chapel, and the redwood trees located at the far right end. It is peaceful and relaxing, especially for those of you who are Catholics or spiritual.
Lan Su Chinese Garden
239 NW Everett St, Portland, OR 97209
Fun places that are great for groups: Punch Bowl Social Portland, Glowing Greens. Rose Garden is also another famous place that I have not checked out! Spring is coming, so I am sure it will be super pretty there!
Most of the time, I either only have a few hours or drive down for the day to mostly eat and shop. I like to use the Hotel Tonight app to find last minute and cheap hotels, preferably free parking. As mentioned at the beginning of the post, Portland is great for food and hang out for the day or two. If you have a few days to spare, I highly recommend you drive to explore other parts of Oregon like Cannon Beach, Cape Kiwanda, Crater Lake, Painted Hills just to name a few.
Photos by Toan Chu Photography