Good coffee, locally brewed beer, lush greenery, moody rain, artisanal pickles: these are a few things that come to mind when I think of the Pacific Northwest. When I visited Portland, Oregon, for the first time last year, I found all of these things to be true. I also discovered a city with a thriving food scene, focused on conscious growing and eating; and a friendly, fun-loving place with a host of adventures to be had. I instantly felt right at home.
Since I only had a few days in town, I barely got to cover the basics (Voodoo Doughnut and Hale Pele, anyone?). But I’ve already started planning my trip back.
And thanks to Chef Bonnie Frumkin Morales—longtime Portlander, author of 2018 Piglet winner, Kachka, and co-owner of the eponymous restaurant—I’ve already figured out my itinerary. Bonnie shared 12 of her favorite places to spend time (and eat well) in the place she calls home. I can’t wait to check them out when I make the return to Rose City.
1. Brunch at Coquine
It’s my favorite restaurant in Portland and I admire Chef Katy Millard very much. Going there for midweek brunch is my favorite. It feels like a secret even though it’s a nationally recognized restaurant.
2. Pick up a Slice at Scottie’s Pizza Parlor
Tiny pizza parlor owned and operated by the nicest, most genuine guy around. Get the Hawaii 5-0-5 by the slice or the DeFino square pie if you’re getting a whole pizza. Also, the specials are always fantastic and have the best names.
3. Get Cozy at Nong’s Khao Man Gai
Chicken and rice may sound boring. Here, it is anything but. This is pure, nourishing comfort. Get chicken skins if they are available, too.
4. Scream for Fifty Licks Ice Cream
Hands down the best ice cream around. Their location on Burnside has huge windows and I can see what flavors are on the menu as I drive by. I don’t think they did that intentionally, but man, it works. I totally pulled over the other day and stopped in because I saw they had Banana Pudding flavor. Dangerous. And if you don’t do dairy, their Coconut Saffron Lemon situation is outstanding.
5. Bliss Out at Cloudforest Chocolate
At their new shop that just opened, they sell coffees and pastries in addition to their fantastic chocolates; it’s a nice way to start the day and snag a few samples of their bars while you’re there. The Goma “gray” chocolate with sesame and matcha is stunning, as are all of their really complex single origin bars.
6. Stop By Any of the Local Farmers Markets
There are many in town. I am partial to the Shemanski Park market on Wednesdays, but really, there are no bad ones.
7. bring home a souvenir from Pigeon Toe Ceramics
They specialize in elegant, locally made ceramic wares for the home. They make a simple, beautiful spoon rest. I love it so.
8. Browse for Hours at Powell’s Books
It’s in all the guidebooks, but Powell’s really is something to behold. I stop by the Eastern European Cookbooks shelf every time I’m there to see what new out-of-print gems I’ll find. Make it a perfect afternoon with a stop at Maurice for lunch.
9. Visit the Portland Japanese Garden
The garden just had a major revamp a couple years ago. It was a great place before, but now it is a must-visit when exploring Portland.
10. Pick Berries on Sauvie Island
I still can’t believe that this is within Portland city limits. So much bucolic beauty! There’s also a nude beach that people are into, if you want a true Portland experience.
11. Take a trip up to St. John’s Bridge
Just a stunningly beautiful bridge. If you need something to do to justify going to North Portland just to look at a bridge, then definitely check out Occidental Brewing while you are up there.
12. Walk the Eastbank Esplanade or Tom McCall Waterfront Park
A great riverside walking path to get in sweeping views of the city.
What are your favorite things to see/do/eat in Portland? Let me know in the comments so I can add ’em to my list!