Around 1,100 Mozillians will be in Portland next week. WELCOME!
Here is a list of things I recommend that you see, do, eat and drink and some handy tips. I’ve focused on places that are in or near downtown, though included some spots worth going out of your way for.
That said, downtown is not Portland. Well, obviously it’s part of it, duh. But it’s not overly representative of the Portland you’ve heard so much about. Get out of downtown for an evening or afternoon – and check out one of the neighborhoods. Nothing listed here is very far from downtown – Portland is pretty small.
I’ve left a LOT out. And forgot the rest. If you have recommendations, leave them in the comments.
UPDATE: Blue Star donuts, which are far more delicious but far less penis-shaped than Voodoo donuts, will be giving away free beignets on Friday Dec 5.
- Portland has no Uber or Uber-like services. If you have Car2Go in your city you can use that here too. Curb is the app for local taxi service through a couple of providers. You can get a bus to pretty much anywhere without too much of a wait. Ride the MAX and streetcar if you’re headed to areas that they service.
- Oregon has no sales tax. Do your Christmas shopping while you’re here.
- It gets dark around 16:30 – 17:00, so factor that into any plans for hikes, etc.
- If you go into the mountains, check the road conditions to see if you need chains for the car, or if the area is accessible at all.
- Go to Powell’s books. Go a few times. Then go back again. Check out the Science Fiction pillar there – how many have you read?
- Get high… for a good view of the city: Have a drink at Departures, dinner at Portland City Grill or visit Pittock Mansion for great views of the city. Even driving over the Fremont bridge (Highway 405) provides a spectacular view of downtown, the Willamette River and our many bridges.
- There aren’t a ton of restaurants/bars/coffeehouses that can hold large numbers of people. If you break up into groups of four (max), you’ll have a much better time and the servers, chefs, baristas and bartenders will like you for it.
- Be patient. Oregon is home to the slow-food movement in America. Regardless if this explains why your coffee took 20 f***ing minutes to make, it’ll make you feel better to think about that. See also the above note about small group sizes to mitigate the waits.
- Tipping: I tip a dollar for a good coffee. I generally tip ~20% for any kind of sit-down meal. But I also worked as a barista, server and chef before getting into tech, so I’m biased towards tipping 😉
CARTS – Just the 9th & Alder pod for the purposes of this post. If you’re from California – up here they are not “food trucks”, they are “food carts”… even when they are trucks.
- Hoang’s – Get soup #17.
- Nong’s khao man gai – Simple and good and oddly famous.
- Wolf & Bear – Israeli street food that is amazing. And vegan.
- Güero – Excellent tortas. Add an egg.
- La Jarochita 2 – Great Mexican cart. The only Mexican cart (aside from Güero) worth going to at the 9th and Alder cart pod.
- Brunch Box – A cart that graduated to a proper storefront, but is right by the 9th and Alder carts. Great egg sandwiches for breakfast (try the Black and Blue) and terribly good burgers the rest of time. Very fast.
- Kargi Gogo – Georgian food. The country, not the American state. Irakli says it’s legit too.
- Multnomah Whiskey Library
- Clyde Common
- Pepe le Moko
- Bailey’s Taproom
- Courier – They also make fresh canneles daily.
- Heart – Excellent coffee.
- Coffeehouse Northwest
- Case Study
- Coava – Not downtown but my favorite coffee roaster in town.
- Ristretto – Not downtown, but fantastic coffee in beautiful spaces. The Nicolai location is especially great – check out the custom metalwork and crazy woodwork, and visit Schoolhouse Electric in the same space.
EAT – I’ve only noted a few of my go-to places, or those that are near where Mozillians are staying, or open late, etc. I’ve got a somewhat-up-to-date list here with more recommendations, but there’s just really too much to cover. Go out and explore.
- Clyde Common – Always interesting menu, good whiskey selection, great cocktails. Fries + harissa and a cocktail is a great way to end your day and start your evening.
- Tasty and Alder (downtown) – Shared plates, everything is good.
- Luc Lac – Vietnamese + cocktails, serves food VERY late, and closest place worth going to that’s also near the Waterfront Marriot.
- Bunk – Excellent sandwiches.
- Lardo – Excellent sandwiches as well.
- Racion – Amazing cocktails and fun Spanish-tinged molecular gastronomy.
- Little Big Burger – Fast and good late night burger.
- Not downtown, but places I always want to go back to…
- Biwa – Izakaya, open late, always amazing. Burger served only after 11pm.
- Tarad – Northern Thai food, open late. Pok Pok gets all the attention but after living in northern Thailand, this is where we go for the real thing.
- Mee Sen – Another good Northern Thai food spot we go to.
- Podnah’s BBQ – Worth heading up into NE Portland for.
- La Taq – Next door to Podnah’s, fantastic Mexican bar food.
- Sweedeedee – Most likely to feel like you’re in Portlandia at this spot. Amazing house-baked breads. Tiny. Expect a long wait but good people watching and excellent food.
- Por Que No (Mississippi location) – Great tacos.
- Ha & VL – Get the special soup of the day, whatever it is.
NEIGHBORHOODS – Places to walk, eat, drink, shop and experience parts of Portland that are far more interesting than downtown.
- Alberta St – Between NE 15th Ave and NE 31st Ave
- Belmont St – A few blocks on either side of SE Belmont and SE 34th
- Division St – Between SE 30th and SE 39th
- East Burnside – From NE Grand Ave to NE 12th Ave and then up and down NE 28th and Burnside
- Hawthorne Blvd – Between SE 32nd Ave and SE 49th Ave
- N Mississippi Ave – Between N Fremont Ave and N Skidmore Ave
- NW 23rd Ave – Between W Burnside and NW Thurman Ave
- NE Williams Ave – Between NE Fremont Ave and NE Skidmore Ave
- Columbia Gorge – See Multnomah Falls, the view from Vista House, climb Beacon Rock, stop at the Bonneville Dam and see Herman the Sturgeon, drive across the Bridge of the Gods (and back), then go for lunch at one of the Hood River breweries. Some easy/moderate 1-2 hour hikes I like: Angel’s Rest, the Multnomah/Wahkeena Falls loop, Triple Falls, Horsetail Falls, Punchbowl Falls, all listed here.
- Mount Hood – Drive out Highway 26 to the historic Timberline Lodge with amazing views of Mt Hood (if it’s clear), then down to Hood River and head home through the Columbia Gorge on Hwy 84.
- Mount St Helens – A couple of hours north, but the view of the blast zone and crater from the visitor center on the NW side is well worth it if the view is clear. On the SE side you can hike one mile underground through Ape Cave, and check out the amazing rock formations and brave the cable bridge at Lava Canyon.
- Oregon Coast – About two hours drive. Walk the promenade at Seaside, get ice cream at Tillamook, watch storms from the tip of Oregon at the mouth of the Columbia river.