Pouring Over Portland

From bookstores to brewpubs and beyond.

Portland is one of the culinary, wine and beer capitals of the West Coast. With the Willamette Valley an hour south and Mount Hood to the east, the Rose City is close to wine and the wild outdoors. But before you head to the vineyards or the mountains, spend time exploring all Portland has to offer.

Start your journey in the Pearl District and Nob Hill. The Pearl District is full of eclectic restaurants and bustling shops, while Nob Hill is laid-back and residential, right next to the city’s extensive park system. For a morning pastry, head to Ken’s Artisan Bakery. A James Beard Award finalist for his book, Flour Water Salt Yeast, Ken Forkish serves up delicate croissants and perfectly caramelized cannelés.

Hunker down in one of the world’s largest independently owned bookstores, Powell’s City of Books. With more than one million new, used and out-of-print books, you’ll find it easy to wander the stacks for hours.

Powell's City of Books
Powell’s City of Books

On the way up to Forest Park, a temperate rainforest, grab a light lunch at Bamboo Sushi, a sustainably sourced-sushi joint with four city locations. Alongside the chef’s choice omakase experience at the bar, choose from eight saké flights.

For an afternoon pick-me-up, stop at Courier Coffee. Sip on pour-overs served in mason jars while vinyl records spin in the background.

For dinner, head to Little Bird Bistro, sister restaurant to Le Pigeon, both owned by two-time James Beard Award-winner Gabriel Rucker. Duck confit and the double brie burger will draw you in, as well as the French-focused wine list.

The Alberta Arts District and Mississippi Avenue neighborhoods offer quirky boutique shops and restaurants that serve a range of international cuisines. At Paxton Gate, pick up some PDX-made oddities like framed insects or miniature terrariums.

Pip’s Original Doughnuts & Chai features pastries  fried to order. Rotating flavors might include cinnamon sugar, honey sea salt and lemon-pear butter. Pair your doughnuts with housemade chai.

Bushwhacker Cider opened its second location in the Woodlawn neighborhood in 2015, offering a range of housemade, domestic and international ciders as well as savory bites.

For a nightcap, visit retro-chic cocktail lounge Angel Face. Purposefully menu-free, a few words guide bartenders to create your custom libation.

Dark wood, gnarled limbs and walls lined with copper pots accompany Chef-Owner Jason French’s seasonally inspired fare at Ned Ludd. French even chops the kindling used in the restaurant’s wood-fired oven.

Ned Ludd / Photo by Robert J. Hill
Ned Ludd / Photo by Robert J. Hill

For a nightcap, visit retro-chic cocktail lounge Angel Face. Purposefully menu-free, a few words guide bartenders to create your custom libation. Something like, ‘light,’ ‘floral’ and ‘comforting’ might give you a mix of vodka, lemon, honey and chamomile—a variation on the classic Bee’s Knees.

From downtown’s South Waterfront, stroll across the newly completed Tilikum Crossing, a modern, cable-stayed bridge built for pedestrians, bikers and riders of Portland’s MAX light rail. Once over the Willamette River, you can explore the Central ­Eastside, a neighborhood lined with renovated warehouses.

Noraneko, the new sister restaurant to longstanding Biwa, offers steaming bowls of ramen. Order its take on chuhai, drinks made with the Japanese distillate shochu, and carbonated water flavored with cucumber, hibiscus or black pepper.

The number of breweries here can be overwhelming, but be sure to visit Base Camp Brewing Company. Sip on the Trailside Extra Special Bitter while you stargaze the ceiling’s LED-speckled constellations.

For Champagne lovers, a pilgrimage to Ambonnay is a must. The experience at this sparkling oasis is heightened by owner David Speer’s memorable service and expert guidance. Well-priced glass and bottle selections highlight everything from small producers to famous large houses.

Another top destination for Champagne is Bar Vivant. Peruse the list especially strong in “Special Club” prestige bottlings from small growers. And since Bar Vivant shares a space with Pix Patisserie, don’t leave without picking up an assortment of macarons.

Drive out to the Mount Tabor neighborhood, where husband-and-wife team Ksandek Podbielski and Katy Millard have opened up a tiny French-inspired bistro, Coquine. Expect a frequently changing menu that may feature chickpea socca with crushed black pepper and olive oil or Columbia River salmon topped with a juniper soubise. Sous chefs present each dish, and Podbielski follows right behind with a wine pairing like an Oregon Auxerrois from Adelsheim.

Coquine / Photo by Jannie Huang
Coquine / Photo by Jannie Huang
Published on May 9, 2016
Topics: Oregon, Travel Guides, Travel Tips
About the Author
Alexander Peartree
Tasting Manager

Reviews wines from Italy and New York.
Formerly working in the Finger Lakes wine region of upstate New York, Peartree's passion for terroir-expressive products, which spans from wine to cider and tea, is only rivaled by his love of canoeing and hiking. On top of enjoying wines from the region where his wine career began, he can often be caught drinking Old World selections from his central and southern Italian beats.
Email: apeartree@wineenthusiast.net

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