Portland originally earned the nickname Stumptown because its rapid growth meant that freshly cut tree stumps littered empty lots. Today, the city’s food and drink scene continues apace, marked by an emphasis on locally grown and produced ingredients, and playful combinations of flavors from around the world. With the Willamette Valley just an hour out of town, there’s wonderful wine everywhere, too.
The Southeast Wine Collective is an urban winery and bar/restaurant rolled into one. Stop by for a flight of local sips in a casual environment. Geeks will delight in Thelonious Wines, a bottle shop and tasting room opened by two somms who sought to educate drinkers about uncommon grapes. Put a little sparkle in your life at Ambonnay Champagne Bar, a cozy spot to enjoy bubbles. For those hankering for something harder than wine, Multnomah Whiskey Library has an impressive selection. Local cocktail savant Jeffrey Morgenthaler’s Pépé le Moko serves barrel-aged cocktails in a sophisticated yet bunker-like setting. For a casual vibe and nonstop happy hour, bright, airy Shift Drinks is the place.
In a city packed with great restaurants, it’s hard to know where to start, but breakfast makes a good beginning. Måurice opens at 10 a.m. with coffee and pastries. For faster, more casual eats, check out the city’s food-cart pods—Alder Street is the biggest. When you’re ready for dinner, try Bistro Agnes for beautifully prepared renditions of French cuisine. Nostrana is a Portland institution for house-made pastas served alongside delicate salads from its own kitchen garden. Both also have exciting, mostly Old World wine lists, with a few favorite local bottles in the mix. It’s hard to find a more fun dinner experience than Kachka, where horseradish vodka is a must for washing down pickles and pelmeni dumplings.
Take your allergy medicine before going for a stroll through any of the city’s stunning botanical reserves: Lan Su Chinese Garden, the Portland Japanese Garden and the International Rose Test Garden, where 650 varieties of the flower are planted. For a look at the city’s less-rosy history, tour Portland Underground, a network of subterranean tunnels that once connected saloons, brothels and other places of ill repute. If you need to clean off all that shady past, the Kennedy School Soaking Pool is a little oasis in a former school turned hotel.
No trip to Portland is complete without a stop at Powell’s City of Books, which boasts that it’s the largest independent bookstore in the world. Connected to Powell’s, Union Way is a covered breezeway with shops selling all things small-batch and artisanal, from leather goods to shaving products to candy.
Fashion seekers should wander NW 23rd Street in Portland’s Nob Hill district for designer boutiques, while vintage lovers can get their fix at Portland Flea + Food.
4 Hour Getaway
Yamhill County, about an hour outside of Portland, makes a great starting point for exploring Willamette Valley wines. Black Tie Tours arranges affordable custom excursions. Let them know if you prefer small and rustic, big and glossy, or a mix of the two—or just key them into your favorite wines—and they can help plan your trip around the Yamhill-area AVAs. They also offer tours featuring samplings of Oregon’s distinctive indulgence, black truffles. Tasting rooms of wineries located farther afield can be found here, too, along OR 99-W in Dundee. Stop by a couple to pick up souvenirs on your way back to town.