Fun Things To Do in Portland: Coffee, Craft Beer, and Cuisine
Portland is progressive, eccentric, and full of opportunities to enjoy only the finest coffee, food, and beer.
Oregon's largest and best known city is famous for its eco-conscious citizens, numerous bike paths, and abundant art, music, and theater communities. In Portland, you'll find plenty of microbreweries suited to every taste, and great coffee on every corner. The city sits between two rivers, the Willamette and Columbia, and was originally named after Portland Maine. Now one of the most desirable cities for Americans to live in, Portland is booming with liberal thinkers and progressive movements. A visit to Portland is sure to include opportunities to sample various cuisines and enjoy a rich culture of artists, performers, and unique events. Here's a list of 10 things to include on your trip to this Pacific Northwest town.
1. Grab a doughnut at Voodoo
Locals rave about this specialty shop that serves up the most fantastic doughnuts you've ever seen. Don't expect to see plain old glazed circles here, instead look for wild creations like the Memphis Mafia Doughnut made with banana chunks, cinnamon, chocolate frosting, peanut butter, peanuts, and chocolate chips. You can also combine your favorite breakfast foods with a cereal-topped doughnut like The Loop or Captain My Captain, made with Froot Loops and Captain Crunch respectively. With tons of options to choose from, you won't have an easy time deciding. Take note that Voodoo only accepts cash, and prices range from 95¢ and up. You can also order custom doughnuts through their website, or watch their documentary "Gimme Doughnut."
Location: 22 SW 3rd Avenue
2. Get a cup of coffee at Coava
Seattle may brag about its coffee heritage, but Oregonians will proudly argue that Portland offers the best java in the country. With more than 40 different roasters in the city alone, Portland holds its own in the world of coffee connoisseurs. One of the greatest coffee shops that holds relevance throughout the country is Coava. Known for creating the Kone reusable coffee filter crafted from stainless steel, the founders of Coava aim for a sustainable, single-sourced product. Their plan is to reduce waste, and give credit to the quality crops that they purchase from mindful farmers. Each step in their process requires consideration for the environment and respect for all people-from the laborers to the customers. You'll love the message their coffee promotes, and the ambiance their shop exhibits. Inside their Portland location, you'll note that they share the space with Bamboo Revolution, so it's not uncommon to see carpenters and tools spread about. The high ceilings and long tables provide a spacious place to spend time and enjoy your brew.
Location: 1300 SE Grand Ave
3. Stop by the Waffle Window
Portland is known for being a little quirky and putting a spin on traditional fare. The Waffle Window is no exception, but it's a delight to try for yourself. The founder of the Waffle Window is an experienced pastry chef who sought to make the same delicious waffles that her sons enjoyed on a trip to Europe. She designed her own secret recipe and created a business that serves waffles in a truly unique way. The Waffle Window is a different take on fast food, and is way more fun than pre-packaged snacks. You'll love the flavor varieties, both sweet and savory. From pumpkin pie and chocolate-dipped, to ham and cheese, and farm fusion. You definitely won't look at waffles the same way ever again, and you'll be counting down to your next visit to the Waffle Window.
Location: 3610 SE Hawthorne Blvd
4. Snag a sandwich at Shut Up and Eat
Imagine giant sandwiches stuffed with your favorite classic Italian ingredients, bordered by fresh made bread, and you've got the classic recipe for lunch at Shut Up and Eat. Locals love their generous portions and satisfying combinations. Grab and Italian Sausage sandwich with bell peppers, onions, and spinach, or opt for a Fall Veggie Grinder with butternut squash, maple glazed parsnips, carrots and blue cheese crumbles. Their menu also boasts a Meatball Sandwich and an Italian Hoagie, along with several panini options and salad offerings. Shut Up and Eat is no-nonsense and all delicious, and it's sure to be a great lunch option no matter when you visit Portland.
Location: 3848 SE Gladstone St
Contact: (503) 719-6449
5. Mix and match with Portland's Food Trucks
Food cart culture is taking off not only in Portland, but in cities across America. The charming restaurants on wheels offer custom fare in an atypical setting. Nearly every variety of cuisine can be found within a custom food cart, especially in Portland. Luckily for you, these nomadic carts are easy to locate, and wonderful to experience. From Malaysian street food at Straits Kitchen, to not-so-standard hot dogs at Steve's Dawg House, variety is plentiful. Find comfort food at Grandpa Jimmy's Southern Fried Fish, and lookout for delicacies from Mexico's Oaxaca region at Mole Prehispanic Cuisine. More than 500 of these vendors hone their craft around the city everyday, and make it easy to access whatever you're in the mood for.
Locations vary, but visit http://www.foodcartsportland.com/ for specific location information.
6. Discover Portland's best beer at Widmer
Portland is a city that takes pride in its beer as evidenced by the number of breweries in the city, none of which are more popular than Widmer Brothers Brewing Company. It was established in the mid 1980's by brothers Kurt and Robert H. Widmer, who have since mastered the art of quality beer. While Widmer offers several rich stouts and a host of seasonal beer options, they are best known for their Hefeweizen. Their excellent craftsmanship has not gone unnoticed as they have been steadily expanding and their beer is now sold worldwide. At the home brewery, Widmer offers tours seven days a week, which include insight into the company's history as well as a glimpse into the brewing process. In addition to the tours, Widmer has a pub where you can enjoy soups, sandwiches, and hamburgers while sipping on any one of their delicious beers on tap.
Location: 929 N Russell Street
7. Hang with the locals at The Albina Press
When searching for great coffee in Portland, one should look no further than The Albina Press. From comfortable couches to potent espressos, this coffee shop has everything you could want. Why do locals love this place so much? They say the coffee here simply tastes better. If you are the type that likes your cup to be high-quality and made to order, then this is definitely the place for you. On top of their rich flavor, the atmosphere attracts locals looking for a quiet place to get some work done or study for an exam. For those who enjoy art, you'll find work from local artists on display and for sale within the shop. Aside from great coffee and ambiance, The Albina Press is known for excellent customer service and top-notch baristas, who often enter in local and regional competitions. And if you love taking snaps of dutifully decorated lattes, then you'll love the whale and unicorn designs as much as you love the taste.
Location: 4637 N Albina Ave
8. Visit a classic schoolhouse turned restaurant at McMenamins
It's a pub. It's a hotel. It's a restaurant. And, it's a former school. The Kennedy School, which opened in 1915, has been re-imagined as a beautiful spot to have a meal, grab a drink, and stay the night. Still outfitted with old classrooms and chalkboards, McMenamins is an unforgettable stop on your Portland tour. The Courtyard Restaurant is the magic of a converted school cafeteria, which serves up pub favorites alongside hand-crafted brews. You can enjoy the lavish outdoor seating on sunny days, and relax on the grounds without fear of getting detention. Feel good knowing that your food is sourced from local ingredients, and take advantage of the happy hour specials. McMenamins might be your only chance to relive your school days without the burden of homework and lunch ladies.
Location: 5736 NE 33rd Ave
9. Find your favorite brew at Deschutes
The craft beer scene in Portland surpasses that of larger cities, and one brew house to note is Deschutes Brewery. They craft a little of everything, from rich porters to crisp ales, and their Portland location offers 26 taps of year round favorites and seasonal pleasures. Opt for the choose your own sampler to discover your favorites, and don't be afraid to try their more creative experimental brews. There's plenty of room in their electric downtown location, and they offer a hearty menu to keep your stomach satisfied in between tastings. Expect to wait a bit for seating, as this is one of Portland's most popular destinations for great beer.
Location: 210 NW 11th Ave
10. Experience dinner at Nomad PDX
A nod to Portland's edgy, progressive residents, Nomad PDX is a dining experience unlike any other. Combining art and cuisine, this must-try restaurant gets only rave reviews from everyone who tries it. You'll notice the extreme attention to detail and care that goes into every dish, and the use of local, seasonal ingredients to ensure only the freshest food. Set on revolutionizing the typical dining traditions, Nomad PDX and chef Ryan Fox seek to provide a private setting with minimal distractions and major focus on flavor. Each course showcases unique textures and tastes, as well as specific cooking techniques. Wine pairings complement the cuisine, and the chefs are there to interact on a more personal level. If gastronomic cuisine is one of your guilty pleasures, then you'll love a visit to Nomad PDX. Be sure to plan ahead as space is limited.
Location: 1200 SW Morrison Street
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