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Portland Farmers Market
Emma Hughes Portland Farmers Market

27 ace places to eat and drink in Portland

The Oregon city has more than 700 food carts, a thriving brunch scene and a reputation for locally produced delicacies

By Emma Hughes
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It’s basically impossible to have a bad meal in Portland. An influx of people from all over the world, a near-perfect growing climate and commercial rents that are (for now, at least) comparatively low have combined to make it one of America’s most exciting food cities, nipping at the heels of places like LA, San Francisco and New York. From food carts to coffee bicycles and the best avocado toast in the Pacific Northwest, here’s our guide to eating your way around PDX in style.

Delta’s nonstop flight from London Heathrow to Portland International Airport operates four times a week until Saturday 6 October 2018. Fares start from £497, including taxes. Rooms at the Jupiter Hotel, 800 E. Burnside, Portland, start from £83/$116 per night. Visit TravelPortland.com

Photos: Emma Hughes

Portland's best food and drink

Portland Farmers Market
Emma Hughes

Local heroics

Oregon is a grower’s paradise and at Portland Farmers Market 140 of the state’s producers come together every Saturday. A breakfast burrito from Enchanted Sun, made with hyper-local ingredients, will set you up nicely for the day. Traders also team up to create one-of-a-kind products, like Jacobsen Salt Co’s hand-harvested Hair Bender salt infused with Stumptown Coffee. Still hungry? Head over to the Downtown branch of Blue Star Donuts – flavours change hourly, but keep an eye out for Raspberry Rosemary Buttermilk or Valrhona Chocolate Crunch.

Stumptown Coffee, Portland
Emma Hughes

Coffee time

Coffee snob? Cup & Bar, a factory-cum-café in a renovated Eastside warehouse, is your one-stop shop. It’s home to Portland legend Trailhead Coffee Roasters – founder Charlie Wicker dispenses its lovingly made blends from his converted bicycle all over Portland. Sharing the space is bean-to-bar chocolate-maker Ranger, while Cup & Bar’s kitchen does incredible things with bread – the avocado-ricotta toast with lemon zest takes Instagram’s favourite dish to a whole new level.

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Brunch at Maurice, Portland
Emma Hughes

The brunch bunch

In Portland, brunch is definitely the most important meal of the day. For a Middle Eastern take on the classics, head to Tusk where you can feast on the likes of za’atar biscuits with pork and lamb gravy, and paprika-fried eggs. Save space for a slice of gooey pistachio butter cake and a Hazy Jane, a blend of vodka, orgeat (almond) syrup, hibiscus, rose and yoghurt. In the shadow of volcanic Mount Tabor (don’t worry, it’s extinct), Coquine serves fabulous farm-to-table plates like ossau iraty (sheep’s milk cheese) on hazelnut shortbread, plus the best chocolate-chip cookies in town. And do go to Maurice, a tiny homage to old-style luncheonettes that’s only open from 10am to 4pm. It’s famous for its Franco-Nordic open sandwiches and oysters. 

Stark Streek vegan mini mall, Portland
Emma Hughes

Vegan vibes

Whether you’re vegan, vegan-curious or just a fan of really good cake, locals’ favourite Sweetpea Baking Co is well worth a visit. Its game-changing brownies and pies are proof that egg- and dairy-free baking can hold their own (if you’re really lucky, there’ll be cronuts or Mexican cookie-topped concha buns on the counter). And the reuben with house-made seitan ‘pastrami’ is spot on. You’ll find Sweetpea on Stark Street, in what was the world’s first 100-percent vegan mini-mall when it opened in 2015. Next door is Scapegoat Tattoo, where vegans from all over the US get inked in a certified animal-product-free environment.

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Clyde Common, Portland
Emma Hughes

Cocktail hour

After lining your stomach with bagels from Kenny & Zuke’s deli, settle in for cocktails at Clyde Common. Head mixologist Jeffrey Morgenthaler is the man behind barrel-aged cocktails (he came up with the idea after a night out with London cocktail king Tony Conigliaro), and his negronis are seriously punchy. Over on Burnside, Doug Fir has a ‘Twin Peaks’ vibe and live music every night. It’s right next to the Jupiter, a motel-turned-retro boutique hotel – handy after one too many cold-brew martinis.

Division Street, Portland
Emma Hughes

Neighbourhood nosh

Division Street might just be the city’s foremost foodie enclave. Ruling the roost is Pok Pok, which put northern Thai street food on the map – the queue for its fish sauce chicken wings has grown so long that owner Andy Ricker opened Whiskey Soda Lounge across the street, which doubles as an unofficial waiting room. Just up the road is Salt & Straw, home to the West Coast’s weirdest and most wonderful ice creams. You can sample as many flavours as you like before you order, including Sticky Honey Croissant with French Vanilla. Finally, stroll over to Division Winemaking where Kate Norris and Thomas Monroe pour Continental-style reds with Portland warmth.

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The Grilled Cheese Grill, Portland
Emma Hughes

On the carts

Some of Portland’s top restaurants started life as food carts which, as well as being a guaranteed source of tasty, wallet-friendly dishes, are where trendspotters head to sniff out the next big thing. The city is home to some 700 of them, divided into ‘pods’. The Alder Street Food Cart Pod is one of the biggest: kick things off at The Grilled Cheese Grill with The Kelsey, a Tillamook Cheddar-and-basil pesto toastie made with bread from the Portland French Bakery; then move on to garlic-and-ginger-infused chicken and rice with dipping sauces at Nong’s Khao Man Gai (owner Nong Poonsukwattana moved from Bangkok to Oregon 15 years ago with just $70 to her name) and savoury jianbing (Chinese crêpes) at Bing Mi.

Ecliptic Brewing, Portland
Ecliptic Brewing

True brew

Portlanders take craft beer very seriously – one of the city’s breweries even launched a bottle into space earlier this year. At punky Ecliptic Brewing you can order a tasting flight of bestsellers to go with your burger, from citrussy Orbiter IPA to sweet, dark and malty Capella Porter. The brewery is on the edge of up-and-coming Mississippi Avenue: take a walk down there and look out for shops selling crystals, Wolf & Bear’s Iraqi-Israeli sabich (a stuffed pitta) cart and pink-painted, sustainable taqueria ¿Por Qué No?.

Photo: @eclipticbrewing

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