Finding Portland in NYC

We seek out the charms of PDX within the five boroughs.

  • Photograph: Lizz Kuehl

    Beagle

  • Photograph: Lizz Kuehl

    Beagle

  • Photograph: Lizz Kuehl

    Beagle

  • Photographs: Roxana Marroquin

    Photographs: Roxana Marroquin

    Stumptown

  • Photograph: Roxana Marroquin

    Stumptown

  • Photograph: Roxana Marroquin

    Stumptown

  • Photograph: Roxana Marroquin

    Stumptown

  • mamasfoodshop1

    Mamas Food Shop

  • mamasfoodshop4

    Mamas Food Shop

  • Photograph: Fumie Suzuki

    Strand Bookstore

  • Photograph: Fumie Suzuki

    Strand Bookstore

  • Photograph: Fumie Suzuki

    Strand Bookstore

  • Jeffrey Gurwin

    Essex Street Market

  • Jolie Ruben

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  • Jolie Ruben

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  • Jolie Ruben

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  • Jolie Ruben

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  • Photograph: Courtesy of Gimme! Coffee

    Gimme! Coffee

    Gimme Coffee

  • Grand Army Plaza

  • Williamsburg bridge

Photograph: Lizz Kuehl

Beagle

Like the field of Republican presidential candidates, Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein, the cocreators of IFC's Portlandia, are stumping for their cause, promoting their show's second season with a live cross-country tour. For the gigs, the pair has put together a free-form night of clips, in-character skits and songs, and guest appearances that have included Dana Carvey and the Bangles' Susanna Hoffs. (For more on the live show, check out our Q&A with the comedy team.) With characters obsessed with locavore eating and binge TV-watching, the show seems to resonate particularly well with the twee sensibilities of NYC's youth class: To wit, the NYC dates, on Friday 20 and Saturday 21, sold out almost immediately. It got us thinking about the connection between the western Oregon city and the five boroughs. For all its Stumptown-specific quirks, much of the show's sketches could be set in New York. We set out to find some tangible proof of the link by asking current and former Portlanders for their favorite spots in the city.

Matt Piacentini, owner and general manager of the Beagle (162 Ave A between 10th and 11th Sts; 212-228-6900, thebeaglenyc.com)
Portland-NYC cred: Portland native and co-owner of that city's Clyde Common restaurant
"Most of the things that have made Portland so popular in the last few years are not native to Portland. In fact, I would say that the Portland I grew up with is almost entirely gone. There is one place, though, that reminds me of the real Portland. It's a Chinese restaurant in the Financial District called China Chalet (47 Broadway between Morris and Rector Sts; 212-943-4380, chinachalet.com). To enter, you have to go up a long flight of carpeted stairs, exactly like the original Hung Far Low in Portland's now-gone Chinatown. On the menu, they serve two items that are totally ubiquitous in Portland Chinese restaurants yet are almost impossible to find anywhere else in the country: honey-roast pork with the red [layer] outside, served with hot mustard, and a particular version of chow mein that is a snotty type of goo with celery slices, sprouts and the crispy noodles you can buy in a can. To me that's Portland—at least it's the Portland that people who actually grew up there would remember."

Mark Bitterman, co-owner of The Meadow (523 Hudson St between Charles and W 10th Sts; 212-645-4633; themeadow.net)
Portland-NYC cred: Cofounded the first location of the Meadow in Portland in 2006
"Stumptown Coffee in the Ace Hotel (18 W 29th St between Fifth Ave and Broadway; stumptowncoffee.com) has some of NYC's best coffee. The Ace Hotel in Portland feels a bit exotic, but the one in NYC definitely reminds me of Portland, for some reason."

Lizz Hudson, barista at Stumptown Coffee
Portland-NYC cred: Former Portlander who's lived in NYC for more than three years "Mama's Food Shop (200 E 3rd St between Aves A and B; 212-777-4425, mamasfoodshop.com) takes something traditional and makes it even better. [They've got] some of the best fried chicken I have ever had. They also use seasonal and local ingredients whenever possible. In Portland, it is easy to eat like this. Almost everywhere you go uses seasonal, fresh food that's as local as possible. It's available in New York, but harder to find and more expensive."

"Strand Book Store (828 Broadway at 12th St; 212-473-1452, strandbooks.com) is the closest thing to [the Portland-based] Powell's I've ever seen. Powell's is the largest independent new and used book store in the world. It's similar to the Strand, but much larger and better organized. Powell's has nine color-coded rooms with 122 major subject areas and over 3,500 subsections, [as well as] one of the best rare-book rooms I have ever seen. Words don't do it justice. It is worth a trip."

"Essex Street Market (120 Essex St at Delancey St, essexstreetmarket.com) is filled with artisans and specialty hard-to-find things. Pain d'Avignon (paindavignon-nyc.com) and Saxelby Cheesemongers (212-228-8204, saxelbycheese.com) are two of my favorites. Almost anywhere you shop for groceries in Portland offers local, artisanal and speciality products—in many shops that's all they have. Portland is a place where quality independent business is celebrated."

Matt Lounsbury, director of operations at Stumptown Coffee
Portland-NYC cred: Lives in Portland but comes to New York once a month
"Roberta's (261 Moore St between Bogart and White Sts, Bushwick, Brooklyn; 718-417-1118, robertaspizza.com) reminds me of a lot of recent Portland businesses. The owners are all buddies, and they just made it happen. The ethos and the way they appreciate their customers is very much the same as with restaurants in Portland."

Jocelyn Gaudi, member care manager for Portland-based Alta Bicycle Share, which will operate NYC's bike-share program (nycitybikeshare.com) when it launches this summer
Portland-NYC cred: Portlander who worked in NYC for two months in 2011
"I moved to NYC equipped with a list of must-drink-at cafs, provided by coffee mastermind--friend Tom Pikaart of Water Avenue Coffee in Portland. The best cup I enjoyed was the Kenya Kiandu from Gimme! Coffee (228 Mott St between Prince and Spring Sts; 212-226-4011, gimmecoffee.com). It was incredible!I loved the artwork at Kaffe 1668 (275 Greenwich St between Murray and Warren Sts; 212-693-3750, kaffe1668.com) and had a conversation about bikes with the Rapha-dressed barista who pulled my shot...just like home!

"Both the Greenmarket and food-truck rallies at Grand Army Plaza (enter at Flatbush Ave and Prospect Park West, Prospect Heights, Brooklyn; 718-965-8951, prospectpark.org) provided brilliant people-watching and great eats with a beautiful park background, which reminded me of the Portland Farmers Market held at Portland State University each Saturday."

"I love bridges for their amazing utility and aesthetic prominence in cityscapes. My favorite bridge in Portland is the Hawthorne, a beautiful vertical-lift bridge across the Willamette River. While in NYC, I was lucky to live just three blocks from the Williamsburg Bridge, and spent a lot of time riding across into Brooklyn. Both the Williamsburg and the Hawthorne are truss bridges, built within the first decade of the 20th century, and provide comfortable access and beautiful views for cyclists."

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