Despite living in a far far away land called East Vancouver, Washington, across two rivers and about 25 minutes from downtown Portland, we spend a lot of time in the city. Sarah is a bit of a foodie, and well, Chris likes to eat, and we both like shop and enjoy a good drink. Naturally we’ve built a thorough collection of Yelp bookmarks and memories exploring the city together and wanted to share our favorite places to eat, shop, drink and meander with you. We hope you enjoy!
Prasad – go to vegan spot for grain bowls, smoothies, and wheatgrass. Fair warning the Pearl location is in a yoga studio and the east side location is in a Rock Gym. The east side location serve breakfast all day, the Pearl stops at 11am.
Harlow – same owners as Prasad so a similar menu, but they do a more robust brunch. We go hear a lot for brunch if we want something on the lighter side. If you eat eggs, then get the Huevos Ranchero’s, you won’t be disappointed.
Mediterranean Exploration Company (MEC) – This is first place Chris took me to dinner when I visited Portland and I think the first place I ever had octopus. He planned that well. We still pop in for dinner from time to time. Make sure you get the grilled octopus, not to be mistaken for the octopus salad, and the hummus.
Tusk – Hands down one of my favorite spots for dinner and brunch in Portland. Great vibe, delicious food that’s not over cooked or seasoned and always seasonal and local. It’s a toss up, but I like their hummus better than MEC. They also make their own gluten-free crackers which are delicious.
Ava Gene’s – if you know me well, then you know I don’t really eat gluten. This is one of the few places that I make that exception. Same owners as Tusk so similar principals in food quality and flavor. They do everything in house, even mill and make their own pasta. They always have a good selection of vegetable dishes available so if I’m not in the mood for pasta, then I can stick to the vegetables.
Ken’s Artisan Pizza – My favorite gluten-filled spot for pizza! Another one of those restaurants that I make an exception for. Not gluten-free, but their dough is delicious and toppings are super fresh. We usually get two pizza’s when we go, one “for me” that’s loaded with fresh arugula and a sprinkling of their hand-pulled mozzarella and another meat filled one for Chris. We always leave with leftovers…
Bamboo – One of the few spots for sustainable seafood in Portland and our favorite spots for sushi. Then again, we only ever go to Bamboo so there very well may be other sushi places in Portland that are just as good. Their specialty rolls are always yummy, but I often opt for sashimi. Whatever you do, don’t leave without getting the albacore…it literally melts in your mouth.
Por Que No – Favorite Mexican spot, their meats are grass-fed and hormone free and they source locally. They make their own corn tortillas which I feel like is rare these days. They have several locations, the most popular being on Mississippi, and there is usually always a line. Trust me, it’s worth the wait.
Lardo – If I’m feeling extra nice, I’ll pick up a Sammie from here for Chris, otherwise, it’s not very Sarah friendly.
Jacqueline – This is up there with Tusk for me. It is the most adorable French bistro in SE Portland that serves sustainable seafood. The first time we went we ordered enough food for a family of four and left with only one container of leftovers. I think Chris almost finished a whole paella on his own. One of the few places I eat oysters, I think it’s the vinegars that they bring with the oysters that I like best.They have a hamachi credo with grapefruit and avocado that is always delicious and they’ve consistently had a scallop dish that is dairy and gluten free that I always get.
Eb & Bean – move over Salt & Straw, I’d rather have Eb & Bean. Technically they can’t be compared because Salt & Straw is ice cream and Eb & Bean is soft serve, but I still think it’s better. They use hormone free dairy, raw cane sugar, and always have dairy free options (almond and coconut based) available. We usually always have a pint or two in the fridge…I’ve had to start labeling any that I want to eat. I think Chris can eat a pint in a week…
Kure – All of their locations offer smoothies, juices, and wellness shots (my recommendation would be the detox shot if you’re hungover after the wedding) and a couple of their locations offer breakfast, lunch and açaí bowls. Their West End kitchen location on Stark has the most robust menu including two different kinds of toast and Water Ave Coffee. I’ll sometimes have the mission bowl with their tempeh for lunch. Fills me up for hours. They use a lot of local products like Motha Butta and Mizuba matcha in their menu items. Their West End kitchen location also just started carrying Amy’s Mylk—a small, one woman show, of delicious non-dairy nut milks.
Merriweather’s – The OG farm-to-table restaurant in Portland. We typically go for dinner, but I hear the brunch is great. Their food never disappoints and all of their ingredients come from their farm just of the road, or a local farm near by. If you go in the warmer months try to sit outside in the garden—it’s beautiful.
Proud Mary – Great spot for brunch and lunch and some damn good coffee. The staff is awesome too. I usually always get the Caulitown, it’s just so good and it’s gluten and dairy free! Their Avo Toast is pilled high with avocado and served on thick sourdough (they also offer New Cascadia gluten-free bread by request) and is so much more than your basic avocado toast. They have a nice mix of hearty and light dishes and they always have a few seasonal options.
Petunia’s Pies and Pastry – In my opinion, the best gluten and dairy-free bakery in Portland. My favorites are the whoopie pies, it’s like an ice cream sandwich. If you’re coming to the wedding, then you’re in for a treat—this is where dessert is from.
Dame – Best selection of natural wine with a small, but mighty menu of seasonal, northwest inspired bites. I love the decor here, they nailed it. Chris and I will often stop in for a glass of wine and a bite on our way home from Portland. Bonus for me is that it’s a female owned and run business.
Shalom Y’all – MEC’s cooler sisters. Similar menu items, but with more a twist. They have two locations—my favorite is the southeast location because it’s less crowded and more room. Don’t leave with out getting the hummus and the octopus salad.
Garden Bar – It’s very rare that I find a salad spot that makes a “sarah size salad”. Garden Bar is one of the few and is my go-to place for a salad. You can CYO (create-your-own) or get one of their menu items which are just as good. Most, if not all, of their salad dressings are dairy free—Green Goddess is the best, although the Almond Nettle is a strong contender. They’re not organic, but they do source locally.
Heart – Several locations around Portland, we often stop into to the NE location. Their house made nut milk is delicious, especially in lattes
Barista – The NW 23rd location is my favorite location. They have a nice spot to sit and enjoy your coffee.
Arrowhead – Good coffee, good matcha, good food. All around a good spot for breakfast, lunch, or just a cup of coffee or tea. They offer New Cascadia gluten-free bread and Oatly non-dairy milk.
Blend – I probably end up here at least once a week. It’s a short walk from the adidas campus and their coffee and snacks are quiet good. They don’t have matcha yet. I think I ask them every single time I go when they’ll be getting it…I’m still holding out for it.
Kure – I love their hot drinks! Especially in the colder months. They make their own almond milk and use it in all of their smoothies and lattes. You can’t go wrong with the matcha latte, golden milk, or hot chocolate.
Prasad – I always get their Prasad latte or matcha latte with the house-made cashew-walnut milk.
Tea Bar – I’m a newbie to Tea Bar, so I’m still getting acquainted, but they have a lot of different teas and latte offerings. I’ll usually get a matcha or golden latte, unsweetened with Oatly. They have several locations around Portland.
Portland Juice Co – They have several green juice options that don’t contain fruit which is why I like them. We typically get a 6-pack each week of straight green juice to share. They recently came out with smoothies that are quiet good and always have a few seasonal flavors that are delicious. The strawberry lemonade is very refreshing and their nut milk based flavors are unreal.
Greenleaf Juice – the more popular of the juice shops in Portland with locations all over the city. They have a variety of smoothies, juices, bowls and snacks. They use their house made nu milk and grind their own almond butter for their menu items. In my opinion, they have the best wheatgrass in town.
Things To Do
NW 23rd – This street kind of reminds me of Hampden in Baltimore, but less quirky. On one end you have Williams Sonoma, Pottery Bar and the recently remodeled Restoration Hardware and on the other end you have more restaurants and shops like Barista, Bamboo, Tender Loving Empire and chocolate heaven, (fill in the name)
Forest Park – Another one of my favorite spots in Portland. Located in Northwest Portland, just a short drive (or long walk) from NW 23rd, we often go to Forest Park for a short hike before or after brunch. One year, the day after Christmas, we hiked up to Pittock Mansion from the parking area off Cornell. When we got to the top it was super crowded so we lingered for a few minutes and then walk back to our car. Apparently, this was when Chris was first going to propose. He claims his plan got botched by all of the people and my in ability to “sit still”. I don’t know what he could ever be talking about…
Mississippi’s Street – Cute area to walk around with lots of shops and restaurants like Prost (The Williams brothers German bar of choice), Verde Cocina, Fifty Licks, Radar, Por Que No, Quintrelle, and various food carts.
Rose Garden – Growing up in Baltimore, the entire back wall of our house on Hollins Lane was filled with roses so I grew up loving the smell. If you’ve seen Ferdinand that’s what I probably look like walking through the Rose Garden.
Wine Tasting – Oregon is the land of Pinot Noir and wine country is only 30-40 minutes from downtown Portland. There are a few wineries in downtown Portland like Coopers Hall and Enso.
Knot Springs – I still have yet to go here, but it’s on my radar. They advertise themselves as a membership based social club with a health and wellness twist, however you can purchase day passes if you’re looking to get a good soak or steam in, take a fitness class, or book a massage.
PSU Farmer’s Market – my favorite place on a Saturday day morning—except when it’s raining. By far Portlands biggest farmers market, especially in the summer. Definitely try to stop by on Saturday before the wedding.
House of Lolo – one of the few boutiques in Portland that I like. They have a strong selection of leather jackets and a mix of NYC meets DTLA clothes.
Francis May – I remember one of our first holiday seasons together and Chris was several tabs deep in their Black Friday sale. I pop in every now and then, but have yet to buy anything. They have a mix of men’s, women’s and home goods.
Mercantile – another one of my favorite boutiques. They have all my favorite brands plus a handful of Italian and French brands that you don’t see stocked in many stores. If you’re staying at the Dossier, this is right across the street. Your welcome.
West End Shop – cute little shop with ceramics, bath and body products and art.
North of West – similar to West End Shop
Bridge & Burn – I think this is local to Portland and is very “Portland” casual in style. Mostly men’s apparel and accessories, but some women’s product too.
Lizard Lounge – One of the few shops Chris and I can go together and not be waiting on one another. Even Poppa John and Richie like it. I would say the assortment is more of your traditional Portlander. A little hipster, a little lumberjack, definitely more laid-back functional clothing. I typically go here in the winter for denim, coats, and cozy sweaters.
Made In PDX – This is always a fun place to pop into every now and then and see what they are carrying. Portland is a city full of entrepreneurs and is very much so rooted in supporting anything local.
Spartan Shop – I’m still dying to visit their store front, I just drool over all of their instagram photos filled with macrame and ceramics.
Nordstrom – I have yet to be thoroughly impressed with the selection at the downtown Portland location, but it is tax free so it’s always worth having a look.
Beer + Wine + Cocktails
Prost – All the German beers you could want!
10 Barrel – I go there for the rooftop bar.
Breakside – They do a lot of experimental, one-time beers that allow you to see what Portland “micro” brewing has to offer.
Cooper’s Hall – Wine on tap! That’s actually good! I fell in love with this place as soon as I walked in and saw the high ceilings, abundance of greenery, and mixture of industrial and wood elements. It’s one of my go to places to meet friends for a drink or a bite to eat.
Dame – best natural wine selection
Multnomah Whiskey Lounge – if you like whisky, then you’ll love this place and if you don’t, then you should still go just to enjoy the space. It reminds me of the library from Beauty in the Beast, sans windows. Most of the time you need a reservation to get in.
Bar Norman – a new wine bar that just opened by Dana Frank (the same woman who opened Dame). We have yet to try it, but it’s at the top of our list.
Quintessential Things To Do In Portland
- Have a cup of coffee at Stumptown coffee
- Eat ice cream at Salt & Straw
- Taste test donuts at Voodoo, Blue Star and Pips
- Visit a brewery and have a beer in the sun
- Go wine tasting in Willamette Valley and have a glass of Oregon Pinot Noir
- Shop tax free
- Visit Multnomah Falls
- Go hiking
- Bike somewhere
- Visit PSU Farmer’s Market