For those who think Portland is all about rain, a trip to this lively city will open your eyes to its other liquids — beer, coffee, tea, wine, and spirits. But life isn’t all about drinking, and Portland shines with its inspiring cuisine. During a recent visit, it did rain some, but who cares when there is so much to taste?
Portland has more than 200 neighborhoods, which give it a small-town feel. The city is one of the most environmentally friendly places in the country. A light rail line is easily accessible and free in downtown. Bicycles abound, especially when crossing any of the 12 bridges over the Willamette River. Warehouses have been renovated, and entire districts have come back to life. It’s all about restoration and reuse. Anyway you look at it, Portland is home to artisans perfecting their crafts.
Visiting Portland is also about getting out of town. Southwest 20 miles is the lush Willamette Valley wine country. To the east is the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area.
Here’s a closer look at what you’ll find.
Where to eat
The food cart scene
• Food carts: At any time of day, there are more than 200 carts serving all kinds of food. Find them in parking lots and parks, alone or in groups. Lunch averages $6. www.foodcartsportland.com.
• Beaker & Flask: Located on Distillery Row and known for its cocktails and small plates. Cocktails $8, small plates from $2 (bread), large plates from $17, desserts from $8. 720 SE Sandy Boulevard, 503-235-8180, www.beakerandflask.com.
• Urban Farmer: Enjoy the breakfast scene at this casual restaurant in the atrium at the Nines hotel. Breakfast with cappuccino from $10. 525 SW Morrison Street, 877-229-9995, www.urbanfarmerrestaurant.com.
• Bamboo Sushi: Certified sustainable seafood offered in a wide range of Japanese cuisine. The food is healthful, affordable and creative. Signature rolls and specialty plates from $9, sake flights from $14. 310 SE 28th Avenue, 503-232-5255, www.bamboosushipdx.com.
• Lovejoy Bakers: This all-natural bakery and restaurant revolves around the art and craft of bread making. Pastry and coffee from $3.25. 939 NW 10th Avenue, 503-208-3113, www.lovejoybakers.com.
Lunch at Evoe
• Evoe: This lively snack bar in the middle of a European-like market offers tasty salads, sandwiches and soups and features market-fresh ingredients. Selections from $4.50, wine by the glass from $7. 3731 SE Hawthorne Boulevard, 503-232-1010, www.pastaworks.com/evoe.
• Ping: A scrumptious selection of Southeast Asian street foods, cocktails and drinking vinegars. Skewers from $2, cocktails from $7, drinking vinegar $4. 102 NW 4th Avenue, 503-229-7464, www.pingpdx.com.
• South Store Café: Find satisfying picnic food in this wine-country favorite housed in a historic clapboard building. Sandwiches from $7.25, salads from $3.25. 24485 SW Scholls Ferry Road, Hillsboro, 503-628-1920, http://southstorecafe.com.
Where to drink
Cupping at Stumptown
• Cacao: This intimate shop features chocolate from around the world. For a decadent treat, try the flight of three chocolate shots for $6. 414 SW 13th Ave., 503-241-0656, www.cacaodrinkchocolate.com.
• Stumptown Coffee: At the Annex location, taste single varietals from around the world. Participate in a cupping — learn the nuances of coffee and get buzzed. Complimentary cupping. 3352 SE Belmont Street, 503-467-4123, www.stumptowncoffee.com.
• Steven Smith Teamaker: Sip handcrafted small-batch, whole-leaf tea in an unusual atelier offering flights under $6. 1626 NW Thurman Street, 503-719-8752, www.smithtea.com.
• Spella Caffe: The proprietor uses micro-roasted Brazilian beans then hand pulls each shot with a lever machine. Coffee from $1.50. 520 SW 5th Avenue, 503-752-0264, www.spellacaffe.com.
• Oregon Beer Odyssey: For the inside scoop on all things beer in the Pacific Northwest, this is the go-to company. They offer regular events and tastings (most are $35) at breweries around Portland. www.oregonbeerodyssey.com.
Spirits at Clear Creek
• Clear Creek Distillery: At this artisan distillery, fruit from the Hood River Valley is fermented into liqueurs using traditional European brandy-making techniques. Pears and apples are grown in bottles and filled with their eau de vie. The pot-distilled single malt whiskey is a winner. Complimentary tastings. 2389 NW Wilson Street, 503-248-9470, www.clearcreekdistillery.com.
• House Spirits Distillery: The unique influence of an Old World distilling philosophy on today’s sophisticated palate makes these handcrafted spirits standouts. Either straight or in cocktails, try the Aviation gin, Medoyeff vodka and Krogstad aquavit. Complimentary tastings. 2025 SE Seventh Avenue, 503-235-3174, www.housespirits.com.
• Teardrop Cocktail Lounge: Handcrafted libations in a late-night place with cocktails from $8. 1015 NW Everett Street, 503-445-8109, www.teardroplounge.com.
• Full Sail Brewing: This employee-owned brewery in Hood River sits atop a bluff overlooking the Columbia River Gorge. It’s all about sustainability, social responsibility and great beer. These folks are stoked to brew. Taster $1; pub serves lunch and dinner daily. 506 Columbia Street, Hood River, 541-386-2247, www.fullsailbrewing.com.
• The Gorge White House: Enjoy exclusively Columbia Gorge wines, microbrews, fruit and flowers in a picturesque setting. Open April through October; wine and beer tastings $1. 2265 Highway 35, Hood River, 541-386-2828, www.thegorgewhitehouse.com.
Favorites at Hawks View Cellars
Taste at SakéOne
• Hawks View Cellars: This boutique winery is located in the Chehalem Mountain AVA in the Willamette Valley. Relish their estate Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris and stunning views by appointment only. 20210 SW Conzelmann Road, Sherwood, 503-522-0789, www.hawksviewcellars.com.
• Alloro Vineyard: Inspired by Italy and driven by the Chehalem Mountain terroir, the estate Pinot Noir is not to be missed. Open February through December; tastings $10 (refunded with purchase). 22075 SW Lebeau Road, Sherwood, 503-813-0063, www.allorovineyard.com.
• SakéOne: A unique kura (brewery) that crafts premium junmai ginjo styles in a range of profiles across several brands. Flights from $3. 820 Elm Street, Forest Grove, 800-550-7253, www.sakeone.com.
• Lan Su Chinese Garden: Considered the most authentic Chinese garden outside of China featuring over 400 traditional Chinese plant species. Admission: $8.50/adult. 239 NW Everett Street, 503-228-8131, www.lansugarden.org.
• Powell’s Books: A mecca for people worldwide. Nine rooms are color-coded by subject area and spread out on four floors of one city block. 1005 W. Burnside Street, 800-878-7323, www.powellsbooks.com .
• Farmers’ markets: With six locations throughout the metro area, find produce, cooking demos, classes, experts, and more. www.portlandfarmersmarket.org .
Beautiful Multnomah Falls
• Multnomah Falls: Part of the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area and falling 620 feet, it’s the second highest year-round waterfall in the country. www.fs.usda.gov
Where to stay
• The Nines: This LEED-Silver-certified hotel sits next to Pioneer Square in the historic Meier & Frank Building (a department store chain originating in Portland). The hotel’s name refers to the nine floors it occupies as well as dressing stylishly. The soaring atrium, contemporary art, bold colors, and luxe rooms make the Nines a chic choice. Rooms from $200. 525 SW Morrison Street, 877-229-9995, www.thenines.com.
• Hotel Vintage Plaza: Celebrating Oregon’s wine country, each room is dedicated to a winery. This boutique hotel is Green Seal Silver certified, centrally located and delivers everything you expect from Kimpton: comfortable rooms, gracious service, complimentary wine every evening in the lobby, and pet-friendly policies. Rooms from $140. 422 SW Broadway, 503-228-1212, www.vintageplaza.com.
Portland is a welcoming city with a laid back local vibe. Experience the creativity and fun this play land has to offer.
Portland, Ore.: Direct flights from San Francisco in less than two hours. www.expedia.com/gogreen; www.eco.orbitz.com. Tourist Information: www.travelportland.com (The Attractions Pass offers discounts on adult admissions to multiple venues.), www.willamettewines.com.
Super Shuttle: It’s a fast trip to the airport, especially if you’re the last to be picked up. 800-258-3826, www.supershuttle.com.
Case 22-inch upright roller: Expandable, lightweight and durable, you’ll breeze through security with your laptop in the protective sleeve. $180. 888-666-5780, www.caselogic.com.
Patty Burness is the travel writer for Northside San Francisco. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org