Culinary Portland – Trailblazers and Tastemakers of Food and Drink

There is no turning back once you eat farm-to-table in Oregon and experience what food should taste like naturally, without added chemicals and preservatives.  Likewise, you have never tasted anything as phenomenal as the seasonal fresh cherry cider and sour beers that are distinctively part of Portland’s palate. The Northwest has turned itself into a culinary destination in recent years and this city is at the top of the list with trending restaurants, small-batch beers and wines that rival California’s.

Portland is small but mighty in the food world and offers a wide variety of places to dine without breaking the bank. Food carts, in particular, are a great choice for fast, quality eats. In fact, the carts rival many restaurants with diverse choices and innovative cuisine executed by experienced chefs. Because they are anchored in fixed locations called food pods, the carts have loyal followings of foodies. Downtown Portland has the largest and longest-running food cart pods. You cannot come to this city without experiencing a tasty bite from one of the carts.  Go on your own or try a unique food cart tour with Food Carts Portland.

Pine Street Market is a new food hall and culinary-themed marketplace located downtown and blocks away from the waterfront. It features an open floor plan with communal seating and offers nine restaurants to choose from. Feast on interesting Israeli street food at Shalom Y’all or indulge in a soft-serve dessert bar at Wiz Bang Bar, created by the purveyors of Salt & Straw ice cream.

Le Pigeon is a French/Pacific Northwest-inspired restaurant and seems to be a top contender for one of the best in the city. Perfectly cooked seasonal dishes such as Snake River Farms Wagyu brisket, the grilled pigeon, and the foie gras profiteroles will make a lasting impression on your palate. You will get a bird’s eye view of the chefs at work in the open kitchen if you sit at the counter. Argentina and its wood-fire grilling traditions find their way to Portland diners with Ox Restaurant.  This neighborhood eatery prides itself on offering fresh, seasonal produce and prime meats and fish cooked with Argentinean techniques. Meats and various dishes are grilled in the fire pit located inside the restaurant. It’s a warm and toasty experience to score a seat at the counter.

If you’re looking to taste the bounty of Portland straight from the ground then head out to visit the many farms just minutes away from the metro area. Farm loops are self-guided tours in the Mt. Hood Territory where you can get just-picked produce, see exotic animals or discover tulip and herb farms at your own pace. Try the Farmlandia Farm Loop, Canby Farm Loop or Molalla Country Farm Loop.

Alacia Lauer, Communications and PR Manager for Travel Portland, has a love for the city and its culinary side. “I think what makes Portland such a great destination is our mix of big city offerings, unexpected attractions and our laid-back culture, all surrounded by natural beauty. Our culinary scene is known as one of the best in the country, we have more craft breweries than any city in the world, and within a half hour, you could be skiing (year-round) or tasting some of the best pinot noir in the world. And that’s just scratching the surface of everything there is for visitors to experience in Portland.”

Besides a burgeoning wine industry, Portland’s love for craft beer and coffee is unsurpassed. You might even think that folks here are a bit obsessed with their beverages. Portland has been nicknamed “Beervana” because of the 40 microbreweries and brew pubs located within the city. A unique way to visit several in a few hours is with Pedal Bike Tours. You will take a leisurely bike ride to breweries such as Deschutes, Lucky Labrador and Rogue. This city has the most fun for adults ready for a grown-up beverage adventure.

Bold and strong, hot or cold, artisan coffee can be found in the many roasting houses around the city. Seattle might have started the coffee craze with corporate offerings, but Portland has taken it to another level by keeping it local and supporting its small business owners. Coffee houses are abundant and are dedicated to serving fair trade single-origin beans. Pour over and cold brewing seem to be the hot trends. If you’ve always wanted to do a coffee crawl, this is the place to do it.

Whether you are a professional chef or seasoned foodie, sommelier or novice beer enthusiast, there is a food and drink experience waiting for you in Portland.

Don’t leave Oregon without tasting some of its homegrown delights which include blackberries, boysenberries, strawberries, cherries, hazelnuts, salts, honey and chocolates. Make sure you pack plenty of goodies for yourself because when you get home you will wish you had.

For more information on visiting Portland and its surrounding areas, go to TravelPortland#pdxnow @travelportland, MtHoodTerritory #OMHT @mthoodterritory #tualatinvalley @tualatinvalley.

Be sure to check out my other article, “The Many Facets of Perfect Portland,” for more great Portland destinations.

Photo credit: Tracey Augustine/V. Sheree Publishing

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Tracey is a Los Angeles native and professional chef. She is currently creating, testing and editing recipes for Breville Inc. along with teaching cooking classes, catering and getting inspired by the delicious life surrounding her.