Portland, Oregon is a quirky city. Its collection of distinct neighborhoods almost give it a small-town vibe in the friendliness of its residents. And with this comes an eclectic mix of people who come to live here from all over the world.
Portland, the forefront of the foodie phenomenon
People coming to Portland to live from all over the world is one of the reasons why the city is at the forefront of the foodie phenomenon.
The clean air and healthy Pacific Northwest lifestyle attract professional chefs and food fanatics from everywhere.
They take advantage of the area’s fertile farmland (the Willamette Valley), and its farm-to-table reputation.
Portland’s diverse restaurateurs have created a food scene that is as eclectic as Portland herself. As a result, tourists and locals alike have come to expect a unique and savory food experience when going out to eat.
Portland’s foodie scene is evident in the vast array of options we residents have at our fingertips every day. From licensed food carts (many of them run by chefs) to quaint eateries, to down-home diners, to the fanciest restaurants. You name it, Portland runs the gamut of the complete food experience. And the options just keep getting better.
Portland has been consistently making the list of the Top Foodie Cities in the country, and arguably the planet. Here’s why.
With over 600 food carts throughout Portland, you could literally have dinner at a different food cart for close to two years. There are more food carts per capita than anywhere else in the United States. Most of the carts are residents of a ‘food cart pod.’
When you walk into your first food cart pod, a bevy of emotions hit you: elation, confusion, frustration. Most likely in that order. You just have so many options, you want to try them all! But ain’t nobody got that kind of time or the stomach capacity.
This map will help.
Where do I even start? Brunch is king in Portland. On any given weekend, just drive around and you will no doubt witness a dizzying number of eating establishments with lines out the door and around the block. People eagerly waiting to get their brunch on. There’s way too many to list, but I’ll scratch the surface.
Kingsland Kitchen serves tasty meals from the United Kingdom. Pine State Biscuits gives comfort food a new meaning with its signature fried chicken breast and egg biscuit and gravy. Besaws is upscale, modern, and down-home all at once. Then there’s the Radio Room, Mother’s Bistro….hold me back! I’ll stop there. Whew.
Portland certainly rivals Seattle with seafood delights. Its unique position at the confluence of the Willamette and Columbia Rivers allows for seafood from all over the Pacific to be brought fresh every day into the Port of Portland.
Jake’s Famous Crawfish is a 125-year-old traditional seafood restaurant with an impressive menu and wine selection. Salty’s on the Columbia – if the view doesn’t grab you, their menu will, offering King crab, Dungeness crab, oysters, lobster and more. Olympia Oyster Bar specializes in not just oysters, but clams, mussels and a great wine selection. At Nimblefish, much of their daily catch if flown in from Japanese markets, where sushi and sashimi rule.
Southern cooking fares very well in the Rose City.
Matt’s BBQ is a food cart, but consistently tops the list of BBQ joints with its fall-apart brisket. People’s Pig is housed in a charming blue shack with meat smokers in the back and mouth-watering pork ribs. Russell St. BBQ is a bit more upscale, but the food is just as down-home and delicious. Po-Shines has the best southern soul food in the city.
Remember that eclectic flavor of Portland I mention in the intro? It’s demonstrated with a special flair in these well-known restaurants.
Olympia Provisions is a USDA-certified meat curing facility, offering savory meat and fancy cheese plates. Pok Pok is Portland’s legendary Northern Thai trend-setter, with its famous Thai chicken wings. Tapalaya is a tapas (small plate) wonder with Asian-inspired New Orleans cuisine.
The Rogue Pearl Public House not only serves great beer but vegan and gluten-free options on their menu. McMenamins is the big-player franchise in the area with multiple brew-pubs and hotels with their own signature beers, spirits, and menu. Bridgeport Brewpub is Oregon’s original craft brewery, with pub favorites such as shepherd’s pie and a shrimp ‘beer boy’ sandwich.
Le Pigeon is French-inspired fare with a twist. Foie Gras, anyone? Nostrana is Italy personified, honoring simple yet exceptional local ingredients. Beast serves the best French/New American food with exceptional service. Ox is an Argentinian steakhouse with wood-grilled meats for that special flavor. Langbaan’s Thai-inspired tasting menu waitlist is about six months and with good reason!
Salt & Straw is Portland’s premier ice cream parlor, with unique flavors that are ever-rotating. Saint Cupcake will have you squealing with their charming assortment of tiny cupcakes and mouthwatering brownies. Pip’s Original Doughnuts won’t ruin your waistline because they offer a wide array of mini-donuts and delectable chai tea.
I have barely scratched the surface!
It’s almost a crime for me to include only the places I’ve listed above. But unfortunately, this article would be ten times longer for me to properly cover all the heavenly food that Portland offers. You’d need a bookmark and a thick pad of sticky notes to keep track of it all. Instead, come see for yourself why Portland is the foodie capital.