5 Things to do in Portland

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My Love Affair with Portland

If there’s one city in the United States that was meant to be my home someday, it’s Portland. From its fantastic beer and food scene to its wild northern landscapes to the vibrant arts and alternative lifestyle scene – the place just screams CWB. It’s a dream of mine to one day call the beautiful city in the Pacific Northwest home.

I’ve been blessed enough to have visited Portland twice – first in 2008 and again in my recent five week tour of the United States. Both times I’ve eaten my fill of awesome food, drank more than my fair share of microbrew, and spent time catching up and exploring with great friends.

One of these great friends – whom I sadly didn’t get a chance to see during my recent visit – is the beautiful Stacy from over at Stacy Laughs. We met during my ill-fated tour of duty in Busan in 2011 and have stayed in touch over the past year and a half. Recently, she asked if I’d like to feature a wee bit of content about her hometown and I couldn’t imagine why I’d say no.

So, here are Stacy’s favorite five things to do in Portland, Oregon. And damned if I couldn’t agree more with her list.

Take it away, Stacy…

Five Things to do in Portland

Portland, Oregon is a city with many nicknames. Whether you call it the City of Roses, Bridgetown, Beervana, Stumptown, or Rip City, if you visit, you will be sure to expand your waist span. When out of town friends and family visit me, their main complaint is always that they can’t fit enough meals into each day. You won’t be able to eat in every delicious nook from East to West, but here are my suggestions for categories you must be sure to hit.

Food Carts

In the last few years Portland has gone from having a discrete affair to a blown-out passionate romance with food carts. In Portland, almost 500 wood huts and steel Airstreams offer fast, affordable, and (most importantly) good food. The wide variety of cuisine in close proximity beats any of the other major food cart cities. The website Food Carts Portland frequently updates on edibles in pods.

delicious food portland
Photo by Stacy Austin.
It’s hard to narrow it down, but here are a quick five I would recommend:
  • The Whole Bowl (Brown rice served with “crack sauce” and fresh veggies)
  • Nong’s Khao Man Gai (Chicken broth cooked rice with poached chicken and soybean sauce)
  • Koi Fusion (Korean beef galbi and bean sprouts served in a local corn tortilla with a side of kimchi)
  • The Egg Carton (The best tasting and priced bennie in town)
  • Fifty-Licks (Hand made ice cream with taste bud shocking treats like jasmine tea ice cream with apricot bits).
Really, ridiculously good food

Portland restaurants don’t carry the pretentious air of requiring reservations several months in advance or dress codes at the door, but food carts aside, Portland has really good food. No Michelin stars (yet) but we are definitely starting to feel the media love with mentions in the NY Times, Wall Street Journal, and Sunset amongst others.

delicious food portland
Photo by Stacy Austin.
Andy Ricker, the owner of four –and soon five—dining establishments in Portland opened two places in New York after winning Best Northwest Chef at the 2011 James Beard awards. Gruner serves comfort food with local ingredients with the heart flavors of Middle Europe, while Tabla is a bistro that serves authentic Mediterranean with a modern twist and cleverly mixed drinks.

Booze and Caffeine

Oregon has about 150 microbreweries, 51 of them in Portland, which is more than any other city in the world! A good microbrewery in Portland is literally a stone’s throw away, regardless of where you’re at in the city. Try the biggies Rogue, Widmer Brothers, McMenamins, Full Sail, or one of the countless smaller breweries littered about. You really can’t go wrong in this beer-mazing town.

(Want to see ’em all? Check out The Great Portland Brewery Tour for an idea of how easy it is to arrange a kick-ass brew tour)

Coffee is also an important staple for the Portland diet. Try any of these coffee roasters, which coincidentally have great coffeehouses:


A snobby Portland hipster might roll their eyes at tourists that line up outside of Voodoo Donuts at all hours, declaring, “That place is so five years ago,” but ignore them. Voodoo donuts is fun. Don’t over think waiting in lines or the price. Decide whether you want a maple donut topped with crispy bacon, a glazed donut as big as your head, or a cinnamon treat shaped like a marijuana joint. And, like most Portland establishments, they have a more than decent vegan menu too.
Voodoo Donuts
An orgy of delicious Voodoo Donuts. Photo by Stacy Austin.
Well, I hope this has served as a brief introduction (or review) of Portland gastronomy. Again, it can be difficult to fit all the meals you want in each day, but if you need help splitting plates, you know where to find me.

About the Author
Stacy Austin is a former ESL teacher now back in her native Portland. If you liked what you saw here or want to know more about Portland or ESL teaching in South Korea, you can visit her blog, Stacy Laughs or follow her on twitter at @stacylaughs.


Your Say

Alright, Portland natives and Portland lovers – how’d she do? No doubt if you’ve visited this city of gastronomical delights you’re going to have your own favorites. Help me out so that visit #3 can be as heart-attack inducing as the two that went before!

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