I’ve lived in Portland for two (amazing!) years, and thought it was about time to share some of my favorite spots with y’all! I decided to create a separate page for my Portland City Guide, so that it’s easy to find and reference, rather than it being hidden in the archives with my other posts. This page will be updated every so often as I continue to explore this incredible city.
My guide is categorized by neighborhood, as that’s the beauty of Portland – each neighborhood has it’s own personality, and the best way to explore the city is to spend a little time in each one. There are a lot of standard spots you’ll see on other guides, that aren’t mentioned here. These are the places I actually go, and high-end restaurants just aren’t on my radar. You might notice quite a few breweries mentioned…they’re kind of a thing here in PDX, so I’ve highlighted my favorites around town.
Portland City Guide
N Mississippi/Williams Corridor (NE Portland)
My favorite corner of town is growing by the day! We were lucky to live her for a while, but still find reasons to go back all the time. Dedicate an afternoon to stroll up and down these two parallel streets and stop into all the shops along the way.
Shop at… Half Pint for vintage leather goods at great prices. Flutter for candles, cards and an assortment of weird things. Animal Traffic for used and new Americana style goods like denim jackets and wool blankets (also has a smaller downtown location).
Eat at… ¿Por Que No? to share a Bryan’s bowl and some tacos plus killer margaritas, which they’ll bring you while you wait in line. (tip: go during off hours, like 3pm to avoid the long lines. Also has a location on SE Hawthorne.) Blue Star Donuts instead of VooDoo for artisan donuts. (Also on SE Hawthorne, NW 23rd and Downtown.) Gravy for an amazing breakfast/brunch. Albina Press for coffee/tea.
I spend a lot of time down here, because my office is right on the border between Downtown/west end and the Pearl District. It’s definitely the most lively part of Portland and is chock full of great shops and pretty buildings. You won’t get bored downtown.
Shop at… There are so many shops around, but here are a few favorites: Woonwinkel and Canoe for modern home goods and jewelry. Tender Loving Empire for quirky Portland things and locally-made baby products. Alder & Co. for home goods and beautiful flowers (this is my favorite shop!) Union Way for multiple boutiques all at once. Boys Fort for a masculine edge (including B’s brother’s insanely cool bottle openers!) . Bridge & Burn for the coolest Portland-made clothing.
Eat at… Croissants from Pearl Bakery or Little T Baker. Thai Peacock for great Thai. Tilt for nice American dishes. The food carts that take up an entire city block at SW 10th and Alder for anything you want (take your dishes to nearby O’Bryant Square or Director’s Park).
To do… Stroll along the Waterfront Park and visit the Saturday Market. Walk onto the Burnside or Hawthorne bridge. Head into the west hills to see the International Rose Test Garden (free) and Japanese Gardens (worth the cash). Duck into the Ace Hotel lobby for pictures in their old photo booth.
Our current hood is a little separate from the rest of town but worth visiting. It used to be able to be a town of its own and that vibe is still lurking among locals.
Eat at… McMenamins St Johns Pub for a taste of the local chain without the crowds. Tienda Santa Cruz in the back of the Mexican market for the cheapest authentic Mexican fare. Girasole to listen to live local bands while you nosh on pizza served by genuinely nice people. The food cart pod for variety and The Beer Porch.
Drink at… One of the many dive bars. We haven’t checked out the bar scene but have heard Marie’s and Slim’s are the quintessential local haunts. For something a bit classier, Leisure Public House is supposed to be great too.
To do… Walk through Cathedral Park and gaze at the St Johns Bridge. Walk over the bridge for a view of the river and downtown. Walk through Pier Park with your dog or kids and feel like you’re in the woods, far away from the city. Drive across the bridge to hike around Forest Park (multiple entrances).
Best Breweries… Occidental Brewing.
The main areas to check out in SE are Hawthorne, Division and Burnside streets. All are filled with great shops and restaurants. Division and Hawthorne are especially great for strolling on, so go without a plan and enjoy!
Shop at… Lounge Lizard and Vintage Pink to see the best selection of mid-century modern furniture.
Eat at… Screen Door for the best fried chicken and Southern fare. Bread & Ink for breakfast. Oui Presse for coffee and a great magazine selection. Coava for a typical Portland coffee experience. Salt & Straw to taste the ice cream everyone talks about.
Drink at… APEX for more beers than you can count and outdoor seating. Horse Brass for a British pub feel.
Best Breweries… Burnside Brewing, Base Camp.
Another neighborhood separate from town, this one at the southern tip. This was the first neighborhood we lived in when we moved to Portland, so its really special to me. It’s nestled right on the Willamette River and full of local shops.
Eat at… Our favorite restaurant, Jade Bistro & Patisserie. Thai and Vietnamese Cuisine with French and Laos influence. Try the truffle fries, bahn mi and any of the soups. Grand Central Bakery (locations all over town) for the breakfast sandwich and The Ugly Mug for a cup of coffee. For dinner, try Oaks Bottom Public House for pub fare, or Muddy Rudder for decent dishes close to the river.
To do… Walk around Oaks Bottom park along the river and get a beautiful view of downtown from the docks. If you have kids, stop in at Oaks Amusement Park.