Portland is one of those magical American cities that manages to somehow feel European with castles like Powell’s Books and endless top restaurants that just feel good and local. “Keep Portland Weird” bumper stickers can be seen throughout this city. The Daily Meal has the perfect weekend guide for you if you happen to be here for a few days. From landing flight to leaving flight, you will pack in some of the best restaurants, cafés and bars that you’ll ever find.
Happy Hour: Gold Dust Meridian (SE)
Exhausted from your flight, you may want to find a cozy spot to people-watch and sip a microbrew. Gold Dust Meridian on SE Hawthorne offers a whopping six-hour happy hour, from 2 p.m. to 8 p.m., every day of the week. Find a table for your family or a booth for yourself in a dimly lit corner, and revel in GDM’s diverse beer menu and masterful cocktail list (including a full page devoted to champagne concoctions). As far as food is concerned, Gold Dust takes the staples you’re looking for — whether it’s clams with chorizo or warm pita chips with artichoke dip — and confirms that simplicity is bliss.
Brunch: Besaw’s (NW)
The motivation you need for an early start to the day is located just off 23rd Avenue in NW. You’ll spot the little yellow house with its black-and-white awning from a few blocks away, as well as a lengthy queue out the door. On its menu you’ll find scrambles and hashes, salmon and lox platters, and hot cakes and waffles off the griddle prepared with house-made batter (gluten-free options available). For a taste bud-stunning house classic, try the Croque Madame, a breakfast sandwich of shaved ham, Gruyère cheese sauce, and over-medium eggs stacked between slices of buttered Pullman brioche. Besaw’s offers outdoor seating on its charming covered patio or under its unmistakable awning.
Lunch: Isabel (NW)
Equally outstanding for its brunch, Isabel Restaurant is a diamond in the rough for lunchtime fare — literally. Located in a non-descript gray building in the Pearl District of Northwest, this gastronomical hub of global fusion is hard to find but totally worth it. Isabel Cruz, the restaurant’s owner, comes from a Latino family but later became inspired by Japanese, Korean, and Thai cooking styles. On the menu you will find such glorious culinary inventions as Mexican chopped salads, grilled chicken or steak sandwiches with salsa cruda, and shitake mushroom noodle Buddha bowls steeped in lemongrass and coconut milk broth. A local favorite.
Afternoon Snack: PSU Farmers' Market (SW)
Conveniently located one block west of Isabel, the southbound Portland Streetcar will take you to your next destination: the Saturday farmers' market. Whether you’re going to be hungry before happy hour or not, the farmers' market is a great place to spend some time shopping for fresh local produce or simply taking in the feel of Portland culture. Although the Streetcar will take you directly to Portland State University, where the farmers' market is located, you may want to hop off at Powell’s Books on Burnside for some afternoon reading or coffee before continuing south. Don’t worry — the Streetcars reappear every 15 minutes or so.
Happy Hour: Huber’s Café (SW)
Nestled in downtown Portland, just six blocks east of the farmers' market, Huber’s is Portland’s oldest restaurant, and a terrific spot for happy hour. In its earliest days, back in the late 1890s, customers were presented with a free turkey sandwich and coleslaw for the purchase of one drink. Huber’s is now one of Portland’s best-loved restaurants and bars. Enjoy its specially priced appetizers starting at $1.95, which include steak skewers, artichoke dip, and salmon plates. Don’t miss the famous Spanish coffee, prepared tableside with a dramatic flair.
Dinner: Portland City Grill (SW)
Gain the ultimate perspective on your trip — from above. Located on the 30th floor of the U.S. Bancorp Tower, Portland City Grill is the equivalent of the Space Needle’s SkyCity Restaurant. From Huber’s, walk west to Fifth Avenue and take the Tower’s elevator up to floor 30. Settle into a booth by the window and enjoy a breathtaking view of the Cascade Mountains while cutting into your honey-brined pork tenderloin.
Nightcap: Brasserie Montmartre (SW)
Before you call it a night, swing by Brasserie Montmartre on SW Park Avenue for a nightcap. In addition to its French-influenced American cuisine, Brasserie offers its guests an impressive selection of spirits, from WH Harrison Governor’s Reserve Barrel Proof bourbon to absinthe of the Pacifique Verte Supérieure variety. The atmosphere is perfect for mellowing out and reflecting on a successful day’s tour.
Brunch: Tasty n Sons (NE)
Tasty n Sons is one of Portland’s best-known hot spots for brunch. Its menu changes regularly, based on seasonal variations, farmers’ produce, and the kitchen crew’s inspiration. One thing that doesn’t change, however, is the quality. From the smaller plates, choose from chocolate potato donuts with crème anglaise, an open-faced Monte Cristo with spiced maple, glazed yams with cumin-maple, or sweet biscuits with blueberry compote and whipped cream. If your stomach is growling upon arrival, choose TNS’s famous Shakshuka red pepper and tomato stew with baked eggs; house-made kimchi, sautéed veggies, brown rice, and sunny eggs; or North African sausage with over-easy eggs, couscous, and cauliflower. The brunch menu also features seven variations on the Bloody Mary and six elegant, bubbling libations.
Lunch: Kenny & Zuke’s Delicatessen (SW)
Opened a little more than five years ago in the hopes of bringing a decent Jewish deli to Portland, Kenny & Zuke’s has now become one of Portland’s only truly fantastic sandwich spots. Along with serving up the best pastrami in town, Kenny & Zuke’s crafts its own pickles, rye bread, bagels, and challah. In addition to sandwiches, the menu features chicken soup with matzo balls, first-rate chopped and Cobb salads, meat and veggie platters, corned beef, chicken liver, and pickled tongue. If you get a chance, try Kenny & Zuke’s Bagelworks in NW and Kenny & Zuke’s Deli Bar in North Portland.
Afternoon Snack: Food Carts (SW)
For an authentic taste of Portland culture, the food carts are a must-try. Stop by the "pod" located on 10th and Alder and order some Vietnamese noodles or pad thai.
Happy Hour: Ringlers Pub (McMenamins) (SW)
If you have time before your flight, visit Ringlers Pub on West Burnside for a McMenamins ale. McMenamins is a chain of 65 brewpubs, most of which are located throughout Portland. Many of its branches are renovated historical properties, such as old churches, saloons, school buildings, and general stores. The Crystal Ballroom, a music venue located above Ringlers, is a restored ballroom with a floating floor. Enjoy the last few hours of your stay in good hands and leave Portland with the pleasant taste of a Hammerhead, Terminator, Purple Haze, or Ruby Ale on your tongue.