Portland, Oregon is an excellent place to visit if you are into food, wine, and plenty of scenery and activities.
It’s also a great base for a wine tasting vacation. From Portland, you can drive about 30 minutes east, stop at Multnomah Falls for a waterfall photo opportunity (with optional hikes if you like) and then continue about another 30 minutes east, crossing over into the state of Washington, and have some great wine in the Columbia Gorge AVA at Syncline Wine Cellars (Grüner Veltliner, Subduction White, Mourvedre, and Grenache/Carignan are among our favorites). Or, you can direct your car south from Portland and 45 to 60 minutes later be tasting some of the best Pinot Noir the Willamette Valley has to offer at Bergström (Chehalem Mountains AVA), Archery Summit (Dundee Hills AVA), Soter Vineyards (Yamhill-Carlton District AVA), or Cristom (Eola-Amity Hills AVA), to name a few of our favorites (we’ll add a more detailed listing of our favorite Willamette Valley wineries to the website soon).
But what if you don’t want to drive anywhere, or don’t have a car? Not a problem. The city of Portland is full of excellent food and wine destinations and we’re going to tell you some of our favorites.
Favorite Wine and Other Beverage Destinations in Portland
Winery – Boedecker Cellars is a great winery located in the Northwest district. Here, husband and wife winemakers Stewart and Athena hand craft local, sustainable and critically acclaimed wines made from grapes grown in Oregon’s Willamette Valley. One of the treats here is that Stewart and Athena each create their own blend each year, reflecting their personal preferences in Pinot Noir. Stewart tends to focus on delicacy and refinement, while Athena likes her Pinots richer and more muscular. Their Old Vine Pinot Gris is also stellar. 2621 NW 30th Avenue, (503) 866-0095 [Reservations Required]
Wine Bar – Oregon Wines on Broadway is your one-stop location for wine tasting and purchasing in downtown Portland. Here, you can purchase Oregon wines by the taste, the glass, or by the bottle. Closed on Sundays, but open Mondays through Saturdays from noon to 8 p.m.. There is an impressive range of winery selections here, and the staff is both friendly and knowledgeable. 515 SW Broadway, (800) 943-8858
Wine Store – Vinopolis Wine Shop is the largest specialty wine store in Oregon, and has been since it opened its doors in 2004. Their goal is to maintain a selection of about 2500 different wines in the shop from around the world with another 40,000-80,000 bottles of wine in their underground cellar (most of their business actually comes from orders based on their newsletter). Open 7 days a week. 1025 SW Washington Street, (503) 223-6002
Distillery – If you’re in the mood for something a little stronger, Clear Creek Distillery makes eau de vie exclusively from Oregon Fruit in flavors like Pear, Apple, Kirschwasser, Blue Plum, and Mirabelle Plum. They also make grappa, liqueurs, and a Single Malt Whiskey. Clear Creek may be better known for their Pear Eau De Vie with a whole pear inside the bottle, but we feel their Pear Liqueur should be as famous as Amaretto Di Saronno or Frangelico. The tasting room and store is open from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays, but you should really arrive by 4:00 at the latest. 2389 NW Wilson, (503) 248-9470
Coffee – If you’re in Portland, then that means Stumptown Coffee Roasters. This local hit started on Division Street in 1999 and now has branches in Seattle and New York City, but you can savor their drinks at five different locations in Portland. 4525 SE Division Street, (503) 230-7702, 3356 SE Belmont Street, (503) 232-8889, 128 SW 3rd Avenue, (503) 295-6144, 3352 SE Belmont Street, (503) 467-4123, and 1026 SW Stark, (503) 224-9060
Favorite Food and Dining Destinations in Portland
Breakfast – Most mornings, you will find a line of people waiting to get into Besaw’s for breakfast, due to their large selection of well-made options based on Northwest ingredients and local products. Eggs, omelets, pancakes, waffles, you can find it all here (and they’re also very kid-friendly). 2301 NW Savier Street, (503) 228-2619
Brunch – Ned Ludd is an “American Craft Kitchen” that offers brunch on the weekends between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m., including outstanding muffins, salads, and duck bacon. Egg dishes include a vegetable hash you can order with or without smoked trout (say “with”), and “bird in a nest”, which is an egg cooked in a hole carved out of the middle of polenta, partnered with a gravy (sometimes sausage, sometimes mushroom). 3925 NE MLK Jr. Boulevard, (503) 288-6900
Baked Goods – Although Lovejoy Bakers has a full lunch menu, with soups and salads and sandwiches, it’s their coffee cakes, muffins, scones, and cookies that we keep coming in for. Open each day from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m., some of the standouts here are their Walnut Cinnamon Gooey Bun, Pear Ginger Muffin, and Orange Oat Scone. Something that looks fantastic but we haven’t been able to try yet are their new Specialty Cakes which can be custom-built for your own special occasion. Choices include Triple Layer Chocolate Cake (with Raspberry Mousse and Ganache Frosting) and a Rose City Raspberry Cake (with Vanilla Cake, Fresh Raspberry Purée, and Lemon Curd). 939 NW 10th Avenue, (503) 208-3113
French Café and Pastries – Portland may be over 5000 miles west of Paris, France but the food at St. Honoré Boulangerie tastes like you’re right there. Come here for exquisite Pain aux Raisins, Pain au Chocolat, Chausson aux Pommes and Croissant aux Amandes. The Boulangerie features handcrafted French breads and pastries, as well as sandwiches, quiches and savory entrées, salads and soups. 2335 NW Thurman Street, (503) 445-4342
Sandwiches – Happily, there are now two Bunk Sandwiches open from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. in Portland, the original in Southeast Portland and a second Downtown. There will likely be a line anyway due to the quality of the offerings here. Choices include Roast Beef (with caramelized onions, horseradish, and cheddar), Albacore Tuna Melt (with olive oil, balsamic, pickles, and cheddar) and Pork Belly Cubano (with ham, swiss, pickles, and mustard). 621 SE Morrison, (503) 477-9515, 211 SW 6th Avenue, (503) 972-8100
Pizza – Ken’s Artisan Pizza was the result of the phenomenal success of his Monday-only Pizza offerings at the original Ken’s Artisan Bakery. Excellent crust and great toppings are the draw here. Ken’s Artisan Pizza is open seven days a week, but they only offer to-go pizzas on Sundays through Thursdays. You can still get pizza at the Bakery on Monday nights. KAPizza, 304 SE 28th Avenue, (503) 517-9951, KABakery, 338 NW 21st Avenue, (503) 248-2202
Lunch – Serratto Restaurant and Bar is open for dinner, but we’ve always liked the lunch menu here the best. Serratto is a lively neighborhood Mediterranean restaurant with a seasonally changing menu based on excellent ingredients and locally grown fruits and vegetables. The burger, grilled chicken sandwich, and the salads here are our favorites. 2112 NW Kearney Street, (503) 221-1195
Dinner – For dinner in Portland, you can always rely on a great meal from one of the restaurants of Gabriel Rucker (2011 James Beard Rising Star Chef of the Year). Le Pigeon was his first restaurant in 2006, and you can get a good feeling for his talent by ordering one of the Chef’s Tasting Menus. Or, you can order dishes such as Beef Carpaccio, Sweetbreads, Venison, or his famous Beef Cheek Bourguignon. The burger here is very popular as well, served in limited quantities per day. His second restaurant, Little Bird, is a French bistro which opened in December 2010 and became an instant hit. The menu choices are constantly evolving, but some of our favorites have been the Onion Soup Gratinée, Navarin of Lamb, Roasted Beet Tart, Cassoulet, and the ‘Le Pigeon’ burger (not as limited here). Desserts at the restaurants are from Lauren Fortgang, formerly of Paley’s Place, and include items such as Foie Gras Profiteroles and a Bacon Waffle with Maple Ice Cream at Le Pigeon and Butterscotch Pot de Crème and a Sorbet and Ice Cream Sampler at Little Bird. Le Pigeon, 738 E Burnside Street, (503) 546-8796, Little Bird, 219 SW 6th Avenue, (503) 688-5952.
Ice Cream – For well-made small batch artisan ice cream cones, sundaes, and ice cream sandwiches head on over to Ruby Jewel Scoops in the Mississippi neighborhood. Standard flavors are Caramel with Salted Dark Chocolate, Fresh Mint Flake, and Espresso, but there should be other seasonal options as well. Ice cream sandwich choices include Lemon Cookie with Honey Lavender ice cream, Double Chocolate Cookie with Peanut Butter ice cream, and Chocolate Chip Cookie with Vanilla Bean ice cream. 3713 North Mississippi, (503) 505-9314
Chocolate – Since 1993, Moonstruck Chocolate Company has been handcrafting each delicious morsel using only the finest ingredients. They pair their own decadent chocolate with fresh flavors found in the Pacific Northwest and beyond and then hand-decorate each piece. The St. Johns location (6600 N Baltimore Avenue, (503) 247-3448) is only open during the week, but is located at the actual factory. The other three locations in Portland are Moonstruck Chocolate Cafés, where you can buy chocolate beverages as well. 608 SW Alder Street, (503) 241-0955, 700 SW Fifth Avenue (in the Pioneer Place Rotunda), (503) 219-9118, 526 NW 23rd Avenue, (503) 542-3400
In addition, if you like Farmers Markets, the Portland Farmers Market at Portland State University (SW Park Avenue and SW Montgomery Street) is one of the best anywhere. Open Saturdays 8:30 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. between March and October, but starts at 9:00 a.m. in November and December.