When people talk about the best cities in the U.S. Portland isn’t the first one that comes to mind. All the love for the Pacific Northwest seems to go to Seattle. Don’t get me wrong, I love Seattle. But Portland often gets treated like the weird, hipster younger brother. The beauty of Portland is that it’s exactly that. I’m here to tell you to embrace the weird and make a trip to the 503.
Portland has its own unique foodie culture. Unlike a Chicago or Philadelphia, there isn’t one local dish that you absolutely need to try. Rather, it’s known for having a unique mix of food. From Voodoo Doughnuts to amazing Thai food, Portland has a little something for everyone. The people in Portland are like that friend that always suggests a restaurant with a weird menu when you just want to go to Chili’s.
As an Arizonan, I’m not used to having fresh food (or water for that matter.) For the freshest of food and a great brunch, check out Sweedeedee. It’s an old record store that was converted into a breakfast spot. Behind the counter, you’ll see all of the fresh ingredients proudly on display. The food comes local and in addition to typical breakfast items you can get things like trout and a potato plate.
I capped off my meal with a slice of huckleberry pie – one of the many dessert items on the menu. Food trucks are everywhere if you ever need a snack or a quick meal. Whether you’re looking for Thai food, burgers, or vegan food there are tons of great options downtown and around the waterfront. For seafood, Jake’s Famous Crawfish is your best bet. Between the oysters, salmon, and clam chowder it’s a seafood lovers dream.
Then there’s Teote. It’s a Latin American restaurant with a spacious patio and great ambiance. The Arepas aren’t bad either. I wish I could have tried more of Portland’s cuisine. Given the small sample, it’s safe to say Portland is a place for foodies.
Portlanders like their beer. It’s an obvious statement. I didn’t know the extent to which they love their beer until I saw it with my own eyes. The most well known beer from Portland is Deschutes. If sipping a glorious Black Butte Porter isn’t your thing, there are many other breweries around the downtown area.
Coming from Scottsdale, I’m used to Vegas like clubs and harrowing levels of bro douchebaggery on nights out. But in Portland, everyone seems content to sip on some craft beer and embrace the small talk.
Even my non beer drinking girlfriend enjoyed a beer flight at Base Camp Brewing Company. From monk brewed beers to chocolate tasting porters, there’s a diversity to the local beer scene not found in many cities.
The Rose Garden
The Rose Garden is beautiful. Okay, take my man card if you must. But spend a day at the International Rose Test Garden and you’ll know what I’m talking about. It features over 7,000 rose plants and has some amazing views of the downtown area. I mean, just look at this Snapchat video.
While you’re at it, check out all of Washington Park for a day outdoors.
When you think of a Portlander, you probably think of a guy with dreadlocks that is a part time barista and plays in an acoustic rock band. Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of those guys. The people in Portland are all so laid back that you’ll find yourself envious of their lifestyle. The good food, beer, coffee, and scenery lull you into a sense of hipsterness.
Take the Mississippi Street Fair. I stumbled upon this event after brunch one morning. There were endless rows of people selling typical street fair items like cheese and when. I enjoyed countless free samples of smoked salmon. A cannabis salesman gave me a free t-shirt. Middle aged women danced in the street. Children laughed. I even found myself perusing a display of candles, for God’s sake.
In Arizona, we hide from the outside world during the summer to escape the heat. In the winter, we keep our heads hung low as we try to avoid conversations with snow birds. But in Portland, everyone seems to say hello and is willing to engage you in conversation. They show basic human kindness, a rarity in this world we live in.
So yes, Portland is awesome. There are so many more reasons to check out the city but you truly have to experience it to understand. By the end of your trip, you’ll be ready to buy a bike, flaunt a waxed mustache and grab a job at a local brewery. So next time you travel to the Pacific Northwest, make sure you pencil in some time with it’s weird hipster brother.