A Weekend of Beers and Sightseeing in Portland
April 11, 2010 10:26 PM   Subscribe

Three nights in Portland: what to do?

Will be in Portland this weekend for a conference, hopefully staying somewhere downtown. What should I see? I've got two full days and three evenings. I've heard the city is known for its microbreweries. Which one should I not miss?
posted by ageispolis to Travel & Transportation around Portland, OR (19 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
All of the below are in NW, because that's what I know.. if you're spending most of your time in SE, your mileage may vary.

Its not a microbrewery, but the Japanese gardens are spectacular. There's bus access and its right by the zoo if you're into that sort of thing too.

Also, Powell's is a must. Because, you know, its Powell's.

Stumptown coffee is a classic.

In my opinion, the best breweries in Oregon are outside of Portland. Rogue has a pub in Portland though, and it's not too far from the source. For actual Portland breweries, Widmer is probably my favorite. Bridgeport next, MacTarnahan's (Macs) close behind.

Also, Living Room Theatres has drinks and food and movies, which is seriously pretty awesome, and in my opinion is a lot better than the Bagdad in SE.
posted by devilsbrigade at 10:50 PM on April 11, 2010 [1 favorite]

Horse Brass. Get a beef and mushroom pie and some stick beer.

Also, the Kennedy School. Have a beer in detention.
posted by oflinkey at 10:51 PM on April 11, 2010 [2 favorites]

Oh, sorry, those are just bars.
posted by oflinkey at 10:52 PM on April 11, 2010

Also, technically, most of the places I recommended are regional breweries and not microbreweries. I don't actually live in Portland, so I'm not too up on all the smaller ones.
posted by devilsbrigade at 11:02 PM on April 11, 2010

A late night trip to voodoo donut can be an excellent thing. I recommend the mango tango or the maple-bacon-bar. It attracts a kind of sleazy post 2am crowd but the donuts are hard to match.

Take a walk down the river, there are parks stretching the whole way.

Movie Madness has some cool obscure movies for rent if you are into that kind of thing.
posted by idiopath at 11:03 PM on April 11, 2010 [1 favorite]

Seconding the Japanese gardens and voodoo donuts. The Chinese gardens in Chinatown are also extremely beautiful. Take a walk on NW 23rd street for some nice shops and restaurants.
posted by tyris33 at 11:19 PM on April 11, 2010 [1 favorite]

The sweet potato fries at the Deschutes Brewery downtown are delicious. As is the beer.
posted by clearly at 12:10 AM on April 12, 2010

Ground Kontrol is a bar that has original pinball and arcade machines from the 70s to now. Within walking distance of voodoo. Next to a place that sells urban vinyl toys/asian imports and a cybercafe where men with thick accents play chess.

The tram/buses are free downtown. Ride those and ask the locals.

Chuck Palahniuk wrote a guidebook to Portland. It contains places that wouldn't be in sanitized, official guidebooks.

Check the livejournal communities. damn portlanders and a few others usually have upcoming events posted and plenty of advice.

Are you interested in anything other than microbrew? Farmers Markets, thrift stores, bike shops?
posted by beardlace at 2:34 AM on April 12, 2010

Rimsky Korsakoffee.
posted by novalis_dt at 7:01 AM on April 12, 2010

If you are looking for cool places to stay I highly recommend McMenamins hotels. I stayed in a couple last time I was up that way and they were fun. Brew pubs, movie theaters, gardens... all kinds of neat stuff housed in older, re-purposed buildings. Even if they are putting you up for your conference these hotels make for a good evening of local beer and great food. Each is different.

I'll also second Powell's. If you're into books or comics they seem to have everything. They also have a branch/sub-store that is books with science themes that I thought was extra awesome.
posted by Gainesvillain at 8:30 AM on April 12, 2010

Here's a good general thread about what to do in Portland.

Here's a good thread about places to eat in Portland.

Here's a pretty good thread about microbreweries in Portland. Here's another.

There are lots of other where to eat/drink in Portland threads.

Seconding Powell's, Voodoo Doughnuts, Japanese Gardens. If you have a car, Multnomah Falls is touristy but pretty damn neat.

I second staying at McMenamins is you're still looking. Especially the Kennedy School, which is an old elementary school that's been revamped into a hotel/bars/movie theatre. It's pretty cool. The theatre has couches and you can drink beer in there.

Check the Merc and the WW (alt weeklies) for lists of shows and the like. There's always good music happening.
posted by Lutoslawski at 10:24 AM on April 12, 2010

In my opinion, the best breweries in Oregon are outside of Portland. Rogue has a pub in Portland though, and it's not too far from the source. For actual Portland breweries, Widmer is probably my favorite. Bridgeport next, MacTarnahan's (Macs) close behind

No, no, no. A thousand times no. Most of their beers run from OK to good, possibly great, possibly crappy. But they have wide US distribution. Check your local grocery store when you get back home (assuming you live in the US). None of them are even microbreweries anymore. Try the beer from the little guys. On average, it's better and it won't be on the endcap at Safeway in Peoria.

Would you go to Germany to try the Becks? Don't turn your nose up at Rogue or Widmer, but don't seek them out.

Read the beer threads linked by Lutoslawski. A place like the Horse Brass (SE), Bailey's (downtown), Green Dragon (SE), Saraveza (NE) will have a broad selection if you want to sample a variety of things in one go. Belmont Station (SE) or Beer Mongers (SE) are good bottle shops that also have beer on tap.
posted by turbodog at 10:45 AM on April 12, 2010

Check the Merc and the WW (alt weeklies) for lists of shows and the like. There's always good music happening.

Merc = Portland Mercury and WW= Willamette Week.
posted by rabbitrabbit at 10:48 AM on April 12, 2010

Best answer: A few beer recommendations:

I can't recommend the Tug Boat brewpub highly enough. It's downtown. If you're downtown, check it out. I had a stout there that knocked my socks off. Shoes too (obviously).

I disagree about not seeking out the Rogue. I think the Rogue brews some world class beer, and if you're into rum, the Rogue in NW Portland distills their own. They do free tours of their distillery and it's neat.

I also highly recommend the New Old Lompoc if you're going to be deeper in NW Portland (the NW23'rd area. The Rogue is closer in the Pearl District, but both are easily walkable from downtown (I do it all the time), and the streetcar will take you through all three neighborhoods. The west side of town (downtown/The Pearl District/NW 23rd) is so compact that it's all very easily walkable. Hell, it's a joy to walk around.

Those are my three downtown beer picks.
posted by 2oh1 at 2:15 PM on April 12, 2010

I'm a dyed-in-the-wool beer geek and my rec's reflect that level of interest. Your tastes may vary, but the Rogue outlet in the Pearl is noticeably more expensive when compared with other places of a similar style and, IMHO, not worth the premium.

Any Lompoc outlet (I think there are 3?) would be a solid choice.

Also, IMHO, Tug Boat would only be worth peeking into after a taster tray at Bailey's across the street. The owner gets amazing blink and you miss it, one-off brews all the time that you won't see anywhere else.

Like I said, I bet you can get bottled Widmer, Rogue, Deschutes, Full Sail and maybe some other Oregon beers at home. Yes, all can make great beers but I think the real excitement centers on the smaller guys that bottle little or not at all.

I recommend looking for beers from: Hopworks, Double Mountain, Ft. George, Ninkasi and Upright, just to name a few.
posted by turbodog at 2:38 PM on April 12, 2010

For food, my favorites are:

Clyde Common (open-kitchen west-coast fancy)
Navarre (tapas)
Toro Bravo (tapas)
Montage (The most old-portlandy of this list, fantastic New Orleans style, loud)
Foti's Greek Deli
Horse Brass (Brew pub)
Pok Pok (Thai, fusion)
Bete-Lukas (Ethiopian)
posted by Invoke at 6:01 PM on April 12, 2010

Montage (The most old-portlandy of this list, fantastic New Orleans style, loud)

I know this is a frequent recommendation - but I have a friend who is a former cook there, and from the stories he has told me, I would recommend *not* going to Montage.
posted by Lutoslawski at 12:43 PM on April 13, 2010

Response by poster: Thanks for the answers so far. What's the best bike shop sort of close to downtown?
posted by ageispolis at 12:03 AM on April 15, 2010

Best answer: Hmmm. It depends on what you're looking for. Buy a bike? Rent a bike? Repairs? If you're looking to rent a bike, I'd have to recommend Kerr Bikes as the profits go to help mentally disabled folks - but the shop is in the NE. It's not exactly far from downtown, but not in downtown either. If you're looking to buy or repairs, CityBikes is close-in on the eastside and is a cool, funky bike coop.

For just your standard bike store/shop - and one right downtown on the Westside, you'll probably want Bike Gallery. There's a location right off the Park blocks (close to the art museum, historical society, performance venues, etc etc).
posted by Lutoslawski at 9:03 AM on April 15, 2010

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