Portland (Oregon)! In September! Twentysomethings edition
August 26, 2013 12:30 PM   Subscribe

Two twentysomethings going on a trip to Portland for the first week of September. We’ve got some tickets to MusicFest NW, this guide to biking to microbreweries, and a sweet AirBnB apartment in the Pearl District. I definitely want to check out Stumptown, Powell’s Books, Voodoo Donuts, and Pok Pok but I’d love to hear about some of the places/activities/neat things that people love that might not be so obvious.

Also looking for good blogs/things that list local events and things to do, favorite thrift stores, and bike rental places. We were thinking of picking one neighborhood per day to scope out, so any recommendations for neighborhoods or itineraries are welcome.

Some good tips on additional previous MeFi asks on Portland here and here and here.
posted by forkisbetter to Travel & Transportation around Portland, OR (16 answers total) 17 users marked this as a favorite
The highlight of our last trip was visiting the food trucks and Washington Park. And on the trip before that, we loved this dim sum place and every single coffee shop we tried.
posted by bearwife at 12:41 PM on August 26, 2013

Also, great bike route resources here and here and here.
posted by bearwife at 12:44 PM on August 26, 2013

Lan Su Chinese Garden is small, but very nice.

There's also the better known, and gigantic, Japanese Gardens.
posted by yohko at 12:51 PM on August 26, 2013

Best answer: Andy Baio (MeFi's own waxpancake) maintains a reasonably good list of a Geek's Guide to Portland. One sad thing to note about Portland, especially with restaurants, is that places tend to open and close quickly, so the hot new thing three months ago may either be out of business or on its way.
posted by togdon at 1:02 PM on August 26, 2013

Ken's for a Morning Bun and coffee.
Clyde Common for cocktails and snacks
posted by Mr.Me at 1:03 PM on August 26, 2013

I'm sure you have food covered but you HAVE TO go to Sanborn's in the Brooklyn neighborhood. They make a German banana nut pancake that I've been dreaming of for months now!
posted by masquesoporfavor at 1:04 PM on August 26, 2013

Stumptown is available in many places these days, so i would forgo them in favor of roasters like Coava, Heart and Water avenue. More unique tastes, and harder to find outside Portland.
posted by furnace.heart at 1:53 PM on August 26, 2013 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Hello, I am a 20-something in Portland.

This comment is my most recent collection of All Food Considered w/r/t pdx.

I see you've seen my "3 Basic Walking Tours" previous comment, which I still more or less stand by. The NE, especially the Williams area, is even more developed now, and there's just tons of great stuff.

I get that Voodoo is a fun novelty thing, but good god, it is not worth it. The doughnuts are nothing special and the line if freakin' long. It is not worth the wait for a mediocre doughnut shaped like a penis.

As far as biking to microbreweries goes, I'm not sure you need a whole book on it. Portland is just not that big and you can bike anywhere in not much time. I would just pick the breweries you want to go to and then just bike to them. I mentioned a few of my favorites in the above-linked comment. Amnesia, Migration, Burnside, Hopworks. Avoid the breweries downtown.

Stumptown is delicious, but yeah, there are so many coffee roasters here. I love Ristretto, personally.
posted by Lutoslawski at 2:01 PM on August 26, 2013 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I fully encourage picking up a copy of Zinester's Guide to Portland. It's super well organized, has a good mix of things to do, and most of it keeps in mind that the buyer of the book might not have much in the way of funds.

I like these places a lot:
Waffle Window
Movie Madness
Skeeball at Wunderland
posted by smirkyfodder at 2:54 PM on August 26, 2013

I also meant to mention that you can pick up the Zinester's guide at Powell's.
posted by smirkyfodder at 2:55 PM on August 26, 2013 [1 favorite]

Meh, Pok Pok and Voodoo Doughnuts. If you gotta go to see the weird doughnuts, okay, I get it. The Waffle Window is much better.

Stumptown Coffee is good, but there are lots of other very nice local coffee places, if you are in the NE, Extracto has pretty fancy-good coffee. I love the Laurelhurst Theater (pizza, wine/beer, cut-rate tickets, a slide show of business ads in place of corporate blaring ads, so Portland), I take all the out-of-towners there. Pine State Biscuits on Alberta has been getting a lot of talk, I haven't been but it looks worth checking out. Salt and Straw (ice cream), now that is worth the line.
posted by nanook at 3:13 PM on August 26, 2013

Best answer: WAFFLE WINDOW. Get the ham and gruyere waffle, it will change your life.

For coffee, check out Barista, Coava, Coffeehouse NW, Heart, or Sterling.

If you like Thai food, the people at Beau Thai on 23rd are the nicest people ever and the food is delicious.
posted by meggan at 4:33 PM on August 26, 2013

Best answer: I just recently moved to the northern part of the Pearl district, so I have a few neighborhood recommendations for you, since it can be nice to have a few options close by.

Sisters Coffee at 12th and Marshall is really good, and their baked goods are quite respectable as well. Irving Street Kitchen at 13th and Irving is a good spot for a tasty brunch without a long wait. Their Bloody Marys are really good, too, if you're in to that sort of thing. I Haven't been for non-brunch yet, but I'm guessing it's pretty good.

For additional food recommendations, check out Never Mrgan's food recommendations. We've been to a lot of the recommended places, and he hasn't steered us wrong yet. Bollywood Theatre was especially good.

Food trucks are a definite must-visit, and you'll be fairly nearby the huge pod at 10th and Alder. Trucks I recommend there are Khao Mon Gai (chicken and rice -- simple but delicious), the Dump Truck (assorted dumplings), Sideshow (carnival food, with special duck fat Fridays), and the Polish truck (Chicken Paprikash with Pirogues is excellent).

For bike rental, I'd recommend West End Bikes. They're right near Powell's, so probably convenient to get to if you're in the Pearl, and they've been really nice and helpful every time I've gone in.

I second the recommendations for the Japanese Garden and the Chinese Garden. Both a beautiful in very different ways. The Chinese Garden is small and turned in on itself, and an impressive little oasis inside the city. If go you, I recommend planning some time so stop in the teahouse as well, and have some of their wide selection of teas. The Japanese Garden, on the other hand, is more sprawling and remote. There's a great overlook of the city from the main pavilion. If you head up there, I recommend checking out the Rose Test Garden as well, which is across the street, although it'll be past its prime by September.
posted by duien at 4:37 PM on August 26, 2013

1. Transportation
Biking or not, may I recommend also taking advantage of our fine local public transportation system?

2. Not food
Everyone goes to Powell's when they visit. Be among the brave few who have gone on to our gorgeous Central Library.

The Lan Su gardens are indeed awesome, though I don't know how much will be in bloom when you visit. The gardens do, however, have a very nice little teahouse on the grounds. If you just hit the point of needing some peace and quiet during your whirlwind tour, I HIGHLY RECOMMEND taking a sanity break there.

If you get the chance to make it out to the trendy-ass Mississippi neighborhood in North Portland, there are about 5 zillion places to eat or drink; that part's easy. More unusual is the specialized lighting shop Sunlan, on Failing & Mississippi. Window displays of everything from lawn jockeys to LEGO Star Wars armadas, plus the best supply of hard-to-find lighting on the west coast.

3. food
Tasty & Sons: on N Mississippi, and also on SW 12th (downtown)

Kenny & Zukes: on N Mississippi, and also on SW Stark (downtown)

Some people tout Salt & Straw, with their unusual flavors & craftsmanship. Some, What's the Scoop, with their smooth liquid nitrogened mouthfeel. Myself, I am a proud partisan of Mississippi's Ruby Jewel, which apparently has an outpost on SW 12th as well.

Finally, if anyone is in the market for some fine handbags (possibly with a bird on it), may I recommend Queen Bee Creations?
posted by ivan ivanych samovar at 7:01 PM on August 26, 2013

Best answer: If you want one of the most gourmet meals you've ever had try out Beast, runs $75 for a 6 course meal. Le Pigeon is also very good but not a set menu.

Yes you can take public transportation, but you'll probably want to rent a car for a few days to get out of town to visit nature stuff. Going to Mt. Hood (The lodge and the numerous hikes) or Multnomah Falls is a nice day trip.

Heart is my favorite coffee roaster but my favorite coffee shop is Spella Caffe. But, in reality, the best coffee shop is the one that is within walking distance from where you wake up and serves a local roast coffee and knows how to pull a shot correctly.

Voodoo Donuts is overrated at best. Half the time I've gone there the raised ones tasted stale. Better to try out Sesame Donuts, it's run by a Lebanese family and the sesame donut is pretty killer.

Time-Based Art Festival (TBA:13) runs from September 12-22, 2013. PICA (Portland Institute of Contemporary Art) puts on the festival and it's pretty impressive for the most part. Lots of performances and exhibitions and draws on the local arts and music scene along with international artists.

Brunch is a big deal in Portland. My favorite is Screen Door, though arrive before 9:30a or else be prepared to wait! Zell's Cafe is also really good. They always give you a small handmade biscuits as an appetizer accompanied with Marionberry Jam.

For lunch, Laurelhurst Market for some sandwiches. The restaurant is also also an excellent steakhouse for dinner.

Pizza: Apizza Scholls (Big pies made east-coast style), Dove Vivi Pizza (Cornmeal Crust), Ken's Artisan Pizza (Smaller woodfire oven pies with fresh/cured meats)

If you own a record player: Exiled Records, Mississippi Records, Little Axe Records
posted by wcfields at 1:45 PM on August 27, 2013

Best answer: You should check out Rocking Frog Cafe if you like donuts. They're made when you order and are so much more delicious than Voodoo, although without the funny flavors.

If you like Japanese food try hitting up Biwa. Check out their menu for their two different happy hours.

Do you like music? Go to pc-pdx.com to check out shows at venues or sometimes at someone's house.

Go check out Broder on Clinton street. Go to Slowburger. Get a good, cheap banh mi (one that isn't over $4).
posted by gucci mane at 4:06 PM on August 27, 2013 [1 favorite]

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