Delicious Food, Designer Hotels, and More Are Waiting for You in Portland, Oregon
You can’t go wrong in Portland.
Perhaps Grammy Award-winning jazz musician Esperanza Spalding said it best in her song "City of Roses," where she extols the striking beauty of her hometown Portland:
"Our rain is the paint that makes the land lush and the folks unique
City parks, wild berries, and old bridges
A rolling river bringing goods from the sea
A mountain hooded in snow silently watching over me"
While its green reputation is a given, Portland's ability to weather storms (natural, social, and political) has helped solidify its enduring appeal. What's also noteworthy are the new businesses that have opened — along with existing ones that pivoted to a more flexible model — in the past 19 months. And the common thread through all of them? How they've remained true to the city's laid back, egalitarian roots.
Plus, the weather this time of year is downright blissful: balmy, dry, and clear. So pack your bags, and refer to this handy guide on where you should stay, eat, and shop during your next trip to Portland.
Where to Stay
With the opening of the Hotel Grand Stark in May, the city's buzzy Central Eastside finally got the chic hotel it deserved. The historic 1908 structure (formerly a hotel and furniture manufacturer) now houses 75 rooms accented with pops of emerald and seafoam green and vintage furnishings, a light-flooded lobby with ample space to work or unwind, and Grand Stark Deli, a daytime cafe serving coffee, pastries, and simple lunch fare. Another hip newcomer to the neighborhood is Lolo Pass. Owned by sisters and hospitality entrepreneurs Lauren and Lee Gonzalez, the hip hostel-hotel hybrid has everything you need for a good night's sleep and more (think spotless accommodations, a lively rooftop, and all-day dining) at a refreshingly wallet-friendly price.
Though there's lots of options downtown, Woodlark Hotel stands out with its architecture — the property encompasses two buildings on the National Register of Historic Places (the Woodlark Building and the adjacent Cornelius Hotel) — and accommodations with a warm, residential feel (imagine jewel tones, raw wood, and custom wallpaper), and two restaurants (Bullard and Abigail Hall) by woman-led Holler Hospitality. And a few blocks away is Hi-Lo Hotel. Nearly every detail, from the woody scent infusing the air by Maak Lab to the Pendleton bed pillows, nods to Portland and the design throughout — especially the lobby with velvet green sofas, modern art, and swinging settee — is positively pretty.
Where to Eat and Drink
In terms of newcomers, there's plenty to dig into. Arguably the most talked about restaurant in town, Oma's Hideaway, by husband-wife Thomas and Mariah Pisha-Duffly, is a culinary love letter to Thomas's grandmother offering playful spins on Singaporean and Malaysian street food in an eclectic space decked out with wallpaper by local artist Kate Blairstone and black light posters. At Grace Cafe, Lazy Bear alum Brian Han proves eating healthfully and deliciously can go hand in hand with his imaginative takes on Korean staples like mmm bap, a vegetarian bibimbap topped with fermented brussels sprouts, purslane, and house gochujang. After working at other hot spots for years, beloved chef Carlo Lamagna struck out on his own at Magna Kusina, where the speciality is Filipino skewers (tuhong) and snacks (pulutan). (He was also recently named to Food & Wine's Best New Chefs 2021.) For an unforgettable wine tasting, head to The Crick PDX by Bertony Faustin, Oregon's first recorded Black winemaker. The industrial, music-driven space pairs tastings (called playlists) with a hip hop playlist curated by Faustin, and also sells products from fellow minority entrepreneurs.
If your spirits are low, a visit to Hey Love, where the lush, tropical feel — a full-time person was hired to maintain all the greenery — will perk you up. The cocktails, like the frozen tequila negroni Key Party, are unabashedly fruity and spirited, while hearty birria tacos and crab sliders keep your munchies in check. Just a block down East Burnside is city staple Canard, where James Beard Award-winning chef Gabriel Rucker sends out deeply craveable steam burgers and foie gras dumplings with natural wines. In the Pearl, Peruvian stalwart Andina has transformed to Chicha, a casual patio and to-go concept specializing in Peruvian street eats. Since there are few better pairings than cold beer and pizza, hit up Assembly Brewing for a pint of NW IPA and a Detroit-style pie. And at Piccone's Corner, an osteria and butcher shop in Laurelhurst, tuck into rustic Italian cuisine and depart with fresh cuts of sustainable, humanely raised meat in tow.
Short on time? Pop by Kachka Lavka, the adorable deli upstairs from the wildly popular Russian restaurant, for a pillowy Piroshok (yeasted stuffed bun) and Zavarka Iced Coffee sweetened with condensed milk. At Smith Teamaker Tea Café in the Alphabet District, Karl Holl pays homage to the late American tea entrepreneur Steven Smith by infusing tea into just about everything he prepares, from the roasted beets to the jams. Craving a classic, no-frills burger? Look no further than the perfectly charred, smashed versions turned out at Bless Your Heart. Ramen fans can get their fix at one of two Kinboshi locations (Pine Street Market and Lower Burnside), and for pastries like no other, check out Berlu, a tiny, weekend-only Vietnamese bakery turning out traditional and contemporary gluten-free treats. Your best bet is to order "One of Everything," so you can sample all the hits.
Where to Shop
If you believe in the power of putting pen to paper, drop by Little Otsu, an independent publisher and retail nook by Jeremy Crown and Yvonne Chen. It's meticulously merchandised with journals, stationery, pens, and everything else you need to communicate like a luddite. For all your domestic design needs, check out Beam & Anchor by partners in work and life Jocelyn and Robert Rahm. Their 7000-square-foot warehouse brims with stylish, yet quirky goods you'll want for your home and beyond — from handsome wood furniture by Marrow Furniture to sculptural baubles by Another Feather. Bibliophiles will flip for Powell's, the world's largest independent bookstore, and Made Here, a shop selling over 200 unique, design-driven brands from Portland and the Pacific Northwest, is the perfect final stop for thoughtful gift-giving.