Now available as a zine in an uber or lyft near you (as long as you’re in Portland and get in the one I’m driving.)
Welcome to Portland! Hope you like eating, drinking and nature, because we’ve got lots of it. To help guide you in your journey, I’ve prepared this list of the hottest spots you really must enjoy. We’ll start in my quadrant, Southeast.
If you’re in Southeast you’re in luck, most of the best neighborhoods in Portland are nearby. The closest to my house is Woodstock, a mellow 3 block walk away. Get teriyaki and Hawaiian at the newly-opened Ate oh Ate. For burritos you have two choices – the New Seasons burrito bar or El Gallo, which is closed Monday and Tuesday, but serves delicious white-person Mexican with a local flair. The Lutz is the best bar (in all of Portland imho) and has amazing food. Skip Primal Burger and get a Lutz Burger – you will not be let down. The Delta is pretty fun, they serve southern classics and 40s of PBR on ice, like champagne. A little bit further down Woodstock is Double Mountain, a Hood River-based brew pub with decent pizza and sandwiches. If you’re feeling healthy, Laughing Planet has great bowls and wraps, or go the complete other direction and get a sidewalk sausage from Otto’s. There are also a couple coffee shops, a grocery store, a couple Thai places (I prefer Tom Yum) and more so you may never have to leave. But if you do, check out Division- a slow-moving stretch of some of the best restaurants in Portland. There’s an amazing cart pod on 28th and Division and Double Barrel and the Landmark Saloon are both great places to go drinking. Hawthorne is a few streets north and this is where the people of Portland really let their freak flags fly. Tons of good food, second hand stores and free entertainment. Go walk west from 39th and lose a day. Whatever you do though, skip the line at Por Que No, it’s #overrated and if you’re craving Mexican I recommend Pepinos (baja style), Los Gorditos (three locations) or Aprisa. Mt Tabor is a bit to the east from here, a park situated on a dormant volcano with great city views, cool hikes, and plenty of Portland weirdos being weird. For nighttime entertainment I recommend the 30-35 blocks of Belmont, where you’ll find a bunch of bars, each with their own vibe. The Liquor Store has dj’s and dancing. Belmont Inn is a dive. Sweet Hereafter is a vegan bar with amazing cocktails and a seriously dangerous buffalo “chicken” sub that is worth hipster overload. Aalto lounge has a great $2 happy hour and Circa 33 has a hidden “speakeasy” in the back, though it’s usually booked for private parties, but you can sometimes get in on Thursdays.,
Southeast is also home to the best strip clubs – a unique portland experience I highly recommend. There are no covers, drinks are cheap and the girls are incredibly talented and fun to watch dance. It is normal and socially acceptable to hang out at Strip Clubs in PDX, so hit up:
Devils point. Especially if you happen to be here on a Sunday when they host Stripperoake starting at 9 pm. You sing, the girls dance, a good time is had by all.
Sassys. A bit closer in this is a classic Portland establishment with multiple stages and good food.
Rose City strip. A “hard rock” strip club where the girls dance to Black Sabbath and Jawbreaker, B movies play on the wall and there are several nice pool tables.
Lucky Devil. Hit up Lucky Devil on Tuesdays for “Tiny Tuesdays” when all the dancers are under 5 feet tall.
Casa Diablo. Though not it Southeast, this is Portland’s most riske club and everyone will know you’ve been there when you try to spend the two dollar bills they give as change.
Acropolis. This place has a salad bar, and the owner is a cattle rancher so the steaks are good and cheap. I usually go here for breakfast.
Speaking of breakfast…. brunch! Bunch is the most important meal of the day but if you’re not careful, you can end up standing in line until it turns into happy hour. These are the places I recommend, which will have a reasonable wait time and still deliver on the quality food.
Bar Carlo– Half record store, half brunch spot, this place is so Portland, but has managed to stay off the radar enough to not be mobbed. I recommend the breakfast burrito, breakfast on a bun or the crepe of the day, but it’s all damn good.
Midpoint- This place is a small so do a drive by and make sure the parking lot isn’t packed with humans. If you do get in, get the fork mashed potatoes over the hash browns, I promise they’re the bomb.
Mehri’s– A little neighborhood joint with good food and an interesting crowd of old Portland locals.
Genie’s 2– Not to be confused with Genie’s this place is inside the Spaceroom on Hawthorne, has tons of seating and a huge patio.
Night Lite (weekends only)- Did someone say bottomless mimosas?
Dots- More all-you-can-drink champagne and OJ and outdoor seating with a highly entertaining parade of Portland bike nerds rolling by.
Slow Bar – The best hamburger in Portland.
Montage – A great place for big groups, Montage serves soul food and Mac and cheese, but more importantly wraps your leftovers in fun tin foil shapes!
Screen Door – You will have to wait, but if you’re craving southern, this place serves reasonably priced upscale cuisine that you won’t wanna miss.
Bete Lukas – Dope Ethiopian.
Mi Pueblo – The best sit down Mexican restaurant in Portland, although it’s actually in Clackamas. Be careful, the large margs are dangerous.
Du’s Grill – The best teriyaki in town, but it’s closed on weekends.
Kennedy School – An old elementary school that McMenamins has converted into bars, restaurants, a movie theater, soaking pools and more.
The Whole Bowl – There are a few locations (the brick and Mortar is on Hawthorne,) but there’s only one thing on the menu. It’s a bowl with beans, rice, salsa, cheese, olives, cilantro and sauce and damn, it’s like eating a hug.
Chinese Delicacy – Venture out to 82nd Ave for the best $5.50 lunch special in town.
An Xuyen – Authentic Bahn Mi for under $4.
Little Big Burger – Fancy little burgers and truffle fries. Cheap and delicious.
Rocky Butte – The best view of IKEA in town.
The Rhododendron Gardens– A luscious spread of Northwest flora and tons of ducks and geese to chase.
Multnomah Falls – One of the closest impressive displays of nature, though I warn you, the hike to the top is not really worth the effort. The best view is from the bottom.
Mt Hood – Even if you don’t ski or snowboard, Mt. Hood is an awesome day trip. Travel into a winter wonderland (even in the summer there is lift accessible skiing.) Visit the Timberline lodge, which you may recognize from the Shining, and sip hot toddies by the far. If you do ski though, you have three choices:
Ski Bowl is the closest, an hour away. It’s a bit lower elevation so a lot of times the snow will be falling as rain, but if you hit it right, this place has the best terrain on Mt. Hood.
Timberline tends on the flat side, but they put up and very good park and the crowds never get that out of control.
Mt. Hood Meadows – The biggest resort on Hood, Meadows has tons of fun terrain and gets fairly consistent snow. The issue is it’s the choice resort of most of the city of Portland, so prepare to battle the crowds on weekends and holidays.
Other neighborhoods to check out:
Downtown: Get happy hour any day from 4-6 or 10 pm on at Portland City grill. It’s on the 30th floor of big pink, which you can’t miss. Fun fact: it’s not actually the tallest building in Portland – that honor belongs to the Wells Fargo tower. Go up to the Hoyt arboretum, the Rose Garden and the Japanese Garden and wonder at majestic nature, mere minutes from the heart of the city. If you like breweries the Pearl District has a bunch of them- Bridgeport, Rogue, Fat Head, Deschutes, Back Pedal and 10 barrel (the latter has a roof top balcony for when and if it ever gets nice.) There are also a few Mcmenamins properties on W Burnside. Once you’re good and liquored up, go get lost in Powell’s, a literal city of books. You’ll want to get Salt and Straw ice cream, but skip the line on Division/Alberta/23rd and hit the soft serve S+S in Pine Street market. It is a swanky indoor food court masterminded by some of Portland’s hottest chefs. You could even combine it with a trip to Saturday market, Portland’s weekly bazaar running weekends pretty much year round.
St. John’s : So far away (from everywhere) but home to a super cool bridge and Pattie’s Home Plate, which is a pretty epic diner.
Alberta : This used to be the ghetto 15 years ago, but now it’s an “Arts District.” Tons of good food spots and home to the Bye and Bye, a favorite local watering hole.
Mississippi: Lots of little shops and restaurants. Mississippi studios has shows almost nightly. And on Tuesdays Mississippi pizza hosts Bourbon and Bingo.
NW 23rd : The bougie shopping district if you’re looking to burn some cash.