So You Wanna Visit Portland, Huh…?

The Usually-Updated List of Stuff to Do and Places to Eat

Now that we’ve been in Portland for three years and bought a house (!), it’s obvious we’re pretty serious about this town. When friends and family ask about our newly-adopted city, we gush about its people, culture, and vibe.

Now that we’re getting more visitors through AirBnB, we thought we’d put together a list of stuff we like here with links to the place/business or our Tripadvisor/Yelp reviews, when available.

This is by no means comprehensive. We’re still discovering new spots all the time and will update the list when we can, so check back for updates.
[Last update: 25 March 2013]

Overview

Driving Tips

  • There are a lot of bridges
  • Chances are, you are going to get lost
  • Relax and take your time. Portland drivers are slow, so you might as well go with the flow
  • We have an awesome public transportation system. In fact, it was a huge factor in our moving here in the first place. Why not take the bus or light rail? An all day pass is just $5.

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Eat

Kale – Do you like curry? Have you had Japanese curry? Either way, if it’s not Sunday, you need to go here. Hands down, my favorite curry anywhere.  #Tip: try the Original Doria and thank us later.
Bread & Ink Cafe – The best ketchup in the world, I think it’s made with love or something.  And ridonkulous Chicken ‘n Waffles, probably because the waffle is from the Waffle Window next door.
Voodoo Donuts – The almost obligatory gut bomb when visiting the city. My favorite: the gay bar. Do yourself a favor and skip the downtown location if there’s a line around the corner and go across the river to Voodoo Too. Usually has a much shorter line and the same donuts.  Just saying.
Sesame Donuts – If you’re ever in Tigard and the Beaverton area, Sesame Donuts has really much better donuts than its more infamous pagan competition. Family-run and reasonably-priced, you won’t find pastries with shock value but usually perfectly made Goodness – lightly crispy outside, soft chewy inside.
Burgerville – Sustainable fast food with a local focus.  If you must have a burger quickly, this is a good place to get it done. The Timber Joey Smoothie tastes just as good as a regular shake with 0 fat and a fraction of the calories. And the sauce in the original burgers reminds me of Byrons back home in Hawai`i.
Miho – Japanese bar food with a twist.  Affordable, tasty small plates of food, including a vegan spam musubi.  Whaaa???
Taqueria Portland – Some of the best Mexican food I’ve found anywhere in town.
Original Pancake House – Yeah, this is a chain, but the original original pancake house is here in Portland.  Bring cash or check. No cards, sorry (made that mistake once or twice)
East Side Deli – The sandwich place we can both agree on, satisfying both vegetarians and meat eaters alike with its HUGE sandwiches.
Southern Belles – Our favorite food cart in North Portlands serves the yummiest burgers and sandwiches.

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Drink

There are so many cool, funky places to have a drink, you really can’t go wrong. Try random places around town for variety, or go to your favorite neighborhood and just pick a bar. Distilleries, microbreweries, wineries — this town has it all.

The Green Dragon – If you’re into beer, chances are, you’ll find something to love at this laid back pub.
Plews Brews – When visiting St. Johns, be sure to stop in and have a beer at Plews Brews. The drinks are cheap and yummy, Bob Marley posters adorn the wall, and interesting characters are often afoot.
=Pick a neighborhood dive=
=Pick a brewery, distillery, winery=

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Play

Ground Kontrol – Old school arcade that is 21 and over after 5pm.  So that they can serve you drinks with your Frogger or Star Trek TNG pinball, complete with drink holders on the side of the machine.  For $5 on Wednesday, play all you like for free.
Wunderland – I didn’t know this was a chain.  I’ve only been to the Avalon location and had a lot of fun playing ridiculous ticket games (Skeeeeeeee!) for cheap plastic crap.
Timbers – If you can score tickets, this is an absolutely fabulous time to spend with friends or family.  #Tip, take the Max to the park, if you can; if you insist on driving, park at the Smart Park at 10th and Yamhill and walk to the park.  Really.  Trust us.
Forest Park – If you’re the outdoorsy type, you’ll probably love a hike or run in this park.  Featured in the Grimm a lot, if you’re into that show. 😉
St. John’s Bridge – I hadn’t realized how iconic this suspension bridge was until I lived in the neighborhood.  Then, I noticed that many Portland businesses use this bridge in their marketing materials.  Probably because it’s pretty darn beautiful, its Gothic Towers framing the sky and/or trees beyond (depending on which way you’re facing).  Why not walk across or visit Cathedral Park below it?  Also featured on Grimm. 🙂
OMSI – the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry always has something fun and interesting going on whether in the exhibition area or at the Imax.  Go geek out!

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Do

Drive Old Hwy 30, Waterfalls route – Best on a warm spring or summer day. Drive the old highway and hike the waterfalls along the way. Magnificent.
St John’s Cinema – Inexpensive first-run movies + cheap food + optional alcoholic beverages = an awesome movie experience.  Oh yeah, and I heard there’s a ghost.
Powell’s Books – One of the greatest book stores ever.  Go get lost. ‘Nuff said.
Willamette Valley – Beauty and lots of wineries
Lan Su Chinese Garden – An unexpected respite right in the middle of town
Washington Park – This place is huge and encompasses the Oregon Zoo, Japanese Garden, Hoyt Arboretum, and miles of trails through nature.
Oregon Zoo – Better if you have kids
Portland Japanese Garden – Everything you expect from a Japanese garden
Hoyt Arboretum – Beautiful park right in the city

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Portlanders, what did I miss? Admittedly, I don’t get out much, so if I’m missing your favorite haunt, post a comment below.

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