New Yorker in Portland OR

Total Portland noob here. Meeting a friend for 4 days in September. Looking for anything and everything, from food carts to fine dining. I dont know how to make it less vague

I’m also a little confused on where to stay. Is Downtown off limits, not recommended, or perfectly fine.

Does the friend live there or also visiting? What sorts of cultural stuff are you into? Powell’s is amazing if you want to add to your cookbook collection, or I always enjoy the Portland Art Museum.

There are several food cart pods; individual carts keep their own hours.

I haven’t actually been in a few years, but downtown is going to be on par with any other large city and have people on the streets struggling to get by in various ways. Perfectly fine if you’re used to that, just don’t be dumb or leave things in vehicles.

Various neighborhoods have their own charms. Alberta in the NE and Pearl in the NW are nice.


Thanks for this. The friend is also visiting for the first time. We are into food, offbeat museums, art and really just seeing/experiencing anything thats different. Will probably rent a car one day for some nature or maybe rent for the entire stay. A quick check points me to the east side… Buckman, Kerns, etc as close to many good restaurants, but most of the closest hotels are bunched by the convention center.

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We once stayed at the Kimpton River Place hotel and loved it. I wanted to move into our apartment-like suite! We also really liked the McMenamins’ Kennedy School hotel but it wasn’t very conveniently located as I recall.

It’s been awhile. Tagging along.

I’m not from Portland, but have visited the area a few times. You MUST spend at least a meal or two at the food pods/carts. Do some looking there are many such locations. Anywhere from 4 food stalls to 40. It’s Portland’s version of food trucks although they might have those too. For a number of years, people are loving Pok Pok for Thai and Nong’s Khao Man Gai for chicken rice. And I personally love Blue Star donuts more than Voodoo, but some of the outposts didn’t make it well through covid and have closed or become quite limited in hours and offerings. Many years ago, we had good meals at Le Pigeon and Olympia Provisions.

This time of year, their Rose Garden should be gorgeous (oops you said Sept - they’ll be done probably). And check out Multnomah falls a bit outside city limits. Beautiful waterfall that you can see from down below but can also hike a trail to the top. Have fun!


Sadly Pok Pok is no more - :cry:

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Big sad! Did the owner or chef open a new place? Sometimes following them is almost as nice. I was heartbroken about several of the closings the last # of years in Seattle, not that I even get there that often. But the knowledge that they were there kept me going!


Yeah, always sad when places close. The last I read, Andy Richter closed it down with no plans to reopen. But I’ve got the cookbook if the urge strikes! Still not the same…


Since I worked in SEA but “lived” there alone, I wasn’t really into the fine dining scene. But Bakeman’s (turkey sandwiches) and Il Corvo closing were sad sad times for me.

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I hear you. We loved a place called Plaka, which closed shortly before the pandemic started, due to lease issues. As far as I know they haven’t opened at a new location. Kind of depressing to note all the closures. I really liked Dahlia Lounge too.

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Had not been to those. I guess I’m glad now to not know what I’m missing.

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I’ve never been, but, after reading the cookbook, I am dying to go to Kachka - Russian food and vodka! I have eaten at Kenny and Zuke’s Deli which was wonderful but probably not very interesting to a New Yorker.


I don’t spend much time in Portland anymore so I can’t be much help, but the convention area is not where I would choose to stay. It is not a particularly interesting area. I only go there when I need my car worked on or the few times I needed to go to the mall. It is possible the area has change so take my opinion with a grain of salt.

There is a good Farmers Market on Saturdays at PSU. Lots of food stalls and other treats. There is a scaled back version on Wednesdays further down the park blocks near the museum. It is less interesting. The Blue Sky Gallery is right near there. It’s exclusively photography. If you are into crafts there is the Portland Saturday Market (not to be confused with the farmers market). It can be interesting. If you plan to drive out to Multnomah Falls during the first week of Sept you will need a permit for the main parking lot off hwy84 unless you arrive before 9am. If you decide not to rent a car, there is a shuttle service from Portland available.

Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area - Multnomah Falls (


I haven’t been back to Portland in almost 5 years so take this with a grain of salt :slightly_smiling_face: And a lot of places I liked have closed.

Downtown was fine for me. I’ve also stayed in East Portland in the Lloyd District near the convention center and it was pretty easy to get around from there as well.

Some restaurants I enjoyed:
Le Pigeon - French-inspired restaurant that doesn’t take itself too seriously

Kachka - Russian restaurant with some good pelmeni, “herring under a fur coat,” and caviar, and a large vodka selection

Coquine - a cafe during the day (with a great chocolate chip cookie) and a great restaurant at night, though I see they are currently doing a series of guest chef takeovers this summer

Davenport - fine dining-ish, I really liked their cheese and spinach dumplings

Ox - Argentine steakhouse with a great clam chowder with bone marrow

Lardo - meaty sandwiches that you can get with a side of fried pig ears

Blue Star Donuts - really good donuts. There is also Voodoo Donut which I thought outside of their novelty donuts weren’t that special, but definitely more touristy if you’re into that.

Salt & Straw - really good ice cream

Olympia Provisions - sandwiches and also sausages and charcuterie for taking home

Hat Yai - very good Thai style fried chicken

Pine State Biscuits - for a hearty breakfast sandwich to help ease a hangover after drinking too much beer the day before

I’m not up to date on Portland food carts since I think there have been a lot of changes in the last few years but it is a unique part of Portland’s food scene. I liked Nong’s Khao Man Gai but they no longer have a food cart and have moved to brick and mortar restaurants.

Portland is one of the great beer cities of the U.S. Some breweries I liked are:
Cascade, which specializes in sours
Ex Novo
Upright Brewing
Great Notion - actually haven’t been to their taproom in Portland yet, but I really like their beers.
Found a beer map:

and for cocktails:
Hale Pele - cool tiki bar
Teardrop Lounge

Things to do:
Powell’s City of Books definitely check this huge bookstore out if you are a book lover
The Portland Japanese Garden was nice and peaceful. Also it is very close to the
International Rose Test Garden - did you know Portland is called the City of Roses?
Pittock Mansion - like a much smaller Hearst Castle if you’re into rich newspaper barons’ houses
OMSI - a fun science museum.

Other notes:
I thought the MAX tram system was pretty good for getting around the city without a car, especially getting around both sides of the river and also to and from the PDX airport.

Some old trip reports:


Whaaaat!?! Was the pok pok closure pre-pandemic ?

Apparently I haven’t been since 2016.

How about Moonstruck?

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Evidently he shut all his locations down in June 2020, EXCEPT for the original, and one Pok Pok Wing location, hoping to remain afloat, but closed the last two by October 2020. I hadn’t been to the chocolate cafe, but sorry it’s gone too.

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Portland has two 2023 James Beard winners you might want to check out. Best new restaurant (Kann) and best Chef (Berlu). I have not eaten at either. Kann is owned by Gregory Gourder from Top Chef. Unless he is going the no reservation route, you will probably need advance reservations.

Portland Wins Big at the 2023 James Beard Foundation Awards - Eater Portland


Thank you everyone. Before yesterday I knew of only two places in PDX, Pok Pok and Sorbu Paninoteca, a food truck opened by a friend of a friend from Italy. We had many great meals at Pok Pok NYC so to be honest fairly satisfied with it, and our Thai scene, although sad that its closed. The pandemic did a lot of damage here as well.

Thanks @Mr_Happy. As you know, I enjoyed your CDMX report, and found your PDX reports yesterday. I spent more time than I’d like to admit looking at Ox pictures. I’m already overwhelmed with options as I expected


This is an Ashland chef who’s originally from Chicago.
She opened this branch several years ago and now has her sights set on Seattle.
I’m a fan of the original, haven’t indulged in Portland.

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