I think I put on about 3 pounds in Portland in just 4 days. Seriously. Foodies will love this city.
All of the Portland neighborhoods have several restaurants you can indulge in, no matter your cuisine or style.
What I loved is that the majority of places to eat in Portland are independently owned and use fresh, healthy, sustainable, ethically and locally sourced producers.
Portland’s green-friendly city has the largest number of vegetarian and vegan options for diners in the country, and almost 80% of the Portland restaurants are local.
I love Portland Oregon for this reason the most!
It’s just the Portland way. It now ranks in my top 5 best foodie places in the USA. The others being: New Orleans, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Seattle and Jackson MS. Share what yours are in the comments!
And it’s not just a place adults love eating, but kids also.
They will love the endless ice cream opportunities on hand, AND, they’ll have to compete in the great “who’s got the best donuts in Portland” debate?
Arm them with knowledge parents.
So let’s start there.
Who has the Best Donuts in Portland?
What foods is Portland known for?
Well, you are likely to start a war amongst Portlanders when you ask the best place to eat donuts in Portland.
Blue Star lovers verse Voodoo doughnuts. Then Pipis donuts will stake a claim for best traditional miniature donuts.
Come back to this post after you visit Portland and share with us which donuts in Portland you thought were best?
Blue Star Donuts
Most noted for its Blueberry Bourbon Basil Donut and its refreshing balance of flavors, Blue Star Donuts is a worthy rival of Voodoo.
Blue Star seems to have more stores scattered around the city. In fact, truth be told, we had Voodoo in Eugene, not Portland, and I don’t recall seeing many stores there. But Blue Star – they’re everywhere!
You can even grab a coffee to go with their donuts, which are made from scratch with buttery brioche bread, fresh fruits, herbs and spices, even liqueurs.
Ingredients are locally sourced to bring those true Portland flavors and stories to their donuts like Cointreau Crème Brule, Orange Olive Oil, and Mexican Hot Chocolate.
If I could, I’d be all over the passion fruit cake donut, noted as being sunshine captured in a donut!
I liked Blue Star for their innovative and refined donut flavors and style.
Voodoo was too over the top flamboyant for my style. I can’t really tell you based on taste though as I’m gluten free. If only one of these Donut Queens would give me gluten free donuts!
Pips Original Doughnuts and Chai
Pips Original Doughnuts are definitely for those who want to steer away from the masses and embrace that hipster Portland vibe.
Pips donuts are more your traditional style donuts but with a smaller twist.
The mission behind these bite sized doughnuts was to bring back the traditional mom and pop donut shop. Yep. Be ready to embrace the sweet smell of friendly cinnamon in this Portland donut shop.
What’s extra unique about this store is they have handcrafted chai teas made from raw spices to pair with your donuts.
It turns an experience of “how quickly can we shove this donut delicacy down”, to time to savor the flavor. You can even get a flight of chai.
Doughnut flavors at Pips change seasonally so check the board menu for daily deliverings, like apricot habanera in the summer and Mable-candied bacon when the temps drop.
Our girls went for simply Nutella and cinnamon-sugar which they both loved.
Look out for their mobile van when you visit Portland. Their one store is located on NE Fremont St.
I’m guessing that you have heard of Voodoo Doughnuts. This is the most legendary donuts of all in the USA.
Voodoo Doughnuts are famous for their unique flavors and sizes. Think gigantic.
They’re topped with things like fruit loops and Oreo chunks, and bacon maple bars. Fillings include raspberry and peaches.
Portlander founders, Kenneth Pogson and Tres Shannon started their quest for doughnut domination in 2003 after noticing that Portland didn’t have one doughnut shop.
So they started a revolution of classically unconventional doughnuts that has indeed dominated the doughnut headlines (and many stores) across the country!
Our kids can’t resist a Dirt doughnut – vanilla frosting topped with Oreos.
Their verdict was that Voodoo Doughnuts were their favorite for size and originality.
Donut lovers can join the Portland Underground Donut Tour. If you do, we’d love to see photos and hear what you thought. Tag us @ytravelblog or post on our Facebook page.
More Flavorful Places to Eat in Portland
Devour Innovative Ice Cream at Salt & Straw
Once you’re done with donuts, head to this Portland ice cream institution, Salt & Straw for truly unique flavors.
Think Honey lavender, arbequina olive oil, and strawberry honey balsamic with black pepper. I couldn’t resist a coava coffee with freckled woodblock chocolate.
I’m sure the girls went standard with a mint choc chip and chocolate gooey brownie. Even the standard goes way beyond a standard at Salt & Straw.
When a new batch of unique concoctions are made, the lines get even longer (like their Thanksgiving spiced goat cheese and pumpkin pie).
They have several places in Portland and even beyond in other West Coast states.
Eat at the Food Truck Pods (a Portland thing)
The Portland food truck pods are one of the cool things to do in Portland, AND, one of the most popular places to eat in Portland!
CNN even declared Portland Oregon as the world’s best street food. I’m guessing due to variety of cuisines and flavors it could hold this title. But street food better than Thailand? That’s a big call!
I’m not too sure. But we were so busy eating in so many amazing restaurants that we only visited one Food Cart Pod called Bites on Belmont.
Instead of roaming around the city streets, these food trucks gather together in a particular area or pod. Take your pick of the food you want to eat and sit down at the picnic tables to enjoy.
Here are a few locations of the more well-known food cart pods:
- Third Avenue
- Portland Statue University
- Portland Mercado for Latin American flavors
- Cartlandia in Southeast Portland also has a full service bar and outdoor beer garden
- Rose City Food Park has live music
- The Bite on Belmont (delicious and very authentic Thai curries can be found here. Huge servings too.)
Go Aussie Style at Proud Mary Cafe (our top pick)
We found ourselves at Proud Mary Cafe in Northeast Portland during our five days in Portland several times waving our proud Aussie spirit.
I was happy to see this popular Portland café full of patrons excitedly chatting over smashed avocado toast topped with sprouted almonds, a salad of shaved green tomato, kelp sea salt, and dried tomato flakes.
It definitely had a sunny and friendly Australian ambiance (and styled beautifully for your Instagram snaps, both in décor and food presentation).
The passion to dish up quality and bring people together is evident through excellent customer service, communal tables, and food you can’t help but talk about like sticky fried eggplant and a potato hash dish toped with anchovy cream!
Our girls were delighted to have vegemite on toast, especially our fussy Savannah. She could have eaten here all day long. But you may get really small servings of the vegemite on the side.
Ask for more!
They are happy to give more but they found most Americans order it and then only have a smidgen of it, never finishing it or using the small amount up – for an Australian overseas, there is nothing worse than wasting vegemite!
I think we ate here twice and had several coffee stops, because flat whites. No one makes coffee like Australia makes coffee. Even you Portland!
Proud Mary came from Melbourne, so drop the mike.
Coffee aficionados will be happy to know you can taste flights of coffees, some so rare they aren’t available anywhere else in the USA. Upping your cuppa game. I swear people were at the bar getting drunk on coffee.
Aussies can also get their meat pie fix here – Kalyra’s first order! And I’m not sure why we didn’t order, as we had every intention to, but you’ll also find a pavlova!
I cannot walk out the door without telling you to just order the “caulitown,” a delicious dish of warm spiced cauliflower, dahl puree, pickled onions, tahini, toasted sesame and cilantro.
Thanks for contributing to the weight Proud Mary. I don’t regret it one bit.
Vegan AND Gluten Free at Back to Eden Bakery
Looking for the best vegan restaurants in Portland?
Oh my god.
Vegan and gluten free lovers rejoice. Finally a place that combines the two in 100% fashion. And menus are also labelled with dishes that are soy free. Back to Eden alright!
The Root Vegetable Hash – give me the recipe NOW.
They also have gluten free beers and ciders so this would have to be one of the best restaurants in Portland for the health concsious.
But this Portland café may be a little tricky with kids. Then again it may just be our fussy Savannah. As they do have toast and jam, smoothies and grilled vegan cheese.
Return to Hanoi at Grandma Lela’s Vietnamese Kitchen
Lela’s offers a Vietnamese comfort cuisine to match that of the traditional Portland house on 23rd Ave.
Choose a porch rocking chair, a table in a quaint dining room or a picnic table out front. OR, like us, you could pick up some take out to enjoy from the comfort of your Airbnb.
The Vietnamese vegan pho was just what you’d expect to taste on the streets of Hanoi. We had it twice! Lela’s has loads of gluten free options too!
Make your own Pancakes at Slappy Cakes
We first experienced Slappy Cakes in Singapore so were surprised when we saw it and had it recommended to us by many people as a good place for breakfast in Portland.
I wasn’t overly keen since we were looking for Portland restaurants to eat deliciously local food, so a chain was not on my list of places to eat in Portland.
But, we know our kids enjoy sitting at the table cooking up their own pancake creations so we took them for a Portland treat they’ll remember.
Psst. I ducked over to the Food Truck Pod across the road after to get my lunch!
Enjoy mouth-watering Pine State Biscuits
Having gluten free requirements, we never actually went to Pine State Biscuits. But, due to the long snaking lines we continually saw outside, we thought it best we mention it.
It is super popular with the locals and came highly recommended by our communities on Facebook and Instagram.
Biscuits fillings include fried chicken and fried green tomato, house smoked brisket and tofu bacon with shitake mushroom. Mouth watering.
Pine State Biscuits was founded by three friends from North Carolina who moved to Portland but craved the down home cooking they knew from childhood – three Southern boys who were simply homesick for biscuits!
And get this – the most delicious gluten free biscuits we have had can be found at Honest Biscuits in Pikes Place Market, Seattle, also created by a North Carolininian from Raleigh!
Totally unrelated I know but my mouth is watering for them as I type this.
Thai Street Food at Pok Pok
Looking for the best Thai restaurants in Portland?
The smells coming out of this place were enough to put on half a pound and take me back to our time in Chiang Mai. I could stand there all day and take in the aromas of Thai street food.
Pok Pok is another place high on our list of places to eat in Portland that we didn’t get to. Surprising, because Thai food is our favorite.
But this is one of the most popular places to eat in Portland Oregon (reservations recommended), and we had lots of restaurants to choose from!
Pok Pok will transport you the streets of Chiang Mai, a northern mountain cuisine quite different to the rest of Thailand flavors, although you will find more traditional dishes like Papaya salad, and curries, but all with a northern twist.
Betel leaf wraps are a famous northern Thai dish you don’t want to miss.
Brewery Hopping in Portland
The good news is that some of the best breweries in Portland (in fact a lot of Oregon) are family-friendly.
If you like beer you’ll want to visit Oregon. And Portland will feel like the center of the Universe to you.
Another name for Portland, aside from the City of Roses and Keeping Portland Weird, is Beervana!
Apparently it is home to more breweries than anywhere on earth – more than 75 breweries and counting. That is quite the accolade.
All I can say is get amongst it. When in Portland, drink beer. Or cider. And time it for happy hour. For the non-beer lovers you’ll find loads of cider options at the breweries and stand alone cideries.
And breweries are one of the most casual and fun places to eat in Portland with kids – yay!
I made the decision to have a break from drinking in Portland for some strange reason! I had one or two though and we still visited as Craig was sampling. We would have visited more cideries otherwise.
Check the event calendar as its possible there is a beer event on when you visit Portland.
One of the most legendary breweries to come out of, not just Portland, but Oregon, is Deschutes Brewery.
Founded in 1988 in Bend, Oregon, they opened a brewpub in the Pearl District in 2008 hoping to bring a taste of Central Oregon to Portland.
The brew pub’s 20+ taps feature Deschutes mainstays plus a selection of seasonal and experimental beers developed and brewed on-site.
There are a few smaller tables that wrap around the building. Worth grabbing one on a warm summer’s day if you can.
They create dishes from scratch with the best possible local ingredients. Their smoked chicken wings with roasted jalapeno sauce were spicy and delicious.
Base Camp Brewery
As the name suggests, Base Camp speaks a language of adventure and a passion for the outdoors.
They brew lagers, experimental styles with an emphasis on innovation and creativity. The have a large indoor taproom, but in keeping with their mission, we think its best that you sit by the fires outside.
Food trucks visit to serve you up some tasty dishes to eat around the campfire. Of course you may want to pair that with their famous S’mores Stout that comes with a toasted marshmallow right on the chalice.
For a state that has around 300 breweries, earning Oregon’s Brewery of the Year is no easy feat. Breakside Brewery achieved that in 2017.
They have gained a reputation for imaginative, experimental and flavorful beers like the Duck Duck Drunk, a chocolate porter beer infused with 100 pounds of locally raised Muscovy duck. Quack.
Breakside Brewery has three locations throughout the Portland area, each with their own distinctive flair.
The location in Slabtown District in Northwestern Portland (just off NW 23rd Ave) has been rated as one of the best Portland breweries.
It was probably my favorite of the breweries in Portland we visited for its outside beer garden and modern, light and airy décor and giant mural on the side wall.
They have a full-service restaurant with two levels and a wide selection (16 taps) of Breakside craft beers making it one of the cool places to eat in Portland in Slabtown.
Portland Cider House
Taking the backgrounds of married owners, English Lynda and Oregonian, Jeff, the Portland Cider Company aims to marry English cider with innovative Northwest micro-brewing culture.
Thank goodness they improved on the English cider!
Not usually one f my favorites, but I did enjoy my cherry cider from the Portland Cider House on Hawthorne St. With 30 ciders on tap, it’s one of largest cider houses in Oregon and one of the most diverse collections of ciders in North America.
It’s a comfortable place to sit and relax for awhile and you’ll find a bunch of games here to help you while away the hours. We had fun dirking a cherry cider while playing UNO with the girls.
Ground Breaker Brewing & Gastropub (GF)
Looking for gluten free beer, AND, the one of the best gluten free restaurants in Portland?
This place is a Groundbreaker alright!
It’s rare to even find a gluten free beer in a brewery, let alone an entire brewery dedicated to the dietary restriction!
While Oregon has endless great unique cider for the gluten free people, sometimes you just want something a bit hoppier.
This is the place for you. They replace the grains with Willamette Valley chestnuts hand roasted on site to create IPA’s and experimental ales with ingredients like coffee or squash.
There are a couple of picnic tables outside, which is perfect on a warm evening.
The Ground Breaker Gastropub sells gluten free food as well as a kid menu. You’ll find the PB&J turned into an HB&J. HB for hazelnut butter. A Much Better Alternative.
My BBQ Chicken noodle soup was light and tasty.
Hopworks Urban Brewery (HUB)
Did someone say organic beer? Chain up the bike I’m coming in!
Portland’s first eco-brewpub offers organic beers in a relaxed, family-friendly setting.
Hopworks was founded in 2007 by Christian Ettinger who started brewing in his parent’s kitchen during his first summer break in college.
HUB focuses on sustainable and environmentally conscious practices and a bicycle theme is embraced at all locations.
We visited the Hopworks Urban Brewery BikeBar in North Williams ST. All energy in the building is generated via sustainable practices making it a net zero building!!
You can contribute to that by pedal powering the bikes out the front,15 minutes gets you a $1 off your beer!
There is a bike bar (no kids allowed) which has bike frames hanging from the ceiling and a bottle wall. There is a restaurant with a play area for the kids and an outdoor back patio (another of the best places to eat in Portland with kids).
I think My Rocket burger was one of the best I’ve ever eaten. Arugula pesto aioli, sautéed onions, local mushrooms, roasted garlic, Swiss cheese, fresh arugula, lemon vinaigrette, chopped hazelnuts, and feta.
That’s a big call because on our USA road trip, we ate plenty of burgers. Forget the beer, chain up your bike for the burgers!
HUB, became the first Certified B Corporation brewery in the PNW in 2015 and is one of the best Portland breweries and a must for your things to do in Portland list – especially with kids!
Located in a century-old brick warehouse, Wayfinder is considered to have the best outdoor space of all of Portland breweries.
Compared to the ones we visited, I’d have to agree, It’s a unique outlook with a variety of wooden seating, a central firepit and a few trees.
It’s won quite a few awards for a new brewery, including one of the 15 best new brewers in the world!
Craig was pretty excited by his Doomtown IPA and wished that we stayed longer so he could sample more
We stopped for a quick drink, but their food getting dished up on the tables around us looked pretty good!
Craft brew lovers can join a brewery tour of Portland. Consider the following:
Where to Find Great Coffee in Portland
You have to find something to balance all that beer drinking with.
You’ve got all the donuts to give you the sweet balance, time to bring in the bitter. Oh, but I think you may also do that with beer.
Hey! I think chasing the balance in life is a futile exercise so seek out that coffee and drink up.
Yes. Portland is also known as having one of the best coffee cultures in the county. It fiercely battles against Seattle for the accolades.
My personal experience leans towards Seattle. Sorry Portland, I still think you are a fierce competition. Either way, the Pacific Northwest has you covered!
We didn’t sample anywhere near the amount of coffee we wanted to in Portland. You can only drink so much coffee over five days.
With multiple locations around the city, you are sure to find a good cup of Joe.
We visited the Alberta St location, and after ordering our drinks at the gorgeous walnut bar, made our way to sit out in the warmth of summer.
Barista presents a rustic hipster vibe.
They were one of the first Portland coffee shops to seek out and showcase “guest” roasters, even small obscure ones, both locally and from other cities.
They also serve a select few drafts to go with your coffee. Of course. It’s Portland.
The cheery colored décor of Never Coffee is enough reason to visit.
You’ll find aqua floor tiles, colorful bags of coffee, and bright splashes of colors and patterns on their wall mural. Such a refreshing change for a café. It instantly elevates your mood for the day, and gets those chakras humming.
Check out their creative latte offerings, like the Holy Grail (stop looking you found it: ginger, turmeric, orange blossom) and the Oregon (of course you’ll find hops).
They have a store café downtown and in Belmont (which is where we visited).
Proud Mary Café
Of course, we visited Proud Mary Café a few times to get our Australian flat white fix, AND, becasue it’s one of the best places to eat in Portland Oregon on NE Alberta st.
You’ll definitely find a line and some of the most delicious gluten free cakes to pair your coffee with. I was in heaven!
Owner, Nolan Hirte, perfected the art of excellent coffee in Melbourne Australia which has one of the best coffee scenes in the world. You know we raved about Proud Mary above. #nuffsaid
We found this lovely Portland coffee shop in the Pearl District on our last day. It’s Moroccan in flavor so vastly different to most coffee shops in Portland.
Ovation offer innovative handcrafted espresso, spiced Moroccan coffee, and Moroccan mint tea.
It was the first time I have ever had a Moroccan Late: which is Moroccan spices infused in espresso, steamed milk, a splash of honey sprinkles on top.
I felt my soul talking to me through this drink.
For more Portland coffee shops check out Eater.
Places to Stay In Portland
Airbnb in Portland
Yes. The best things to do in Portland is local style. So get yourself an Airbnb apartment to dive even deeper into how the locals do it.
We rented a lovely Airbnb apartment in Laurelhurst and only a short drive to anywhere. We loved the tree lined streets and historic buildings.
Our host Lisa was sweet and friendly and full of great local Portland tips for us.
- Check out this charming house in Laurelhurst here (great for families or business travelers)
- You can see other Airbnb options for Portland here.
Hotels in Portland
If you want a more traditional stay in Portland, here are a few Portland hotels that get rave reviews:
- The Benson Hotel – A downtown Portland landmark since 1913, the Benson Hotel is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
- Ace Hotel – A stylish business-class boutique hotel that features vintage furniture, original art and eco-friendly elements.
- Kimpton Riverplace Hotel – One of our favorite hotel brands, this pet friendly hotel on downtown Portland’s waterfront, offers in-room spa services, a 24-hour fitness center and marina-view condos for extended stays.
- The Heathman Hotel – is home to the acclaimed Headwaters restaurant and features a unique library of over 3,000 volumes signed by their authors (including Nobel and Pulitzer Prize winners).
Unique Portland Accommodation
Portland likes to keep it weird. Here are some of those Portland style accommodations:
- McMenamins Kennedy School
- Crystal Hotel – each guestroom is inspired by a song or performance from the past 100 years at the nearby Crystal Ballroom.
- White Eagle Saloon – One of the most haunted places in Portland it’s steeped in stories of spirits, Shanghai tunnels and rockin’ concerts.
- Traveler’s House – boutique hostel lodging in a renovated house featuring private and dorm-style rooms with shared facilities
Plan Your Oregon Road Trip with our Bucket List
More Things to Do in Oregon
- Cool things to do in Portland (the non-boring guide)
- 20 Don’t Miss Things to do in Bend Oregon (Beer is included)
- 13 Adventures on Your Oregon Road Trip Not To Miss!