Portland has long been a city full of restaurants, but it’s only recently that we’re finally being recognized by foodies outside the Pacific Northwest for our spectacular array of culinary offerings. In fact, the Food Network television network recently named Portland their “Delicious Destination of the Year” for 2007. Of course, genuine foodies may scoff at that so-called award, and Portlanders don’t need to be told how great it is to eat out in this city. The proof, as they say, is in the pudding that’s all around us.
Perhaps the best things about the Portland food scene are that nearly every ethnic cuisine is represented here and there’s something for every budget. Certainly, there are plenty of high-end restaurants in the city where you can expect to spend several hours over dinner (not to mention a hefty portion of your paycheck), and at the other end of the scale there are also great take-out places serving up high-quality foods at really reasonable prices.
Everyone’s got their own taste when it comes to food, so far be it for us to tell you where you should eat when you come to Portland, right? Well, not exactly. Since we live and work here, the BootsnAll staff has been periodically reviewing restaurants for years, and you can peruse through the existing offerings by checking out our Portland restaurants links. We’ve also reviewed some Portland happy hour spots and a couple of the city’s many coffee shops. Keep an eye on those pages to be updated with new reviews as we dine out and about in Portland.
In addition to the many fine restaurants in Portland, here are some of our more unusual eateries which deserve a mention:
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- Food Carts – Downtown Portland is home to many big office buildings, and all of the people who work in them have to eat lunch at some point, right? Of course, as typical Americans, many of them will just pop out to grab something quick to bring back to their desks and eat while they work. This is where the downtown food carts come in. These aren’t the push-carts you might be used to, these are small trailers which have semi-permanent spots downtown and which crank out some fantastic food in record time and at low prices. Lines can be long at lunch during the work-week, but if you swing by just before or just after the lunch rush you should be just fine. An unofficial guide to Portland’s food carts is here.
- Vegetarians & Vegans Welcome – Portland is food heaven if you’re a vegetarian or vegan. Not only do many of our “mainstream” restaurants often have a few vegetarian options on their menus, we also have several restaurants with primarily vegetarian or vegan offerings. Standouts include The Farm, Veganopolis Cafeteria and Vita Cafe.
- Saturday Market – Portland’s Saturday Market has a fantastic food court area near the western side of the Burnside Bridge in Old Town. It’s a great spot to get a quick lunch while you’re perusing the goodies for sale throughout the market or just en route from one downtown Portland spot to another.
- Portland Farmer’s Market – On Saturdays in the summer, another place to grab lunch than the Portland Farmer’s Market in the South Park Blocks. Just the smells coming from the food vendors’ grills will draw you in, and you’ll probably be able to find a few fruits and veggies to bring home while you’re at it.
- Confections – Voodoo Doughnut may be among the best known places to get a sugar fix in Portland (and it’s open 24 hours a day) because it’s appeared on a few TV shows and in a few articles recently, but it’s by no means the only carbohydrate-loving spot in the city. It is the only one I know of where you can get a maple donut with real bacon on top, and also get married while you’re there. No kidding. Saint Cupcake has two locations dedicated to, yes, cupcakes – and they’re piled high with exquisite frosting. That’ll bring out the kid in anyone. Sahagun Chocolates is an absolutely miniscule spot just off NW Burnside and yet they produce some of the city’s most delectable chocolates. The salted caramels are to die for.
New restaurants are cropping up in Portland all the time, so it’d be nearly impossible for us to keep up with “what’s hot” right now. If you’re going to Portland and have specific questions about where to eat, and you don’t find the answer on these pages, feel free to drop us a line – there are enough foodies in the office that one of us will be able to help you out.