Portland, Oregon Favorites

While on our trip to Arizona earlier this week, I realized that we always seek recommendations from people about where to stay, where to eat, what to do. So in honor of travelers everywhere, here are some of our favorite places in and around Portland, Oregon:

Portland Oregon Sign

Places to Stay:

  • Allison Inn & Spa: Located outside Portland in Newberg, Oregon. Allison Inn provides luxury accommodations including: majority of rooms are furnished with king beds, personal terrace or balcony for every accommodation, gas fireplace in all guestrooms and suits, spa-like bathrooms and soaking tubs, complimentary use of swimming pool, whirlpool, fitness studio, complimentary valet and overnight parking, dog walking services, and more.
  • Hotel Monaco (Kimpton): Located in downtown Portland, this hotel was previously built in 1912 and has over 220 guestrooms. Pioneer Square and the waterfront park are within easy walking distance and the streetcar can take you to other local areas.
  • The Nines: Located in downtown Portland close to the square.  This hotel has very nicely done rooms that are fairly large, a couple good restaurants/bars with views of the city skyline and is centrally located to all downtown attractions.


  • Mother’s Bistro: Mother’s takes classic recipes from local moms and just makes them a little better. Every month a different mother is featured and some of her recipes are prepared in the “Mother’s Bistro Kitchen”.  My favorite is the French toast or Huevos Rancheros.  The mimosas are also a good morning treat!  This is another restaurant that typically has a long wait, so make sure to arrive early!
  • Slappy Cakes: This is the perfect breakfast spot for kids of all ages. At Slappy Cakes, you create your own pancakes down to the batter, shape, size, add ins and syrups….at your own table. The only downside is they don’t take reservations, so if you don’t want to wait in line, make sure to get there when it opens (Monday-Sunday 8am).Slappy Cakes
  • South Store: Located in a 100 year-old clapboard building on the corner of Scholls Ferry Road (Hwy  210) and Hillsboro Highway (Hwy 219) through back roads, South Store helps you start the day off right.  All of their pastries are made fresh in house. Their bread is baked by Portland Grand Central Bakery and their meats are supplied by Carlton Farms. Some of our favorites include the oatmeal, scones, cinnamon rolls and coffee!  But come early, because once the food is gone its gone.
  • St. Honore Boulangerie: With two locations (NW Thurman & Lake Oswego), St. Honore has some of the best pastries around. All of the tables are positioned family style so make sure you enjoy getting cozy with your neighbor. And if you visit during July, they usually have the Tour de France playing. We enjoy the Chausson aux Pommes, Croissant aux Amandes and Chouquettes.

Quick & Easy Lunches/Dinners:

  • Little Big BurgerLittle Big Burger:  With over 5 locations – mostly within the Portland-Metropolitan area and hours from 11-9pm daily, anyone who loves burgers will love this place. Their menu is simple – cheeseburger, hamburger, veggie burger, fries, soda and floats, but the flavors are wonderful.  They do their best at using organic and local foods and they even make their catsup – Camden’s Catsup! Possibly our favorite item is their French fries which they cook with truffle oil. Yum!
  • Pizzicato: Primarily located in Portland, Pizzicato offers great pizzas, Panini’s and salads. My favorite is the Puttanesca pizza with fresh tomatoes, artichoke hearts, kalamata olives and feta or the Just Cheese Pizza.  Other favorites are the Thai Chicken or the Molto Carne. Depending upon the location, you can buy pizza by the slice and every location has gluten-free crust available. The arugula pear salad and Caesar salad are also delicious. But if you get the Caesar, make sure you love garlic!
  • Whole  Bowl: Located in three locations throughout Portland (Hawthorne, Downtown between 9th  & Alder and in the Pearl District), this cart offers a filling gluten-free/vegetarian meal complete with rice, beans, cilantro, salsa, olives, sour cream, cheddar cheese and avocado.  I prefer this without the “Tali Sauce” and with extra sriracha.
  • Whole Foods: I know Whole Foods is all over the country, but the Whole Foods in Tigard, Oregon has one thing that all of the others don’t – Alejandro!  He works Tuesday-Saturday in the food bar and cooks the best dishes.  Our favorites include: Taco Salad, El Pastor Taco Plate, Diablo Chicken Taco or the Cheeseburger.

Fancier Lunches/Dinners:

  • La Provence: This restaurant has three locations in and around Portland and is always busy during lunch time, so come outside regular dining hours or be ready for to wait, as they typically don’t take reservations. All of this food is wonderful with a French flair. My favorite is the  vegetarian croissant sandwich.
  • Jefe Mexican Restaurant: The food here is always great! From the bowl to the enchiladas and their alcoholic beverages are definitely worth the splurge. They offer indoor and outdoor sitting depending on your mood and the weather and have a pretty cool wine bottle wall.  But the service is occasionally slow and is slightly on the expensive side.
  • Papa Haydn: Located on NW 23rd, this quaint restaurant is known for its desserts and peaceful ambiance.  My favorite dessert is the cassata cake.

Things to Do In & Around Portland:

  • Oregon Museum of Science & Industry (OMSI): This museum is located in Portland, Oregon along the Willamette River. It has permanent exhibits which include the planetarium, OMNIMAX theater, Submarine USS Blueback and four museum halls for rotating exhibits which have included an exhibit about the Titanic, Dinosaurs, Human Body and Einstein. OMSI is open Tuesday-Sunday from 9:30-5:30.
  • Forest Park: This park is located close to Downtown Portland and you can get to the park by public transportation and through the many entry points.  Forest Park offers more than 70 miles of walking and hiking trails where you can take a morning stroll, bike, run the trails, or walk your dog. If you go anytime besides the summer, you may want to bring a jacket and beware of mud puddles.
  • Brew Pubs: Portland is known for its microbreweries. Some of our favorites include: BridgePort Brew Pub, MacTarahan’s Tap Room and McMenamins Pub – like the Kennedy School or Edgefield or Old Church Brewery & Pub.
  • Powell’s Books: If you are a book lover, check out Powell’s Books! With over a city block worth of space, they offer new and used books for sale of all different kinds. It is common place to grab some coffee, meander about the aisles and get lost enjoying your favorite book while you sit among the aisle.
  • International Rose Garden: If you visit from April thru October, you will be surrounded by over 7,000 rose bushes and on clear days, you have a wonderful view of Mt. Hood. The garden is free and open to the public from 7:30am to 9pm daily.
  • Wine Tastings: If you manage to get outside the Portland-Metro area, definitely head to Dundee for a day of wine tastings. You will taste some of the best Pinots, see some of the most beautiful wineries and be surrounded by great people. Some of the wineries that we recommend are: Rex Hills, Sokol Blosser, Archery Summit, and Erath Vineyards.  When you need a lunch head to Red Hills Market. David loves the Hills Farm Smoked Ham with spiced honey butter and gruyere cheese sandwich and I prefer the margarita pizza.Winery
  • Outdoors: Oregon is known for its outdoor activities. Within 2 hours of Portland, we have several options which include: the Coast – Lincoln City, Newport, Pacific City (approx. 2hours away), Mt. Hood (approx. 2 hours away), Multnomah Falls (approx. 45 minutes away).
  • Shopping: There are several places to shop in Portland. Some of the common spots include: Downtown (chain high-end stores), NW Pearl & NW 23rd (high-end independently –owned stores), Alberta & Hawthorne (eclectic, independently-owned stores), Bridgeport village in Tigard (outdoor shopping center which combines chain high-end stores and independently-owned stores).  We also have outlet malls if you are fine traveling outside Portland to Troutdale, Woodburn and Lincoln City.

What is your favorite place to visit in Portland?


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Join the conversation and post a comment.

  1. Cousin Matthew

    Don’t forget about Stepping Stone Cafe where you can get mansized pancakes…also known by MANCAKES 😀 over there on Quimby somewhere I think.

    • kristengrau

      Great recommendation. Stepping Stone is also a great restaurant. It is definitely a Portland cafe with eclectic decor, delicious, filling portions and reasonable prices!

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