Okay, two of the three have to do with food and drink, but that’s why we went. Our family went to Portland, Oregon for three days and got our fill of delicious food and obsessive-compulsive baristas.
This town might be known for the great outdoors, but Portland has become a destination for foodies. They have taken food trucks, or rather food carts, to the next level. These carts are semi-permanent fixtures at locations around town. The number of new carts added each year is staggering, but it’s evolution that ensures the survival of the tastiest.
On the traditional brick-and-mortar front, Portland has turned artisanal. Locally sourced, organic and simplicity are the themes of many of the top eats around Stumptown. This local passion spills over to its coffee and beer where obsession borders on snobbery. That’s my kind of food culture. Nong’s Thai Chicken and Rice, The People’s Pig, Salt & Straw ice cream, Barista Coffee — I’ve died and gone to food heaven.
Here are 3 reasons to love Portland and why you should consider visiting with your family:
THE GREAT OUTDOORS
Portland offers some great outdoor hiking and scenery. Within driving distance of downtown are multiple options to do some hiking and soak in views of mountains, rivers and waterfalls.
Multnomah Falls is a 45-minute drive from downtown. Once there, park across the street to see the falls. This location is accessible for all ages and a great stop for a family picture. For those who want to hike, it’s about a one-mile walk to the top of the falls itself.
Only a five-minutes drive from Multnomah Falls is Oneonta Gorge. Like Bruno Mars sang in Marry You, we were “looking for something dumb to do.” Oneonta Gorge is wildly popular during the summer but questionable in October when the water temperatures drop to the 50s. We did it! It’s a half-mile hike through a gorge with no real trail. You walk in ankle deep water half of the time and finish through a narrow passage of about 20 yards in waist to chest high deep water to reach the lower waterfall. Refreshing. Adventurous. Dumb in October. I highly recommend it!
PORTLAND FOOD CARTS
The portable restaurants in Portland aren’t really food trucks because they don’t drive away each day. These food carts are semi-permanent. There are about 500 carts open on a daily basis in about 25 areas throughout the city. These food carts serve up some of the tastiest food in Portland.
One such star is Nong’s Khao Man Gai. Known as the Queen of the Carts, she is the poster child of the local cart scene. Nong Poonsukwattana is a native of Thailand and sells a classic Thai staple: Khao Man Gai or chicken and rice. She started her first food cart in 2009 and has cooked herself to fame appearing on Chopped on Food Network and giving a talk at TEDx Portland.
For me, the appeal of food carts is that you can sample a handful of different cuisines all in one meal. Restaurant quality food sold at street food prices. It’s a great combination. Head over to the pod at SW 10th Avenue and Alder Street and sample some 50+ carts.
ARTISANAL FOOD AND DRINK
SOME OF THE BEST RESTAURANTS IN PORTLAND
I’m not kidding when I said that these baristas are a bit “OCD.” At one location, I got an evil eye when I asked for some sugar. They love their coffee just the way it is. I love it! Check out award-winning Billy Wilson’s Barista, and you’ll have a hard time going back to your favorite ubiquitous place on the corner.
Want to sample some locally brewed hops? Portland offers more than 5,000 beers from about 65 local breweries. Check out Portlandbeer.org for the most recent discussion of what’s trending.
Want something for the sweet tooth? It seems that everyone heads to Vodoo Doughnut. The line wrapped around the building. We went to Blue Star Donuts instead where I found the creative flavors and balance of sweetness just right. Our other favorite stop for sweets was Salt & Straw ice cream. Sample a few flavors like Arbequina Olive Oil or Stumptown Coffee & Burnside Bourbon, and you’ll understand why this place is worth its weight in gold.
Portland may be far from BBQ country, but The People’s Pig is smoking the local competition. We ordered the Combo which came with almost everything on the menu. I’m still dreaming about that meal.
This article was originally published by Hilton Mom Voyage.