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Feb 26, 2010 03:02 PM

3/20-3/27 in Portland on a Foodie Road Trip.. What should we do?

I'm planning a visit to Portland from 3/20 to 3/27 and hoping for a week of discovering everything delicious and unique to this part of the country. We want to visit all of the various marketplaces and shops and experience foodie nirvana...

Can anyone suggest which part of town to stay in that would be safe, convenient and just an all-around awesome place to be for my daughter (age 19) and I?

Also, any suggestions as to what to do, where to go.. I have a week to try to figure this all out...

Thanks in advance....

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  1. You should probably stay downtown, but plan to take the bus and max around town to explore. You two, if I know you as I think I do, would enjoy the Ace Hotel, It's right up your alley. I know your daughter likes chocolates, and there are a couple of great spots near the Ace.

    You also might consider renting bikes as Portland is quite the bike-culture town. Take a look at the Portland Farmer's Markets - not sure which, if any, are open yet that time of the year, burt a Gogle search will do the trick. For food, right near the Ace is Clyde Common. You two will probably love it.

    Rent the bikes and get around. If you really want to explore, grab a car and head to Mt. Hood and/or the Coast!

    1 Reply
    1. re: petebuick

      Re: farmers' markets -

      The big Saturday Portland Farmers' Market at PSU opens again for the 2010 season on Saturday, March 20.

      Two of our three year-round farmers' markets (Lloyd ends its winter season on March 16) are also open during that week -

      Hillsdale Sunday March 21 in SW Portland (


      People's Wednesday March 24 here in SE (


      The Saturday PSU market is huge and of course a destination all in itself; Hillsdale is smaller but also worth a trip if even just to pick up lunch and wander that part of the city.

      People's is my regular farmers' market as it's near my apartment, but it's more of a small neighborhood affair. Of course, it's definitely worth a trip considering its proximity to Clinton and Division Street restaurants / shops.

    2. I'd second staying downtown. As petebuick said above, if you can afford the Ace go for it! Cool area, too. Kenny & Zuke's ( is right there too, and although I haven't eaten there yet, "Save the Deli" author David Sax called it, and I quote, "the future of Jewish delicatessen. In $#^@*!# Portland, no less!!!!" :) I really gotta get over there one day...

      Re: safety - everywhere is pretty safe here for an American city of our size.

      The only place I'd advise against staying in is the SRO on W. Burnside at NW 22nd which I had to live in for about 6 weeks in 2007. Heh.

      As far food-related things to see / do - you MUST devote at least two or three (preferably more, many more!) meals to our food carts ( We have the best street food scene in the country, pretty much any ethnic cuisine / food style imaginable along with even a few you couldn't imagine (a gourmet grilled cheese sandwich cart, for one). I'll leave the restaurant recs to others here since I don't really eat out much these days besides at the food carts, but there's tons worth checking out.

      I also highly recommend a visit to at least one of our farmers' markets while you're here (I left a list of the markets which will be open during your visit here in a reply above).

      13 Replies
      1. re: JayinPortland

        We're there 3/19 to 3/23.

        We're staying at the Nines which I believe is in or about the same vicinity as the Ace. We're also taking a late night flight out the 19th (vs. early am flight on the 20th) specifically because we want to hit the Farmer's Market at PSU so you all are definitely on the same page as we are.

        I'm also trying to find a one-day cooking class but it seems there are few because it's your spring break week... In Good Taste normally offers them but while we're there, bec it''s spring break week, they're offering only kids cooking camps. The one that we could possibly do is in Lake Oswego which requies a car to get to. I'm not sure if a taxi would take us out there and bring us back... Any other suggestions???

        Also, are there any cheese factories to tour? A friend at Whole Foods suggested Rogue Creamery but she wasn't sure if it was just a shop or if they offered cheesemaking tours.

        Street food is a definite must. We live in Chicago where there is relatively little street food other than hot dogs and soft pretzels (both pretty inedible) but I've traveled all over the world and have had fab street food in S. Korea and S. America.

        We will def look up bike rentals as well.. Great suggestion...

        Please keep other suggestions coming should you think of any more.

        Thanks in advance!

        1. re: SBakall

          Unhappily there are no cheese factories. Rogue is 300 miles away in southern OR. But a great place to sample local cheese is at the season opening of Portland Farmers' Mkt. Smart move to arrive the night before!

          Taxi riding is a pain. You can't just hail a cab. You must phone, and eventually they will come.

          1. re: SBakall

            Oregon Culinary Institute offers classes during your stay.

            1. re: GDub

              Sadly, the one class that's available is Extreme Cuisine.. deep fried crickets, rattlesnake, pigs tail, chicken feet and other challenging foods.. Wish we were staying for 2 weekends.... Thanks..

            2. re: SBakall

              I'd stick with the LO class. I assume it's at In Good Taste. If it is, it'll be great - local ingredients, more cutting edge and interesting than the culinary institute, which will be more classical and staid I suspect. I'd rent a car for at least a day so you can do this easily and get out also to see either the gorge or the coast, both worth a day trip if you can. If you do the coast, head due west on 26, check out Ecola State park, head south, maybe hit Tidal Raves at Depoe lunch for a decent lunch, go down to Newport for the aquarium and drive back up to Portland from there (not back up the coast). Great day out and great views of the gorgeous oregon coast!

              1. re: Chatsworth

                I just booked the class in Lake Oswego. Farmhouse Tuscany and will just rent a car for the day.

                JAYINPORTLAND - please tell me Lake Oswego is in the same direction as the beautiful Coast you described above. I would love to take a nice drive along the coast and partake in our cooking class that night.

                Thanks everyone!

                1. re: SBakall

                  Hi, it wasn't me that mentioned the Coast above but I can certainly second that recommendation! Every time family comes in from NJ to visit (as my mother and one of my nieces will in 2 weeks), spending a day out on the Oregon Coast is obligatory.

                  A drive to the Coast from Portland is at least 2 hours, and as described above would take much longer, but if you left early enough it might be workable to do that and be back in Lake Oswego in time for the cheese class. That's the 6 PM Saturday class you're talking about, right? The problem there though would be working in a visit to the Saturday PSU Farmers' Market that morning, too. That might make things iffy, although still workable if you cut out Newport and just did, say, Cannon Beach or Seaside. Maybe even Astoria.

                  The TriMet #38 bus stops within 2 blocks of Lake Oswego's In Good Taste, but unfortunately that line doesn't run on weekends. Taxis could certainly work though, if you'd prefer to just rent the car for Sunday or Monday, and take a leisurely trip along the Coast that day.

                  Then Saturday could be for the PSU Farmers' Market (The Nines is only a few blocks away, great location!), and exploring downtown and NW until it's time for the cheese class. The taxis will certainly take you there and bring you back, no problem there.

              2. re: SBakall

                Pretty sure you'll enjoy our street food scene, then!


                Since you're staying Downtown, one thing is that most of the food carts there are closed on weekends, so Monday and Tuesday of your stay you'll find the best of Downtown's street food scene.

                On Saturday and Sunday, you might want to take a trip over here to "Cartopia" in SE, a quick walk or a 3-minute bus ride from downtown at SE Hawthorne & 12th. After 6 PM on either day, you'll have your choice of fried pies, pasta & burgers, Southern BBQ, Poutine(!) & Belgian Fries with a choice of a dozen dipping sauces, endless crepe creations, Mexican, artisan wood-fired pizza, etc...

                As far as cheese goes, as someone already mentioned, Oregon's cheese makers (blessed be they, heh) aren't generally located in Portland, but many of them sell at our farmers' markets, and the PSU Saturday Farmers' Market on March 20 will be a fantastic place to sample many of our best. Rogue Creamery has a booth there, at which you can sample over a dozen of their cheeses. Mmmm, Oregonzola... :)

                1. re: JayinPortland

                  I wish there was a cheese class happening while we're in town.. The class we're taking at Lake Oswego is Farmhouse Tuscany and is offered by In Good Taste.

                  Are there places that I can rent a car in Portland or is the airport a better option? Also, how far is the airport from the downtown area where our hotel is at? Ideally, I would like to spend all day at the farmer's market on Saturday, then go to our cooking class via cab.. Then, rent a car for Sunday when we can drive out to the coast and stop along the way for breakfast, lunch & dinner. Then on Monday, check out the surrounding areas around our hotel and grab some local bites.

                  Our trip has been altered bec we're now flying out to SF on 3/23 vs. spending a whole week in Portland... I was able to get reservations for dinner at French Laundry so plans had to change..

                  Thanks for everyone's great tips... Anytime you want to come to Chicago, I can totally advise on what our city has to offer.. :)

                  1. re: SBakall

                    Unfortunately I don't rent cars in Portland so I can't offer any advice there! Lake O is not that close to downtown, so a cab ride there and back will likely cost more than the car rental. I'm guessing it would be about $30 one way. Google tells me that the airport is ~12 miles from downtown--it wouldn't be convenient to go downtown, then back to the airport to rent a car, especially because the airport is on the NE side of the city, and the coast is west of the city.

                    Have fun at the French Laundry--that sounds wonderful!

                    1. re: Nettie

                      Thanks, Nettie... I guess it's back to a car rental then..

                    2. re: SBakall

                      You can rent cars downtown and at the airport, no problem there. Most, if not all, of the major rental agencies have locations both at the airport and downtown, and throughout the rest of the city. I know Enterprise's location downtown at SW 5th & Pine is open 7 days a week, as I'm sure many others are as well.

                      From the airport to downtown, you can take the Red Line MAX light rail for $2.30 a ticket (you'll need an All Zone Fare), it's a 45-minute or so train ride. Trains run from the airport to downtown between 5 AM and midnight on weekdays and weekends, every 15 minutes most of the day. Follow the signs for 'ground transportation, light rail'.



                      Enjoy Portland! And San Francisco! I might be taking Amtrak down to Oakland later this year for a three or four day Oakland and Berkeley foodie trip, myself.

                      I could have used some Chicago advice in 2007, when I was on an Amtrak layover from DC waiting for the Empire Builder back to Portland and I wandered cluelessly around Union Station Chicago for like 6 hours on a Sunday morning looking for something to eat. Maybe next time I'll have a better idea of where to go! :)

                      1. re: JayinPortland

                        My plane doesn't land until nearly midnight.. so it will prob have to be cab ride in. That's ok. After a long day at work for me bef getting on a plane out there, a cab ride might be all I have enough energy for..

                        The area around Union Station on a Sunday is deader than dead... Union Station is on the west end of the Loop (downtown) and everything's closed on Sundays down there. There are def options tho.. 1/2 mile west of Union is Greek Town and 1/2 mile east is Lake Michigan and Millennium Park.. great people watching...

                        Thanks for all of your info, Jay...