Travel Guide for Portland

A Guide for the Snooth Traveller


With people starting to make plans for summer vacation, yours truly included, I thought this would be a great time to share what I’ve gleaned from all of my research.  While I can’t be everywhere this year, there are a few places I am hoping to visit. I am confirmed for a visit to the Willamette Valley, so I'll begin this series with a look at Portland.

We all know of Oregon as a great wine destination, but it’s really so much more: There are great places to visit, remarkable food, and, of course, the wineries themselves! So without further ado, a little trip planner for Portland, Oregon: Gateway to the Willamette Valley.

If you’re planning on making winery visits a sidebar to your trip to Oregon, then staying in Portland makes a lot of sense. Portland has a compact downtown and most city attractions can easily be reached on foot from a centrally-located hotel.

Two wonderful properties that are in the center of the action are The Nines Portland and The Mark Spencer. The Nines is a funky yet luxurious hotel that occupies the upper floors of Portland’s landmark Meier and Frank designed Macy’s building. A four star property that has been hit hard by the downturn in tourism, it offers true luxury at very affordable rates.

The Mark Spencer is another funky property, and one better suited to longer term stays. The location is almost as good as at The Nines, but with the added value of having a kitchen in your room that's great for late night snacks, early morning breakfasts, or just keeping your wines chilled for cocktail hour. Not to mention the money you save by fixing a few meals yourself is money better spent in wine country, or on an evening of self indulgent splurging!

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  • Snooth User: eac45
    174952 1

    Bunk Sandwiches for lunch! Alpine wines at Gruner for dinner! Don't eat at Portland City Grill - go for an expensive cocktail, if you must, and then go eat at one of the myriad superior places: Pok Pok, Navarre, Nostrano, etc. There's a really nice wine bar on Mississippi called Lupa, which is conveniently close to the gourmet salt and chocolate store...

    Mar 09, 2010 at 1:14 PM

  • Snooth User: orwineguy
    417550 7

    I think Portland has become one of the best food destinations for the country. There are so many incredible places to eat in Portland and the surrounding community now. I agree with eac45 100% on Bunk, Pok Pok, and all the other places listed. Don't forget Lucy's Table, Andina, The Painted Lady in Newberg, Ten 01, etc..... It's a fantastic little city that I feel very fortunate to be living in. The wine bars dotted all over the town are doing a great job too. Fifteen years ago it certainly wasn't like this but now, the food scene is thriving. Come check it out.

    Mar 09, 2010 at 1:20 PM

  • Snooth User: jeff4
    Hand of Snooth
    127960 3

    Still one of the must underrated restaurant and wine bars in town is Alu ( the food they kick out, the cocktails, and most certainly their inventive wine list contnues to impress. Wine tag system? Genius....

    Mar 09, 2010 at 2:43 PM

  • Snooth User: Narahne
    344548 3

    Yes, Lucy's Table for dinner but for breakfast go to either the Cadillac Cafe on NE Broadway or Mothers' Bistro in downtown Portland.

    Mar 09, 2010 at 3:02 PM

  • Snooth User: Gregory Dal Piaz
    Hand of Snooth Voice of Snooth
    89065 238,749

    Awesome recommendations everybody. Looking forward to trying them out!

    Mar 09, 2010 at 3:18 PM

  • Snooth User: civiletti
    192021 20

    I disagree about Portland City Grill. The food is good. Nostano is excellent, as is Accanto and it's big sister, Genoa. Pok Pok is uneven, but fun. Noble Rot is a nice wine bar with good food.

    Mar 09, 2010 at 3:28 PM

  • Snooth User: jmarnell
    236535 1

    Yeah, food @ Portland City Grill is fine, especially with a window seat. Wait for one!
    Portland has so many fun places with a funky twist. Back east, happy hour is for the drinking crowd. In Portland ,he food prices are reduced. We love to visit our daughter just for that.

    Mar 09, 2010 at 4:38 PM

  • The Ace Hotel is a must stay. Maybe my favorite hotel ever, and the price and location are great. Plus, Stumptown Coffee for coffee/breakfast, and Clyde Common is a fabulous restaurant. Mother's is a must for breakfast. And in the valley, Hotel Oregon in McMinnville is cheap and great. Joel Palmer House in Dayton is a foodie pilgrimmage and there are numerous excellent restaurants in Dundee and McMinnville.

    Mar 09, 2010 at 5:21 PM

  • Snooth User: Gregory Dal Piaz
    Hand of Snooth Voice of Snooth
    89065 238,749

    Stumptown and Mother's get a lot of love. I'm looking forward to visits to both! I've got to look up the Joel Palmer House though!

    Mar 09, 2010 at 6:38 PM

  • Snooth User: gabbygirl
    422150 1

    So many great places, but Castagna (the Restaurant - the Cafe is also fabulous, best burger in town, but the restaurant is really special) is a MUST. The new chef, Matt Lightner, is making incredible food....using what's fresh but in unusual, interesting, delicious ways. Incredible service, food, space. I keep trying other places but find myself dreaming about Castagna. Their crab dish is divine!

    Agree completely about Bunk. Crazy good sandwiches. And don't bother with Portland City Grill except for a drink. Noble Rot on NE Burnside also has a great view and much more interesting menu and drinks.

    Also love Tabla, PokPok and Nuestra Cucina. And Apizza Scholls (followed by eclairs from JaCiva's next door!) has great pizza.

    Portland food is just fantastic! Can't imagine how fun it would be to be discovering it for the first time...

    Mar 09, 2010 at 7:47 PM

  • Snooth User: hulachick
    292642 4

    And the folks at the Mark Spencer would probably appreciate it if you spell their name correctly consistently (with a "c" not an "s" in the middle) . . .

    Mar 10, 2010 at 12:29 PM

  • Snooth User: hulachick
    292642 4

    Since it looks like you're planning on being here in the summer, you should check out Plate & Pitchfork dinners ( It's a totally awesome food & wine experience. We participated in a dinner last summer at Viridian Farms, featuring Andrew Rich's wines. Wow! What a fabulous exprience -- delectable food and wines in a beautiful setting.

    Mar 10, 2010 at 1:02 PM

  • Snooth User: Gregory Dal Piaz
    Hand of Snooth Voice of Snooth
    89065 238,749

    Fixed the Spensers.

    Thanks for the heads up and the great tip about Plate and Pitchfork. That looks fantastic but they appear to be all sold out!

    Mar 10, 2010 at 1:27 PM

  • Snooth User: hulachick
    292642 4

    Plate & Pitchfork hasn't yet announced the schedule for 2010. You're seeing last year's dinners, which gives you an idea of what you might anticipate should you choose to come to one. If you're interested, sign up on their email list and they'll notify you when tickets go on sale (they won't send any extraneous emails).

    Mar 10, 2010 at 2:11 PM

  • Snooth User: lustgirl
    421325 1

    Le Pigeon...Beast...Pok Pok...those are the three places to go to in Portland...all are fantastic...if you are feeling daring and want to head across the bridge go to Roots in Camas, WA

    Mar 11, 2010 at 12:32 AM

  • Snooth User: selwood21
    272849 22

    Had the best calamari at the Dundee Bistro! We took one day from winery hopping and drove east through the Columbia River Gordge to Mt Hood. We stopped at a town called Hood River and ate lunch outside watching the wind surfers on the Columbia River. We then made our way to Timberline Lodge and back to Portland. A great day trip! Portland was a great place to visit and would higly recommend a trip to this beatiful city.

    Mar 11, 2010 at 7:38 AM

  • Snooth User: civiletti
    192021 20

    Joel Palmer House is THE place to eat in wine country. Look for the mushroom dishes.

    Mar 11, 2010 at 8:12 PM

  • Snooth User: wrfcdg
    251867 1

    Can't forget all the street food -- just to many to mention -- if it looks good and has a line I try it

    Mar 12, 2010 at 4:43 PM

  • Snooth User: Gregory Dal Piaz
    Hand of Snooth Voice of Snooth
    89065 238,749

    Street food, great call. When I'm there I, m going to write a report about street food. I love that idea!

    Mar 12, 2010 at 5:34 PM

  • Snooth User: sahunt
    344836 6

    Went to Bunk on thursday was not impressed !

    Mar 13, 2010 at 6:14 PM

  • Snooth User: sahunt
    344836 6

    Have been to the Joel Palmer House. Can't say enough about the quality of the food & service !

    Mar 13, 2010 at 6:17 PM

  • Snooth User: orwineguy
    417550 7

    Greg, I hope you are planning on spending at least a week here. It's going to take that long to hit the better wineries and at least that long for the food in Portland. Everyone here is right on for their reccomendations. Joel Palmer House, The Painted Lady (my highest rating), Thistle in McMinnville as well as Nicks. Then you hit Portland and a person could easily suggest a dozen must eats in Portland and all would be amazing. Lucy's Table, Pok Pok, Clyde Commens, etc, etc, etc....
    We have a fortune in great restaurants here.

    Mar 15, 2010 at 3:58 PM

  • Snooth User: kells277
    103907 172

    Are there any cheaper wine tour options that are part of a public group? Like in Ithaca/Finger lakes they have this trolley and it was a very fun experience, I think every wine region should have that kind of option:

    Mar 25, 2010 at 12:19 AM

  • What about across the river--in Vancouver, WA? Any recommendations there? Restaurants? Wineries? I'm headed there mid_august. Of course, will go down to Portland, (Pok Pok) but will be based in Van. Thanks!

    Aug 04, 2010 at 3:41 PM

  • Snooth User: JamesR
    Hand of Snooth
    117547 484

    We did our recent vacation with a loop around Oregon. I was most impressed with the wine knowledge of many of the wait staff in the restaurants. I'll put my plug in for an enjoyable meal at the Metrovino war bar. If possible, also head east to Hood River. Some good wine is hiding up in the Gorge if you get tired of the Pinot. You can check out our notes and dig for more Oregon comments at http://rivercityfoodwine.blogspot.c...

    Aug 04, 2010 at 4:00 PM

  • Thanks, James R. Enjoyed your blogspot.

    Aug 04, 2010 at 7:08 PM

  • Well Greg, it looks like the Oregon crowd is quite a bit happier with you now than after "The Pinot Incident" a few months back. Good job, as you can tell we Oregonians are pretty proud of ourselves! Thanks for the attention.

    Aug 05, 2010 at 9:12 AM

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