48 Hours in Portland: A Guide by Bashar Wali
5:00 p.m. – Drop your bags at your hotel room and start your hometown vacation with happy hour cocktails at the Driftwood Room on NW 15th. They’re famous for their champagne cocktails and Manhattan menu but, if you want to be adventurous, ask for the bartender’s choice.
7:30 p.m. – Hop an Uber ride to the east side and head to Woodsman Tavern, one of my favorite places for dinner. Live a little and splurge on the seafood tower. Then, don’t forget to take the souvenir postcard that comes with your check – this restaurant is worth writing home about, even if you live here.
9:00 p.m. – You’re just a few blocks away from Salt & Straw on Division, so you’d better drop by. They are open late – and well-worth a stop before you head back to your hotel. Sample their seasonal flavors (they change monthly) or grab a scoop of my favorite, the Arbequina Olive Oil ice cream made with oil pressed by Red Ridge Farms’ Olive Mill out in wine country.
10:00 a.m. – You’re on vacation. Sleep in. Then, when you get up, roll over to Tasty N Alder and put your name on the list. If there’s a little wait, walk around the corner to Heart Coffee. The space is simple and elegant and their baristas are serious about the craft and quality of every shot they pull. It’s the perfect start to the morning.
10:30 a.m. – Pop into Rich’s Cigar Store on Alder. Skip the tobacco and browse their collection of magazines from around the globe. I get endlessly inspired by the design, travel and art magazines. If you like the feeling of a real newspaper in your hands, this is great place to pick up the New York Times.
11:00 a.m. – By now your table will be ready at Tasty N Alder – and I hope you came with a group so you can try as many things as possible. The Korean Fried Chicken is a favorite and don’t forget the Chocolate Potato Donuts or the Radicchio Salad, a sleeper hit. Plus, the cocktails are to die for – and it’s a staycation, so go for it.
1:00 p.m. – After brunch, it’s time to explore the West End and do some shopping. Hit up Will Leather in Union Way for a great new bag. Visit North of West for locally-made ceramics, accessories, home textiles and clothes. At Boys Fort, Rolfe and Jake source some great vintage items, local art and upcycled products like bags made from old basketball leather. If you are a fan of great timepieces like I am, go see Alex at Watchworks. He knows his stuff – ask him to show you the Bell & Ross options. Gorgeous.
3:00 p.m. – Venture further. It’s a little outside the West End but I also love Table of Contents on Fourth Avenue for their highly-curated style. One of Portland’s coolest retail experiences and Schoolhouse Electric over in the Northwest Industrial district. You may have not known you needed a new light fixture… but now you do.
4:00 p.m. – For a little pick me up, drop by Smith Teamaker’s tasting room on Thurman. You’ll be able to peek in to the room where they package and bag their incredible teas. The tea room experts can walk you through picking out the perfect blend for your mood. I’m a fan of the Jasmine Silver Tip (No. 96) and Bungalow (No. 47), a great black tea.
7:00 p.m. – Tonight, it’s time to mingle with culinary stars at Imperial. Chef/owner Vitaly Paley is a James Beard Award-winner, Iron Chef America-champion and probably Portland’s most influential chef, along with being an all-around nice guy. Executive chef Doug Adams, reached the top three on the last season of Top Chef – try his fried chicken with honey from the hives on the roof. Imperial is famous for their wood-fired grill, but don’t miss the raw items like scallops with truffles and beef carpaccio.
10:00 p.m. – Since you’re Uber-ing everywhere, head out to the east side for a nightcap at Expatriate just off NE Killingsworth. If there was any doubt, Naomi Pomeroy’s casual cocktail bar will make you feel like you are most definitely on vacation. Channeling the vibe of expats in Southeast Asia, visiting is like a trip overseas without the jet lag. Sip Taiwanese beer for $4 or order an expertly crafted cocktail. If you’re hungry, get the shrimp toast. You won’t regret it.
9:00 a.m. – Start your day by grabbing an Uber over to the east side for a coffee at Coava on SE Grand. The space is gorgeous. Sit down at a table made from old machinery and watch the shoppers stroll by. If the weather’s nice, the garage doors will be open, and you might want to stay a while.
11:00 a.m. – It’s time to walk off last night’s late night snacks. Hop in an Uber and head east for a hike up Mount Tabor. When you reach the top, you’ll be rewarded with an incredible view of the downtown skyline.
1:00 p.m. – A five minute Uber ride from Mount Tabor, you’ll find the Country Cat. Stop for brunch. Get the open-faced meatloaf sandwich. Chef Adam Sappington is considered one of the best butchers in the US. His meatloaf is made with lamb. It’s the ultimate in comfort food.
3:00 p.m. – Get your art on after brunch with a stop at Nationale on Division. This art gallery rotates out exhibitions every month so there’s always something new to see. Then, Uber back to the Central Eastside and pick up some culinary souvenirs from Jacobsen Salt and Bee Local’s very cool headquarters, Olympia Provisions or Distillery Row, all of which are within a stone’s throw of each other.
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