10/22/2011: I’ve been living here in Portland for over twice as long now as when I wrote this post, so perhaps an update would be nice, eh? Most of the places I loved back then, I still love (or at least like) now, but I’ve made many new discoveries, and some things have changed… as noted, new things and changes to the list are italicized or crossed out.
I’m superduper excited that Sock Summit is happening right here in Portland – not being a sock knitter myself, I wouldn’t have enough of a reason to travel if it were elsewhere, but since it’s here, I’ll get to attend the luminary panel, the ravelry party, check out the marketplace, and be a part of the fun! For any readers who are traveling here this weekend, I thought I’d take this opportunity to make a list of my own personal favorite Portland spots! We have so many (SO many) favorite spots in this amazing city, it’s hard to condense it, so I’m including multiple choices in different areas for some categories. These are all places that are seriously worth making it to while you’re in town!
As for navigating – Portland is divided into 5 quadrants (yes, 5, I know) – SE (my hood!), NE, SW, NW, and North – and all addresses have the quadrant in the street name, making it easy to figure out where things are! Also helping make for easy navigation is the grid system – most of the city has numbered streets running north-south, starting at the river, and counting out. So, if an address is something like “3723 SE Hawthorne Blvd” you know it’s in the SE quadrant, and the number means its nearest number cross-street is 37th (37 blocks away from the river) – making it super easy to find even if you have no idea where that is! Just find Hawthorne on your map (I use old fashioned paper maps – if you have a gps thing, then this whole navigation explanation is irrelevant anyway) and follow the numbered streets till you hit 37th.
By the way, I am totally east-ist, so most of these spots will be on the east side of the river. Also, I don’t eat meat, so all the food places have great veggie options, but they all have plenty of meat too! Portland is fantastic about food diversity – most everywhere you go has plenty of choices for all eaters! And, designing hats hasn’t exactly made me rich (yet? hah!) so all of our favorite spots are way on the cheap side or have great affordable options!
leethal’s Best of Portland:
Note: new places added 2 years later (in October 2011), are italicized, and anything I wrote then which is no longer true (or no longer existing) is
- Breakfast: Junior’s (SE), Gravy (N), Jam (SE), Genie’s (SE), Broder (SE)
- Bakery which is also great for breakfast: Sweetness (SE)
- Brewery restaurant: Hopworks (SE) (great happy hour menu; see more beer info below), Hedge House (SE), Laurelwood (NE), Hair of the Dog (SE)
- Sandwiches: East Side Deli (SE) (delicious vegan “meat” option)
- Pizza: Dove Vivi (NE) (cornmeal crust), Hot Lips (locations in SE, NE, SW, NW) (fresh seasonal toppings), American Dream (NE) (amazing crust and hazelnut toppings), Rovente for take-out/delivery (SE) (cashew toppings)
- Non-traditional mexican food: Laughing Planet (locations in SE, N, SW, NW), Los Gorditos cart (SE) (traditional menu + vegan menu)
- Fast food: Burgerville (SE, NE, and outer pdx), Little Big Burger (N and NW, SE soon!) (oh my god best veggie burger in the world)
- Breakfast for dinner: Paradox (SE) (also best veggie nachos), Old Wives’ Tales (East*)
- Other dinner spots: Ya Hala (NE) (Lebanese), SubRosa (SE) (Italian), Dick’s Kitchen (SE) (or lunch), Bara Sushi House (SE)
- Bar with full late-night food menu: Dots (SE), Beulahland (NE), Night Light (SE) (fabulous late night happy hour and good food in general, $1 pbr pints on Sundays…)
- Hot dogs with any toppings you can think of: Zach’s Shack (SE) (open super late)
- Late night desserts: Pix (SE and N locations) (with coffee, beer, and wine), Rimsky-Korsakoffeehouse (SE), VooDoo Doughnut (SW and NE locations)
- Selection of food carts all together: SE 12th + Hawthorne (
we’ve only eaten at Potato Champion so far, it was fantastic!we’ve eaten at more now, all great!), a la carts at SE Division+50th
- Food cart deal: Bombay Chaat House at SW 12th+Yamhill (the $6 lunch special is way plenty food for 2 people to split and it’s delicious!)
- Waffles: Waffle Window (SE) (
I prefer this one over the Waffle Wagonwhich is gone now), Flavor Spot (N) (I haven’t actually been here yet – only had a sample but it was amazing.I’ve been here a couple times now and I personally believe that Waffle Window is far superior, but that’s just me.)
- Ice Cream: Ruby Jewel (N)
- Grocery store: New Seasons (locations in SE, NE, N, SW) (great deli/readymade foods to eat there too)
- Movie theater w/good local beer and pizza and $3 (or $4) tickets: Laurelhurst (East*), Bagdad (SE), Academy (SE) (I actually prefer this one over the Laurelhurst nowadays, but they don’t have quite as many indie/foreign/old/etc films, sadly), Hollywood Theater (NE) (a little more expensive at $6 per ticket, but it’s a non-profit and it’s awesome)
- Old abandoned elementary school turned venue, $3 movie theater, restaurant, brewery, 4 bars, hotel: Kennedy School (NE)
- Arcade: Ground Kontrol (NW) (w/bar and djs), Avalon (SE) (nickle arcade + $2 movie theater)
- Bookstore: Powell’s City of Books (West*), Powell’s on Hawthorne + Home & Garden store (includes craft books) (SE), In Other Words (NE) (non-profit feminist bookstore – support them!)
- Zines + more store: Reading Frenzy (SW),
Q is for Choir (SE)gone now, so sad
- Record store: Music Millenium (East*), Crossroads (SE) (for vinyl specifically), Green Noise (SE), Everyday Music (NE and W*) (not so independent, but excellent for cheap as-is record browsing and used DVDs), Mississippi Records (N)
- Music store (instruments): Artichoke Music (SE) (high quality new+used), Trade-Up Music (SE and NE locations)
- Game store: Guardian Games (SE) (nerd heaven)
- Video rental and museum of motion picture history: Movie Madness (SE) (see the actual knife from Psycho, the ear from Blue Velvet, and many many more!)
- Local handmade stuff made from mostly/some recycled materials store: Trillium (SE), Redux (East*), Frock (NE), Union Rose (
NEthey moved – SE now) (last 2 don’t specialize in recycled, but there’s lots of vintage reconned type stuff)
- Craft thrift store: Knittn’ Kitten (NE)
- Creative reuse store: Scrap (NE)
- Thrift store if you have some time to kill: Goodwill Bins (Milwaukie/Sellwood – far SE)
- Small but cool craft store: Gossamer (East*), Collage (NE and SE locations),
- Fabric store: Cool Cottons (SE), Bolt (NE)
- Yarn store: Twisted (NE),
Abundant Yarn & Dyeworks (Sellwood – far SEgone now ), Urban Fiber Arts (NW), Happy Knits (SE)
Non specific locations:
- My favorite Portland beer:
Hopworks – 7 Grain Stout is brewed with Stumptown espresso beans, the Deluxe Organic is great, as is every beer they have to offer (Hopworks on tap around town will say HUB)– way too much good beer in Portland, I can’t choose a favorite anymore! I still love Hopworks, but I love so many, so if you’re into trying local beers, I recommend heading to Hawthorne Hophouse or another beer spot with a huge local brew selection (Hophouse has half off flights on Mondays!)
- Best Portland Coffee: Stumptown – this isn’t a personal preference thing, it’s just a fact.
*The border between SE+NE and SW+NW is Burnside – if an address is on Burnside, it’s either E Burnside or W Burnside. So these spots are in the middle of the east or west sides, between north and south.
I highly recommend picking up a copy of The Zinester’s Guide to Portland, which you’ll find at any Powell’s location, or any bookstore that carries zines (which means any Portland bookstore that’s not a national chain) for about $4 I think. We grabbed one of these for our first trip up here, and I don’t even know what we’d have done without it – it does a great job of getting you oriented (explaining the quadrants and neighborhoods, etc) and lists tons of great places with reviews.
Portlanders – please feel free to list some of your personal favorites in the comments, so travelers can have more variety in recommended spots!
…plus 11 bracelet mini-kits in all different colorways! I’m so excited to have my yarn for sale now in my favorite local yarn shop! If you’re visiting PDX for Sock Summit, definitely don’t miss Twisted! Not only are they super supportive of local designers and yarnies, but they have the nicest staff ever, an awesome tea bar with custom teas like the Dr. Horrible blend, and if co-owner Shannon’s Hazel happens to be in the shop, you’ll get to meet one of the sweetest tiny people in the whole world!
Oh and speaking of Twisted, I’m teaching a Skoodlet class there in October! And then lastly, speaking (a second ago) of handspun yarn, 4 more yarns are now up in my shop, including 1 skein of spun recycled (pictured above)! Ok that’s all.
Let me know if you visit any of my favorite spots! I’d love to know if I introduced you to a new place that you love! I might be adding more to the list if I think of any I forgot… if I do, I’ll put them in italics so you know they’re new. Oh and if you want to know about any of the photos, just click through to the flickr pages. Yay Portland!