Portland: Food, Beer, and Hipsters

PortlandPortland is definitely a heck of a fun town to check out if you have a spare weekend. I love cities with great public transport, especially ones where you can take a metro light rail train from the airport right to the center of town (how rare is that?), and Portland is one of those cities. We spent a long weekend here recently and absolutely loved it. We know of Portland from its “hipster” reputation, and all that is well and good, but its only a part of the attraction. The TV show Portlandia, which I watched religiously and piqued my interest in visiting the city, definitely has a lot of comedic exaggeration but contains a lot of truth as well!

Sandwich @ Lardo. Delicious.

Sandwich @ Lardo. Delicious.

What To Do? See a Timbers soccer game (great atmosphere). Visit Powell’s Bookstore. Visit the riverfront. Check out the Portland Aerial Tram (maybe not a tourist attraction per se but fun to check out and get some views of the city). Walk. Cross a bridge. Check out some concerts or a show (see listings beforehand – Portland is a very musical, artistic city). Ride a bike. Visit the market. Get caught in the rain.

Where To Eat? We absolutely loved Luc Lac‘s Vietnamese menu, especially their incredible happy hour. Lineups are definitely worth it. Lardo has amazing sandwiches and is well worth checking out. Definitely a big food truck town, so check them out wherever they may be seen, including Alder Street Food Carts.

Vietnamese @ Luc Lac. Happy hour eats & drinks.

Vietnamese @ Luc Lac. Happy hour eats & drinks.

Where to Drink? Countless breweries await you. One of America’s most amazing beer cities, if not the absolute best in terms of number and quantity of breweries. Find a few and enjoy. We visited Deschutes Brewery and Widmer Brothers Brewing and recommend both however there are tons more. Come to Portland and let your hop senses (and word of mouth and online research) be your guide.

Where To Stay? We stayed at the Mark Spencer Hotel right in downtown Portland, which was a pretty good value with the inclusion of free wi-fi, a decent little breakfast, great coffee and tea all day (loved that coffee machine, where can I get one?), mid-afternoon cookies, and a wine hour with cheese/crackers — and good Oregon wines at that! If price is a concern, certainly consider the time of year you’re going to Portland as summer high-season prices tend to be incredibly high (think NYC prices!) while March, for example, is a great time with Restaurant Week and plenty of deals to be found. But there could be rain, lots of rain.

Front entrance of the Mark Spencer, Portland.

Front entrance of the Mark Spencer, Portland.

We much enjoyed the Mark Spencer. The concierge was helpful and kind, as were all the staff I dealt with. The location was right in the middle of everything downtown (and everything everywhere else, too, due to its location right near trains/streetcar). Walkable to pretty much everywhere, and right near a lot of food carts, restaurants, and within direct view of the ever-famous Powell’s Books (not that this should be the highlight of your trip to Portland, but it was quite enjoyable even if we’re not big bookworms). The room was a king executive room (with
separate bedroom) and although relatively unexciting, was very big and the bed was incredibly comfortable. Good news: there are renovated rooms too.I loved the hotel and it helped make our weekend trip what it was! All that’s

Breakfast room at the Mark Spencer, where we ate our food truck pickups.

Breakfast room at the Mark Spencer, where we ate our food truck pickups.

missing is a pool/sauna and perhaps some more hot food options and breakfast but really, who cares? Find a good brunch place! And there’s plenty of that in Portland, a food mecca. I love that the Spencer is locally-owned/independent and it shows in the service and superior offerings. If you ask me, one of the prime hotels in Portland.

Anyway, Portland? Go. It’s a very cool, laid back, underrated city.

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