Portland is becoming a more popular business travel destination as the tech industry expands and more conventions come in to take advantage of no sales tax. But many people (at least those outside of the Pacific Northwest) don’t realize that Rose City is also a foodie haven. Walk into almost any restaurant downtown and you will find a tattooed chef serving up amazing, locally sourced, and relatively healthy cuisine…all at a very affordable price. Here are some awesome restaurants to check out on your next trip to Portland.
Power business deals are an everyday occurrence at Imperial, which was opened in 2012 by Vitaly Paley, who has been one of the city’s top chefs for decades. This rustic but modern downtown establishment has mastered the arts of grilling and broiling, which it applies to almost everything. Start with a Vieux Carré cocktail and then order the grilled salad followed by the special of the day. If you are around for the weekend, pop in for brunch to enjoy the fry bread with homemade chorizo and soft scrambled eggs, or anything with potatoes Anna.
If you are a mildly adventurous type, head to Andina, a Peruvian restaurant and tapas bar. This is the place locals go for special occasions, and reservations are usually mandatory. Enjoy a pisco sour “Kuong Tong” or a sacsayhuaman (habanero pepper vodka cocktail), and then ask your waiter to bring a selection of tapas. Don’t skip the ceviche!
The Picnic House
Yelpers describe The Picnic House, located downtown near the concert hall, as “our best overall meal” and “hands down the best place.” The menu contains everything form picnic classics (grilled cheese and soup) to short ribs. Start your meal with the roasted cauliflower soup and end it with the Pavlova or the chocolate pudding. If you are there on the right day, you might get to enjoy live jazz with your meal.
The very adventurous will not want to miss the east side’s Pok Pok, featuring Thai street food by Northwest superstar chef Andy Ricker. Be prepared for a menu that you don’t recognize at all—no pad thai or any other western standards. Instead, your taste buds will be treated to unusual and delicious flavors that you will be fantasizing about long afterward. Order anything you want as long as it’s the chicken wings…and the boar collar meat…and the Brussels sprouts…with sticky rice. Pok Pok doesn’t take reservations (except for large parties) and it’s always packed, so get there early.
For those business travelers who want to escape the bustle for an evening, I’m about to reveal one of the city’s best-kept secrets. Vie, located on the Riverplace Marina, is a small French restaurant owned and operated by self-titled “cultural revivalist” Beau Breedlove. With the intimate décor and the excellent soundtrack featuring jazz standards to Edith Piaf, you may find yourself imagining you are sitting in a small café in Paris. The menu combines traditional and updated French classics, and everything is fantastic. If you can visit only once, order the Brussels sprouts, the cassoulet or Chateaubriand, and the gâteau Vie (or the brown butter cake–I can never decide).
Featured image by Steve Morgan [CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons