DRAFT Beer Town: Portland
By Nino Marchetti
They call it beervana, but Portland, Oregon’s got more going for it than just what comes from the taps — though the pints you’ll find here are certainly worth the price of a plane ticket.
Appeared in: January/February 2009 Issue
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Hopworks Urban Brewery
2944 SE Powell Blvd.
The buzzword “sustainable” is alive and well at this all-organic brewery, built from the shell of a fuel company. Check out its award-winning, dry-hopped Organic IPA and Survival Stout, brewed with local Stumptown espresso. www.hopworksbeer.com
210 NW 11th Ave.
The legendary Bend, Ore., brewery has an amazing new outpost in Portland’s fancy Pearl district. There, patrons enjoy the open environment and fantastic views of the brewing equipment while gorging on clams, oysters and pizzas and drinking renowned brews like Cascade Ale. www.deschutesbrewery.com
5115 NE Sandy Blvd
This local brew chain has several popular spots throughout the city, but our favorite is the main NE public house and brewery. You can’t go wrong with the variety of fresh beers on tap, be it the eco-friendly Organic Tree Hugger Porter or the refreshing Mother Lode Golden Ale. www.laurelwoodbrewpub.com
Horse Brass Pub
4534 SE Belmont St.
If there’s only one place you go to drink beer in Portland, make it the Horse Brass Pub. This legendary British tavern is where innovative brewers have dreamed up their wildest brews. More than 50 drafts await on an ever-rotating list, all of which are inspiring for brewers and regular beer lovers alike. www.horsebrass.com.
1339 NW Flanders
Another legendary Oregon brewery has a fabled site in the Rose City. This location houses food, fresh brews and on-site distilled spirits. You’ll likely waddle out of here after a fresh Kobe beef burger and one of the brewery’s signature Dead Guy Ales, made with an in-house ale yeast. www.rogue.com
Hair of the Dog
4509 SE 23rd Ave
This dog is a bit off the grid, but worth the trip because of brews like Adam, a lovely beer that weighs in with a 10% ABV and pairs amazingly well with chocolate cake. www.hairofthedog.com
1313 NW Marshall Street
You can smell the beer from Oregon’s oldest craft brewery, from blocks away, which will invariably lure you in for a bite and top-notch brews. The big boy beer here is Old Knucklehead, a full-on barleywine that resoundingly confirms what’s already fairly clear: Portland is a craft beer capital. www.bridgeportbrew.com
Thatch Tiki Bar
2733 NE Broadway Street
The tiki scene once thrived here, and Thatch Tiki Bar pays careful respect to that lost lounge era. Enter into a dimly lit Polynesian setting, complete with tiki gods and other kitsch, and order the flaming Volcano Bowl, the mother of all tiki drinks; it will more than sate your South Seas cravings. www.TKTTK.com.
Green Dragon Bistro & Brewpub
928 SE 9th Avenue
This Eastside brewpub is always hopping with a rotating tap list, “meet the brewer” nights, live music and spirits from the attached distillery. During warmer months, the pub opens its huge door to the outside, making a pleasant scene for enjoying beers and people-watching. www.pdxgreendragon.com.
816 North Russel
Top mixologist Lucy Brennan and her staff of cocktail-crafting geniuses call this little gem home. The fruity mixed drinks here have put 802, the bar portion, on the map, while top-tier food comes from the next-door establishment, Mint. Try the Bella: The combo of blackberry puree mixed with vodka and lemon-lime, served in a sugared martini glass, is as sweet as it sounds. www.mintand820.com.
2831 NE Martin Luther King Jr Blvd
Take a hip wine bar, toss in delicious German fare, and you get Alu. This clandestine European-inspired spot is worth the entrance fee; patrons enjoy a lively wine bar area as well as outdoor patio seating. Come for the wine list, but stay for the beers: There’s a global list of to choose from.
333 NW 13th Ave.
The swank Pearl District hosts many fine restaurants, but one of the best is 50 Plates. This contemporary, clean-cut establishment does up traditional American cuisine in fun, new ways, like the Snap, Crackle Squid (rice cereal-crusted calamari). You can share small plates here or dig into something filling and hearty, like the organic bison-filled Buffalo Tamale Pie. www.50plates.com.
4440 NE Fremont St.
Fife is one of Portland’s leading seasonal, sustainable restaurants. The chefs work mostly with small farmers and ranchers from surrounding areas to offer a menu that changes just about every day. That said, you can’t go wrong at this neighborhood jewel that serves up creative desserts like berry crostata with frozen yogurt and red wine syrup. www.fiferestaurant.com.
Ken’s Artisan Pizza
338 NW 21st Avenue
This pizzeria, a spinoff of an original Monday pizza night at a bakery across town, arguably makes the best pies in town. Getting here early is a must if you want to avoid the long line of locals, all eagerly awaiting indoor seating set aglow by the wood oven. The pizzas, with their ever-perfect crusts, pair excellently with a fresh local brew from the in-house bar. www.kensartisan.com
5425 NE 30th Ave
Bring a sense of foodie adventure to this communal dining room run by local food star Naomi Pomeroy. Come in for a choice of five or six courses, with little substitutions. Menus change weekly and you can expect, like the name implies, a nod toward the carnivorous appetite. www.beastpdx.com.
1818 NW 23rd Place
Set on a quiet side street near Portland’s trendy NW 23rd Ave. district, this tapas hotspot offers, a flat-out amazing selection of sharable dishes, accompanied by a great Spanish wine list. We recommend the Conejo, a rabbit tenderloin in mustard sauce with braised leeks, or Jabali, a marinated and grilled wild boar chop. www.patanegra-restaurant.com.
The McMenamins brewpub chain is a legendary and funky part of the Portland beer scene. Many of its locations are historic spots restored in the colorfully tasteful McMenamins way. These include the aforementioned Edgefield, Kennedy School (an old elementary school), Crystal Ballroom (a music venue) and the Chapel Pub (a former funeral parlor).www.mcmenamins.com.
Oregon Wine Country
A journey down Oregon Route 99W from Portland takes you to the heart of Oregon’s pinot noir-happy wine country. The ideal climate and growing conditions make this a top global destination for Pinot fans, with wineries large and small dot countryside roads. You might also stumble upon a few worth-your-stop breweries along the way. www.oregonwine.org.
1005 W Burnside
Portland’s best-known retailer is Powell’s Books. This mammoth independent bookstore takes up an entire city block and carries more than a million new and used titles spanning some 3,500 sections. Author signings occur here pretty much daily, and there’s a fantastic café where you can hole away with your next new read. www.powells.com.
NW 23rd Avenue
NW 23rd Avenue
Portland’s NW 23rd Avenue, part of the Nob Hill area, plays host to a trendy and eclectic mix of upscale shops and restaurants. The tree-lined street is always bustling with shoppers and diners; join in the fun and spend an afternoon people-watching and perusing. www.nobhillbiz.com.
Shanghai Tunnel Tour
The underbelly of one Portland’s older sections was once teeming with brothels and other illicit affairs, including the disappearance of many people into forced servitude. You can now wander these dark, historic tunnels with a guide, who will tell you tales of the city’s sordid past. www.portlandwalkingtours.com.
Former New Jersey resident Kevin Sandri has recreated the fine art of Southern Italian cuisine in this unassuming food cart in a popular southeast Portland neighborhood. You can chat it up with him as he fries up for you some fresh arancini—rice balls stuffed with cheese—or watch in awe as he whips together one mean meatball sandwich.
Mississippi and Shaver
This roadside juice bar and cafe stand sits at the entrance of the up-and-coming Mississippi Avenue retail/dining area. Even though there isn’t seating or service, locals line up for brunch at this cart. With delectable eats like made-from-scratch waffles, who can blame them? www.moxierx.com
Stumble upon one of these food carts around town, and you are in for a heaping bowl of vegetarian goodness. The mix of ingredients, including rice, avocado, black olives, sour cream and Tillamook cheese, is topped off with Whole Bowl’s special lemony-garlicky Tali Sauce. www.thewholebowl.com
SE 12th and Hawthorne Blvd.
Late night on a Friday, and looking for some grease? Roll over to Potato Champion and your craving will be sated, Belgian-style. We recommend the french fries—these bad boys are blanched then fried to crunchy-fluffy perfection. You get your choice of a variety of sauces as well; try the Tarragon Anchovy if you dare. www.potatochampion.com.
901 SW Alder St.
If you crave baked, sugary goodness, you can’t do much better than confections at the Sugar Cube, a food cart laden with fresh-made cupcakes. You could spring for one of the soups if you really want to, but why bother when you can replace a real meal with the decadent Highway to Heaven, a chocolate ganache, butttermilk cupcake with a salted caramel center? www.thesugarcubepdx.com.
800 E Burnside
What looks like a regular motel from the street is actually one of Portland’s hippest hotels. Adjacent to the extremely popular Doug Fir music venue, the Jupiter is a hipster hangout sporting modern, minimalist bedrooms that offer few frills, but are really there for you to feel like you move and sleep among the cool kids. www.jupiterhotel.com.
525 SW Morrison
One of the newest and plushest hotels to grace Portland is The Nines. Perched atop the historic Meir & Frank Building, it offers up down pillows and 350 thread-count sheets in luxurious rooms. The hotel also houses the high-end Urban Farmer Steakhouse and is a stone’s throw from Portland’s Pioneer Square. www.starwoodhotels.com.
2126 S.W. Halsey St.
Off the highway as you head toward the Columbia River Gorge sits the McMenamins property known as Edgefield. This former county poor farm was transformed by the McMenamin brothers into a full-scale resort that includes a hotel, restaurants, bars, a brewery, distillery, winery, spa, movie theater and golf course. www.mcmenamins.com.
400 SW Broadway
This boutique hotel is set on prime real estate, allowing visitors to be within walking distance of the city’s best activities. It’s romantic and artistic; but even better, the staff is highly attentive to all of its guests—even four-legged ones. Bonus: Room service delivers fresh, well-prepared Thai cuisine. www.hotellucia.com
1022 SW Stark St.
This renovated building is just a short walk from the legendary Powell’s Books. The Ace’s rooms are comfortable and showcase eclectic design touches. The draw here is the food, as well as the fact that it’s anchored by Clyde Commons, Kenny & Zuke’s and Stumptown Coffee—three of the Rose City’s finest. www.acehotel.com.