The road to Portland nirvana is paved with daring new craft breweries, fearless restaurants, and more ironic facial hair than you’ll know what to do with.
This article was originally published in Vancouver Magazine’s September 2014 issue. STAY Built as the Seward in 1909 for the state’s timber and mining execs, the 100-room Sentinel (614 SW 11th Ave., 503-224-3400; from $189) transformed into the Governor in 1932 and eventually the home of a carpet store in its long decline. After a retrofit this spring, the downtown hotel rises again with Bee Local honey in your room’s honour bar (the hives are on the roof) and local cult phenom Salt and Straw ice cream by room delivery. (Tip: the Corner Premier King room offers bonus space, $259.) With this town’s embarrassment of food riches (cue the ridiculous Portland State University’s Saturday market), a kitchen of one’s own calls. Marriott’s Residence Inn in the Pearl District (1150 NW 9th Ave., 503-220-1339; from $199) just debuted 223 fresh studios and one- and two-bedrooms suites. With kitchenettes and access to grocery delivery and a communal BBQ/picnic area, takeout just went next level. Bridge history at the luxury LEED-certified Nines hotel (525 SW Morrison Ave., 888-627-7208; from $219), where the top half of the historic Meier & Frank building—Clarke Gable sold neckties here before heading to Tinseltown—is home to 331 Hollywood-glam rooms above what’s now Macy’s. Catering to a downtown business crowd, the hotel also houses the Urban Farmer restaurant highlighting grass-fed, grain-fed, and corn-fed Oregon beef. EAT Breakfast reigns in the West End at Tasty ’n Alder (580 SW 12th Ave., 503-621-9251), sister to tapas breakfast king Tasty n’ Sons. Alder’s similar menu harnesses seasonal bounty to sync with nearby farmers’ produce: exalt in the virtuous Whole Toad (soft-baked-egg bread pudding) and micro-biscuits and gravy on weekends that deliver exquisite heft without excess richness. If the Don’t Drink the (Fire) Water cocktail sounds curious, it’s because molecular gastronomy takes on a Spanish inflection at the modern Ración Open Kitchen + Bar (1205 SW Washington St., 971-276-8008). An area investment group quietly backs this new “independent” collection of three separate addresses (also: Grassa Handcrafted Pasta and Lardo for sandwiches)—and the formula’s going gangbusters. For a central Eastside restaurant hop, there’s “bakery tavern” Trifecta (726 SE 6th Ave., 503-841-6675), where James Beard-lauded Ken Forkish (his real name!) crafts small-batch bread and pastries with demonic passion (grilled bread and oysters to homemade buns for burgers). Save room for a light dinner of small dishes like mushroom-stuffed blintzes a few doors down at Kachka (720 SE Grand Ave., 503-235-0059), a new room lifted straight out of Soviet-era Gdansk, with a wink on the side. Just south of hopping Mississippi Ave., Broder Nord (2240 N. Interstate Ave., 503-282-5555) serves serious Scandinavian breakfast like smoked trout, and aebleskiver (Danish pancakes) with housemade lemon curd. Son of a Biscuit (2045 SE Division St., 971-888-5933), that hotly anticipated Southern-fried-chicken idea from the haute Blue Star Donut people, just arrived with offerings of fried whole pasture-raised Kookoolan Farms birds and biscuits from God himself. DRINK Multnomah Whisky Library’s (1124 SW Alder St., 503-954-1381) 1,600-whiskies menu may hark back to the days of Empire, but a smoking jacket would be as out of place here as any uppity attitude. Over at SE Wine Collective (2425 SE 35th Place, 503-208-2061), 10 no-ego vintners are crafting offbeat but serious wines from local grapes; house winery Clay Pigeon may be new, but the pinot here is classic Willamette. Michael Claypool uses sublime Chehalem Mountain fruit in wines that are equal to some of the big names to the south—and cheaper. Because nothing screams industrial-cool better than a former auto body shop turned winery/taproom: Coopers Hall (404 SE 6th St., 503-719-7000) offers up 35 smart local wines on tap and eight suds and ciders.