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Portland, Oregon — Part I - Eating

Downtown 2


Portland’s vibe is mellow and friendly; its culture is food-forward. We, newbies, came to eat, taste wine (apologies to the breweries), and walk. We expected cool temperatures but arrived at the height of a heat wave, so we paced ourselves and sought refuge in air-conditioned cafes and shops. The locals proudly pointed out great spots.


 Portland SignDowntown from Bridge


Monday’s farmer’s market at the Pioneer Courthouse Square in central downtown — with its irresistible Tastebud Pizza


Pizza at the Farmer's marketwas but a teaser for Saturday’s (8:30am - 2pm) bountiful market at Portland State University. We nibbled samples for breakfast — roasted hazelnuts, berries and cherries of varied colors, and fresh cheeses and breads — and filled a shopping bag of ingredients for dinners in our nearby Airbnb. I wanted more Freddy Guys Hazelnuts than I could pack and learned they ship anywhere in the USA. The gluten-free artisan breads from New Cascadia Traditional are tastier than any I've ever found before.

 Organic Berries

 Portland Creamery


Springwater Farm offers a variety of locally grown mushrooms that added a woodsy flavor to our risotto supper.


Springwater FarmMushrooms in Portland



For hungry vegetarians like me, Portland has food choices unmatched in most cities. And if the markets and restaurants aren't enough, you'll find entire blocks of food trucks parked every day. If you're cooking for yourself, try the upscale Zupan's Market at Burnside and 23rd, and add a bottle of Pinot Noir or a German Riesling from Vinopolis.


Carrot Car


After fueling ourselves at the markets, we viewed the city from the Willamette River boardwalk. Portland was hosting its annual Waterfront Blues Festival, and we caught echoing melodies as we strolled.


 Blues on the RiverLove Bomb


Portland River ViewPortland Waterfront


We tried to catch a river breeze too and escape the heat, but the direct sun drove us back into the shade.



Beat the Heat


After tallying 8 - 9 miles of daily walking, we decided to splurge at a few great eateries. We skipped the famous  Voodoo Doughnut (the line took 45 minutes) and saved up for savory meals.



Voodoo DoughnutVoodoo Line



Voodoo Trash


We ate our favorite dinner at the Mediterranean Exploration Company where the staff was attentive and courteous but never hovering.



(Photo by David L. Reamer, from website)


We started with radicchio with cherries and yogurt dressing that softly balanced the tartness of a fennel salad with candied pecans and lemon vinaigrette. Food came family style—oniony hummus,  crisp falafel with tahini and pickles, and salmon carpaccio. My husband raved about the delicate flavors in the Chreime, a tripolitany Jewish fish stew; and we finished dinner with a cardamom ice cream Affogato with a delicately spiced Turkish coffee and chocolate covered pistachios.


The long walk back to our apartment gave us the chance to digest and take in the bustling nightlife in the Pearl District.


We timed our last Portland food and wine adventure with the final game of the FIFA Women's World Cup match. We sat all afternoon at Taste on 23rd, a wine bar with small plates and an amiable staff, and cheered for the American soccer team.


 Tasting Menu


Taste glasses


Our server, Dillon, asked about our wine preferences and carefully selected six tasting glasses of Oregon Pinot Noir. With that we ordered ComtÉ and Nababbo cheese plates, lavender hazelnut bruschetta, and pancetta wrapped scallops.


Taste cheese


The Heydon Road and Patton Valley Pinots won out, and my entourage ordered more when we moved to a prime TV-watching spot at the bar.


Leland Hart, part-owner and chef at Taste, kept busy while we fist-bumped every American goal. He popped truffle-oil popcorn, prepared a clam steamer, and oversaw his sous chef who prepped the Alaskan scallops and charcuterie from Zoe's Meats.



Taste on 23rd

(all photos by the author unless otherwise noted)


Our meal and afternoon ended with an American victory, and we wore a celebratory smile as we hoofed back to our air-conditioned apartment.


Stop back here on Saturdays July 18 and 25 for more on Portland, Oregon — Part II Exploring highlights local attractions, and Part III Escaping outlines our adventures beyond the city.



Images (30)
  • Pizza at the Farmer's market
  • Love Bomb Go- Go Marching Band: Love Bomb Marches
  • Carrot Car: In Carrots We Trust
  • Portland River View: Portland River View
  • Portland Waterfront: Portland Waterfront
  • Beat the Heat: Beat the Heat
  • Blues on the River: Blues on the River
  • Glyph
  • Nababbo Cheese Plate: Nababbo Cheese at Taste on 23rd
  • Taste glasses
  • Taste on 23rd
  • Tasting Menu
  • Voodoo Doughnut Shop: Voodoo Doughnut Shop
  • Voodoo Line: Sweet Tooth Waiting
  • Voodoo Trash: Voodoo Trash
  • Mediterranean Exploration Company: Photo by David L. Reamer
  • Taste cheese: Cheese Plate with Raspberry Jam
  • Taste on 23rd: Wines all afternoon
  • Taste on 23rd: Clams in Broth
  • Wine Tasting Menu: Trying out the Pinots
  • Portland Sign: Welcome to Portland
  • Downtown 2: Portland Skyline
  • Downtown from Bridge: Northeast Portland
  • Lavender
  • Mushrooms in Portland
  • Organic Berries
  • Portland Creamery
  • Portland Waterfront
  • Springwater Farm
  • Veggies

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Comments (5)

Newest · Oldest · Popular

Jonathan, thanks for your kind comments. Glad to know you, like thousands of others, are a Voodoo Doughnut fan. I laughed when I heard the shop employee tell the people in line, "You think you're at the end of a long line, but you're really at the beginning of a great food adventure!" Then he revealed the line would take 45 minutes (in the heat). But those fans stayed in line. Gotta love it.

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