Portland/Willamette Recommendations Needed

I am cross-posting this message from the “Travel Forum”, as I thought it might get more eyeballs in “Wine Talk”. Hope that is OK Todd!

My wife and I are planning a trip in September/October (exact timing TBD) to Portland and the Willamette Valley. I have done a search on the board for recommendations, and most are focused on wineries and tastings, which is appropriate. However, we would like to pursue a slightly different focus. I figure a couple of days in Portland (or nearby), and maybe a couple of days on the Coast, and a couple of days in the Willamette Valley. I am looking for some recommendations for cool places to stay (towns and hotels), great places to eat, interesting places to visit. We like to go out to breakfast, stroll, browse, eat a light lunch, nap, take a drive, have an evening cocktail, a nice dinner, etc…would love to visit a few wineries along the way, but the trip does not need to be “wine-tasting centric”. Looking more for a chill/food/scenery/interesting people/taste and drink wine type trip. Any recommendations would be appreciated!



Hey Paul,
Lots of people on here who will be more helpful than me, but coincidentally, I just booked tickets for 4 days in the area for me and my wife in early October. So I will be interested to see what others say.
I’m deep in the early stages of planning right now, and am currently leaning toward an itinerary that sees us spending Friday tasting in the Columbia Gorge area and probably sleeping in Hood River, Saturday in Walla Walla, Washington, return to Portland on Sunday and spend the afternoon checking out some distilleries and urban wineries and then Monday in the Willamette before catching a red eye out.
That’s not nearly enough time in any of those places, and way too much time in the car for a four day trip, but it is doable, and I really want to go back to Walla Walla. So just a vague idea for you. And if you haven’t been, that Columbia Gorge drive east of Portland along the river is stunning.
So hard to narrow down Portland restaurant recs, but I can tell you that Tasty 'n Sons is the breakfast spot of my dreams, and always a must stop.

There are many recs for Portland Eats here http://www.wineberserkers.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=6&t=111938

In wine country I love to grab a sandwich at Red Hills Market and take it to a nearby winery such as Arterberry-Maresh or DePonte and eat on their deck.

Cocktails and food in wine country at Thistle are excellent. In Portland cocktails at Multnomah Whisky Library, Teardrop Lounge, Expatriate (good for brunch too), Common Law, Aviary, Rum Club.

What isn’t covered well is the coast. Unfortunately, getting up and down the coast is no easy task, so you’re better off doing strikes from inland imho.

I like Astoria for the food at Albatross and the beers at Buoy and Ft. George.

In the Tillamook area you want Netarts oysters and De Garde beers.

Further south I’d make plans to stay and eat at Beck. It’s one of the best restaurants in Oregon and you’ll have a very relaxing time there. Easy to tack on after time in the Willamette Valley.

I’d plan to spend a day in Hood River. You can walk the entire town, take a real hike and finish off at a World Class Brewery all in the same day, then drive back home via Ht. Hood, stopping at Timberline Lodge to stretch your legs. And if mountains are your thing, a day trip to Mt. St. Helens is a powerful and moving experience.

I’d plan to spend a day in Hood River. You can walk the entire town, take a real hike and finish off at a World Class Brewery all in the same day, then drive back home via Ht. Hood, stopping at Timberline Lodge to stretch your legs.

Always a good loop if you are new to the are.

Thanks for taking the time to reply guys, this is helpful and much appreciated!

If you can, I would try to come middle/late September VS October. Just so you get a better chance for great weather.

I don’t know what your budget is like or what your food interests are but here’s what I’d suggest: You can change it a bit depending on if you’re from midwest or east coast and have more interest in oceans or mountains :slight_smile:

Day 1
Hood River for a day. Stay at an air BnB or the Columbia Gorge Hotel. Lots of local hiking for casual or serious folks. If you really like hiking, Dog Mountain is beautiful. While in Hood River, definitely go to pFriem Brewery for some of the best beers in Oregon in my opinion. They also have great food. Double Mountain is also another good stop and if you want Pizza Soulstice is near pFriem on the water. If you want to do a wine stop, my one and only recommendation is Syncline wines. It’s about 20 minutes from Hood River, it’s a beautiful drive and they don’t rhone varietals and they do a pretty decent job.

Day 2 - Head over to Mt. Hood, visit timberline lodge and make your way to Bend. Bend has LOTS of good food and breweries and is set in a beautiful high desert setting. Lots of biking, hiking, golf etc. If you’re at all interested in that I can give you some places to eat.

Day 2 Alternate - A Day back in Portland. There’s so many good places in Portland to eat it’s overwhelming. Paul mentioned some great places, I will add a few of my favorites:

Clyde Common for cocktails
Driftwood - Cocktails
Pepe le moko - trendy speakeasy with awesome cocktails
St. Jack - Great french food
Imperial - Food/cocktails
Coquine - French food
Nuestra Cocina - Latin

If you do want to go to the coast one town I would suggest looking at is Gearhart and/or Cannon Beach.

If you haven’t been, Portland City Grill is good for a little more upscale dinner and a great view of Portland from the 30th floor of one of the downtown buildings. They have a decent wine list and the food and service were both very good. I’d second the hood river recs. It’s a small town but with some serious beer making.

Scott- I will respectfully and completely, 100% disagree on Portland City Grill. it’s a generic restaurant devoid of local flavor. If you want a steak, head to Laurelhurst Market.

Brandon - Agree on Syncline but don’t forget Memaloose or Analemma!

Paul. We were there over New Years and stayed at the Black Walnut in Williamette and ate at the Painted Lady. If I were to go back I would stay at the same place but would not necessarily go back to the restaurant. Hope this helps.

A great place to stay at the coast…its a bit away from PDX but is a special experience.

for the jet pilot in you

And don’t forget the wineries in the city.

Lots of fun to be had. Enjoy! Ed

ITB, Angel Vine

Just to add a few more ideas:

In the Willamette, Red Hills Market is excellent and in McMinnville try Valley Commissary for lunch. Breakfast is lovely at Crescent Cafe, and the best coffee outside of Portland is Flag & Wire in McMinnville(this is the coffee they serve at Red Hills Market as well).

Pastries: Carlton Bakery, and Red Fox in McMinnville as a good second choice.

For places to stay in the Valley: Third St. Flats

Dining in PDX: all of the above plus
Taqueria Nueve
Ken’s Artisan Pizza(neighborhood place with amazing pizza and a very good, very well priced wine list)

Coastal towns:
Astoria; right on the mouth of the Columbia River. A couple of nice hotels (Cannery Pier, Hotel Elliot), a couple of decent restaurants and some fun bars. Funky city, lots of waterfront stuff, not incredibly touristy.
Cannon Beach; tourist beacon of Oregon coast but maybe not too bad in September/October (the reason for this is the potential for cold, drizzly weather is high). A million places to stay, incredible beach, close to cool hikes (Oswald West) and secluded beaches (Hug Point), not well known for great dining but I believe it has improved lately.
Manzanita/Gearhart; smaller towns that many Oregonians utilize for weekends/second homes. Both have small golf courses. Neither have tons of amenities but are both lovely in a get away from it all sort of way. Rent a house and bring your own stuff. Both have great beaches but no guarantee on weather.
Newport area; You’re starting to get far away from your main focus here (as you would be going to Bend as well) but there are good restaurants, nice places to stay and cool things to see and do. Just depends on how much traveling to and from you want to do.

Portland: Less hotels than you would think but downtown ones are all generally nice/new-ish/re-done recently. Depending on your timing you could end up paying a lot. If you are going to do a couple days in the city and are not going to go anywhere you might consider returning your rental car for that time (there’s a Hertz right downtown and a couple other ones just outside) and walking, Uber-ing, street car-ing and the like as you can pay upwards of $30/night to park your car at the hotel. Portland is very easy to get around in and anything you reasonably would want to do will not be expensive or hard to get to.

Restaurants: Davenport has terrific food (some misses) and an amazing wine list (you have to ask special for it and sometimes it is not terribly up to date but Kurt who runs the wine program knows his stuff way better than most fancy ass sommeliers), Bar Vivant is right next door and has one of the most extensive Champagne lists anywhere (I mean anywhere). Service can be a little strange but if all you are there for is a bottle and a small bite there’s not too much to worry about. Muselet; in the SW Waterfront. Definitely in the realm of the best and most creative food in the city. Excellent wine program. Higgins; old stand by for great local NW fare. Sit in the back bar. Order the fish special and soup and something else that catches your eye (and oysters). Mucca; best Italian (Roman/Tuscan-ish) in the city IMO. Beautiful spot, terrific service. Very warm feeling. Very good wine list (all Italian). Ox or Superbite; owned by same couple, would need to reserve WAY in advance but worth it. Langbaan; best Thai-style food ever (at least my ever). Impossibly creative. You would have to reserve now and get lucky. Seats 20. Bring your own wine though. Bar Avignon; excellent local cuisine, great atmosphere, good wine program. Pok Pok; go for lunch, way easier to get into then and I like it better that time of day anyway. Biwa; crazy below ground Japanese sort of thing. Terrific and interesting food. Coquine; French, elegant and nicely stylish tucked away into a little neighborhood. Just won restaurant of the year. Tanuki; non-sushi Japanese/Korean omokase. Insanity to revel in. Shift Drinks; excellent cocktails, easy and inexpensive light food, intelligent wine program, open very late too. Ataula; best tapas in the city. Smallwares; excellent and tremendously creative Asian fusion (she worked in the Momofuko empire and I have brought people to Smallwares who say it is better than any of those).

That’s my input. There are a million more and I didn’t even do the food cart thing because I don’t know anything about it really.

Coffee; Barista, Heart, Fresh Pot, Coava, Water Avenue.

Alternative thinking on stuff: Breakfast and especially brunch in Portland is out of hand. It’s ridiculous. And I mean people wait in long lines for it. You can avoid it and get great food. Try the VQ if you must have brunch. Or Oven and Shaker if brunch can be pizza/sandwich/salad oriented.

+1 on Jim’s post

Smallwares was fantastic. Davenport should have been on my list. The wine pricing is excellent and the list is remarkable especially for the Burgundy/Loire aficionado.

Orderliness is not Kurt’s strength so remember to ask him for the complete list or for recommendations of wines he hasn’t had time to add yet.

Indeed, great stuff Jim!

Depending on your wine preferences, I’d recommend visiting Analemma, which is 10 minutes east in Mosier. Really nice sparkling wine and Rose of Pinot and nice Gewürztraminer and Pinot - all from Gorge fruit. Plus great people.

pFriem and Double Mountain are both worth visiting, but if you like farmhouse ales, you must visit Logsdon Farmhouse Ales’ taproom in downtown Hood River. It is across the street from Double Mountain.

Will be in Willamette next month at the Youngbird Inn and 2 days in Portland plus 2 days at Cannon Beach so always looking for recs as we have been so often, it is hard to find something new.

Have you eaten at Newman’s 988 in Cannon Beach? I like it.

No offense but please don’t go here :frowning:

I like to call PCG “Shari’s in the Sky”. It’s…really not good at all nor does it represent Portland food in any way shape or form. The view is amazing but it doesn’t have anything going for it other than a beautiful view of the vity.

Jim hit some great places. As you can see, it’s hard to NOT find good food in Portland.

I are a huge foodcart fan so if you need help you can PM me.

Also another iconic place for quick eats is Bunk sandwiches, just outstanding food.

For sandwiches, I would go with Lardo. We had a catered BD for my SIL’ 40th from Bunk. The fillings were very good, but the bread sucked. Also had a bunch of pizzas from Pizza Jerk and the crust sucked. A sandwich and pizza is in the bread and crust, the fillings are the added attraction, not the main course. But then I have usually gotten my sandwiches from St. Honoré, Grand Central or New Seasons and pizza from Dove and Ken’s.
YMMV as my wife says I am a hard person to please. [oops.gif]

Lots of good recommendations here. On the coast south of Lincoln City is Restaurant Beck, the best food I’ve had on the coast with a nice wine program. Mostly the coast is pretty rugged with not a lot of fine dining, though certainly some good options.