Weekend in Portland, OR

My wife and I will be traveling to Portland for the weekend of June 19-21. It is our first visit to this city and we barely have a couple of days to enjoy. We will be staying in downtown Portland. I have looked up web sites for places to see but I figure asking the locals for help will be more rewarding. What are the not to be missed places to visit in Portland? I also want to sneak in some wine tasting, even if just in a couple of places.

Thanks so much for your input.

Clem, will you have a car? Where downtown are you staying? Are you looking for points of interest, restaurants . . . what? Let me know and I’ll give you more suggestions.

Starting point, if you’re serious about the wine, is Oregon Wines on Broadway. They have about 30 Oregon pinot noirs open for tasting at any one time. It’s a good way to get a tops of the trees view of the valley. They’re at 515 SW Broadway, a block and a half down the hill from Nordstrom. Your wife will find that place with her innate homing ability.


Thanks for the response. I am staying at The Residence Inn, Downtown/Riverplace and I will have a car. My wife will love to see Portland’s points of interest (heard about the gardens, etc.). Restaurants are great and I really want to visit at least a couple of wineries, time permitting. Our drawback is the short time we are in Portland. We arrive at PDX at 2:00 pm Friday and leave 2:00 pm Sunday.

Clem, the rose test garden in Washington Park should be in full bloom that weekend, and spectacular. The Japanese Garden is also a good place to visit. Wineries are numerous but you’re 45 minutes to an hour away from them, so Saturday is your day. Try to make appointments because a goodly percentage are not open to the public. Do you have favorites or should I make some blind suggestions? I’m still going to recommend Oregon Wines on Broadway, maybe for Friday after you get in. You can take the streetcar from your hotel to within three very short blocks of there to avoid parking hassles.

Restaurants . . . describe what you’re looking for and I’ll make recommendations, otherwise I might end up suggesting oysters to someone with an allergy to mollusks.


As far as restaurants, partial to seafood (not necessarily oyster but salmon, scallops, crabs, shrimps etc). Any Spanish restaurant in the area worth visiting? I haven’t had many experiences with Oregon PN. I have had St. Innocent, Argyle and have Antica Terra in the cellar. Feel free to suggest.

Thanks again.

Clem, I agree with Bob that Oregon Wines on Broadway is a fun place to taste a bunch of OR wines. Nice folks there and a good selection of local wines.

In addition to the recommendations he’s made, I will make a pitch for Jake’s Crawfish (located downtown on 12th and Stark downtown) for a seafood meal. It’s old-school, and very likely crowded and noisy, but it’s kind of a uniquely casual, fun Portland place and I think they do a good job with straightforward seafood presentations.

I’m with Steve. Just make sure you don’t end up at Jake’s Grill instead. The original is much better but be aware that the operative word is “straightforward”. It’s part of the McCormick and Schmick’s empire so the more complex the dish the poorer they are at pulling it off. It’s a very reliable place for oysters, though. Try one of my two favorite restaurants, too, if I may be so bold. Carafe at 200 SW Market and Nostrana at 14th and SE Morrison (sit at the pizza counter - but no, it’s not a pizza joint). I know Steve and Melissa like both places as well. Carafe is particularly BYO-friendly (they’ll generally waive corkage if you share with the staff) whereas Nostrana has upped their corkage to $25, which is really steep in this town.

As for your winery visit(s), I recommend that you not miss Belle Pente, but you’ll need an appointment. As long as you’re there, a bunch of tasting rooms have sprung up in nearby Carlton, so that will probably hold you over. Our own Jacki Bessler’s Barbara Thomas label has a room there along with Scott Paul, Seven of Hearts and a bunch of others. There are enough that you won’t be able to visit them all.

PM me for directions to Belle Pente and Carlton. I have a route that takes a couple minutes longer but is much more scenic and less stressful than the one that all the tourist guides suggest that involves I-5 and Hwy 99W.

Steve and Bob,

Thanks for taking the time to provide suggestions. We will definitely go to restaurants (Jake’s Crawfish and Carafe for sure)/wineries you suggested.


Bob made an important point about Jake’s - it’s a fun place to get a simple meal of grilled fish, fresh oysters, (or crawfish, of course) and a decent wine list. It’s NOT a good place for anything with a fancy sauce or complicated preparation. If you’re looking for a more sophisticated meal, there are any number of fancier places around town. PM if you’re looking for suggestions. Carafe is one of our favorite restaurants, with a simple, delicious bistro menu, and very wine-friendly.

I hope you and your wife enjoy your visit!

We had a great time in Portland last weekend and not even a little rain could put a damper on it.

Thanks to recommendations from Bob and Steve, we had dinner Friday night at Jake’s Famous Crawfish, a restaurant that first opened 117 years ago. We had a delicious steamer of Manila clams for appetizer. For the main course, I had a copper sockeye salmon while my wife chose the crab cakes. As Bob and Steve had indicated, they do great with simple dishes. Both were really good. We washed it down with a refreshing Arcane riesling which was okay but just a little too sweet for my taste. For desert, we had their mini brulee which was quite delicious.

The next day, Saturday, we went to see Brian O’Donnell at Belle Pente. He gave us a nice tour of the place, explained his wine making philosophy, and got to taste his riesling, pinot gris, and of course, his pinot noir. We were sold. His place has a terrific view, by the way. Next, we met with owners of Barbara Thomas Wines, Jacki Bessler and her husband, Chuck Perasso, over lunch at La Rambla at McMinnville. Over some hot and cold tapa plates, we got to taste their riesling, pinot gris, and pinot noir. These are two of the nicest people you can meet, who just happened to make good wines. We had a most enjoyable time.

Portland has to be one of the greenest cities that I have ever come across, beautiful and clean. Their mass transit system is just so convenient. No need to have a car. We got to see the Rose Test Garden, The Japanese Garden, and the Classical Chinese Garden. My wife had a blast. It was too bad that our time was short as we didn’t get to see Multnomah Falls.

The worst part of this trip was coming home as our Jet Blue flight was delayed for over three hours. Oh well. Nothing in life can be so perfect.

Hi Clem, I thought about you this weekend when I was at Oregon Wines on Broadway on Saturday early evening - good to hear that you and your wife enjoyed yourselves. Coincidentally, I also learned this weekend that that view you admired at Belle Pente overlooks the farm where my mom grew up! Melissa and I are big fans of Belle Pente, but have never visited the winery before - we’ll have to remedy that situation before too long.

Anyway, nice to hear that you both had a good time - Jet Blue notwithstanding.

Great to hear about your good time, Clem. The Rose Test Garden was spectacular the week before (I was there) and I’m sure it was still spectacular since the roses will bloom until fall. Unfortunately they’re apparently short of help because the roses were badly in need of dead-heading during my visit.

Another Belle Pente convert! Woohoo! [cheers.gif]