Now that summer is officially here and you’ve hopefully planned your foodcentric trip to Portland, let’s look at some places that are most conducive to fostering summer spirit. That means patios, porches, pods (as in, food pods), as well as, of course, ice cream and picnic-friendly food such as fried chicken and sandwiches.
12. Perfect Brunch: CoquineMt. Tabor and then lunching, brunching or dinnering at Coquine.
Coquine is set at the top of Portland’s tiny urban mountain and adjacent neighborhood and is graced with one of Portland’s best outdoor dining patios.
One of Portland’s finest (and probably my personal favorite) restaurants, Coquine is at once sophisticated and casual, with a friendly counter service menu featuring homemade pastries, breakfast and lunch, and a sublime fixed-option dinner menu that evolves with the seasons.
11. Perfect Scoop: Fifty Licks
Fifty Licks is my favorite Portland Ice cream. They’ve got some (surprise) unusual flavors, such as Cornbread Honeybutter, Thai Rice, and Coconut Lemon Saffron, and right now I’m in love with the Chocolate As #$*& and the Blackstrap Gingersnap.
10. Perfect Porch: Paley’s Place
Paley’s is in Portland’s leaf lined Northwest neighborhood, and is housed in a . . . . well . . . house. A beautiful house with a lovely breezy porch. Co-owner and proprietor Vitaley Paley is a world renowned and James Beard Award winning chef (Best Chef – Northwest, 2005) whose food is elegant, refined and sophisticated. This is where you go to sit on the porch, sip a nice cool beverage, snack on Oysters, Foie Gras or Wagyu Beef Tartare, and then feast on Crispy Sweetbreads, Escargot a la Bordelaise or Quinuault River King Salmon a La Plancha. Or, if you’re on a budget, grab the burger at Happy Hour.
9. Perfect Portable: Fried Egg I’m In LoveFried Egg I’m In Love is located in a teeny food pod in a nice outdoor street corner patio at the outer edge of the beyond-funky Hawthorne neighborhood, and shares space with Tov, the nation’s only Egyptian coffee shop set inside a red double decker bus. At Fried Egg I’m In Love, order yourself a Yolko Ono, their signature dish of fried egg, homemade pesto, parmesan and a handmade sausage patty which, like all of their egg sandwiches, is sprinked with “Magic Egg Dust.” It’s so good.
Bonus: Then head next door to Tov and sit upstairs in the canopied second story and do some good people watching. Tov’s proprietor, Joe, came to the U.S. to escape Egyptian Christian persecution and he pours all of his heart, blood, love and guts into his little bus. Go there to grab a sweet hibiscus nectar and a falafel croissant.
8. Perfect Cool-Off Cone: Wailua Shave Ice
When your car registers 98 degrees in the shade, it’s time for a diet of shave ice. Set smack in the middle of downtown Portland, and in a nice new breezeway shopping corridor off Burnside Street, you can shop for various cool goods while your eating partner holds your place in line.
The menu at Wailua is chock full of tropical fruit creations including ice with pineapple, coconut and passion fruit flavors, and if you’re wilting due to lack of proper calories because it’s too hot to eat, choose the $1 extra scoop of ice cream on the bottom of your ice mountain. Also available are added non-dairy coconut whip, shaved toasted coconut and nutella. I love the shave ice here because it’s light, refreshing and flavorful, and satisfies your dessert cravings without weighing you down.
7. Perfect Patio for Portland People Watching: SpitzSpitz is young, fun and delicious. It’s one of my favorite places to stop on the way home so we can nosh on delicious doners at home. No cook, no clean, no complain. The décor is so Portland. Grab a doner sandwich, some fries and hang on the patio until the sun sets.
6. Perfect Market and Pet Watching: Ps & Qs
Ps and Qs is a humble, low key café that is also part market. It’s in a great location, far far away from the throngs of the more tourist and restaurant-heavy neighborhoods near Alberta, Division and Hawthorne streets. Grab a grilled cheese sandwich with pear, arugula and pesto and pick up some flowers, eggs, pasta, or an old school candy bar for your home pantry. Win win.
5. Perfect Pan Pizza: Red Sauce Pizza
Red Sauce Pizza is in the Cully neighborhood which is home to the famous Pizza Jerk, as well as a number of other worthwhile casual establishments I’ll clue you in on real soon. Red Sauce is a spunky group of cooks and servers, slinging awesome pies in their funky indoor space, as well as on their killer outdoor patio. Their mighty fine rectangular pan pie on Tuesdays and Wednesdays feeds a small army. Try the salami and hot honey pie, and try not to eat half by yourself, especially those expertly charred corners. If you’re lucky, you might also snag a loaf of wild-yeasted, naturally fermented sourdough bread that they offer from time to time.
SEE ALSO: 35 BEST PIZZERIAS IN PORTLAND
5. Perfect Picnic Food: Bunk Sandwiches
Summer always conjures up sandwiches for me, and if you add fried chicken to that mix, I’m in. Summer is picnic and therefore sandwich weather. At Bunk I’ve had four delicious sandwiches, (the Italian is one of the best sandwiches in Portland, hands down) and I can’t imagine the rest of their offerings are any less delicious. Bonus: the portions are generous and a half sandwich will easily fill you up. Bonus #2: they have froze served from a slushy machine.
4. Perfect Tableside-Made Guacamole that Stays Cold: Tamale Boy
Hit Tamale Boy up and sit on their spacious outdoor patio for tacos, tamales, at-your-table-made fresh molcajete guacamole, fun side dishes and a wildly delicious corn soup are the highlights to enjoy here this summer.
3. Perfect Modern Tacos: Uno Mas
Uno Mas is a great taco joint housed in a street corner that is home to a slew of other fun eateries, and they all share a wonderful covered patio with bench seating. Definitely try the fried cheese taco. Fried. Cheese. Taco.
2. Perfect Portland Weirdness: Salt and Straw
Salt and Straw is the wild child of Portland ice cream shops, where you may find such things as Ramen, Pork, Thanksgiving Stuffing and Turkey Cracklings Caramel in your ice cream. They have become so popular they’ve opened up shops in San Francisco and Los Angeles. My go-to is their Olive Oil ice cream, which tastes like salty sweet butter. Although the lines can be ridiculously long at Salt and Straw, it’s definitely worth a visit.
1. Perfect Soft Serve: Wiz Bang BarWiz Bang Bar in Portland’s Pine Street Market which is Salt & Straw’s outpost of soft-serve only ice cream utopia. Check out their unique hard shell flavors, their ornate farm-centric sundaes, and their seasonal/rotating school-kid and employee signature creations.
While braving the streets of Portland can be overwhelming with congestion, traffic and tourists during the summer months, be savvy and visit these summer dining spots at off-hours times and you will keep your cool, and be glad you did! From oysters to ice cream, we’ve got you covered this summer in Portland.