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coffee and bike in portland, oregon

When people stop by the Visitor's Center at Director Park, where I've volunteered since 2001, my number one recommendation is to Walk & Graze!

There are so many wonderful places to eat and drink in this city that it's a shame to waste all your stomach's capacity in one spot. Have a coffee, share a donut, sample something from a food cart, have another coffee, split an entree for lunch, get a kids scoop of ice cream, have a cocktail and an appetizer, enjoy a local brew, and if you've still got space, make a dinner reservation at a local hotspot, but save room for a nightcap somewhere with a view.

Portland is an extremely walkable city. Our blocks are half the size of a New York City block. The reason? Our city planners realized that corner lots command more revenue. Smart guys!

Restaurant Recommendations

The area of town I'm most excited about right now is the newly revitalized "West End" of downtown (SW 12th Ave/ cross streets Washington & Alder). Within the past couple years some amazing restaurants have moved into this area making downtown a renewed hot spot for fabulous dining. It thrills me to tell visitors that 5 (half size) blocks away they can eat at one of Portland's best brunch spots - Tasty N Alder. Other amazing places in that locale are: Kask (modern saloon), Grassa (hand made pasta), Ruby Jewel (ice cream), Multnomah Whiskey Library (a sight to behold with it's 1500+ bottle collection), Lardo (artisinal sandwiches), and two of Portland's finest micro-roasters. So much goodness packed into a 2 block radius!

The other major dining Hotspot du jour is SE Division - so much happening on that street right now. Of course there's Pok Pok, but a couple of my personal faves are Bollywood Theater (Indian Street Food) and Ava Gene's(named "Restaurant of the Year" by Portland Monthly Magazine in 2013, and named #5 Best New Restaurant in America by Bon App├ętit, Sept 2013).

Other fun areas with high density fine dining (and when I say "fine" I don't necessarily mean "fancy" rather amazing food lovingly prepared by true artisans; think FLOSS - Fresh, Local, Organic, Seasonal, Sustainable) - NE Alberta & NE Killingsworth, North Mississippi, Pearl District, NW 23rd & 21st. Oh, and did I mention Food Carts? The City of Portland has issued over 700 licenses for food carts, many of them located in "pods" (defined by more than 2 food carts together). There are several downtown pods near Portland State Univesity, 5th & Oak, and many further out, such as North Mississippi & Skidmore and SE Belmont & 46th.

If you follow the James Beard Awards we've got a few local stars. I recently compiled a list, for my own interest, and can honestly say, you can't go wrong picking a restaurant based on this list. Local James Beard Winning/Nominated Chefs

My favorite restaurants in Portland right now? Atuala - a stunning Catalonian tapas restaurant located just off Northwest Portland's restaurant row on 23rd Place. My favorite dessert in town is at Maurice (the lemon souffle cake, if you must know) - a charming lunch spot on SW Oak- right next to Courier Coffee. For fine dining I love Coquine for their tasting menu - Chef Katy Millard has been nominated for Best Chef NW for the past couple years and Coquine was named the 2016 Restaurant of the Year by the Oregonian.

Other Activities

Another thing I recommend visitors do is take the Portland Streetcar (NS Line) on its entire loop from downtown, through the Pearl District, to NW 23rd Street (one of my favorite boutique shopping streets with great little cafes and shops in converted Victorian houses... think Nob Hill), back into downtown, by Portland State University, and down to the South Waterfront, where you can hop off and take the OHSU Aerial Sky Tram for a 3 minute ride up the hill for a fantastic view of the city & surrounding mountains. I think it's a great overview of the city that can be done very cheaply and you have the ability to hop on and hop off as much as you want. An all day Streetcar ticket costs $2.50, or if you're using Light Rail (MAX) or Buses, you can get a comprehensive Tri-Met Day Pass for $5.

And of course, Portland is the City of Roses, so a visit to the International Rose Test Gardens (free) is always a wonderful choice.

Check out Travel Portland's website for trip planning advice, other great options for things to do, and hotel suggestions.

If you have questions, please feel free to email me. I love to help people get the most out of their Portland experience!

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