Portland is one of those places where everyone you meet has an opinion on where to get the best pizza, the most life-changing burger, or the hottest doughnut. Fierce pride in regional ingredients, chefs’ close relationships with local farmers and foragers, and the famously independent, experimental spirit of Portlanders has put Oregon’s biggest city on the culinary map - and what to eat is the first question on everyone’s lips. No wonder it is regarded by America’s top critics as the best food destination in the country.
And this summer, it is easier than ever to get a taste of Portland, as Delta Air Lines launches a brand new route from London Heathrow on 26 May, in partnership with Virgin Atlantic. It is the first time the UK has enjoyed a non-stop air link with the city, and is a top opportunity to find out what all the foodies are so excited about.
Want to impress a Portlander? Here are the local heroes you have to try for breakfast, lunch, dinner and dessert.
Tasty n Alder in Downtown Portland is the city’s favourite place to start the day. Owned by local entrepreneur John Gorham, it serves gourmet versions of American brunch favourites made with Pacific Northwest produce (the burger is slathered in Cascade hazelnut romesco; fried Willapa Bay oysters come with bacon lardons, cheddar and a buttermilk biscuit). Or head to Portland Farmers’ Market in the grassy grounds of Portland State University on a Saturday for a legendary breakfast burrito, topped with Oregon-made Tillamook cheese, at Enchanted Sun.
Portland’s street food scene has exploded in the past few years - the city is now dotted with more than 700 food carts. To lunch like a local, head to the collection of carts at SW 10th and Alder Street and join the line for Nong’s Khao Man Gai. This Thai spot only serves one dish - chicken and rice with a special sauce - and Portlanders can’t get enough of it.
The Inner Southeast neighbourhood is Portland’s hippest district, and it’s here you’ll find Kachka, a perennially popular Russian restaurant famous for its dumplings and house-made vodka infusions (the signature horseradish vodka is a revelation). To alleviate now common two-hour waits, the team is opening a second outpost later this year. Other hot tables in the area include Le Pigeon, a riff on a French bistro where foie gras comes with pineapple-miso caramel and honey-seaweed brioche, and Biwa, a basement izakaya serving Pacific Northwest-meets-Japanese small plates.
You’ll see the queue before you see the sign for Voodoo Doughnuts, Portland’s 24-hour doughnut shop. The bakery is renowned for out-there flavours including “bacon maple” and “grape dust and lavender”. Need to cool down? Salt & Straw is a Portland-made, culinary ice cream brand that has already expanded to LA and will soon be seen in San Francisco. Classic Portland flavours include “pear and blue cheese” and “strawberry honey balsamic with black pepper”.
Portland becomes easier to reach on 26 May, when Delta Air Lines launches the very first non-stop flights from London Heathrow, in partnership with Virgin Atlantic. Visit delta.com to book your flight and plan your Portland foodie feast.
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- Delta Air Lines
- Virgin Atlantic
- London Heathrow
- Willapa Bay