I’m a foodie at heart and cities like Portland really bring it out in me. Portland is the best city in the Northwest from urban sustainability to farm-to-table dishes. What is so amazing about their food scene? The Missoula Floods brought fertile soil to the Willamette Valley, the Urban Growth Boundary keeps local farms close and protects the land, and Portland has access to an entire food shed which creates a specific cuisine. Portland promotes the “eat local” movement and has a variety of walking tours offered not only to tourists, but to those who want to get out and experience what their backyard has to offer.
Forktown Food Tours offers three different area tours all about three hours long and less than $80 a person. You can explore the Downtown area with the artsy Pearl District tour, the Alphabet District and NW 23rd tour, or the North Mississippi tour. A couple of weeks back, I was able to explore the Alphabet District and NW 23rd tour, with our lovely guide, Kelsey. This specific tour walked us around seven different places ranging from sweet bakeries to upscale restaurants, food carts and even a distillery. Lucky for us, the sun was shining and Portland’s finest were out and about in the warm weather.
Pounding the pavement from place to place, we started with a fresh green medley (from their garden outback) and a seasonal mimosa from Besaw’s on NW Savier. This local classic American cuisine opened in 1903 and used to be a saloon. We then trotted over to Kenny and Zuke’s, a traditional style Jewish deli that makes their own ingredients. We started with their amazing pastrami sandwich, washed it down with a local IPA before sampling the reuben. When we were done, Kelsey was reminding us of our soon-to-become sweet tooth. Where to go now? Across the street you will find Saint Honore, named after the Patron Saint of Baking, featuring bricks from the Rhone Valley and Dominique Geulin. Here, we tried chouquettes, which is an egg pastry with pearl sugar. Yum! Next up was Bull Run Distillery, specializing in whiskey and rum, before moving towards NW 21st, where we found ourselves at the granddaddy of farm-to-table in Portland. Wildwood Restaurant, named after the 30-mile Wildwood Trail in Forest Park, has a variety of scrumptious things to offer their customers including the most local spirits of any bar in the city.
At this point, I can say my belly was “fat and happy,” and we still had two more stops to go. What have I not mentioned yet that you have been dying to try? You guessed it: a food cart! Portland has no laws stating that they must move every certain number of hours and during the summertime you can find more than 700 food carts in various corners of the city. At PBJ’s Grilled, we tried the Thai sandwich and a classic PBJ with almond butter and gorgonzola blue cheese, grilled! The idea was insane and brilliant at the same time. I can honestly say that I may someday (soon) host a houseful of guests and stun them with my new cooking ideas. The last stop of the day, Two Tarts Bakery, was perfect. Thankful for a cold glass of water, I felt like I was high on life and drunk on food. Two Tarts Bakery ended our day just right with a variety of mini cookies and Nossa Familia Coffee.
If you are not hungry (or possibly even full) yet, pull out a hat, some comfortable shoes, and your most stylish stretchy pants and book a walking food tour with Forktown.