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portland, oregon guide!

by Grace Bonney

[image above: japanese garden, portland, oregon, via grand canyon]

today’s city guide has been one of the most request, and most delayed in the history of d*s guides. i’m so sorry it’s taken so long but we’ve been through a string of locals who’ve been unable to complete their guides and today, thanks to becki from shopping is my cardio, we finally have a portland, oregon guide on d*s! portland is such an amazing city full of incredible art, museums, shopping, restaurants, coffee (stumptown, anyone?), hotels and bookstores- it’s hard to know where to begin. but thankfully becki is here to take us through the city today. i hope you’ll enjoy her guide, and feel free to add any of your favorite spots in the comment section below. thanks to becki for all her hard work!

for the full portland, oregon guide after the jump!

Hello, design*sponge readers! I’m so excited to be here, and can’t wait to share a little (okay, a lot) about the best Portland, Oregon has to offer. I’m Becki Singer, I write a little style blog called ShoppingsMyCardio, and I’ve lived in Portland for, wow, about two years now. Since I tend to write about fashion and accessories every day, I’m thrilled to be able to chat a bit about my other passion, home design, and to share my favorite shops and sights in the City of Roses. Thanks so much for having me, Grace!

Portland is one of those cities everyone seems to have an opinion about, whether they’ve been here or not. “It rains all the time there!”, “The city’s full of hippies, right?”, and on it goes. So, before you come to visit, let me clear up a few things. We do have rain, but it’s less than you think – winter is definitely gloomy, but our summers are the reason people live here: it’s gorgeous and sunny from June through October. As for the hippie thing, well, that one’s sort of true. We do have our fair share – though I’m going to get hate mail for admitting it. Most locals love their yoga, their bikes and their alternative medicine. You’ll get glares from fellow patrons if you forget to put your biodegradable coffee cup in the compost bin, and I’ve never lived somewhere with so many options for vegetarian, vegan and raw diners. We also tend to be an outdoorsy bunch (okay, that’s a metaphorical “we”…outdoorsy is one thing I’m not) – Portland is heaven if you’re into camping, skiing, hiking, kayaking, snowshoeing…really anything that involves installing a Thule rack on your Subaru.

All that said, there’s oh-so-much more to Portland than rain and recycling. In fact, in the last ten years, this city has turned into a hip, artistic, and thoroughly cool city. If you’re into art, you’ll be amazed by the sheer number of galleries in the city, and the fact that Portland is home to all sorts of artists you already know and love (Matte Stephens, Amy Ruppel, and Jill Bliss come to mind). The indy music scene here is legendary – the Decemberists hail from its ranks, and there’s always a hot new band (or ten) to check out on any given weekend at one of the dozens of local concert venues. And the food…as a transplant from San Francisco, I take my foodie credentials seriously. The culinary scene in Portland is simply amazing, and so much less expensive than comparable spots in bigger cities. Local chefs pride themselves on sourcing the best from organic farms and free-range ranches, and doling out dishes built to make the ingredients the star. Of course, if you’re more swayed by liquid refreshment, don’t forget about those legendary Oregon Pinot Noirs, the very serious coffee bean scene, and the fact that we have more microbreweries per capita than any other city in the US.

Now that you’ve decided to visit, it will help if you take a moment to get the lay of the land. PDX is divided into quadrants: the boundary of the north and south sides is a street called Burnside, and the boundary between east and west is the Willamette River. The scene definitely changes depending on which side of the river you’re on. While it’s a gross generalization, I tend to think of the west side of Portland as the more metro, urban, hip and trendy side of things. The east side, on the other hand, is what I think most people “expect” from Portland: it’s a little more unkempt and alternative – definitely cool, but with nary a hipster vibe to be found. It’s easy to get “stuck” over on the west side. Downtown is in the SW quarter, and most of the tourist spots and upscale shopping are on the West side. But on the east side, you’ll get a feel for what really makes Portland unique and quirky…in a good way, of course. To make life easier, and to convince you to venture east, I’ve divided this guide into neighborhoods (sometimes loosely), but also listed the quadrant for each.

While you’re here, remember that PDX takes its local, homegrown businesses very seriously. Take advantage of the fact that this city nurtures independent retailers and abhors the strip mall (our mayor’s biggest campaign promise was to keep Wal-Mart out of the city), and you’ll be rewarded handsomely: we have some of the best, most uniquely curated boutiques you’ll find anywhere. Oh, and did I mention there’s no sales tax? Just in case you needed another excuse.


Cielo Home: When it comes to retail, I rarely play favorites. But if I had to choose one home design store in the City of Roses, this would be it. Every time I visit, there are new things I covet, and I don’t think there’s a single thing in this store I wouldn’t happily welcome into my house. There are plenty of formal design darlings like Juriska crystal, Raynaud china and John Derian galore. But you’ll also find Jonathan Adler, Thomas Paul, stunning vintage and reproduction accessories, design books, hand-stitched Indian blankets, unbelievable Cire Trudon candles, and so much more, I can’t even begin. While you’re there, you might even catch a glimpse of Coco and Sergio, the shop’s adorable whippets.

Cargo: You’ll spot Cargo from several blocks away – it’s the shop in the hip Pearl district whose façade is festooned with hundreds of Chinese lanterns and multicolored flags, which should tip you off that you’re in for something extraordinary. Cargo is Portland’s best spot for global home goods – the shop’s two stories are packed floor to ceiling with so many amazing things to see, it’s nearly impossible to absorb in a single trip. They have a great collection of cheap ethnic jewelry and knick-knacks – my favorites are the brightly-painted clay Dia de los Muertos figurines. Head to the back of the store to check out the furniture imports and other goodies, like a life-size bust of a Chinese general, a giant ceramic koi, or a vintage Japanese billboard for soap.

Hive: If you’re a devotee of modern design, Hive may just turn out to be your favorite shop in Portland. The incredibly knowledgeable staff will happily guide you through a perfectly-edited collection of Eames, Blu Dot, George Nelson, and dozens of other modern furniture designers. Or, browse on your own, and grab some truly cool accessories to up the style quotient at your pad. I happen to love their George Colombo trolleys and, well, pretty much any of the perfectly random Alessi kitchen goods.

Moulé: When I first moved to Portland, I was suffering a little retail withdrawal, but Moulé saved me. The only US outpost of a Canadian-born boutique, Moulé is bigger than a boutique, but smaller than a department store. They stock most trendy urban collections you’d hope to find, plus great indy designs you won’t find elsewhere, as well as men’s, children’s, home goods and jewelry. The jewel in the crown is owner Rachel Mara’s eponymous clothing line – it’s exclusive to Moulé, and a must-shop if you’re a clotheshorse like me.

Pearl Bakery: It must be something about the weather, but bakeries in Portland have a talent for making particularly wonderful breads. If you’re a connoisseur, the carbs at the Pearl Bakery are well worth the indulgence. Grab a pastry or a baguette and munch while wandering the streets of the Pearl District, knowing you’re making everyone around you insanely jealous.


Manor: If high-end home design is your style, you’ll want to make Manor your first stop in the Rose City. After owning an interior design business in Portland for years, owners Liz and Liza (a mom-and-daughter team) got fed up with not being able to source their chic selections locally. While they’re definitely high style, I happen to love the store’s blend of big-city chic and Portland quirk. Sure, you can grab a can of Farrow & Ball paint (your only source in Portland) or a Rani Arabella cashmere throw so soft you’ll be tempted to curl up for a nap right there in the shop. But you can also take home your very own taxidermied dairy cow named (appropriately) Milkshake, procured from a no-kill taxidermist in Bolivia. I couldn’t have possibly made this up if I’d tried. While you’re there, don’t miss the custom jewelry by Heather B. Moore, unbelievably soft wool throws from Swans Island, gorgeous sleepwear from Kiyomi, or china by Peter Mac Cann calligraphed with each of the seven deadly sins, and seven contrasting virtues.

Besaw’s: Portland is a brunch town – on Saturdays and Sundays, you can’t get anywhere near most of the popular breakfast spots in the city. I’ve waited an hour for a table at Besaw’s on Sunday morning, but they give you coffee (and sometimes baked treats) to tide you over, and the wait is always worthwhile. Inside, you’ll find a classic, homey diner packed to bursting with happy locals. Whatever you order, make sure it comes with a side of pork apple sausage – it’s ridiculously good.

Merriweather’s: If you’re looking for the finer side of brunching, head a few blocks north to Merriweather’s. If weather permits, hold out for a seat for the patio – it might be my favorite dining spot in the city. And seriously consider ordering the coconut chicken and waffles – trust me. This is also a great spot for lunch or dinner – the menu changes constantly, as they source nearly all of their produce from their own local farm, but it’s always wonderful.

Saint Cupcake: Like most cities these days, there are a few spots for great cupcakes in Portland, but Saint Cupcake is my hands-down choice. If you’re a purist when it comes to these things, as I am, you’ll love the old-school classic flavors, the abundant sprinkles, and the sweet décor. Personally, I’m just in it for the cream cheese icing.


Canoe: Canoe is one of those stores that’s so perfectly put together, it almost feels more art gallery than boutique. But after you take a moment to marvel at the shop’s inimitable style, it will hit you: everything’s for sale at this museum! Owners/curators Craig Olson and Sean Igo pride themselves on choosing quality over quantity. If you’re searching for a bookend, they have one style – it just happens to be the perfect one, designed exclusively for Canoe by a local metalworker. Ditto for the perfect pocket knife (by Opinel), paperweight (a cast iron barn owl, and my favorite thing in the shop) or tea strainer (designed by a Japanese artist specializing in wire netting crafts). Their collection of Heath Ceramics, including several pieces exclusive to the store, and Citterio flatware alone make me wish I’d known enough to register there when I was a bride.

Cacao: If you’re a chocolate fiend, Cacao is a must-stop shop for you. You’ll find the best selection of chocolate in Portland, perhaps the entire West Coast. Cacao takes chocolate very seriously – once, when I couldn’t decide which dark chocolate bar to splurge on, the owner spent an hour creating an impromptu chocolate tasting for me, so that I could pick my poison with an informed palate. While you’re there, try anything by local chocolatier DePaula.

Fontanelle Gallery: With a tiny little storefront in the outskirts of downtown Portland, Fontanelle is an easy stop to miss. But it’s worth tracking down if you’re a fan of up-and-coming artists. The gallery is split into an exhibition space (revamped monthly) and a “Parlor” collection, where you’ll find permanent works, often incredibly affordable prints, and other pieces you’ll be tempted to cart home. On my last visit, they had pieces by Andy Kehoe, Ashley Sloan and Jess Fogel, and a fabulous multi-media installation by local artists Josh Orion Kermiet and Midori Hirose.

AM Living: It’s easy to dismiss AM Living for its lackluster location (I think it’s the only shop left in its little center), but one look in the store’s windows will show you there’s something very special going on inside. Walk in the door and you’re transported to what can only be described as your dream childhood bedroom. The front of the shop is packed with model airplanes, racing cars, globes and maps galore. Head to the back of the shop, and you’re in for some serious eye candy: they have an entire room draped floor to ceiling with hanging mobiles and antique reproduction toys, all amazingly affordable. On your way out, don’t miss their collection of authentic embroidered suzani quilts – the owners have a special penchant for the pieces, and the selection is gorgeous.

Powell’s City of Books: Even if you’re not a book lover, Powell’s is just one of those places you can’t miss while you’re in Portland. It’s a Portland legend, and with good reason. The main store covers an entire city block, and is three stories tall – and the whole thing is packed to the rafters with every book you could ever hope to read – more than a million books at any given time, in fact. In print, out of print, new, used, rare, signed…if you want it, the “City of Books” almost definitely has it. Bibliophiles might want to add an extra day onto their trip for this stop – it’s that good. If you’re into rare books, the Powell’s collection is one of the best in the country – stop in and check out a first edition of The Hobbit, signed Hemingway novels, and a wealth of other goodies.

Everyday Music: I tend to refer to Everyday as the Powell’s of music. As I said, the music scene in Portland is alive and well, and Everyday is the proof. This massive store stocks just about every new or used title you could ever hope for, often on both CD and vinyl, and will make you abandon your iTunes addiction in a hurry. You could easily spend hours browsing the racks – especially if you get one of the very smart staffers behind the counters involved. They’ll introduce you to bands you never knew you loved, and chances are, you can pick up your favorite new disc used for…well, a song.

Covet: I have to be careful about visiting Covet – I have yet to manage a trip in which I leave empty-handed. If I were to design a clothing store (or, for that matter, my perfect closet), something tells me it would look much like Covet. Whether you’re after the ultimate comfy LA Made cardigan, a drapey silk tee from Geren Ford or an impossible-to-find Epice scarf, chances are owner Athena Frazier has it…or something else just as wonderful that you can’t live without.

Frances May: This shop is a favorite among Portland fashion devotees, and with good reason – I can’t think of a store that does a better job of exuding the cool, understated vibe that Portland locals can’t get enough of. Owned by a grandmother/granddaughter team, Frances May stocks the best from unique indy lines like Church + State, Rachel Comey, Vena Cava and Built By Wendy, as well as jewelry and accessories by several beloved local designers. The end result feels a bit like raiding your cool big sister’s closet….but considerably less hazardous to your health.

Mother’s Bistro: Mother’s was my first favorite restaurant in Portland – I’ve since come to realize it’s practically an institution here. Their menu is an updated take on classic home cooking like chicken and dumplings, meatloaf, and a daily rendition of mac and cheese that has been known to inspire squeals of glee at my table. They also happen to have a killer brunch, but make a reservation if you can.

Clyde Common: If you’re after more upscale fare, Clyde Common is such a great example of what makes Portland, Portland that it’s worth it for the experience alone. That said, it’s also some of the best food in the city, and that’s no small accomplishment. Housed in the Ace Hotel downtown, you’ll dine at communal tables, where you’re almost certain to make a new friend or two, if only because you’ll probably need help deciphering some of the exotic ingredients on the menu. But even if you don’t know your Grana Padano from your poached octopus, an unforgettable experience is a given.

Whole Bowl: If you’re too busy shopping and sightseeing to stop for a bite, the food carts in Portland can be unbelievably tasty. Food writers attribute the phenomenon to low overhead and the inability to hold fresh ingredients for long in the back of a truck. Fair points, but I chalk it up to this city’s tireless devotion to good food – whether it’s in a cart or at a five-star restaurant. The best collection of carts is on SW 9th and Alder, where you’ll find my personal favorite: Whole Bowl. A great veggie/vegan option packed with beans, rice, avocado, and loads of other goodies, you’ll want to ask for extra Tali Sauce – the top-secret concoction is incredibly addictive.


Sword + Fern: You’ll find jewelry designer Emily Baker’s unmistakable wares at any number of shops here – ever since she began designing pieces from her now-signature recycled car parts, she’s become sort of a symbol of the up-cycling movement in Portland. Her shop is definitely worth a visit if you’re spending time on East Burnside. Emily is an absolute delight to meet, and you’ll likely find gorgeous one-of-a-kind pieces you can’t buy elsewhere. Plus, she keeps her walls bare to use as a gallery space that she rotates monthly, so you’ll be able to browse her designs and check out a talented local artist (or two) while you’re at it.

Life + Limb: This little shop is the cure for even the blackest of thumbs. Stocking exclusively succulent plants, the very helpful shop owners will help you house your new charge in a beautiful planter from Perch, Pigeon Toe, or dozens of other lovelies, and teach you how to keep from killing it. Before I met Life + Limb, I thought cacti were my only option, but it turns out there are loads of lovely, non-painful succulents out there – some even have flowers! Plus, since they’re built for neglect, drought and general abuse, you may even be able to cart something home in your carry-on. If green just isn’t your thing, Life + Limb also stocks wonderful home accessories, books and gifts that have nothing whatsoever to do with plants.

Hippo Hardware: You know how, in movies, someone goes into the attic of an old house and there are all of these fabulous, crazy things (even though your attic at home is just full of fiberglass and cobwebs)? That’s basically Hippo Hardware. It’s sort of a wonderland for treasure hunters, and a dangerous place for do-it-yourselfers. Whether you’re after a dozen Victorian doorknobs, a leaded-glass window or an old skeleton key, this place has it…somewhere. Moreover, they boast on their website about having taught customers to make blenders into table lamps. This terrifies me, but for those of you that are DIY-inclined, Hippo is Portland-speak for Mecca.

Grass Hut: I tend to refer to Grass Hut as a “boy” art gallery. Blatantly sexist, maybe, but the shop prides itself on an admittedly awesome and rare collection of plastic monsters (some of which are even designed by the owners). Add to that a collection of definitely non-girly art from the likes of Tim Biskup, Mike Perry and Amanda Visell, and it’s hard to deny the hearty “testosterone thrives here” vibe at Grass Hut. But boy or girl, you’ll dig the Hut for being totally and utterly unlike any other art gallery you’ve ever visited.

Voodoo Donuts: If you’re after a look at the more…interesting side of Portland, I can’t think of a better stop than Voodoo Donuts. While the FDA made them stop serving their Nyquil- and Pepto Bismol-glazed donuts, they still have plenty of bizarre-yet-delish creations to keep you busy. My husband is a big fan of the Mango Tango – a mango-filled donut topped with Tang powder. I’m a little more classic, but the Crunchberry version is mighty tasty. While you can head to either location for your sugar fix, fair warning: the downtown location perpetually has a line around the block, but the people-watching potential is unmatched.


Noun: There’s something about strolling through Noun that just makes me happy. Now, I freely admit that may have something to do with the fact that they share their retail space with my favorite cupcakerie, Saint Cupcake. But the happy vibe at Noun goes way beyond sugar. Owner Stephanie Sheldon has a crazy talent for stocking great local jewelry and art, and blending them with the best curated vintage finds I’ve ever encountered, including full sets of beautiful vintage china and glassware. The result? Well, on my last visit, I was torn between some stunning earrings by Tasi Designs, a gorgeous set of etched cocktail glasses by Roost, and a vintage lusterware elephant teapot. I never did decide, but managed to make it out with a box of cupcakes.

Elsa + Sam: When I walked into Elsa + Sam, my first thought was “how has no one thought of this before?”. The tiny shop is a bit off the beaten path, but stepping inside was like walking into a showroom of all of the fabulous ceramicists and printers I’ve fawned over for years online but never see in person. Circa Ceramics, Kim Westad, Dovetail, Anna Kraitz, Tonfisk…the list is fantastic, and will have you ready to ditch your dishes in favor of a whole new collection.

Lounge Lizard: If there’s one variety of shopping that this city really does well, it’s vintage. Whether it’s clothing, accessories or furniture, I’m pretty convinced there are at least as many vintage shops in this city as there are sellers of new goods. If you happen to be in the market for some truly stellar vintage furniture, Lounge Lizard is your spot. The owners buy only the best of the best, and they know their goods – during one recent visit, the owner told me the reason my husband and I can’t agree on furniture is that he’s industrial and I’m deco. I had no idea. Every piece in the shop is the ultimate in retro, groovy goodness, right down to the perfect aluminum Christmas tree I still can’t believe I didn’t grab on my last visit.

Rejuvenation: I honestly can’t imagine visiting Rejuvenation if I had a remodel afoot…I think my head would explode from the sheer volume of options. The store stocks a collection of lighting and hardware so massive, a chronically indecisive person like me wouldn’t stand a chance. But it does make for some pretty fantastic browsing…and if you happen to need a knob to match cabinet hardware you installed in the late 80s, there’s a good chance you’ll find it here. Make it a point to check out the clean, retro lighting choices from local designer Schoolhouse Electric.

Stumptown: PDX may be known for having the most breweries of any city in the US, but I’d venture we’re right up there with the number of coffee shops in town as well. Stumptown is the grand dame of Portland’s highly discriminating bean scene, and you’ll find their brew at the vast majority of independent coffee shops here. If you take your caffeine seriously, a stop at Stumptown is a must. While you can get their coffee nearly anywhere, if you head to their location on SE Belmont, you can check out their rare roasts (they can run up upwards of $170 per pound), and even indulge in a free daily coffee tasting at the annex next door.

Pastaworks: Oh, Pastaworks…how I love your cut-to-order fettuccini, your yummy fresh sausages and your collection of housemade sauces. And the cheeses…don’t even get me started. When the sights and smells of all that fabulous food leave you ready to rip into a pack of raw ravioli, never fear – step into their itty bitty café, Evoe, and indulge. I highly recommend sitting at the counter – chef Kevin Gibson is always ready and willing to offer tastes, suggestions and great details about the food while you dine.


Ink & Peat: Lovely is the only word I can think of to describe Ink & Peat. The shop combines artful and girly things for your home with what I think is the best floral shop in the city. In the blink of an eye, owner Pam Zsori can put together a floral arrangement that is absolutely sure to thrill. While she’s working, you can browse her collection of pillows, throws, art, home accessories, letterpress cards, and hundreds of other wonderful finds.

Together Gallery: If I were to imagine the ultimate art space for a design*sponge fan, Together Gallery would be the place. Recent exhibits have included artists we know and love, like Jen Corace, Julie Morstad and Yellena James. But there are also new faces to fall for, like Jay Howell (a new favorite of mine), Aiyana Udesen and Marc Warren Jacques, all of whom you should definitely get to know.

Ristretto Roasters: While Starbucks exists here, locals know better. There are just so many great independent roasters in Portland, it seems a shame to rely on standbys you can have anywhere. Of all the roasters in all the land, Ristretto is my hands-down favorite. Their beans are smooth and strong, but in a sneak-up-on-you kind of way…sort of like really good vodka. I prefer their new location next to Ink & Peat, but that could just be because I get to feed my retail and caffeine addictions in one stop.

Random Order Coffeehouse & Bakery: Like most indy coffee shops in Portland, Random Order brews up Stumptown beans and (my favorite) Dragonfly Chai. But they also serve up the city’s (and possibly the world’s) best pie. I’m convinced their baker has made a deal with the devil in exchange for some of these recipes. As is the norm in Portland, they use only local, in-season produce, so if you see a favorite variety, don’t pass it by. If it’s around, I highly suggest the bourbon peach.

Petite Provence: If pie’s not your thing, wander a few doors down to Petite Provence, a sweet little French café right in the middle of artsy, hip Alberta. It doesn’t quite seem to fit, but step inside and you’ll instantly feel like a sophisticated international traveler. Their breakfast and lunch fare are excellent, but don’t miss the pastries – their croissants are the best I’ve had outside of Paris.


Antiquing: No, it’s not a store, it’s an activity. But it’s what Sellwood is best known for, and I simply can’t talk about this part of Portland without mentioning it. Sellwood is the perfect antiquing destination because it’s small, friendly and walkable, and packed with coffee shops and other stores to keep you busy between your treasure-hunting stops. Start at either Milwaukie or 13th Ave – either way, you’ll have your pick of the best antique shops in the city.

Tilde: On my first visit to Tilde, I knew instantly it would be my go-to for gifting from that day forward. Owner Debbe Hamada’s taste is flawless, and her shop is packed with enough jewelry, pottery, art and accessories to make anyone swoon. She carries affordable prints from artists I’ve loved for ages, like Etui and Jessica Gonacha, but she also has originals by Rachel Austin and many others. Whatever your taste in jewelry, she has something you’ll like, whether it’s a cheeky Amy Bengston bird pendant or a bold, multi-layered resin piece by local designer Stubborn Works. Personally, I’m a fan of the super-spiky earthenware vessels by local Leah Nobilette, guaranteed to get people to stop touching your knick-knacks!

Milwaukie Popcorn & Candy Land: A bit off the beaten path, but Milwaukie Popcorn & Candy Land warrants a special stop. Besides some of the best caramel popcorn I’ve ever tried, they stock fresh, housemade chocolates…including chocolate-dipped Nutter Butters. Need I say more?

Jade Tea House & Patisserie: After you’ve worn yourself out browsing the antique shops in Sellwood, take a load off at Jade. I relax just walking in the door of this quaint little Asian-style teahouse. Whether you’re looking for lunch or just a quick cup of tea to rejuvenate, you’ll love the atmosphere as much as the food. I strongly suggest including one of their salted caramel Parisian macarons in your order.


Artemisia: I’m told that anything can grow here in Portland, which explains the perpetually green trees and the world-famous gardens – it’s called the City of Roses for a reason. The owners of Artemisia take Portland’s rep very seriously, and have amassed a collection of unique plants, trees, succulents and flowers to make anyone green with envy (I couldn’t resist). In the nursery, you’ll find rare varieties of trees, and foliage you haven’t seen anywhere else. Step into the shop, and you’ll find a whole world of indoor plants, pottery by local artists and accessories for compiling the perfect window box or terrarium…you’ll even find a bonsai tree or two. Add to all that an outstanding collection of artwork by owners Michael and Amy Aiello, and even a certified black thumb like me can’t help but fall for Artemisia.

Una: I first happened into Una because the shop is across the street from a favorite coffee spot of mine, but it didn’t take long for this shop to become a destination all its own. Una is probably the closest Portland gets to runway-style looks. I’m usually there for the down-to-earth pieces from Clu and Chan Luu, but you can score some seriously unusual finds at Una – most recently, a collection of massive rainbow-hued resin necklaces by Mctega.

Ken’s Artisan Pizza: For pizza in Portland, this is, quite simply, the best. There are loads of lovely slices throughout the city, but Ken works wonders with his wafer-thin crusts and smoking hot wood-fired oven. I tend to keep it simple with the classic Margherita, as I think his raw tomato sauce is the best I’ve ever had. My husband swears by the Soppressata, which has ruined me for all other pepperoni pies. And if you happen in when the Spring Onion pizza is on the menu, it’s a must-try. But go early – if you show up after 6, prepare to wait.


Ace Hotel: With four locations now, I’m not sure yet if the Ace can properly be called a chain. Regardless, it got its start here in Portland, so I think it’s fair to claim it as a local landmark. Staying at the Ace feels a lot like crashing at your hip friend’s house – in fact, you can even book rooms with shared baths, if you just can’t adjust to having a shower all to yourself. Beds are draped with blankets from the nearby Pendleton Woolen Mills, walls are covered with murals by local artists, and the whole vibe is very “I wish my grad school apartment had been this cool.” In the lobby, you’ll be able to score a cup of Stumptown brew, souvenir pics from a vintage photobooth, and some truly fab cocktails at Clyde Common. While you’re here, head next door to Kenny & Zukes for the best reuben I’ve had on the West Coast.

The Nines: The Nines is the newest hotel in Portland, and if you’re after a truly luxe experience, it’s the obvious choice. Housed in the upper floors of the old Macy’s building, The Nines is as glam as it gets. The hotel’s lobby is sleek and clean, loaded with modern art and insanely beautiful rugs, and the guest rooms are right out of the pages of Elle Décor, furnished with decadent wall coverings and jewel-toned upholstery. Make sure you have a cocktail at the hotel’s bar, Departure – the prime rooftop real estate makes for excellent city-gazing at night.

Governor Hotel: Anyone who knows me will tell you I’m a hotel snob – I measure the success of a trip largely by how much I loved the room. The Governor isn’t necessarily hip or trendy, but it’s my favorite place to stay in Portland. The décor of this historic hotel is elegant and simple, the service is wonderful, and the location – right in the heart of downtown – leaves you within walking distance of some of my favorite shopping and dining spots. Personally, I love the super-high ceilings in each of the guest rooms, the fireplaces and the terrycloth robes.

Jupiter Hotel: While the Jupiter is a bit off the beaten path, it’s such a unique space that I think it might be worth sacrificing a bit on location. I guess it’s best described as two parts Jetsons, with a dash of Frank Lloyd Wright and Andy Warhol sprinkled in for good measure. If Design Within Reach is your dream shop, and the Museum of Modern Art is your favorite place, the Jupiter is made for you. As a bonus, you’ll get to hang out at the super cool Doug Fir Lounge, where you can groove on the retro 70’s decor and the inevitably hot local band playing the stage.


Gardens: As I’ve mentioned, this is a city of gardens, whether you’re talking the highly manicured variety, a city park or just the fact that there seem to be an overwhelmingly high number of beautiful front yards here in Portland. After all, there’s a reason we put up with six solid months of rain, and gorgeous greenery is it. If I were to give anyone a “must do” in this city, it would be to check out any (or all) of the truly beautiful gardens Portland has to offer. My three favorites are the Chinese Garden, the Japanese Garden and the International Rose Test Garden, all of which are fantastic.

The Portland Classical Chinese Garden is small, but if you’re there during peony season, you’ll never forget it. Try a pot of tea in the teahouse while you admire their ability to make such a small, urban space feel secluded and calm.

The Portland Japanese Garden is my absolute favorite green space in the city. It feels even larger than its 5.5 acres – literally every turn gives you a completely different view. If you’re at all interested in Asian design or gardening, or just need a little zen, it’s a fantastic space to visit.

For more formal stylings, the International Rose Test Garden is amazing if you’re here in the summer. It’s the oldest test garden in the country, and you’ll see varieties here that will amaze you, even if roses aren’t your thing. Plus, you’re in the Rose City, for heaven’s sake.

Portland Farmer’s Market: Portland takes its local produce more seriously than most (I’d chalk it up to the massive quantity of vegetarians, vegans and raw food devotees in this city). If you’re a foodie, the Portland Farmer’s Market is a must-see for the exotic mushrooms alone. Every city has a farmer’s market, but Portland’s is far and away the biggest and best I’ve seen. It runs Saturday mornings from April-October in the South Park Blocks downtown. I recommend showing up hungry – you’ll kick yourself if you don’t have room for the rum raisin challah, fresh goat cheese and brandied cherries.

Portland Saturday Market: While most locals I know tired of Saturday Market long ago, it’s still a great place to take visitors. This open-air market, which feels a bit like a permanent art festival, runs every Saturday and Sunday during the warmer months, and is packed with examples of what I’ll affectionately call “old-school Portland,” the part of the city that still loves its tie-dye, handmade soap and wind chimes. Hippie vibe aside, you can pick up some lovely hand-thrown pottery, jewelry, and art photography. Oh, and there’s a woman who makes some of the best jam I’ve ever tasted – that one’s definitely not to be missed.

First Thursday: Remember what I said about the thriving art scene here in Portland? If you happen to visit on the first Thursday of the month, you’ll get a perfect chance to see what I mean. Head to the Pearl District and stroll the vast collection of art galleries in this neighborhood, nearly all of whom unveil a new exhibit for First Thursday. Walk from gallery to gallery, score a free cocktail (or three), and you’ll get a firsthand look at just how seriously Portland takes its art. Finish up with happy hour at any of the amazing restaurants in the Pearl – this city is legendary for its bargain-basement happy hour eats.

More about Becki: Becki started out as a small business attorney with a side passion for fashion, style and design. After years of listening to her wax poetic about handbags, shoes and new designers, her husband encouraged her to start shoppingsmycardio, so that she could tell other people about the finds that were thrilling her so. She’s been writing the blog since June 06, and loves it. Last year, she decided she wanted to write full time, so she left her law practice to pursue freelance copywriting and marketing consulting for small boutiques, designers and artists, and to tries to up her editorial freelancing as well. She absolutely loves getting to interact with shop owners and designers, helping them plan projects and grow their businesses – it’s a dream come true. At home, she has one very patient husband, two very bad dogs (a rescued greyhound and a slightly insane beagle) and a very poorly tended yard.

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  • oh i have been crossing my fingers for so long for a portland design guide. portland and seattle are the 2 cities on my radar for a move in 3 years, and this will help for a future recon visit! YAY!

  • wow thanks for all the info! I am bookmarking this for when I get to go out and explore Portland! I have been to the airport…but that doesn’t count!

  • Thank you Thank you Thank you!! I am going to Portland next week and have checked your guides a million times over – every time thinking “there’s gotta be one on Portland in here!” Just in the nick of time. Thank you!

  • Yes! PDX is wonderfully supportive of it’s artists and crafters. Many of us are able to make a living through are art because of it. Thanks for the great write up!

  • I live in the area and definitely approve the spots you highlighted….you’ve even given me a few to put on my list that I haven’t got to yet! Thanks!

  • Here are few more goodies (you can Yelp them): the Grotto, Multnomah Falls, the Bagdad Theater & Pub, The Barefoot Sage, Edgefield…

    It does rain here in Portland all the time though… in fact, you probably wouldn’t like it much ;)

  • Love many of the places you have mentioned here! great guide!
    I wish the links on the guide worked tho. There are a number of places I haven’t seen before and would like an address.

  • Two things…

    One, I’m glad there’s finally a PDX guide. Portland is a wonderful city, and just know that Becki’s quadrant-based guide will put you in range of a ton of awesome places that weren’t even mentioned. Go somewhere listed in the guide and then wander the neighborhood. You won’t be disappointed.

    Two, sadly, many of the links didn’t go anywhere but I’m certain someone can remedy this.

    • rebecca- just hit refresh- they’re all fixed. just a slight word document-to-wordpress conversion error that’s fixed now ;)


  • This is an awesome list. I lived in Portland for a year after college and have been homesick for it ever since I left. I’d like to add Park Kitchen as a recommendation (on the Southwest Park Blocks) and Le Happy, just North of the Pearl District on 16th, I think. My life will always be a little incomplete without Powell’s in walking distance.

  • Love this blog’s take on Portland. I love Flutter over on Mississippi and there are some good eateries, antique stores and little shops in SW Portland’s Multnomah Village too. xo anne

  • I live in Portland and agree with your picks! It’s a great place to visit.
    One store that deserves mention is a recent transplant to NW 23rd Ave, called IDOM. The owner hails from NYC and creates all of her garments sweatshop-free, supporting Thai villagers in her native country instead. Her style is modern and unique (she only makes a few of each garment), and Portland is lucky to have her talents.

  • Every time I visit Portland I get a kick out of the Pied Cow Coffeehouse – tasty desserts, quirky atmosphere, and rotating tables to boot!

  • Check out Screen Door (yummy southern food) on SE Burnside. I always bring my visiting guests and it never disappoints!

  • Also, for a straight-up hilarious and bizarre experience not to miss and never to be forgotten, visit the 24 Hour Church of Elvis.

  • Gotta mention Broder, too… fantastic Swedish food, with a gorgeous modern cabin vibe. Abelskivers with lemon curd and lingonberries and a steaming cup of Stumptown is the perfect way to start the day.

  • Thanks Becki! As a Portland resident, many of these shops/locations are well known to me but I saw a few more I’ll have to try! This really is a great city, I can’t imagine living anywhere else.

  • This is great- thanks becki! There’s so much to cover and wow, you covered a lot. I want to put in a plug for N. Mississippi Ave, too – great boutiques, restaurants and music venues.

  • I, too, am a Portlander, and this is a great comprehensive list and summary–way to go, Becki! I’m going to start checking out your blog, too…
    And I have to add the Screen Door to your Burnside list–consistently delicious and reasonably priced southern food with a NW vibe. Love. It.

  • Thanks for the fab write-up of Portland. I’m a native Portlander (Portlandian?) and I genuinely love it. So stop telling everyone how great it is so I don’t have to share! Ha ha.

    One correction though: Voodoo Donuts is not on the east side. It’s downtown/west side, adjacent to Burnside but definitely in SW Portland. I also think it’s notable that they’re open 24 hours AND perform wedding ceremonies on-location with donuts for all!

  • so glad everyone’s enjoying the guide. and please, please – keep adding your ideas. this city is hard to narrow down to just a few “best of” picks! loving all of your recs :)

    LOL at powered by tofu, by the way…locals love to scare visitors away with epic tales of rain!

  • nice guide!
    i’m also surprised not to see any mention of n mississippi. i lived in n portland 7-8 years ago, and was stunned when i visited this spring. porque no? is a MUST in my book!

  • Woo hoo!! Going to Portand this weekend for the Brewer’s Festival. Your timing couldn’t be better!

  • Ah, finally. I’ve been dying to check out my city through the eyes of Design*Sponge!

  • Bew! This comes to me 3 weeks too late. I’ll save it for my next visit though!
    I did visit Makool Loves You upon your write-up of them, and nabbed an adorable passport cover. The owner was soooo adorable and friendly and helpful and gave me a few hints of what to check out (shopping wise).

  • At the risk of sounding snarky, Alberta/Williams isn’t really a unified area, and one’s in NE and one’s in N. Those of us who are residents of north or northeast Portland are fiercely proud of our communities, and can’t stand how people in other areas of the city lump us into one monolithic area.

  • Hooray! Having lived in PDX for 11 years, there’s still plenty to explore. And plenty of little secrets that you’ll just have to find out for yourself ;) I love this town.

    I also wanted to plug Extracto, on NE Killingsworth & 30th; they roast their own coffee and it’s incredible.

    Also, Saint Maine, is a beautifully curated shop with super friendly service, in Sellwood.

  • Yes, those areas probably shouldn’t be lumped together, but do you need to get snarky? Not really. It’s a great guide to a great city.

    Well done, Grace & Co!


  • Portland native..love the list and need to get out there and check out some of these great stores! One thing though…..Cupcake Jones hands down.

  • ah, there are the cupcake jones fans! knew you guys would show up ;) i happen to love both.

    for sarah, and others who are concerned about the fact that i lumped the N and NE ‘hoods together: i realize it’s not at all how a local would typically divide things (i actually live in NE). i chose to organize it that way because the guide is geared toward visitors, not locals. you guys know the difference between the areas, but for newbies who are just trying to find their way around, i wanted to keep things grouped by quadrants to simplify. i realize you might still think it’s nuts, but i wanted you to at least know there was a method to my madness. hope that helps clarify!

  • Thank you so much! I’m roadtripping up to Portland in a few months and this guide will really help.

  • I live in and love Portland and I’m happy to say that here are some shops I’ve never visited that I will definitely find.

    I also want to say that “it rains here all the time and you probably won’t like it”. That is just to keep the riff-raff out. If you are creative, earthy, and just a tad weird, Portland is the perfect city. I know because it works for me.

  • I’m from Portland but moved to SF last year and this guide makes me so very homesick!

    Another business worth mentioning is Music Millennium on East Burnside. Great music selection and fun toys to boot. Not nearly as big as Everyday Music, but a more pleasant shopping experience in my opinion.

  • I was just discussing the lack of portland guide last night! imagine my joy over coffee this morning….
    One thing, though. The Mississippi Street corridor can’t be forgotten! It’s an amazing area (if on the brink of over-gentrification) with several great restaurants (Lovely Hula Hands, ¿Por Qué No? Taqueria, and Amnesia Brewing anyone?) and one of my favorite places in all of Portland: The Rebuilding Center which is full of the architecture- and design-lover’s recovered and re-purposable building materials. Other great shops include Flutter (with quirky and beautiful things and the Meadow, a store devoted to the hedonist in us all- full of fresh local flowers and eggs, chocolates, and salts from around the world)

    Plug Time:
    A new clothing and shoe boutique, JET, will be opening mid- to late-Augustat 3753 N. Mississippi Ave ( close to Pistils Nursery and the Meadow) This “chic wonderland” will feature studio space for JET’s local designer, Jennifer Thomas as well as art and jewelry from local artists. Everything at JET is designed and made in and around Portland with organic and renewable materials sourced locally and regionally.

  • Not bad! there’s some good Portland flavor in there! I have to beg to differ regarding the comments about the rain, however- I’ve lived in Portland for 15 years and generally speaking it really does rain here for eight months a year. We’re not just saying that to “keep the riff raff out”! Summer often starts sometime in mid-July and (if we’re lucky) continues through October. But it’s worth it.

  • I lived in PDX for 3 years and it’s soooo wonderful to read about many of the places I used to frequent. I’m also beyond thrilled that you featured the uber cool shop, Elsa & Sam. Elsa is a friend of mine and her adorable shop deserves the recognition… especially on such a hip site.

  • Where were you last week??? I just got back from a trip (stayed at the Ace!) and loved every moment of it. I wish we had had this guide though! There’s always next time!

  • omg…I am in love with this city. My husband and I went to Portland for our honeymoon, and it’s been a love affair ever since.

    I second the recommendation for Multnomah Falls…definitely a high-point of our week. Thaiphoon for the best Thai food in the country. Also Little River Cafe for cozy breakfast and Fratelli’s for dinner.

  • I don’ t know if anyone mentioned or not, but two of my regular favorites are Sahagun (16th Ave & W. Burnside) chocolates and the Flavour Spot waffle cart at N. Mississippi and Fremont. I prefer Sahagun over other local chocolate shops because Elizabeth Montes cranks out all those chocolates on her own and they will blow your mind!

  • Thanks so much for doing this guide! I’ve got tickets to Portland for my honeymoon in late August but no hotel plans! I’m so excited to see the city!

  • You forgot about the AMAZING Maison in between the Pearl and NW Nob Hill! Amazing custom furnishings, antiques, vintage…perfect mix of everything!

  • Thank you so much for the Portland guide! As one of the flakes who said they would write up a guide and then didn’t, I really appreciate it! There is so much good stuff here, it’s hard to narrow it down to something readable.
    For anyone planning a visit, you can pick up Finder: the annual guide to Portland that the local, Pulitzer-winning alt-weekly Willamette Week puts out. http://blogs.wweek.com/finder/#
    You can also go online to http://www.wweek.com to get local reviews, listings, news, etc. and check out the annual shopping and dining guides.

    Leigh: The Pied Cow Coffeehouse on SE 33rd & Belmont is awesome and has a great, year-round covered patio, but the rotating tables are at Rimsky Korsakoffee House on SE 12th & Morrison. Another coffeeshop in a house.

    Emily: There are now two Voodoo Doughnuts! The original downtown on SE 3rd between Burnside & Ankeny, and the newer, larger store just off NE Sandy & 15th. Check them both out!

  • stay at hotel lucia downtown (super walkable to anywhere on the west side and close-in east side) and they have a fantastic collection of nw art!
    also you HAVE to go check out the museum of contemporary craft up on nw park and nw davis
    and check out the living room theater downtown (we love our theater pubs)
    …last but not least…have a pint (or three) at one of many brew pubs. my fave right now is roots brewery just off hawthorne (close-in), for tasty organic beer!

  • As a bi-coaster where NYC was my first hometown, it took me a while to warm up to Portland. Now, 3 years later, I’m a convert. There are still things that drive me nuts (does your tattoo really need to be THAT big…and on your face?), there are way more things I can’t live without now. For cheap eats, ‘Porque No?’ tacos on Mississippi and the ‘Flavour Spot’ waffle carts can’t be missed. But I’m with you, Becki…The Whole Bowl is the most original, yummy lunch ever!! What IS in that Tali sauce they use??

  • Don’t forget Kenny and Zuke’s in downtown or their offshoot in NW, or St. Honore Boulangerie off NW Thurman–which I am told by a French friend of mine that they have the best chacuterie outside of Paris–the list goes on and on…

  • I went to college in Portland and have since moved back to the Midwest. This guide brought back a lot of fond memories and makes me want to move back asap! I’m getting all misty eyed over here. PDX is the jam!!

  • Not a moment too soon! We’re going to Portland this weekend for the brewer’s festival, and now I know what else I’m doing. Thanks!

  • I wish that I had this guide when I was in Portland a few weeks ago! Damn.

    I agree with Leslie, the taco at Por Que No are sooo good. So glad I found that place.

  • I’ll second and third Kennedy School and Hotel Luccia.

    When @ KS don’t miss the homemade gin. ;-)

    Also, Besaw’s on New Years Day in your jammies.!!! Can’t beat jammie brunch. I love that they do that.

  • But let’s not forget Last Thursday!! (NEXT WEEK) In the spring/summer months, NE Alberta holds their monthly celebration of music, performance, food and art. It’s more of a carnival atmosphere than First Thursday in the Pearl.

    Also – gotta plug Pambiche! Great Cuban cuisine and not just for meat-eaters. http://www.pambiche.com/

    I lived in Seattle before moving here, and Portland is a lot like the Seattle of 15 yrs ago. Don’t be fooled, Portland gets as much rain as Seattle does.

  • yes yes yes!! Being a transplant in portland from hawaii, I can say that this city is amazing. Great food, great people, great atmosphere and SO much to see and do. im so happy the guide is finally here!

  • Great Guide! From someone who has only been in PDX for 2 years, this is very comprehensive. I lived there for many years and visit regularly, and yet lots of these places are new to me, so I can’t wait until my next visit. I love these guides, thank you Grace and Becki!

  • I grew up in portland and I miss it so much! This just makes me miss it more. Time for a visit home..

  • I’m trying to get to Portland, but I don’t think I chose the best method. I’ve been breeding carrier pigeons for the past 16 years hoping to raise a super-pigeon that is able to carry me 2,000 miles.

  • We left Portland two years ago and I still think about the Whole Bowl and the seriously addictive Tali sauce all the time! Great guide–can’t wait to go back for a visit.

  • As a native Portlander, I can vouch for every suggestion you make. This is without a doubt, the single best guide I’ve seen, not only in terms of content, but also comment.

  • another Portlander here to vouch for this awesome city and awesome guide! A couple additions:

    You can’t forget the ‘vegan mini-mall’, SE 12th and Stark!

    Last Thursday is much more exciting than First Thursday, if you ask me. Real people making real art! And fire!

    Also about the Voodoo confusion, there are TWO locations – one on each side of the river.

    p-town love!

  • thanks for this great guide! i would move to portland in a heartbeat.. i just need to get my husband to fall in love with it too..

  • Por Que No is my favorite restaurant hands down in PDX – they’re even catering my wedding in a few months. But we need to stop telling people about it because it’s busy enough as it is! :)

    I’d add Artemesia and Pistils to the list for anyone into gardening and urban chicken tending.

    Also the English Department for any brides to be.

    Thanks for mentioning Pigeon Toe Becki! Go to the Montage for their famous mac and cheese and then pop next door to my studio!

  • It’s so great to see a guide about my hometown! Why don’t I live there anymore?!?

    Another good place for coffee is Jim & Patty’s at 4951 NE Fremont Street. They are the real deal old school Portland coffee! They used to have many chains around town, which eventually got sold to Starbucks. Now they are down to one fabulous shop, just like old times. The coffee is kickin’, the food fabulous. I will go out of my way to get coffee from Jim & Patty’s when I’m in town!

  • i am glad somebody wrote about pistils. the psu farmers market downtown is amazing. and for some real old school reality check out the oaks amusement park in sw, on the river.

  • I’ve lived here my whole life. You hit just about all my favorite places. Nicely done! Except I much prefer the Maple-Bacon Bar to the Mango Tango at Voodoo Donuts ;).

  • IDOM is closed. And Office (RIP) was the greatest place on earth.

    I live in PDX, and love every quirky second. But, it is important to note that we should all notice the local store/restaurant closings– and spend our money wisely. Keep Portland Weird and support our local shops!
    Smut on 28th and Burnside is great, Biwa has the best homemade kimchi outside of Korea, (or at least LA), Toro Bravo is sublime, Frank James, a clothes store on E Burnside showcases local designers at reasonable prices, Tabla has an awesome happy hour–and a three course dinner for $24–available anytime, Bamboo has the best sushi–and it is the first sustainable sushi restaurant in the nation– certified by the MSC, Lincoln is always serving up sophisticated, locally-sourced comfort food, EAT has some of the best oysters I’ve ever had, I’m a devoted regular of Pok Pok, Gabe creates magic(no joke–start and end a meal with foie !?!) at Le Pigeon…the list goes on and on….

  • good job becki!

    just a couple of notes. IDOM, though closed on Alberta, has moved to NW 23rd and Office is doing monthly pop-up stores and has a great online storefront.

  • i’m so glad that you included elsa + sam in the guide! elsa should be recognized not only for curating a beautiful store, but also for her dedication to artists and handmade goods. thanks becki!

  • Great job on the guide! As a native Oregonian, I would have picked so many of the same things in the article and comments.

    Fun Fact: there is more rainfall per capita in New York City than there is in Portland!

    ps. Idom didn’t close! They moved from Alberta to NW 23rd a few months ago

  • Okay, as well as a few other commenters, I’m a native Portlander, and I agree that this is a pretty good take on Portland’s offerings. As far as rain and summers are concerned, though, it often stays gloomy through the 4th of July weekend, global warming not withstanding, and there are plenty of hipsters on the east side. That’s where they can afford to buy houses and have hipster babies, right?

    Brunch is one other thing I’d like to reiterate — we take it very seriously here. Genie’s, Broder, Screen Door, Junior’s, Hash, Mother’s, Helser’s, yes, yes, yes.

    Last thing: the downturn is having a noticeable effect here, so be warned that finding a job, especially where so many creative types live, can be tricky. On the other hand, it’s easier to live well on the cheap here than in many other cities.

  • This is a great blog about PDX. One thing I noticed in the bit about Rejuvenation- you reference checking out designs from Schoolhouse Electric- I wanted to clarify that they are two separate companies. Otherwise, you were right on! Rejuvenation has a huge showroom, chock full of goodies that will thrill any old house enthusiast or anyone who just loves cool, locally made house stuff.

  • Great suggestions. I am also a Portland resident (19 years) and I have seen Portland grow by leaps and bounds. I am happy that much of the growth has happened in ways that have not just maintained but enhanced the unique character of Portland. However, like Shahnnen, I have noticed many of Portland’s small businesses (great boutiques and restaurants) close in the past several months and so I second the plea to support local businesses.

  • I’ve been an Oregonian for 20 years, and am always looking for new places to explore. You mention the hip young music scene, but to me, Portland has the best jazz and theater, this side of New York (my first home). Jimmy Maks in the Pearl, is not to be missed for terrific home-grown jazz. There is always some combo playing somewhere in PDX. Theater here is fantastic, and I’m not talking about the big-box scene, I mean the smaller theater companies like Third Rail and CoHo Productions. We’ve got it all!

  • Great list! But you forgot Bravado Home which carries all the lines that Cielo doesn’t. In a time when so many doors are closing, they seem to be thriving still.

  • I may be biased with my entire family there, but I could leave Seattle tomorrow for Portland and never look back. Great guide!

  • I just moved to Portland last week and I am sooooo happy! I love it here so much!

    Anyone know where I can see clothes here by Leanne Marshall, the winner of the last season of Project Runway?

  • What a great article. I had lived in the south for several decades and after living in the Portland area for almost 5 years I will only go back to visit grandchildren etc. Within an hour & 30 minutes, you can see some of the most wonderful waterfalls, craggy coastlines, wonderful mountains with great skiing, snoeshoeing, hiking and mountainbiking? Who needs the hurricaines, tornadoes, torrential rains, lightning, snakes, bugs and humidity! Thanks for sharing some great ideas!
    Our airport is #1, too!

  • Brilliant I have been trying to perswade hubby to take us all to portland next year to visit as I keep spoting such lovely shops on the net. He thinks I’m a bit mad (we live in New Zealand) and can’t understand why I wan’t to visit – hopefully this guide will help perswade him. what about Ink and peat florists I know she is there somewhere and her shop always looks adorable.

  • This post is SO timely! I’m vacationing in Portland in two weeks. I was already excited, but now I am seriously counting the minutes! Thanks for the great info! I’ll have to save my pennies between now and August 7!

  • Moving back to PDX in 2 weeks (3rd time’s a charm). Thanks for giving my wife and daughter a few more reasons to fall in love with the city as much as I am. It’s hard to beat the breakfast/brunch at a Portland classic- The Bijou on SW 3rd (try their homemade chutney with anything) and Stumptown is right next door while you wait.

  • This list missed my trip to Portland by a few days… literally!

    But, I managed to discover N. Mississippi Ave. on my own and highly recommend: FlavourSpot (for dutch tacos- don’t ask, just eat), Pistils (for amazing gardening inspiration) and PorchLight (for vintage and vintage-inspired housewares).

    My love of all baked goods also led me to Baker&Spice (SW neighborhood) and St.Honoré (NW neighborhood)- both are excellent!

  • Two more coffeeshop recommendations:
    In NW: Coffeehouse NW on West Burnside and Trinity (right by Panda Express) – they have fantastic mochas and hot chocolates, and all the baristas are super nice – no hipster snarkiness at all. Plus, they serve Stumptown.

    In the Pearl: Barista is a newish shop owned by Billy Wilson and it’s a cute little spot on 13th, in between Glisan and Hoyt. Check out their vacuum pots! They’re beautiful to watch.

    I live in Portland, but I have been waiting for this post for AGES. I’m always curious to see what other people recommend so I know what to check out!

  • Loved reading about my favorite city. I lived there for 15 years and am longing to go back. I didn’t see mentioned two fantastic fabric shops – Mill End in Milwaukie area and Fabric Depot in East Portland. They are both huge and an adventure to visit. They are a must visit for any seamstress.

  • THANK YOU SO MUCH for doing a guide on Portland! I have been waiting for so long! Its nice to read someone’s take on Portland who’s a little deeper into the city than I am.

    If you’re vegan (or just want some tasty, healthy eats, there’s Blossoming Lotus in the Pearl (on 10th and Davis). I frequent there often.

    Also, if you’re in Sellwood, you NEED to visit Piece of Cake (I think it’s off 17th). It’s part bakery and part antique store. You can walk in and grab a single slice of cake. It is SERIOUSLY the best cake I’ve EVER had. Try the chocolate espresso ganache cake. They also have vegan options.

    Thanks again, I’ll definitely be trying out some of these stores :)

  • I have been looking for a great Portland guide and this is it. I am going there next week for a visit. Portland is not the city I knew in the early 70’s. I look forward to my visit. Thanks.

  • I am so happy you have a Portland Guide now. I live in the NE and wanted to metion a few great boutiques on Alberta Street that were overlooked. Make sure you check out Garnish, Mabel and Zora, Tumbleweed, and Ellas boutique!

  • Hey, for those shopping moms, dads, g’ma’s and g’pa’s or aunt’s and uncles out there – three kids shops NOT TO BE MISSED! Grasshopper on Alberta (NE Portland), Finnegans (SW in downtown) and Little Urbanites (NW in the Pearl) near Jameson Park. Thanks Becki!!

  • Best place to stay if you can get in is the Northwest Portland Int’l Hostel & Guesthouse. http://www.nwportlandhostel.com. Central location in NW Portland Historic neighborhood. Cheapest rates, clean, great private rooms or dorms, lots of common areas and a kitchen. If you are there on a Tuesday check out the music and BBQ night in the hostel’s garden.

  • You should check out the Lizard Lounge in the Pearl District the next time you are in town – an incredible collection of designers in a beautifully designed store. Plus they provide free coffee, iMac bar and ping pong!

  • Dude, GREAT blog. This whole site that you have set up is top-notch. Well done.
    I’m really looking forward to reading all of your archives.
    Terrific job, keep it up!

  • Great list! :)

    Just a quick note, as another poster referenced, Rejuvenation and Schoolhouse Electric – while located mere blocks from one another – are completely separate entities.

    Both are worth checking out:



    Just FYI, most of their shades are interchangable. For example, a 2 1/4″ shade from Schoolhouse Electric will fit a 2 1/4″ fitter from Rejuvenation and vice-versa. This is great to keep in mind when it comes to something like art glass shades which are about half the price at Schoolhouse Electric ($109 vs. $199).

  • Great guide to Portland! Portland is all about its neighborhoods. From shopping to eating (Portland has some of the best restaurants in the country) each Portland neighborhood has its own flavor and vibe. I live and work in the Sellwood/Westmoreland neighborhoods. Great shopping at Tilde. Great eating at Garden State Food Cart & Caprial’s and of course antiques shopping at Stars.

  • I can’t seem to find the exact address for the AM Living store. Can anybody help me? Coming to visit for just a couple of days and would love to see it! Thank you!

  • What a great article. I was needing a little inspiration for my blog and came upon this post. You did a really great job hitting some of the hotspots and while there are still so many more, part of the fun in Portland is discovering the little neighborhoods on your own. When I first moved to town, I discovered the Clinton neighborhood which is worthy of a mention. So many great spots over there!

  • great guide!!!! I just moved to Denmark and this makes me miss my sweet home even more. One addition I would make would be to add ‘Idom’ (http://www.idomdesigns.com/) to your NW, Nob Hill list. It’s a sweet little clothing and accessories boutique by owner and designer Modi Soondarotok. BEST! *a

  • I’ve lived in Portland my whole life and I love that the city has really grown into it’s own. I used to think it was hilarious that people took tours of Portland because I used to think, “what is there to see?” I’ve seen since the error of my ways and couldn’t love it more. Great list!!

  • i love these guides!!! leaving tomorrow for portland with a day to myself, this is just what i needed :)

  • I’ve been living in PDX for 19 years and would definitely agree with all items on the list! I will have to add Post Hip books and music located in multnomah village. Its a weird little used and new shop with an extremely jovial shopkeeper. If your into Jazz, Classical or World especially this is your place but they seem to carry a little bit of everything. Many an hour have I spent in this store!

  • I just stumbled across your site and love it. I have family in the Portland area and so go there often. We are always trying to think of some place to go and check out. Now I’ll have some direction! And I’ll pass this on to all my friends who visit. I’d also like to see you add some beauty/day spas to your list. I’m looking at DragonTree right now, which is my sister’s favorite spot. She lives in SE Portland.

  • Great job! My additions – J & M is my favorite brunch spot. Order whatever is on the specials board. And Radish Underground. I always seem to leave with a new piece of jewelry.

  • So glad you mentioned Pastaworks and Evoe in Hawthorne. Always a great place to stop by.
    Excellent job on the city guide. A beautiful place like Portland needs something thorough!

  • Having lived in Portland and Vancouver, WA (just across the mighty Columbia River) most of my life this is a GREAT guide. Most places I’ve enjoyed, a few I have yet to visit. One correction…the Nines is an amazing hotel and great drink spot located in the historical, old Meir & Frank Dept. Store building. True, Macy’s bought them out just a few years ago and is now there. But M&F was THE place to shop for everything from clothing to fabrics to fine china to furniture to rugs and more. Lunch in the beautiful dining room, The Georgian Room, or at the horseshoe shaped lunch counter was always a treat!

  • i have skimmed all of these comments and don’t think i’ve seen a mention on Oblation papers.


    gorgeous letterpress stationary and cards from floor to ceiling. it’s located at 516 northwest 12th avenue– very close to several other Pearl District mentions. so amazing.

  • There’s a reason Portland is on the national culinary map. After skimming the posts, I didn’t see much about Portland’s ubiquitous food carts. Prost is on N. Mississippi is a great place to get a great cross section of Portland. It’s an authentic German bar with a deck surrounded by food carts.
    For a little finer dining, Caffe Mingo on NW 21st is a family favorite.

  • Everyone who visits to Portland should check out Alder & Co. The owner, Carla, has an excellent eye for well-designed objects, Japanese papers, linens, cotton blouses, clogs, and more. It’s my go-to shop for gifts although I never leave without something for myself!

  • I just have one tiny bone to pick with this great guide, as a Portlander- the east side is actually hipster central in my opinion, much more so than downtown.

  • Question for all the Portlander (portlandian?) dwellers… what is a great neighborhood for classic bungalow’s and pdx style houses, charming tree lined streets and safe to walk with a stroller? I want to move to your gorgeous city and I have no references. Thanks!

  • i skimmed through all the comments and didn’t see a mention of a fabulous clothing shop in the pearl called physical element. http://www.physicalelement.com.

    the proprietess, jo, has a great urban sense of style and her clothing is really wonderful. check it out!

  • I have lived here in Portland for about 7 years now. The truth?…you have saved me a lot of work with this great post. Now when my distant friends ask me what there is in Portland, and could I suggest things to see/do, I simply send the link to your Portland Oregon Guide. Thanks to your wonderfully accurate and enthusiastic descriptions…I may get some of those friends and family here for a visit (call out to Martha:->).

    I have lived in many places, small and large (Boston, Tampa, San Francisco, Seattle) and visited many more over the years. Shortly after arriving here to do some contract work, I realized that Portland and it’s vast Metro area, has the best of everything; city, country, mountains, THE Columbia River gorge; miles of green space; great neighborhoods and great public transportation options; Theater and the Arts abound; basically way too much for outsiders and transplants to get:-). Native Portlandians are still discovering new “stuff” too:-).

  • Great job! Despite your thorough list, there are still so many fantastic restaurants in Portland., LOVE Jakes Famous Crawfish in Downtown Portland (off Burnside near Powells Books). Fantastic Seafood All The Time.

    To correct a correction – Voodoo Donuts is on the East side off of Sandy Blvd. AND in Downtown Portland.

  • Thanks Becki and Grace. My best friend and I just got back from five days in Portland and we planned our stay largely around this wonderful list of goodies and fun. A few of the shops on this list are closed now (AM Living for one) but it was so helpful and a great design-centric introduction to the city. Thank you!

    • thanks julianne!

      im heading to pdx this summer so we’re going to update the guide before then- sorry a few spots have closed :(


  • yay!!!!! enjoying this P-Town love!! PORTLAND IS THE BEST CITY EVER!! I miss it so much and can’t wait for college to be out for summer so that I can go home and do all of these lovely things like always :)

    This is a great guide– I must mention that the chocolate “shots” at cacao are amazing because they are just pure rich drinking chocolate!


  • I too take offense to the east side being considered “seedy”. I think of it as being flavorful. Lots of neighborhoods with various ethnicities which are demonstrated by their great restaurants and stores that provide us with things we won’t find anywhere else in town.

    Another help in getting around in Portland. East/West. Consider the Willamette River as “0”. If you find yourself on 82nd (North or South) You’re 82 blocks from the river. Burnside is also “0”. Look at the street sign. Most have a number marker above the street name. If you see 1000 above “Jenkins” you are 10 blocks away from Burnside. The one exception is NW Portland where the streets are alphabetical. Burnside, Couch, Davis, Everett, Flanders, etc.. Good fun to all and thanks for such wonderful words for my home town.

  • I have not checked in here for some time since I thought it was getting boring, but the last several posts are really good quality so I guess I will add you back to my everyday bloglist. You deserve it my friend. :)


    I am a newbie to the Portland scene, but fall in love with it more and more as each day passes. Though I have yet to visit all of the places on this list, I would say it’s pretty dang close to what I would choose if someone were to ask me, “so where should I go when I’m in pdx?”


  • Portland has changed so much in 15 years and most of these places would not have had a chance in hell in the past. SE/NE is not seedy at all! and has seen the MOST change/gentrifying of all
    Portland has almost as few jobs as places like DETROIT, yet the economy is buoyed by these independently wealthy fancy-shop owner’s and their clientele.

  • I read in an earlier comment that the Portland guide is supposed to be updated since Grace will be there all summer. Any progress on this? -I may end up moving there on rather short notice (the fiance is on the verge of getting a job there) and I am utterly clueless about the town. I’ve lived in the greater SF Bay Area all my life, so I’m a little spoiled. An updated guide would be a huge help. (and if I do move there, I volunteer to help update it if its not done yet!)

    • Hi Lisa!

      I just got back from Portland and am working on a new guide- should be up in a week or two. If you want to email me on the meantime for specific recs I’m happy to help :)

      Designsponge at gmail dot com


  • Hi Grace…how is it going with the new Portland Guide? A February trip is on the horizon and it would be great to get your tips!

    • hi guys! people have been emailing to ask for my personal favorites after my summer in portland, here you go!

      >>>>eat ANYWHERE on this list, i used it as my guide last summer


      my favorite food places were:

      biwa (go at happy hour and get the burger they have on the late night menu, they only make 10 a night!)
      pok pok (go here often. i mean often. get the spicy chicken wings and drinking vinegars)
      pok pok noi + tiga (my favorite late night activity- it’s pok pok’s offshoot and an awesome bar)
      beast (pricey but worth it, amazing local chef)
      meat, bread, cheese (best sandwich i’ve ever had, hands down)
      ice cream sandwiches at ruby jewel
      burgers at little big burger
      cocktails at st. jack’s (i had the “last call” i think it’s called, it’s a seriously strong but tasty drink with a cherry at the bottom)
      toro bravo (small plates, go with a group, it’s delicious)
      broder (for breakfast, low key during the week)
      tasty & sons (you will wait a while to get in, but it’s worth every second. have the fried chicken biscuit with cheese, the sweet biscuits, the french toast and get a coffee soda)
      food carts: the food carts on belmont are my fav. get any dessert at the sugarcube cart- she rules. the chocolate cupcake with potato chips is out of this world). the food carts behind the ace are amazing, too. the vietnamese truck (it’s yellow and red) sells out of this amazing chicken dish every day at lunch- get that)

      best coffee:

      ristretto, hands down. BEST COFFEE EVER. go early to the north williams location and eat one of the fruit hand pies they have in the case. seriously. you MUST eat one. best pastry i’ve ever had. they only have a few a day so go early. (then follow it with a visit to lark press and ink & peat on the same block)

      if you do go to the ace hotel’s stumptown get the chocolate puddle cookies (with the crackly tops) they’re the best i’ve ever had


      for records: jackpot records + mississipi records
      for clothes: francis may, haunt, eden, flutter
      for home + paper stuff: lark press, oblation, alder & co, canoe, ink & peat, bernadette breu, tilde, porch light
      for jewelry: una (best jewelry), sword & fern (emily the owner is amazing)
      garden: pistil is the best shop for plants and greenery, check out their chickens!


      you MUST go to a show at the doug fir. it’s my favorite venue anywhere. (mississippi studios has good shows, too)
      ride through mt. tabor park- it’s gorgeous and the view is breath taking
      berry picking or biking on sauvie island. the view on the bridge over is epic (three mountains!)

      this should be a good start. have fun!

      g :)

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  • the list is really impressive, and the reviews are great, but it is really hard to read and find what’s relevant to me, when segmentation is by areas, and no use of BOLD or any other way to say WHAT this business is about…bottom line: this post is impossible to skim :(

  • Hey thanks for a great guide! I’m sort of using this to plan a 2 day stay in Portland on my vacation, so since the article is 7 years old just checking if there are any major changes I should be aware of? Thanks.