Planning a trip to Portland, Oregon and wondering where exactly you should stay? It’s a great question because Portland has so many cute, quirky neighborhoods that vary in terms of what activities are nearby to keep you entertained and whether or not you’ll need a car to get around.
I’ve lived in Portland for most of my life so I’ve explored all of the neighborhoods listed below. I’ve eaten at these restaurants, imbibed at the bars, and shopped at the boutiques. I’ve also lived in quite a few different neighborhoods in Portland.
I’ve already written about my favorite things to do in Portland and all the things that make Portland so weirdly unique. In this Portland travel guide, I want to share an overview of all of Portland’s best neighborhoods so you can decide which one is the perfect home base for your trip to the City of Roses!
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The Best Neighborhoods in Portland, Oregon
I grew up in North Portland (just two blocks from what is now the Adidas campus) in a house that was built by my great grandfather, Axel Anderson. At the time it was such an undesirable neighborhood that it was like pulling teeth to get any friends to visit. It was considered dangerous (by Portland standards) and was probably best known for the seedy motels along N Interstate Ave.
Fast forward 20 years and it is now the trendiest neighborhood in Portland to live, dine, shop, and imbibe. That house that we lived in probably quadrupled in value and I’d give my left pinky finger to own it again.
The most popular streets in North Portland are N Mississippi Street and N Williams Avenue. If you’re visiting Portland and looking for the best place to stay – an Airbnb near either of these streets will put you in close proximity to fun bars and delicious restaurants.
While it’s not as compact as some of Portland’s other neighborhoods, you can definitely get by without a car. Portland’s light rail (the “MAX”) runs along N Interstate Ave and makes it easy to travel to Downtown, the Moda Center, Providence Park, NW Portland, and even the airport. If you do rent a car, you’ll find that North Portland offers ample free parking and fast access to the interstate – a couple more reasons that it’s our favorite Portland neighborhood!
10 Best Things to Do in North Portland
- Shop, eat, and drink along hip N. Mississippi Avenue
- Watch a Blazer’s game at the MODA Center
- Sing karaoke at the Alibi Tiki Lounge
- Admire the taxidermy at Paxton Gate
- Have a picnic with a view at Mocks Crest Park
- See a show at the Wonder Ballroom
- Spend an afternoon exploring the St. Johns neighborhood
- Lounge under the historic St. Johns Bridge at Cathedral Park
- Sample chocolates at the Moonstruck Chocolate Factory
- Visit the world’s only kombucha speakeasy
Best Restaurants in North Portland
Right in the heart of N. Mississippi Ave., Mee-Sen Thai Eatery specializes in Northern Thai cuisine – specifically my favorite dish on their menu, their Khoa Soi Gai. This dish is pretty rare to find in most Thai restaurants and it’s rich and delicious with chicken that falls right off the bone. And if you’re feeling particularly adventurous then try an order of Tak Ka Tan Tod (fried grasshoppers). You’ll be doing yourself a disservice by skipping this North Portland gem!
¿Por Que No? has several locations in Portland, but the original is on Mississippi Avenue in North Portland. Be prepared to wait in line as this location is also the busiest. They serve tacos, yummy margaritas, and my favorite dish – the Bryan’s Bowl with shrimp. It’s everything you love about Mexican food in a bowl with chips or tortillas on the side for dipping. ¿Por Que No? is also a great place for a happy hour cocktail while sitting outside if you happen upon a sunny day in Portland.
Life of Pie is a pizza restaurant serving excellent woodfired pizza. The $5 pizzas during happy hour are one of the best deals in Portland, but that’s not why they made this list. My absolute favorite dish is their cheesy cauliflower dish that is served bubbly hot and seasoned to perfection. It’s not exactly the healthiest dish on the menu but it’s the best!
Best Dessert in North Portland
If you’re a serious chocoholic then you can’t miss the Moonstruck Chocolate Factory & Store in St. Johns. Stop by before 1pm so you can see the chocolate artisans creating Moonstruck’s delicious confections. And make sure you pick up a couple of boxes of chocolate truffles for later!
While Ruby Jewel Ice Cream isn’t as famous as Salt & Straw, their ice cream is arguably just a good. And you can enjoy it without waiting in line for half an hour! They use local ingredients to make scrumptious ice cream flavors like Caramelized Coffee, Oregon Mint Flake, and Honey Lavender. There are several Ruby Jewel locations throughout the city, but the original is in North Portland. It’s the perfect sweet treat to enjoy while you’re exploring N. Mississippi Avenue.
Best Bars in North Portland
The Alibi is a Hawaiian tiki-themed karaoke bar that is known for a ridiculously strong drink called the Scurvy Sailor and having to tip the DJ if you ever want to actually sing. The place is packed on Friday and Saturday nights with friendly drunk locals of all ages belting out Celine Dion. It is literally impossible to have a bad time at The Alibi.
Prost! is a German-themed bar on N. Mississippi Avenue that is a hot spot for locals to enjoy a cold beer on the back patio on hot summer days. If the Timbers are playing during your stay in Portland, Prost! is a popular spot to watch the games. Get the giant beer in a glass boot to share with your friends but make sure no one drops it – the security deposit is hefty!
Victoria Bar is one of my favorite bars in all of Portland! Their delicious cocktail concoctions have a Princess Bride theme and they have amazing vegan and gluten-free food options. The crowd is usually a bit older – in their 30s and 40s – and the atmosphere is always lively.
Best Airbnbs in North Portland
Located just off of Mississippi Avenue in North Portland is the cozy Japanese-inspired hideaway. The large kitchen is perfect for staying in and cooking, and the gas fireplace will keep you toasty on drizzly Portland evenings. This Airbnb has a master bedroom with a comfortable queen-sized bed, as well as a small, hidden box room that the kids will love!
If you want a really unforgettable experience during your trip to Portland, book a stay at the Mallory Tiny House! This quaint tiny home is stocked with eco-friendly essentials like fair-trade coffee and tea and organic toiletries, towels, and bedding. This Airbnb has one bedroom with a queen-sized bed, a kitchenette, and a lovely little porch with a garden. You’ll absolutely love it here!
Northeast Portland stretches from MLK Avenue all the way to the airport and contains some of the most expensive houses in the city. Close-in NE has a great school district, lots of parks, and wide tree-lined streets making it an ideal place for families to live. Plus this Portland neighborhood is very safe and even has a few community pools for kids to enjoy.
But while the NE Portland neighborhood is a great place to live, it may not be the best place to stay if you’re visiting Portland. You’ll likely need a car as it’s not as easy to walk to popular bars and restaurants as it is in other neighborhoods in Portland.
If you do want to be based in NE Portland we recommend staying in the arts district along NE Alberta Street. This part of Portland is home to some really funky Airbnbs, the cute Caravan Hotel, and some great shops and restaurants. If you happen to be visiting in the summer you should try to plan your trip to coincide with one of the eclectic Last Thursday Art Walks on Alberta Street.
Other interesting neighborhoods worth checking out in NE Portland include the Hollywood District, Woodlawn, and NE Killingsworth Street.
10 Best Things to Do in NE Portland
- Attend the weird and eclectic Last Thursday street festival on NE Alberta Street
- Watch an improv show at Curious Comedy
- Spend a night in a tiny house at the Caravan Hotel
- Go for a soak in your birthday suit at Common Ground Wellness Cooperative
- Have a drink in detention at the McMenamins Kennedy School
- Belt out a song at Chopsticks, Portland’s “most favorite karaoke bar“
- Enjoy a beer in a 90-year-old church at the Chapel Pub
- Explore the historic Hollywood neighborhood
- Go ice skating at the Lloyd Center (where Tonya Harding learned to skate)
- Take a dip at Grant Pool or Peninsula Pool
Best Restaurants in NE Portland
Bollywood Theater is a popular restaurant on Alberta street that serves Indian street food. It’s on the pricier side, especially considering that they don’t have table service, but the food is fresh and delicious. We would highly recommend the beets roasted with coconut milk and the Kati Roll – you won’t regret it!
The Grilled Cheese Grill is a food truck that specializes in unique grilled cheese sandwiches. It’s a simple concept but what makes this truck special is the big yellow school bus out front that they’ve converted into a seating area. So you can eat your grilled cheese and tomato soup at a table in an actual bus – if you have kids they’ll eat it up (literally and figuratively)!
You can’t really talk about restaurants in the Northeast Portland neighborhood without mentioning Beast. This James Beard Award-winning restaurant is owned by Naomi Pomeroy, the most famous chef in town. There are few choices to be made at Beast because everyone gets the same six-course prix fixe menu that changes every two weeks. Dinner will set you back $118 per person plus $50 if you want wine pairings with each course. It’s not a cheap night out, but it will almost certainly be the best meal you eat in Portland!
P’s and Q’s Market is a darling little neighborhood market, restaurant, and wine shop on NE Dekum. The market area is stocked with gourmet food and the restaurant serves delicious and healthy options. They have a great wine selection and some tasty craft beers on tap. The ambiance is simple but the staff is super friendly and the food is top-notch!
Best Dessert in NE Portland
Pip’s Original Doughnuts & Chai is yet another donut shop in a city full of donut shops. But unlike the over-the-top creations at Voodoo and Blue Star, Pip’s keeps their donuts simple (and small). Pip’s little fried donuts are made-to-order so they’re always fresh. Plus you can mix and match your toppings like Meyer lemon pear butter, cinnamon & sugar, banana custard, and warm Nutella drizzle. Don’t forget to order a cup of their delicious Chai tea to wash down your donuts!
Best Bars in NE Portland
The Bye and Bye is a fun bar in NE Portland with an entirely vegan menu! They have some truly unique cocktail options with house-infused spirits. And they have a big covered patio to enjoy on a warm afternoon. It doesn’t get much more “Portland” than this hipster paradise.
Breakside Brewery is an awesome neighborhood bar with a casual ambiance. They have seating outdoors as well as garage-style doors so even if you are sitting inside, when the doors are open you’ll get plenty of midday sunshine. The food is great and the beer is even better!
For a true Portland experience, swing by the McMenamins Kennedy School for a drink or two. Originally built in 1915, this former elementary school has now been converted into one of the most unique hotels in Portland, complete with an onsite brewery, movie theater, restaurant, and 4 different bars. The most popular place to have a drink is the expansive, multi-level bar housed in the former school’s boiler room, but we prefer the tiny Detention Room Bar.
Best Airbnbs in NE Portland
Alberta Arts Abode is a hip 2 bedroom/1 bathroom Airbnb perfectly located right near Alberta Street. The furniture is modern and comfortable which will make you feel right at home here. This Airbnb lacks a full kitchen but does have a sink, mini-fridge, hot place, and coffee making facilities. But you won’t need it anyway because you’ll be so close to some amazing restaurants on Alberta Street!
The Sneakaway is a cozy little Airbnb that makes great use of a small space. An amazingly comfortable king-sized Tempurpedic mattress sits on a platform in this light and bright space that is filled with pretty plants. And the real highlight is the 2-person soaking tub – perfect for relaxing after a long day of exploring Portland!
Southeast Portland stretches east from the eastern bank of the Willamette River and south from Burnside Avenue. Informally it is bound by the I-405 Interstate to the West and Powell Blvd. to the South. Southeast Portland actually includes several smaller Portland neighborhoods such as the areas around Division, Hawthorn, and Belmont, as well as the up-and-coming Southeast Waterfront.
The SE Waterfront boasts the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry (OMSI) which is fun for both kids and adults. And you’ll find an abundance of bars, restaurants, and quirky shops scattered throughout SE Portland – primarily along SE Hawthorne Blvd, SE Belmont Street, and SE Division Street.
And on the far eastern edge of SE Portland, Mount Tabor Park is great for long walks or getting kids outdoors to play. Fun fact – Mt Tabor is an extinct volcanic cinder cone – and from the top you can see all the way to downtown Portland.
There is also a lovely walking or biking loop that you can do that connects the SW Waterfront and the Eastbank Esplanade. Use the Burnside Bridge to cross the Willamette River at the northern end and the Tilikum Bridge to cross back over at the southern end.
And if you are visiting Portland and want to stay in the Southeast, then we recommend staying along Hawthorne Blvd or Division Street. Both are filled with fun activities and offer easy access to public transportation and neighborhood greenways (streets prioritized for bicycles).
The biggest downside to staying in Southeast Portland is limited interstate access which means it can take a long time to drive to the other neighborhoods in Portland.
10 Best Things to Do in SE Portland
- Check out the exhibits at OMSI
- Summit a volcano at Mount Tabor Park
- Embrace Portland’s food truck scene at Cartopia
- Watch a second-run movie at the Bagdad Theater
- Sample spirits on Distillery Row
- Rent a hot tub by the hour at Tub and Tan
- Skateboard at the Burnside Skatepark
- Cheer on the Rose City Rollers roller derby league at Oaks Amusement Park
- Sip a cup of coffee at Rimsky-Korsakoffee House, Portland’s weirdest (and most haunted) coffee shop
- Be a kid again at the Avalon Theater and Wunderland Nickle Arcade on SE Belmont St.
Best Restaurants in SE Portland
Pok Pok is one of the restaurants that put Portland on the national culinary scene. Owned by two time James Beard award-winning chef Andy Ricker, Pok Pok serves up what most Portland residents consider to be the best Thai food in the city. It’s best known for its fried chicken wings which are marinated in a blend of fish sauce and Thai spices. You really can’t leave Portland without trying the wings at Pok Pok!
While we’re hesitant to claim that Apizza Scholls makes the best pizza in Portland, there are many locals that would choose it as their favorite. And if you need convincing, just take a look at the line that forms just before 4pm every day when Apizza Scholls begins serving up their handmade pies. Their thin-crust pizza could give any NY pizza joint a run for its money. Make sure you get there early because once they run out of dough, which usually happens before 8:30pm, they are done for the day.
Portland is known for its amazing food truck scene and several of the city’s best food trucks are located at the corner of SE Hawthorne Blvd and SE 12th Ave. Known as Cartopia, this outdoor space features a dozen or so food carts surrounding an inviting courtyard complete with picnic tables, potted plants, fire pits, and a heated tent in the winter. We are addicted to the PB&J fries at Potato Champion. Other food trucks worth trying are Chicken & Guns and Pyro Pizza.
Best Desserts in SE Portland
The Waffle Window on SE Hawthorne Blvd is technically a breakfast joint with plenty of savory menu items like their Three B’s Waffle (bacon, brie, and basil) or the Spicy Bacon Cheddar Jalapeno Waffle. We actually prefer their sweet creations and the window is open until 8pm for your afternoon sugar fix. Try the Bananarumba with bananas, caramel sauce, whip cream, and granola! Or check out their list of current specials that take advantage of whatever local fruits are currently in season.
Fifty Licks is yet another strong contender for the “best-ice-cream-in-Portland” award. Fifty Licks began as a humble food truck roaming the streets of Portland and has evolved into 2 brick and mortar ice cream parlors – the first on SE Clinton St. and the second on E Burnside St. across from the Laurelhurst Theater. With mouth-watering flavors like Fig and Chevre, Soy Sauce Caramel, and Mango and Sticky Rice, you can’t miss this tasty Portland treat!
Best Bars in SE Portland
Rontoms is one of the most popular bars in Portland when the sun is shining. They have a huge patio with plenty of available seats, even for big groups. If the sun is out in Portland, head to Rontoms from 3:00 – 6:30pm for their daily happy hour – it’s sure to be a great time!
Sapphire Hotel is a sultry cocktail bar located at the far eastern end of SE Hawthorn Blvd. It serves up creative drinks and small plates in a former hotel lobby. Even though the Sapphire Hotel has existed in one form or another since the early 1900s, most people outside of SE Portland are unaware of its existence which is part of the charm. We always get the bacon-wrapped dates stuffed with almonds and chevre – delicious!
Loyal Legion is one of our favorite spots to watch sports in the SE Portland neighborhood! With 99 Oregon beers on tap, it’s the best place to sample the best brews in the state. Plus they have happy hour from 2:00 – 6:00pm daily, lots of comfy seating, big-screen TVs, and a delicious food menu!
Where to Stay in SE Portland
The Division Street Retreat is perfect for couples who want to relax – you’ll have access to your own private hot tub! And a private patio with a fire pit for chilly evenings. There’s also an extremely comfortable king-sized bed, soft linens, a big shower, and coffeemaking facilities. Plus the location is great!
Southwest Portland (Downtown)
Southwest Portland encompasses Downtown, where you’ll find the highest concentration of hotels, restaurants, shops, and bars. It is also the corporate hub of the city full of interestingly shaped skyscrapers that make up that famous Portland skyline.
Here you’ll find Pioneer Square Mall, full of great shops in case you want to pick up anything (sales tax free!) during your trip. There is also Pioneer Square and the SW waterfront, both of which often have events going on. There is also a large farmers market near Portland State University on the weekends – full of local produce, fresh-pressed juices, delectable food trucks, and entertainment.
Two of Portland’s biggest beer festivals take place in downtown Portland – the Oregon Brewers Festival is on the waterfront in late July and the Holiday Ale Festival is in Pioneer Square in early December. Portland Saturday Market also takes place on the SW waterfront on weekends and it’s a great place to find locally made treasures.
Most of Portland’s hotels are located in SW Portland, so if you prefer staying in a hotel instead of an Airbnb then this is the best neighborhood for you. You’ll almost certainly need to pay for parking in Downtown Portland so keep this extra expense in mind if you’re planning on renting a car and staying in this neighborhood.
Unfortunately, I’ve found that Downtown Portland feels quite a bit less safe at night now than it did a few years ago. There is less nightlife in Downtown than in many of Portland’s other neighborhoods and as a result, fewer people around in the evening. Plus the homeless and drug problems have gotten worse and as a female, I don’t feel comfortable walking around alone after the sun goes down. If you do choose to stay in a hotel in Downtown Portland, you may feel more comfortable using Uber to get around after dark.
10 Best Things to Do in SW Portland
- See the Portlandia Statue – the second-largest copper hammered statue in the world
- Eat all the donuts at Voodoo Doughnut, Blue Star Donuts, and Coco Donuts
- Visit tiny Mill Ends Park – the smallest park in the world
- Root for the Timbers at Providence Park
- Stroll along the SW waterfront (especially if the cherry blossoms are in bloom)
- Shop for fresh produce at the Portland Farmers Market
- See a show at “The Schnitz“
- Dance on air at the Crystal Ballroom
- Get some culture at the Portland Art Museum
- Pick up a unique Portland souvenir at the Saturday Market (open on Saturday and Sunday)
Best Restaurants in SW Portland
Saucebox has one of the best happy hours in all of Portland! And they aren’t one of the most popular spots which means it’s usually easy to get a table. Happy hour is from 4:30pm – 6:30pm daily and they have great specials on food and drinks. The cuisine is Asian Fusion and you won’t want to miss out on the crispy brussels sprouts – they are to die for!
Luc Lac Kitchen is a popular spot for a lunch break in Portland. Serving popular Vietnamese dishes like pho, tom yum soup, banh mi, and papaya salad, this lively restaurant never disappoints. Plus they are open late night so you can grab a delicious bite after a night of dancing in Downtown Portland!
Pine Street Market is a great place to eat with a group because there are multiple restaurant options all in one space. You can each choose your preferred cuisine and then sit together in the shared eating spaces. My personal favorite is Marukin Ramen – they have giant bowls of steaming delicious ramen soup!
Speaking of ramen, our favorite soup spot in Portland is Boxer Ramen. It’s a simple yet colorful noodle shop with an open kitchen so you can watch your bowl of ramen being prepared. What most people don’t realize is you can actually mix the soups. We recommend 1/2 Shiitake Shoyu Ramen + 1/2 Veggie Curry. And get a starter of the Okonomiyaki Tots!
Uno Mas Taquiza is our favorite spot to hang out during Timbers games when we don’t have tickets to see it in the stadium. Even when we do have tickets to the game, sometimes we linger at Uno Mas, snacking on cheap tacos and spicy Margheritas for far too long and never end up even going to the game! We love that they have big-screen TVs, great food and drink specials, and are located super close to the stadium.
Best Desserts in SW Portland
Of course, you’ve undoubtedly heard about Voodoo Doughnut – it’s one of the most popular sites in all of Portland! They are known for their strange but wonderful doughnut flavors as well as their catchy slogan – “the magic is in the hole”. No trip to Portland is complete without a stop at Voodoo Doughnut!
Blue Star Donut is another Portland institution that is known for its unique donut concoctions. In our humble opinion, the donuts at Blue Star are actually tastier than those at Voodoo and it’s another must-visit during your trip! There are several locations all over the city, but their flagship store and production facility is in SW Portland on the corner of 12th and Morrison. The Hard Apple Cider Fritter and the Lemon Poppy Buttermilk Old Fashioned are our favorites!
Best Bars in SW Portland
Established in 1879, Huber’s Cafe is the oldest restaurant in Portland. It is also the birthplace of the Spanish Coffee. You’ll have to come in during your trip to Portland to see the impressive Spanish Coffee presentation by the bartenders. Be sure to have your camera ready and give them a tip!
McMenamins Crystal Ballroom is an event space that is known for its spring-loaded dance floor. So you’ll be bouncing while you dance! Check out the events calendar to see who’s playing during your trip. I especially love to party on the floor known as “Lola’s Room” – the dance parties are usually throwbacks to previous decades and attendees dress accordingly.
Dantes is a club on Burnside that I would recommend for two nights only – Sunday and Monday. On Sunday nights they host Dantes Sinferno which is a crazy burlesque show with out-of-this-world performances. And Monday is Karaoke From Hell where you sing along with your own rock band to a huge audience. Both are classic Portland experiences that you won’t soon forget!
Perhaps the most exclusive bar in Portland, the Multnomah Whiskey Library offers over 1,200 whiskey varieties in a refined setting. A reservation is required and typically only members are allowed to make one. Unfortunately, membership starts at $650/year and is currently full. Fortunately, they offer a “Hall Pass” for $25 per person for out of town whiskey aficionados. Check their calendar to see if there is an available time slot during your visit to Portland.
Best Hotels in SW Portland
The Nines Hotel is a luxurious hotel right in the center of downtown Portland near shopping, restaurants, bars, and the famous Portland waterfront! Rooms are spacious and gorgeously decorated in an old school Hollywood glamour style. You’ll love the ultra lush bed and the views of the city from your room. It’s arguably the best hotel in all of Portland!
If you are a fan of the Fifty Shades of Grey series, or if you just love ghost stories, then you’ll definitely want to book a room at The Heathman Hotel! It was built in the 1920s and is known for its paranormal activity, especially in rooms ending in “03”. Even if you’re not into either, you’ll love how luxurious this Portland institution is!
The Pearl District
The Pearl District was formerly the industrial area of Portland – you’ll probably notice that many of the streets lack sidewalks as it was never really meant to be pedestrian-friendly. But in the past decade, The Pearl has seen an increase in swanky boutiques, craft breweries, and gourmet restaurants.
The Pearl is most famous for it’s monthly “First Thursday” event on the first Thursday of every month (weather permitting). Art galleries and shops serve samples of booze and occasionally small bites as well so you can sip while you shop. Most locals get gussied up to attend the affair as it’s the place to see and be seen.
The Pearl is also home to Powell’s City of Books, the largest independent book store in the world, and most Portland visitors stop in for at least a quick look around. The Pearl also borders Old Town which has several fun distractions like Ground Kontrol (a bar full of classic arcade games), the Lan Su Chinese Gardens, and Darcelles XV – owned by a 90-year-old drag queen of the same name, it features Portland’s longest-running drag show.
The Pearl is sandwiched between the SW Downtown area and Northwest 23rd so if you choose to stay here you’ll be able to walk to either area. It’s one of the best neighborhoods in Portland if you don’t want to be bothered with renting a car.
10 Best Things to Do in The Pearl
- Sip champagne while browsing art galleries at First Thursday
- Play in the fountain at Jamison Park
- Shop for second-hand books at Powell’s City of Books
- Walk along the boardwalk at Tanner Springs Park
- Explore the shanghai tunnels on a creepy underground Portland tour
- Go on a BrewCycle tour
- Wander through the Lan Su Chinese Gardens (technically in the Old Town but close enough)
- See a drag show at Darcelles XV
- Relive the 80s at Ground Control Classic Arcade
- Go indoor rock climbing at Planet Granite
Best Restaurants in The Pearl
Tilt is one of our favorite restaurants in all of Portland. And it turns into a rather lively bar in the evenings as well! the portion sizes are absolutely massive and everything on the menu is really delicious. We usually end up splitting one of the salads and a big plate of fries – delicious! Sit in the bar area for lunch and stay for a few extra cocktails!
Brix Tavern has good food and even better happy hour specials! House cocktails are $6.50 and food starts at just $5. And with two different happy hours a day, it can’t be missed! Plus they have a great boozy brunch to get your day started off right.
Andina has been serving delicious Peruvian cuisine in the Pearl since 2003. We love their ceviche and empanadas. And if you like spicy drinks then you must try the Sacsayhuamán which combines passion fruit puree and cane sugar with habanero pepper vodka – it’s one sexy cocktail.
Best Bars in The Pearl
10 Barrel Brewing is new-ish to Portland and they have one of the busiest rooftop bars in the city! When the sun is shining you’ll find that the rooftop patio is packed with locals sampling beers, meeting new friends, and enjoying the views. You won’t want to miss it during your trip to Portland! But if you want a table, expect a wait, especially on weekends.
If you want to watch a game or play some pool, then the basement of Blitz Bar is the place to be! With lots of big-screen TVs and a variety of bar games, you’re sure to be entertained for hours here. Plus they have a huge selection of beers on tap and some tasty (albeit unhealthy) bar snacks.
Fancy a fancy cocktail? Teardrop Lounge has got you covered. A Portland stalwart serving delicious bespoke cocktails in a fun and funky setting, it’s one of our favorite spots in the Pearl. Stop by for happy hour (4-6pm) for $7 drinks and $5 small plates.
Northwest Portland is technically the entire area north of West Burnside Street, and on the west side of the Willamette River. It encompasses The Pearl and stretches all the way to Beaverton (the people who live out there claim their address is still “Portland” but everyone else knows it’s really the boring suburbs).
For the purposes of this guide, we’ll specifically be talking about the area around NW 23rd Avenue because it’s a great little pedestrian-friendly area filled with shops, restaurants, and bars. If you’re looking for an escape from the city, NW Portland is home to Forest Park – a 5,200-acre urban forest with over 80 miles of trails. You can even walk to several of the park’s trails from NW Portland making it accessible even if you don’t have a car at your disposal.
The NW Portland neighborhood is also just a short distance from Washington Park where you’ll find the International Rose Test Garden and the Portland Japanese Gardens – both of which are on every “must-see in Portland” list (they are technically in SW Portland – it’s confusing, we know).
If you’re visiting Portland and don’t want to be bothered with renting a car then we recommend staying in Northwest Portland.
Things to do in NW Portland
- Shop ’til you drop in the boutique stores along NW 23rd Avenue
- Try bone marrow ice cream at the original location of Salt & Straw
- Go on a hike in Forest Park, one of the largest urban parks in the USA
- Go on a bar crawl down NW 21st Avenue
- Get weird at the Freakybuttrue Pecularium
- Smell the roses at the International Rose Gardens
- Find zen in the Portland Japanese Gardens
- Check out the view from Pittock Mansion
- Sing karaoke in your own private room at Voicebox
- Grab a minibike and go zoobombing
Best Restaurants in NW Portland
There are dozens of great sushi restaurants in Portland, but one of our favorites has always been Mio Sushi on NW Johnson Street. The sushi here is very affordable but without sacrificing quality, and it is in a super cute little house right off of NW 23rd Ave. If you don’t mind paying more for sustainably-sourced sushi you can also check out Bamboo Sushi.
Another one of our lunchtime favorites in the NW Portland neighborhood is Boke Bowl. A lot of people come to Boke Bowl for the Ramen noodles, but we love the steamed buns! They are like little tacos made from Chinese style steamed buns (baozi) and stuffed with delicious ingredients like fried chicken, pork belly, and miso mushroom. The warm brussels sprouts salad with Thai vinaigrette is also a great accompaniment to your meal.
Besaw’s has a reputation for being one of the best restaurants for brunch in Portland. It used to be located in a charming little rundown house but recently moved to a larger, more modern setting. While it has lost some of its former charm, the more spacious dining room means that there is a shorter wait for weekend brunch. We actually think the happy hour is the best deal at Besaw’s – especially on Sundays when it lasts from 5pm to close.
Best Desserts in NW Portland
It would be a travesty to visit Portland without sampling the strange and wonderful ice cream flavors at Salt & Straw! The flavor combinations are totally bizarre (Bone Marrow and Bourbon Smoked Cherries, anyone?) but somehow they work! And the best thing about Salt & Straw is they’ll let you sample as many flavors as you want. So whenever I visit, I sample a bunch of flavors and then buy a pint of Pear with Blue Cheese ice cream to take home with me. Keep in mind that there’s always a long line!
Papa Haydn is technically a restaurant with a full menu, but they are really known for being one of the best dessert spots in all of Portland. Even if you choose to dine elsewhere you should hit Papa Haydn for an ooey-gooey decadent dessert. It’s the perfect spot for a post-dinner glass of wine and a sweet treat!
Best Bars in NW Portland
North 45 is a popular gastro-pub tucked along NW 21st Avenue with a surprisingly spacious courtyard outback. The indoor setting is narrow and intimate with tall shelves of liquor lining the wall behind the small bar (and a rolling ladder to fetch bottles from the top shelves). North 45 is quite popular for drinks in the evening and if you’re hungry the mussels are also quite good.
Paymaster Lounge is everyone’s favorite dive bar in NW Portland. To find it you’ll need to venture a bit off of the beaten path and keep an eye out for the “Paymaster Check Writers & Signers Swingline Business Machine Company” sign above the front entrance. With cheap drinks, friendly bartenders, delicious boozy slushies, and a big heated patio out back, Paymaster is a quintessential Portland neighborhood bar.
While Muu-Muu’s is technically a diner, this restaurant at its busiest late in the evening when people pour in from the neighboring bars for a nightcap and late-night food. If you’re hungry (or thirsty) after 11pm in NW Portland this is one of the best options in the neighborhood!
Best Airbnbs in NW Portland
If you want to stay in the popular NW 23rd neighborhood, then you’ll want to check out the Renovated NW Retreat Airbnb. You’ll appreciate having a full kitchen, as well as a living room, bedroom, office, and bathroom to enjoy. It’s a cute, modern space in a fantastic location – you can walk to tons of fun bars, restaurants, and cute boutiques!
We hope you have a fun stay in one of these trendy Portland neighborhoods!
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