Word of Mouth: Portland, Oregon

The quintessential PNW city has grown up but its kept its inventive charm

Portland‘s culture of individualism has fostered some of the country’s best bars and restaurants, as well as experimental and ambitious shops. The PNW city—surrounded by the beauty of Mount Hood and spliced through with the splendors along the Willamette River—has a longstanding history of harvesting quality produce and accessing fresh seafood. Even in the city’s newest fleet of bars, restaurants and shops, there are innately authentic qualities; every space is deeply connected to the city and its convivial spirit. Among the many, these are some of our favorite spots to drink, dine and peruse in Portland.

by Evan Malachosky

La Neta

Tucked inside the newly opened Hoxton Hotel is La Neta, a modern take on traditional Mexican dishes. The menu is vast, but the preparation is precise and delicate—standouts include a carrot and citrus salad covered in cotija and pistachios and the trout roe with buttermilk and escabeche. And while the more substantial dishes are served up down here—alongside inventive and refreshing cocktails—the Hoxton also has a rooftop bar called Tope and an unnamed basement bar where tacos and mezcal and classics and family-style Chinese food are served.

by Evan Malachosky

Multnomah Whiskey Library

The Multnomah Whiskey Library, which opened in 2013, features over 1,000 whiskeys and 800+ other spirits on their leather-bound menu. Indexed dividers will help you navigate the menu and the significance of each offering—the distiller, city, base and proof are all explained using codes and a key. The second-floor bar also offers memberships—which afford the luxury of reservations—but even if you are asked to wait, it’s well worth it. Rare and one-off bottles sit alongside international oddities and much more inside the dimly lit, retro space.

by Evan Malachosky

Erizo

Buried in a corridor behind Bar Casa Vale’s main dining room lies Erizo. The concept, helmed by Jacob Harth and Nicholas van Eck, seats 18 and guides diners through a tasting menu ($120) filled with sustainable seafood and other edible water inhabitants. Both chefs have working commercial fishing licenses and collect or catch a lot of what they serve—the rest, which includes bycatch and invasive species, is sourced directly from local fisherman. Plus, everything—with the exception of the menu’s raw dishes—is cooked over a wood fire in the rear of the open kitchen. The preparation is meticulous and is conveyed through the sharpness and freshness of the flavors—cocktails and the wine menu, which feature local selections like Son of Man Sagardo, included.

Image courtesy of Woodlark Hotel

Woodlark Hotel

Branded by OMFG Co, the Woodlark Hotel in downtown Portland fills out two historic buildings—the 1912 Woodlark Building and 1908 Cornelius Hotel—which were fused to create the new 150-room hotel. Classic and eclectic, the building’s intricate corridors lead guests to a handful of drinking and dining options and into rooms with high ceilings and split-level sleeping and living spaces.

Image by Evan Malachosky

Cargo + Giraffe

Sourcing unique and handmade products from around the world— Guatemala, Vietnam, Mali, Japan and many others included—Cargo has carved out a niche for themselves. Their shelves are packed with tiny products and imports, and draped over racks and hangers are delicate fabrics and apparel. Japanese denim with indigo-colored patches and ceramic bowls from various makers were highlights of their current inventory; though there’s so much inside that you’re sure to find something. And, tucked into the front corner of the shop is the newly opened Giraffe Goods, a Japanese deli-style cafe with milk bread sandwiches and packaged treats—all of which are excellent.

by Evan Malachosky

Westward Whiskey Distillery

With roots as a multi-focus craft distillery (having produced Aviation Gin, Volstead Vodka, Krogstad Aquavit and more), Westward Whiskey is now the primary spirit. But, that doesn’t mean they’ve gotten any less exciting. Their flagship product, Westward Whiskey Single Malt, is a delectable five-year-old with an emphasis on grain flavors. It’s fruity, spiced and interesting—plus, touring the archives of their less mainstream iterations (some of them are on display in a glass case in the rear of the tasting room) is fascinating, too.

Courtesy of Checkerboard Pizza

Checkerboard Pizza

Inside the Pine Street Market is Checkerboard Pizza, a pie-slinging food stall operated by James Beard Award-winning baker Ken Forkish, who is known for his bread locally and internationally (Ken’s Artisan Pizza, Ken’s Artisan Bakery and Trifecta Tavern are also his). But, the food stall is unique from the former in that it’s an admitted marriage between Italian- and New York-style pizza. It’s thin and crispy on just the bottom, but there’s plenty going on on top—a seasonal sweet potato pie and the Hawaiian were standouts.

by Evan Malachosky

Cascade Brewing Barrel House

Since opening in 2006, Cascade Brewing has been a pioneer in the pungent evolution of sour beer in the United States. The traditionally Belgian style existed, but it was being done poorly in kettles, with little emphasis on complex flavors beyond acidity and funk. Cascade sourced fresh, local fruits and over 1,300 different barrels to give their now massive roster of beers bolder and more enjoyable notes. Their processes are deeply rooted in the seasonality of local produce and the availability of specific barrels, so the menu changes quite often. Their Barrel House is the best place to try both the vintages and the newest releases.