My Hometown Guide – Portland’s Top 5

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Kelsey Hilt’s personal #myhometownguide to the must-see food attractions in Portland.
By Kelsey Hilts

Myhometownguide Fiji Water
Portland has a growing reputation for chefs, restaurants, food trucks, and food in general, especially for the farm-to-table concept. When you live in a foodie city where there are many known hot spots as well as even more undiscovered gems, it becomes difficult to narrow a favorites list to five. I aimed to select a variety of restaurants, ranging from fancy, date-night spots to casual, family-friendly joints, in order to capture the wide range of restaurants in this delicious city. The exciting part about this campaign is that anyone and everyone can participate in the competition. Simply submit your own photos on Instagram or Twitter tagged with #myhometownguide to win (see below for details).

1. Nostrana

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My husband and I are {slightly} obsessed with pizza. Not just any pizza. Our love affair is with authentic Neapolitan-style pizza. A sourdough crust that is all at once thin, chewy, salty and perfectly charred and then topped with the just the right amount of the finest ingredients. It was hard not to include Apizza Scholls in my top five list because we are definitely huge fans and followers of their pizza. However, in our opinion, Nostrana’s pizza has the edge and has always been at the top of our Portland list (as well as one of our all-time favorite pizzas). Chef Cathy Whims {a 5-Time James Beard Award Finalist} is an esteemed chef in the culinary world and her fine dining Italian menu is definitely worthy of her fame. In our mind, her pizzas are where it’s at, though. She has more recently opened another restaurant, Oven & Shaker, which has a more modern bistro flair and is devoted strictly to her pizzas.

Nostrana
1401 SE Morrison
Portland, Oregon
Phone (503)234.2427
Website

2. Toro Bravo

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I love eating tapa-style so that I can try an assortment of dishes. Ever since I lived and studied in Spain, tapas, and specifically, pintxos have had a soft spot in my heart. Granted the small plates at Toro Bravo are fancier than many that I had in Spain, I have found that they capture the essence while enticing the taste buds with a fusion of flavors. Toro Bravo comes from a strong heritage given that it is one of three restaurants {Tasty n Sons and Tasty n Alder being the other two} with the same parent, the others both being top PDX picks as well. Though the menu is constantly changing, you can always find some of the tried and true Spanish tapas-inspired favorites. If you don’t want to wait several hours for a table (depending on the day and season), I recommend getting there a bit before the doors open at 5pm, ready to secure your place in line. However, if you’re not one of the lucky few to get a table right away, you can enjoy some old-school cocktails next door at The Secret Society while you wait. My Toro Bravo picks: Seared Scallops with Romesco, Paella Toro, and Tortilla Espanola with Piperade.

Toro Bravo
120 NE Russell St,
Portland, OR 97212
Phone (503) 281.4464
Website

3. Salt and Straw

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This gourmet ice cream shop is one for the family as long as you are willing to wait in lines that may wrap around the block {depending on the time of day and the season}. You can count on inspiring, sometimes shocking flavors that will mostly get your mouth watering. Fortunately, they generously let you sample as many flavors as you’d like before you commit to your scoop(s). The last time I was there I tasted the Pear with Blue Cheese, Honey Lavender and Xocolatl De David’s Bacon Raleigh Bar before deciding on a split scoop of Sahagun’s Oregon Kiss and Stumptown Coffee & Burnside Bourbon. Yum! My Salt & Straw picks: Almond Brittle with Salted Ganache, Cinnamon Snickerdoodle, Stumptown Coffee & Burnside Bourbon and Sahagun’s Oregon Kiss.

Salt and Straw
Various Locations
Phone {503}208-2054
Website

4. ¿Por Qué No?

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There’s always a line out the door of this family-friendly Mexican joint because their street-style tacos are known to be some of the best around. {They have tasty meat and rice bowls, too.} With homemade tortillas and chips, house-made salsas, local produce, locally-sourced and organic, grass-fed meats, ¿Por Qué No? is hard to beat. The funky East Portland vibe is welcoming and warm and during the summer the garage doors are open to create open-air seating. There is also a patio in the back with additional seating. Cool Fact: They use GMO-free oil for the deep-fryer and then use the excess “waste” oil as fuel for their company truck. My ¿Por Qué No? picks: carne asada and al pastor tacos (although the Bryan’s Bowl is neck and neck with the tacos!).

¿Por Qué No?
Various Locations
Phone (503) 467-4149
Website

5. Draper Girls Country Farm

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One of my favorite parts about Portland is the strong presence of the local farms. In fact, they are at the center of the foodie scene, inspiring menus both in homes and at restaurants. Surrounded on all sides by farms, no matter where you live or happen to be in Portland and the surrounding towns, you won’t be too far from at least one portion of the farm scene. For help locating farms in your area, check out the list at Tri-County Farms. My family enjoys going to all of the farmer’s markets in the area, but I also love taking my boys to the actual source. During the spring, summer and fall, we find ourselves at different farms on a weekly basis. Boones Ferry Berry Farms is one of our favorites for all varieties of u-pick berries (including the locally prized marionberry). Many other of our favorite farms provide u-pick vegetables, and even if they don’t have u-pick produce they all typically have a farm stand. Many have animals and farm activities, too, with seasonal holiday and crop festivals. Out of all of the farms we frequent, it was difficult to select only one. I chose Draper Girls Country Farm because it is located on the scenic “Fruit Loop” in Hood River, just a short drive from Portland. This beautiful 35-mile loop from Hood River takes you up toward Mt. Hood and is home to countless farms and wineries, many of which are numbered and listed on the Fruit Loop. You can drive from farms to wineries, u-picking, tasting and picnicking as you go. It can easily be an all-day family outing. My family has gone to Draper Girls Country Farm for the last two years. In addition to the breathtaking views of Mt. Hood, we have been thoroughly impressed with the variety of u-pick produce at any given time. Though the selection varies depending on the season, one day we had the choice to pick peaches, plums, blueberries, raspberries, corn and several varieties of apples.If you work up an appetite at the farm and don’t end up having a picnic along the way, I recommend stopping at Double Mountain Brewery in Hood River for some fantastic pizza and brew as you recap your day.

Draper Girls Country Farm
6200 HWY 35, Mt. Hood
Parkdale, Or 97041
Phone (541) 490.8113
Website

So there they are, my top five places in Portland. I’d love to know what your hometown favorites are, in Portland and elsewhere! I look forward to hearing from you and good luck in the #myhometownguide campaign if you choose to enter.

Kelsey Hilts

Kelsey Hilts is the founder of Itsy Bitsy Foodies, an online resource for families looking for ways to spend more time together enjoying food and exploring the world beyond the children’s menu.

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