A Local’s Guide to Portland, Oregon

Regional Spotlight, Williams-Sonoma Open Kitchen

From the coffee we sip to how we set the table, Portland, Oregon is a small city with an outsized influence on food culture. The city is earning a well-deserved reputation as a destination for food-lovers from around the world, so when we touched down for our Thanksgiving Open Kitchen feature at the Jacobsen Salt Co. warehouse, the first thing we wanted to know was where the locals ate, drank and shopped.


Luckily, when chef Joshua McFadden invited a few of his friends over for a Thanksgiving feast, they were brimming with off-the-beaten-path advice for their buzzy hometown.


Here’s where Portland’s most in-the-know locals like to eat, shop and visit in this celebrated city.


Ashley Marti

Creative director, stylist and photographer @localhaven


I love Kachka for its dumplings and horseradish vodka. It is absolutely one of my favorite Portland restaurants, whether I’m sitting at the dark bar after a photo shoot or entertaining out-of-town friends. It is a true experience. 


Coquine is the sweetest restaurant ever to exist. The chicken liver mousse, a bottle of wine and the chocolate chip cookie are all a must. 


Sarah Minnick is the queen of pizza, and Lovely’s Fifty Fifty is the best (and prettiest) pizza I’ve ever had. Her seasonally creative pizzas, beautiful salads, aperol spritz and ice cream keep me coming back week after week. 


I like Nong’s Khao Man Gai for shoot day lunch breaks. And everyday lunch breaks. Chicken and rice, chicken and rice. So simple, and so so good, every single time. 


Spartan Shop for the prettiest ceramics, and a constant source of inspiration. 


Peter Cho & Sun Young Park

Chef/Owners of the must-try Han Oak restaurant


All our favorite places seem to be a part of our weekly errands. We go to the farmers market twice weekly; it’s great to catch up with all our chef friends who we never really get to see since we’re all working all the time


We always end up at a few places after the market run. Our favorite is Figlia, a cafe run by our friends who also own the fantastic Italian restaurant Renata. We couldn’t get through the day without their espresso smoothies and we love all their sandwiches so much.


Spielman Bagels is our favorite place for bagels in Portland.. It’s down the street from Han Oak, so we’ll always stop by for their bacon, arugula, jam on an everything bagel.


When we’re craving Chinese, Duck House is our go-to; it’s right down the street from the market. We try something different every time but we always get an order of their xiao long bao.


Ryan LeBrun

Director of Operations at Bee Local Honey


Helium Comedy Club has a great mix of new comedians making idiots out of themselves along with big name acts. Go on Tuesday night for the free open mic night.


Head up to Urban Farmer on the eighth floor of The Nines Hotel for some of my favorite cocktails and well-sourced proteins, and a beautiful place to lounge around. Follow that with a trip up to the 15th floor to visit the highly-renowned Departure restaurant. It has amazing views of the city and beyond, two rooftop bars, and food you will come back to Portland for.


Figlia is a dope little lunch spot located right on Grand Avenue in the industrial district of SE Portland. Smoothies, fresh pasta salads and all sandwiches are 100 percent on point. Fuel up here then walk to all the handmade, artisan shops that are popping up in this cool little ‘hood.


Jessica Baesler

General Manager at Tusk


Portland has a wealth of options for coffee. If I find myself in NE, I visit my friend’s coffee shop, Guilder, where they have great food and house-roasted coffee. My neighborhood favorite is NEVER coffee. Their “Midnight Oil” made with fennel seed is a must!


Here in Portland we are spoiled with hiker/running-friendly forests within the city limits. I like to spend mornings running up to Mt. Tabor in SE Portland. The views are great and when you finish up, a lunch and dinner favorite, Coquine, is at the bottom of the hill. 


There is so much great beer that comes out of Oregon. I like stopping by One Drop Bottle Shop to pick out favorites then meet up with friends at Skidmore Bluffs for a sunset picnic. For cocktails, Interurban and Expatriate are my favorites, both have unique spaces and really nice cocktail lists. 


Palace is great for new and vintage finds as well as home goods. It’s my go-to for gift giving. If I’m looking for a new piece of jewelry to add to my collection, OKO is impossible to visit and leave empty handed! Since you’re visiting OKO, you may as well run around to the back of the building to check out Nahanni Arntzen‘s newest collection. Her jumpsuits are killer. 


Sam Smith

Executive Chef/Partner at Tusk


The Spare Room is my favorite bar in Portland. It used to be a bowling alley, and is now a karaoke bar a few nights a week. Rockin’ Raymond is one of the DJs; he is a Portland legend. It is worth going there just to see him perform “Johnny B Goode.” It also transforms into a huge dance party one night a month called The Get Down. The Spare Room is special because it is a mix of old and new Portland, regulars and first timers, and everyone is having fun.


For the best Mexican food around, head to Tortilleria y Tienda de Leon in Gresham, just outside of Portland. It is mostly guisados (stews and braises) like puerco con nopales, barbacoa, carnitas, and carne en chile verde.  They make all of the tortillas there, and if you show up around 11:00 a.m., they have the best chile relleno I’ve ever had.  Get a side of rice and refried black beans, cover everything in their incredible salsas, and eat under piñatas of Donald Trump, donkeys, tigers, and pigs.


The Hollywood Theatre is a non profit Portland landmark that opened in 1926.  My favorite part of the theatre is their ability to show original 35 mm screenings of old movies.  The second Tuesday of every month, they show an 35 mm print of  old kung fu movies. I’ve gone to almost every single one for the past few years (nerd alert!).


Kate Towers

Independent Apparel Designer


Mt. Tabor is my place of choice to walk, run, hike or stroll. If you aren’t there strictly to work out, hit Coquine for coffee and pastries or check for their seasonal boozy popsicle specials. 


For a special lunch I love Maurice or Luce. Both are cozy and a great place to escape a rainy day for a glass of wine, and pretty much everything on the menu is delicious. 


I don’t actually shop all that much in Portland but if I’m looking for something special, Una, Frances May or the Kate Towers/Nahanni Arntzen shop always have unique things! 


Nahanni Arntzen Wagner

Clothing designer


Ava Gene’s is one of our favorite restaurants with no bias given to our friendship with Joshua McFadden, the chef and owner—that came after it was already our favorite spot! I am vegetarian, and finding a place that makes veggies in a superhuman way is such a treat.


Mt. Tabor is a little mountain park in the middle of SE Portland and is a great place to walk many trails around the water reservoirs. Go up to the top for a view of downtown and a great playground among old growth trees. 


Ryan Dirks

Creative Director, Submarine Hospitality

When we don’t know what to have for dinner at my house, we usually end up over at Hat Yai for fried chicken, curry, roti and coconut mango horchata. We’ve never once regretted it and we go, um, too much. 


Nationale is a lovely little gallery that always has an interesting exhibit up, along with a little collection of books and other items. They also have a silkscreen prints available through their online project, Le Oui, which raises money for a number of organizations fighting for social justice and equity. 


If The Good Mod put in a kitchen (and invited me) I’d live here. Their showroom is full of amazing mid-century pieces and some of their own work. Spending an hour in this space without buying something is an exercise in restraint. . .and, later, regret. 



See more of our day spent with Joshua McFadden and friends in the video below.



Join us in stores Thursday, November 2nd at 6:30 p.m. for our Open Kitchen Technique Class, which highlights the casual feast that Portland chef Joshua McFadden created in collaboration with salt maker Ben Jacobsen. We’ll be making mashed potatoes with celery root, carrot pie and, yes, those turkey meatballs. See all upcoming classes and events, and contact your local store for details.


4 comments about “A Local’s Guide to Portland, Oregon

  1. Brenda Wilcher

    Dear Joshua,

    Ever since I’ve discovered Airbnb, I’ve wanted to visit various interesting people. I would love to visit for Thanksgiving, am a B*I*G help in the kitchen. I love meeting people, am a xenophile at heart. I also love having special meals with people. I’ve started a campaign to see how many places I can go visit as a “working guest”. I will completely understand if you do not want to be the first, especially on such an important holiday. However, it could be fun to have a “newbie” around.

    I an a volunteer at the Lied Center for Performing Arts and have been for 10 years. I also volunteer at the Ross Theater, an independent and foreign film movie theater. It is our version of a retro theater. I am an artist and have had two gallery shows here in Lincoln, am a photographer and have two photography groups on FB with hundreds of members in each. I create really beautiful collages of their work every week. It is one of the joys of my life. I have worked in the film industry and worked with a two time Oscar winning writer-director. I am currently working on a novel, work p/t for a major airline and travel at least once per month. Have been overseas once, to Prague, two years ago but plan to do a lot more traveling both domestically and foreign travel.

    If my request is not accepted, I wish you the best of holidays and hope that some other time might present itself for a gathering.


    Brenda J. Wilcher

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