#MyHomeTownGuide: Five Foodie Faves in Portland

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PARTNER POST: Fiji Water’s #myhometownguide

I am so excited to partner with Honest Cooking to take part in the Fiji Water #myhometownguide campaignMy task was to select my five favorite foodie and culinary-inspired spots in Portland, Oregon.  And I must admit that this was no easy feat.  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).

So here they are, my top five:

1. Nostrana

Nostrana Pizza Portland, Oregon

My husband and I are {slightly} obsessed with pizza.  Not just any pizza.  Our love affair is with Neapolitan-style pizza.  A 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 Pizza Portland, Oregon

My Nostrana pick: Funghi Verde {shiitake & maitake mushrooms, house mozzarella, garlic, arugula, pecorino}, finished off with a butterscotch-salted caramel budino {pudding} for the table.

2. Toro Bravo

Toro Bravo, Portland Oregon

Toro Bravo Portland, Oregon

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.

Toro Bravo, Portland Oregon

My Toro Bravo picks: Seared Scallops with Romesco, Paella Toro, and Tortilla Espanola with Piperade.

3. Salt and Straw

Salt & Straw, Portland Oregon

Salt & Straw, Portland Oregon

Salt & Straw, Portland Oregon

Salt & Straw, Portland Oregon

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 CheeseHoney 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!

Salt & Straw, Portland Oregon

My Salt & Straw picks: Almond Brittle with Salted Ganache, Cinnamon Snickerdoodle, Stumptown Coffee & Burnside Bourbon and Sahagun’s Oregon Kiss.

4. ¿Por Qué No?

 ¿Por Qué No? Portland Oregon

 ¿Por Qué No? Portland Oregon

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.

 ¿Por Qué No? Taqueria Portland Oregon

My ¿Por Qué No? picks: carne asada and al pastor tacos (although the Bryan’s Bowl is neck and neck with the tacos!).

5. Draper Girls Country Farm

Draper Girls Country Farm, Hood River, Oregon Fruit Loop

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.

Draper Girls Country Farm, Hood River, Oregon Fruit Loop

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.

Draper Girls Country Farm, Hood River, Oregon Fruit Loop

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.

Draper Girls Country Farm, Hood River, Oregon Fruit Loop

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.

Draper Girls Country Farm, Hood River, Oregon Fruit Loop

Draper Girls Country Farm, Hood River, Oregon Fruit Loop

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.

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.

A note from our sponsor: Show us your favorite spots to eat, stay and play in your hometown and win a getaway to any of the US cities featured in Earth’s Finest City Guide! To participate, just upload an image of your favorite spot in your hometown to Twitter or Instagram with hashtag #myhometownguide and tell us where you live and what makes the image special and you will be entered to win automatically.

Disclosure: This was a sponsored post from Fiji Water, in partnership with Honest Cooking. Sponsored posts such as these help support the work behind the scenes on Itsy Bitsy Foodies.  All opinions are my own.

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2 Responses to “#MyHomeTownGuide: Five Foodie Faves in Portland”

  1. Cherie Phillips says:

    I can’t wait to try all of the restaurants you mentioned, Kelsey! You would make a wonderful food critic for publications!

  2. kelsey says:

    Thank you, Cherie. It was definitely a fun project to work on!

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