Hi everyone! Jon here.
As you may or may not know, I grew up in Portland—before it was cool. The Portland I came to know was a sleepy West Coast town, sulking in the shadow of its cooler older sibling, Seattle. As I grew up, Portland morphed into a funky, weird, and original city known as a prime destination for art, food, beer, and of course, coffee.
Although I grew up in one of the top coffee destinations in the US, I didn’t start drinking coffee until my mid-20s. Shocking, right? It was my then-future wife who introduced me to this outstanding little coffee shop in our neighborhood, Stumptown. Perhaps you’ve heard of it?
Watching baristas precisely pour those first rosettas was just the beginning of coffee working its way into parts of my daily life—and the rest is history.
Since you will all be in my hometown soon, I wanted to share some insight into my favorite places to eat, drink, do, and see. You’ll notice that many of these suggestions are on the east side of the city—that’s the area I know best. I also tried to focus on places that are easy to get to from the conference center and/or offer a great local neighborhood experience.
Sorry, picking a favorite Portland coffee shop is like picking a favorite child. You have one, but you won’t say which.
There are so many wonderful coffee shops and roasters in this city. Visit as many as you can!
Check out some of my favorite places to grab a bite to eat throughout the city. Portland is full of hidden gems for curious foodies, award-winning establishments, and quick eats for a daily culinary adventure.
5410 NE 33rd Ave.
This place is a family favorite and helped us get through the pandemic. Their smashburgers are made with quality ingredients, super affordable and are oh, so good.
4641 NE Fremont St.,
Pizza joint with creative pies—many of which can be made vegan! The georgean and mushroom are our favorites.
5501 NE 30th Avenue
This small tavern offers a rotating selection of pub food paired perfectly with its craft cocktails, wine, and beer menu. Their burgers or fried chicken are always a hit.
117 SE Taylor St #101
Owned by Portland’s Sesame Collective, Shalom Y’all invites visitors to gather, eat, and explore Mediterranean flavors.
5713 NE Fremont St.
Real local fruit blended to order with vanilla ice cream = mind-blowing!
You don’t need to go to a packed restaurant to get a taste of Portland’s culinary expertise. The city is full of food carts serving up some of the best food around. Check out any of these food truck parks and pods scattered about the city:
Portland is also known for its great beer and cocktail scene. Check out a few of my personal favorites.
930 SE Oak St. (Moon Room)
825 North Cook St. (Mothership Brewery)
After a long day walking the show floor at Expo, relax with a beer crafted by an Oregon brewing legend, good food, and a large outdoor space for bigger groups.
2326 N Flint Ave
This brewpub right near the Oregon Convention Center boasts an impressive line-up of beers and a brewery with a big heart that donates their net profits.
Note: This location is drinks only but you can bring outside food in.
4727 NE Fremont St
If imaginative cocktails and exquisite food are more your thing, you have to check out the menu at Wonderly.
Not a place, but a drink! Cavatica is my favorite stout. Brewed by Fort George Brewery in Astoria, OR, you’ll be able to find this heavy, sweet stout at any New Seasons Market in the area.
1719 NE Alberta St
When you want to get away from the crowds for a nice glass of wine, this is the spot. This wine bar is a favorite of my wife and me. We like to let the bar staff recommend and choose a wine for us. We’re often pleasantly surprised by a wine we wouldn’t have typically ordered. Although their food menu isn’t expansive, it is full of wildly inventive grilled cheese sandwiches—yes, you read that right.
When you’re ready to explore the city, I recommend checking out a few of these top spots.
About 25 minutes outside of Downtown Portland, you’ll find a 74-acre property full of fun. On its campus are a winery, brewery, distillery, movie theater, golf course, concert venue, and more. It’s a one-of-a-kind property and worth the drive.
Located within Washington Park, this phenomenal garden boasts more than 10,000 individual rose bushes each year.
Looking to escape the city? Forest Park has approximately 80 miles of trails over 5,200 acres of land. There are more than 40 access points to the park, meaning endless opportunities to get out and explore.
This park is a perfect place to grab a drink, pack a snack, and watch the sunset.
Rain in Portland in April is inevitable. When those rain showers come and you still want to explore, take a trip to these indoor activities.
This one-of-a-kind heated pool is surrounded by natural gardens. It’ll feel like you’re outside! The pool is free to hotel guests or $8 per hour for visitors. There are numerous restaurants and bars on the grounds as well.
2735 East Burnside St.
This iconic movie theater shows independent films alongside Hollywood blockbusters.
1005 W. Burnside St.
Get lost in rows upon rows of used and new books at Powell’s, the largest new and used bookstore in the world. This is always a favorite stop!
Portland is an amazing city full of quirky gems, big trees, food, and beverages to satisfy every palate. I hope you get a chance to explore a little beyond the Expo Hall while at the Specialty Coffee Expo this April.
While you’re at SCA Expo, stop by our booth! Join us at Booth 2284 for: