Your guide to a great green weekend in Portland
Photo: Sarah Gilbert
Can you think of a greener city than Portland? Nope, didn’t think so. The City of Roses occupies a warm, squishy spot in the hearts of many a biker, climate hawk, and nature-lovah. We asked you to share your fave local breweries, organic cafés, and green hangouts, and compiled your best ideas into a car-free guide to a great green weekend in Portland.
Click to enlargeFrom the Amtrak or Greyhound station, arm yourself with $2.05 and follow these directions to the Portland Hawthorne Hostel (they work if you’re coming from the airport too). You can nab the private room with a porch (about $60/night) by calling ahead. The uber-green hostel has a green roof, harvests rainwater, and rents bikes. (Hostile to hostels? Stay at the adorable Bluebird Guesthouse nearby, with themed rooms like the Elliott Smith and Gabriel Garcia-Marquez rooms; or the hipster-approved Jupiter Hotel, which rents bikes and also boasts a restaurant and bar.) Ditch your bags and head out!
Ready for dinner? Khun Pic’s Bahn Thai, deemed “the best Thai food in town” by Grist reader Flicka, is a 10-minute walk northeast. “They can do vegan and everything is just spectacular,” raves Flicka, adding that the occasionally slow service is worth it.
In the mood for margaritas instead? Head about 17 blocks east of the hostel to Por Qué No?. Walk or hop the 14 bus for an eight-minute ride to this taqueria that uses local produce and local, hormone-free meats — Grist reader Michael Aylward recommends the fish tacos and the guac.
After dinner, head three blocks east of Por Qué No? for drinks at the sexy Sapphire Hotel, recommends Grist reader Monika. (Fun fact: It used to be a brothel.) They use local produce and meats from the Northwest, and one Yelper notes that it’s “a woman-owned business that supports local nonprofits.” Delicious.
Stroll eight blocks west of your hostel to Jam, a small, funky spot with a decidedly Portland groove — not to mention local, organic fare and Stumptown coffee while you wait. A vegetarian wrap called the JD Massacre is scrumptious, or go for the chai pancakes or oft-recommended lemon ricotta ones.
Click to enlargeWhile you let breakfast settle, wander through the farmers market across the street. Thrift shoppers should walk east 11 blocks to House of Vintage, an amazing, sprawling collection of kitschy finds. (Three blocks further east are more thrift havens like Red Light, Buffalo Exchange, and Crossroads.)
Spend the rest of the morning biking! If you’re sticking to the Hawthorne district around the hostel, “take SE Salmon or Harrison,” advises Grist reader Sarah Bobertz. “These are bike streets that parallel the car-infested Hawthorne Blvd.” On the other side of the river, Grist bike columnist Elly Blue recommends Portland Bicycle Tours, with a two-hour green bike tour at 11 a.m. (call ahead). Portland travel writer Kim Dinan advises, “rent your bike from Kerr Bike Rentals and do a lap around waterfront park before heading over the Hawthorne Bridge to Mt. Tabor, an inactive volcano within Portland city limits that provides great view from its summit.”
If you’re a DIY type, fixer-upper, or treasure-hunter, point your bike toward Northeast Portland so you can dig for gems like bamboo coasters or a stained-glass window at the ReBuilding Center, suggests Tom Watson. Crafty types should also pedal to SCRAP “for a HUGE selection of donated thingamagigs,” recommends GreenDainard.
Late-morning pick-me-up: Grist readers suggest checking out People’s Co-Op or the Alberta Co-Op. “While you’re on Alberta [St.], hit Back to Eden, a great place for vegan, organic pastries and locally roasted, fair-trade, organic coffee,” says Flicka. Adds reader Sarah Bobertz, “If you’re in NE and biking, taking people up to 33rd and NE Going (a great bike street) to see the new cycle track is fun. There is also some really cool bike infrastructure on Broadway going up through Portland State University.”
- For a tasty, Grist reader-recommended lunch spot in Northeast Portland, Laurelwood serves local, sustainable, organic fare when possible (“great food AND great beer,” raves Bobertz. “The Workhorse IPA is a classic Portland brew”).
- Flicka praises Blossoming Lotus: “[It's] the best restaurant — organic, vegan, incredibly delicious — and it’s open every day [for] breakfast, lunch, dinner.”
- Saraveza dishes up homemade sausage, beer, and pasties made with fresh, local ingredients.
- Or the Tin Shed Garden Café is a dog-friendly, slightly more hippie-ish spot with an outdoor fireplace (their renowned breakfasts are served til 3 p.m.).
- Since it’s five o’clock somewhere, sample some local beer at Upright Brewing or fill your growler for “later” (wink). Make sure you have cash/checks, as they don’t take plastic.
Photo: Sarah GilbertNext, head across the river to Portland Saturday Market, an eclectic outdoor market with handmade arts and crafts (take the 12 bus from Laurelwood, the 8 from Blossoming Lotus or Tin Shed, or the 4 from Saraveza). The city institution — kind of like a beloved, hippieish Etsy shop — kicks off its 38th season on March 5 (it’s also open Sundays). And the Portland Farmers Market starts March 19, with “a large variety of local farms selling everything from seasonal produce to mushrooms to milk and eggs to meat,” says Monika. Another outdoorsy idea from reader judithmoran: “the Japanese Gardens should not be missed by any green-loving visitor to Portland. Absolutely beautiful.”
More of an indoor cat? If you haven’t been to the epicness of Powell’s Books — a full city block downtown of new and used tomes — get yourself there posthaste.
When you’re ready for dinner, head back to Southeast Portland and hit up one of these spots:
- The Farm: With fresh, local, organic fare and chickens on their homepage, The Farm is straight out of Portlandia. It’s in a converted house, and Dinan says they’ve got the “best veggie burger ever.”
- Portobello Vegan Trattoria: Its organic cuisine is inspired by Italy, Spain, and France, and the potato gnocchi and beet tartare get loving reviews on Yelp. Raves reader Maggie Schirack, “I’ve only visited once, but that place would be worth a return trip in itself!”
- Ken’s Artisan Pizza, a 15-minute walk from the hostel, features local, seasonal produce, and Grist reader Michael Aylward deems its European-style, wood-fired pizza “unbelievable.”
- Bamboo Sushi, super-close to Ken’s, boasts “the first certified, sustainable sushi restaurant in the world” and earns Grist reader Randi Grahn Moore’s recommendation.
For drinks, Hopworks earns several reader endorsements. It “features tasty organic beers and a refreshingly sustainable approach to the business of brewing!” says Wisegal. (Saturday late-night happy hour starts at 10 p.m.) Or head up to Le Happy in Northwest Portland for crepes and wine. It’s “Portland’s late-night hidden treasure,” according to Dinan.
Click to enlargeMmm, Sunday brunch. An 11-minute walk south from the Hawthorne Hostel is Detour Café, which uses organic flour, cage- and hormone-free eggs, and local ingredients when possible. Reader Michael Aylward recommends The Mini (“the most slammin’ breakfast sandwich in the PNW”). Aylward also suggests Simpatica, which uses fresh, local, seasonal ingredients, serves hearty stuff like waffles ‘n’ chicken, and claims to have the best brunch in town. “I take friends to Paradox Cafe on Belmont,” says reader Sam Marvit; the café — also a short walk from the hostel — has affordable vegetarian/vegan comfort food.
Then head out for a hike:
- “Eagle Creek in the Gorge is the best hike in the area,” says reader Brad Nahill.
- Looking for a four-mile trek? Try the 4T (Trail, Tram, Trolley, Train) Hike [PDF], says commenter Randi Grahn Moore.
- “Take the MAX to the zoo and hike the Wildwood Trail to the Pittock Mansion, or beyond. It’s wonderful to experience a forest in the city!” says Monika.
- Kim Dinan’s hike advice: “If you aren’t up for a strenuous hike … head over to Washington Park for a stroll through the world-famous rose gardens and a walk through the Hoyt Arboretum.”
Grabbing lunch before leaving town? Two words: food carts. Portland’s got over 200 of them — most in little clusters — leading CNN to say the city has the best street food in the country. “All the weekend carts go to the farmers markets in the morning for their supplies,” the proprietor of foodcartsportland.com told Grist last year. Hit the clump of food carts on 12th and Hawthorne, or cross the Morrison Bridge and stop at the food carts at 9th and Alder or 3rd and Stark (here’s a map) on your way out.
Or stop at the uber-green EcoTrust building (it’s a converted warehouse really close to the train station) and get a burrito at local chain Laughing Planet. “For an inexpensive and healthy vegan meal, [it's] a fantastic choice,” writes Marvit.
Make your way back to the train or bus station and savor the delicious memories (and burps) from your green Portland weekend.
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