Hear from four of our Student Office Assistants about their favorite “go-to” places in Portland! Whether it be a quick study break, a weekend adventure, or something new to try – Mackenzie, Gaby, Grace, and Sarah have insight on the best places to hit while you’re in Portland.
1) Por que no
Nothing beats the tasty (and inexpensive!) quality tacos, bowls, quesadillas, and, of course, chips and salsa, from the best Mexican restaurant around town! My personal recommendation would either be the chorizo tacos or the cheese quesadilla, although everything on the menu is good. Also, be sure to grab a basket of chips and guac to share with your friends, while you’re at it. 😊
2) Pie Spot
I may be crazy, but pie with ice cream is my all-time favorite dessert. I can’t resist a warm, tasty lemon pie with a scoop of vanilla ice cream! Located in SE Portland, the Pie Spot is the place to go whether you want sweet, fruity, or savory pie. They also offer a variety of different espresso beverages. My personal favorite pairing is their peanut butter fudge pie, with an iced latte. Dessert doesn’t get better than this!
3) Ruby Jewel
Finished with your por que no but still have a sweet tooth for something else? Walk down the block and experience, in my opinion, the best ice cream in Portland! At Ruby Jewel, you get to essentially make your own ice cream sandwich by picking your type of cookie, ice cream, what it’s dipped in (chocolate, caramel, etc.) and if you want it to be rolled in anything (chocolate chips, peanuts, etc.). My favorite is the gluten-free chocolate chip cookie with vanilla ice cream, dipped in hot fudge!
4) Off the Waffle
Who could’ve thought that so many different waffles could be invented? Savory, sweet, or somewhere in between – you name it. My favorite “in-between” waffle is the pear and brie. It’s literally a large waffle with slices of pear, brie, slices of bacon, and maple syrup. I’ve also heard their sweet waffles are to die for! Also – gluten-free waffles available 😊
5) Pittock Mansion
This is a great outdoor location for a breath-taking view of Portland. I highly recommend going at night – the city lights are beautiful!
1) Smith Tea Maker Tasting Room
Do you like tea? Do you like trying new teas? Do you like being cozy? Well look no further—Smith Tea Maker has two great tasting rooms in Portland, where you can either order off the menu or do a tea tasting. My personal favorite is the Black Tea Latte, but you really can’t go wrong!
2) Pine State Biscuits
All I can say is yum! This place is great for anyone who loves a hearty breakfast, with a southern flair. Even with four locations in Portland, (there’s also one in Reno, Nevada) Pine State Biscuits stills draws a crowd. Come for a biscuit and leave with a smile and a new favorite brunch spot.
3) Saturday Market
Think farmers market, but big! The Saturday Market is located downtown Portland on the waterfront and has all sorts of vendors to check out. From freshly picked strawberries to meticulously handcrafted wood, there’s something for everyone. It’s even close to Voodoo Donuts if you get hungry from all your shopping!
If you have the inkling for a secondary farmers market visit, head over to PSU’s farmers market, or stay close to home and check out the St. John’s farmers market for a more relaxed, community vibe.
4) Kennedy School
Do you like seeing movies, eating tater tots, and going to school? What… going to school? Yup, you heard me right—school. The Kennedy school is an old school that’s been converted into a hotel, a movie theater, and a ‘soaking’ pool. The Kennedy School also has plenty of themed dining options. Even if you don’t want to spend the night, it’s a great place to grab dinner and a movie. The movie theater comes fully equipped with couches and inexpensive tickets, so you can enjoy the movie fully.
5) Rocky Butte
A fabulous view, and a great place to go to have a picnic. When you go up to Rocky Butte, you’ll find a lovely 360° view of the city, and lots of other Portlanders enjoying the sites. The view point is even on top of an old volcano!
1) Sunsets at Skyline Cemetery
This is a beyond beautiful place to see the sunset on a clear night. Off of Skyline boulevard, there is a pit stop on the way to grab milkshakes and burgers! This location has an awesome view of the area surrounding Portland; you can see from SW all the way to the hills that separate us from the beach. The drive up is almost as beautiful as the cemetery itself, just get there 15 minutes before sunset to see the show!
2) Behind the Museum Café
This is a café located just behind the Portland Art Museum (two stop shopping anyone?) that has an awesome tea selection along with yummy tea snacks. I personally would recommend the matcha latte, but you can’t go wrong with whatever you get. A great place to study if you are downtown!
3) Escape from New York Pizza
Escape from New York is a hole in the wall pizza shop that has been on 23rd for decades. The atmosphere is fun and chill and the pizza is always stellar. Stop in for a slice!
4) Red Light
Red Light is a very Portland-y thrift shop on Hawthorne. Right next to the Waffle Window, along with more thrift stores if you are having a thrifting kind of day (Buffalo Exchange, Crossroads, and a Goodwill Boutique… a little bit of an oxymoron in my opinion but check it out if that’s your thing). Red Light is gigantic and contains a mix of eclectic clothes you couldn’t find anywhere else. Push fashion boundaries people – this is Portland after all.
5) Forest Park
One cannot make a list of things to do in Portland without mentioning Forest Park. This huge, green area full of walking trails is basically in our backyard and is a mandatory visit for anyone living in Portland for any length of time. There are short and longer walks for any kind of outing! It is a must-visit.
1) Tienda Santa Cruz
This taco shop hidden behind a small yet very convenient store is obviously a UP student favorite. Since it’s located in St. Johns, its very close to campus, and you’ll almost always see someone you know while grabbing a bite here. This tiendita is not only good for lunch or dinner but for all of your concha, flan, and frijole needs. I always come here to pick up some ingredients for my mom’s recipes.
2) Pip’s Original Doughnuts & Chai
This little place on NE Fremont has changed the game for donut-eating and Chai drinking everywhere. I don’t care what New York or London have to say about that! My favorite donut is the Dirty Wu, with cinnamon sugar, nutella, and honey. Order a flight of chai and give your soul the gift you didn’t know you needed!
3) Another Read Through Book Store
Powell’s is awesome but if you’re looking for a quaint used-book store where you can sit and relax with your new (very affordable) reading material, this is the place for you. It’s located on Mississippi Ave, a short 10-15 minutes from campus.
4) Lúc Lác Vietnamese
Located downtown, this Vietnamese restaurant is open until 12am on the weekdays and 4am on the weekends! It is amazing for Vietnamese food and tapas, but I especially love the pho and vegan banh mis!
5) Sea Tramp Tattoo Parlor
Very affordable, reliable, friendly, overall supportive artists work here! Pick something from their large wall collection or give them an idea and they will sketch something up for you. Armado was the tattoo artist who worked with me on my lotería (mexican bingo) tattoo and was so excited to express his own Mexican heritage in the tattoos as well. On SE Stark and they don’t charge for touch-ups!