Next stop: Mississippi Ave The sun is to Phoenix what restaurant lineups are to Portland. Any place worth its salt has a queue, and the wait is like a food badge to be worn with pride. So when you’re strolling Mississippi Ave in North Portland, follow the crowds to ¿Por Qué No?. Yes, the name is as funky as the mismatched décor, but it’s the transcendental tacos that’ll grab you. Corn tortillas are made fresh and stuffed with sustainably-sourced ingredients, from banana leaf-braised brisket to crispy cornmeal encrusted Alaskan Cod. Wash it down with a smoky Mescal Margarita or housemade horchata spiked with rum for extra yum. And because just one standout donut shop per town is never enough, across the street there’s Blue Star Donuts. Instead of cereal toppers you’ll find cake and brioche taste bombs elevated with sophisticated flavors like blueberry bourbon, Cointreau and marionberry compote.
Last stop: Richmond Neighborhood If you waved a magic food wand with spells of tricking your tasted buds with unusual food pairings and ethnic street food scents—POOF!—you’d have Richmond Neighborhood, Southeast Portland’s walkable stretch of savory, sweet and umami offerings, some that are so Portland and others that can whisk you away on a magic carpet ride. Take Bollywood Theater, the brainchild of chef Troy MacLarty, formerly of Berkeley’s Chez Panisse, who traveled to India and brought back the spirit and aroma of Mumbai’s cooking. Savor lamb samosas, potato dumpling sliders and rich and creamy curries while taking in Bollywood movies on the big screen. Down the street at Pok Pok (pictured at top of page) is chef Andy Ricker’s bold take on Thai. What started as a takeout shack has turned into a delicious eating adventure with food as layered as the multi-tiered restaurant. Must-orders include the papaya salad, fish sauce chicken wings, drinking vinegars and can’t-find-anywhere-else cocktails, like the Salted Plum Vodka Collins, a slightly sweet, slightly salty spin on a gin and tonic. Save the best for last with Salt & Straw (pictured above), an ice cream joint to end all ice cream joints. With whimsical yet well-thought-out flavors, sample all they have to offer, from the Pear & Blue Cheese to the Sea Salt with Caramel Ribbons, and you’ll suddenly have a lot more room than you thought.