Hip, arty, fash­ion­able Portland em­braces the al­ter­na­tive and cel­e­brates the best of the US Pa­cific North­west with an icon­o­clas­tic din­ing scene and a mav­er­ick men­tal­ity.

Crave - - TABLE OF CONTETS - Words Am­ber Gib­son

Al­ter­na­tive things to do and eat in Portland, Amer­ica’s hip­ster cap­i­tal

Portland has a rep­u­ta­tion of be­ing hip, arty and trendy. A lib­eral ur­ban cap­i­tal in largely ru­ral and con­ser­va­tive Ore­gon state, it em­braces an any­thing­goes men­tal­ity. There’s an un­spo­ken per­mis­sion to do what­ever you like, to be an icon­o­clast. If you want to in­fuse cho­co­late with foie gras, like David Briggs of Xo­co­latl de David, feel free. If you are in­spired to ser­e­nade strangers by ukelele in the wa­ter­front park sim­ply be­cause it’s a beau­ti­ful day, go right ahead.

One of the city’s most fa­mous pieces of pub­lic art, the Peo­ple’s Bike Li­brary of Portland, em­bod­ies this mav­er­ick spirit. Bikes are un­locked weekly from this jum­bled two-storey mon­u­ment of cy­cles and lent to the pub­lic for crazy Zoobomb bike rides in the dark down the city’s rolling hills.

It’s easy to get around the city by bike and there are plenty of green spa­ces around town to ex­plore (the city has the most cy­clists per capita in the US). Clearly marked bike lanes and en­tire boule­vards make it safe and easy to get around on two wheels. Portland-based Nike funded a new bi­cy­cle-share sys­tem – Bike­town – that launched last year with 1,000 bright or­ange bikes avail­able to rent from a hun­dred sta­tions across town.

For begin­ners, the three-mile wa­ter­front loop along the East­bank Es­planade from the Steel Bridge to

Hawthorne Bridge is a scenic route en­tirely along pedes­trian and bike paths. For a longer, but still easy and leisurely ride, ex­tend the loop by rid­ing past the Hawthorne Bridge along Spring­wa­ter Cor­ri­dor and the Wil­lamette River, through the Oaks Bot­tom Wildlife Refuge to the Sell­wood Bridge.

More ex­pe­ri­enced cy­clists can ride east on Lin­coln Street to Mount Ta­bor. A steep but brief climb re­wards rid­ers with panoramic views of the city from the top of this dor­mant vol­cano. Se­ri­ous rid­ers can en­joy a 50-kilo­me­tre round trip from Sau­vie Is­land to Sky­line Boule­vard with more than 915 me­tres in el­e­va­tion gain.

If you pre­fer to ex­plore Portland on foot, there are nu­mer­ous op­tions. Mis­sis­sippi Street buzzes all week, from Sun­day brunch and shop­ping to a vi­brant nightlife scene. Di­vi­sion Street is one of the most ex­cit­ing culi­nary neigh­bour­hoods on the West Coast, with ca­sual for­eign flavours at Pok Pok and Bol­ly­wood Theater, el­e­gant din­ners at Ava Gene’s and sweets at St Honore Bak­ery and Salt & Straw Ice Cream.

The com­pact West End, near the Pearl Dis­trict, is just steps away from most down­town ho­tels. Browse in­de­pen­dent bou­tiques such as Radish Un­der­ground, Wild­fang and Tiny Lov­ing Em­pire af­ter en­joy­ing a bite from the plethora of food carts.

But at the end of the day, our favourite sport in Portland is eat­ing. Whether it’s an el­e­gant sit-down din­ner, street food from hun­dreds of food trucks gath­ered in pods around town, food halls such as Pine Street Mar­ket, meals in Portland are great value for money. At restau­rants such as Le Pi­geon and am­bi­tious new No­mad, in­no­va­tive tast­ing menus are pre­cisely ex­e­cuted for less than US$100, re­mark­ably af­ford­able com­pared with sim­i­lar meals in San Fran­cisco, Chicago or New York. The city also has its fair share of

James Beard Award win­ners, the most pres­ti­gious culi­nary prize in Amer­ica. It’s only fit­ting since James Beard him­self, a cham­pion of Amer­i­can cui­sine in the mid-20th cen­tury, was born in Portland. Le Pi­geon’s Gabriel Rucker, Beast’s Naomi Pomeroy, Pok Pok’s Andy Ricker and Vi­taly Pa­ley of Pa­ley’s Place, Im­pe­rial and Head­wa­ters at the Heath­man are all re­cent win­ners whose restau­rants should be at the top of any vis­i­tor’s list.

The city has a nat­u­ral joie de vivre and rev­er­ence for any­thing lo­cally made. Niche spe­cial­ity food shops Ja­cob­sen Salt Co, Ca­cao and Bee Local bring to life sin­gu­lar pas­sions for hand­har­vested salt, bean-to-bar cho­co­late and sin­gle-ori­gin honey re­spec­tively in thought­fully cu­rated stores. Hip food brands Stump­town Cof­fee and Salt & Straw Ice Cream have built na­tional rep­u­ta­tions for in­no­va­tion and qual­ity.

Wher­ever you’re din­ing in Portland, be sure to try the local wine. Ore­gon is best known for pinot noir, but there are also great chardon­nay, chenin blanc, ga­may and sparkling wine pro­duc­ers.

The Wil­lamette Val­ley sits on the 45th par­al­lel, the same lat­i­tude as Bordeaux, France, and is home to more than 500 winer­ies. The short drive from the city (less than a hour) makes wine tast­ing an easy day trip or week­end get­away for Port­landers. There’s also a grow­ing ur­ban wine­mak­ing scene within the city, with South­east Wine Col­lec­tive as a prom­i­nent ex­am­ple.

End the evening in Old Town Chi­na­town, bet­ter known as Portland’s en­ter­tain­ment dis­trict. On Fri­day and Satur­day nights, af­ter 10pm, sev­eral blocks are closed to ve­hi­cle traf­fic for a street party with live DJS and great cock­tails. Dance the night away at CC Slaugh­ters and Dirty Night­club, or en­joy du­elling pi­anos at Bar­rel Room and cabaret at Dar­celle XV.

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