Does Portland Have the Best Coffee in the US?

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Apr 25, 2018

Portlanders are serious about their food and drink. Here’s where to find the best of both. By Barry Divola. Photography by Dina Avila.

Best coffee

You know how Australians always complain about how difficult it is to find good coffee in the US? In Portland, you’ll be spoilt for choice. The grandaddy of the third-wave coffee scene is Stumptown Coffee Roasters, which opened in 1999 and takes its name from one of the city’s nicknames from the 1800s. They have five cafés in town, including the popular downtown spots on Southwest Third Avenue and inside the Ace Hotel, all serving killer caffeine and tasty treats.

Best brewery

With dozens of breweries making award-winning beers, it’s hard to go wrong, especially with big hitters such as Breakside Brewery, Coalition Brewing, Deschutes Brewery, Ecliptic Brewing and Culmination Brewing. In true Portland fashion, niches abound; Ex Novo gives its profits to charity, while Ground Breaker’s products are gluten-free.

Best café

You’ve got to love a place that calls its dishes Benni Hill, Tim Curry and The Cure. Tin Shed Garden Cafe is the go-to brunch spot in the middle of the Alberta Street arts district and has an inviting garden patio (as well as long lines on weekends). The café is renowned for its potato cakes, a hybrid of a hash brown and a pancake. Order them as part of the Everything Nice sampler that comes with an overflowing plate of scrambled eggs, French toast and a choice of bacon or sausages.

Best restaurant

Aaron Adams, the jovial, tattooed owner of plant-based restaurant Farm Spirit, admits he’s rife for Portlandia parody. His restaurant imagines a fantasy world where people have never even thought of eating animals, which would sound like a joke if the food wasn’t so good. You buy tickets to a sitting at the 14-person wraparound counter, enjoying nine to 12 inventive courses on the tasting menu. All ingredients used are sourced from within 170 kilometres of Portland. 

Best hotel

The people behind The Jupiter hotel wisely decided to keep the bones of this 1950s Travelodge motel. The 81 rooms have the feel of a holiday lodge with cork feature walls, Mid-century Modern furnishings and doors that are full-length blackboards (chalk supplied). It’s located in East Portland, just a few blocks from the Burnside Bridge, and gets lively at night due to the neighbouring Doug Fir Lounge, a restaurant, bar and music venue where the design is best described as log-cabin chic. The courtyard, with fire pits, a photo booth and a wooden statue of Bigfoot, is a magnet for revellers. 

Top image: Stumptown Coffee Roasters

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