3 Things You NEED to Eat in Portland, Oregon + A Tribute To Anthony Bourdain

3 Things You NEED to Eat in Portland, Oregon | Portland Restaurants | Oregon Travel
Travel isn’t always pretty. It isn’t always comfortable. Sometimes it hurts, it even breaks your heart. But that’s OK. The journey changes you; it should change you... You take something with you. Hopefully, you leave something good behind.
— Anthony Bourdain

A Tribute To Anthony Bourdain

It probably comes as no surprise to anyone that our travels and our blog are heavily influenced by Anthony Bourdain...I mean, even our blog name is similar to the name of his show (we actually almost called it Destination: Unknown, but thought that would sound a little too plagiaristic).

So a week ago today it came as quite a blow when we heard the news of his passing. Aside from a couple of tweets that day, we have been pretty quiet about it because we are still processing this loss. Food and travel play a massive role in our lives, and he was a major inspiration to us as we travel and eat our way around the world. 

His passing was sudden and a shock, but he was very open about his demons, and it's a shame he wasn't able to get the help he needed. We can only imagine the pain his friends and family must be going through, but hope they take some comfort in knowing how many lives he has touched.

Destination Overlooked Anthony Bourdain Tweet

We hope that anyone else in pain or suffering from mental illness can get the help he wasn't able to. Please check on your loved ones, even if they seem to have it all together. You never know what is going on in another person's head. 

What does Portland have to do with Anthony Bourdain?

The reason we've combined an Anthony Bourdain tribute with our Portland food article is that if it weren't for Anthony Bourdain, we probably would not drive down to Portland as often as we do. Years ago after we watched his "No Reservations" episode about Portland, Oregon, we knew we just HAD to go to Portland to try this awesome looking pizza place he featured on the show.

One thing led to another, and we have been making the 3-hour drive for pizza several times a year. Our pizza trips then led us to discover other eateries, so now we make the journey not only for pizza, but for Mexican food, coffee, and donuts as well, and have even expanded in the Willamette Valley.

Without further ado, here are three things you need to eat in Portland, Oregon:

3 Things You NEED to Eat In Portland, Oregon

1. Apizza Scholls

It was here in East Portland on Hawthorne Blvd. that Anthony Bourdain led us first, which caused us to put thousands of miles on our car, and spend thousands of dollars on pizza! We have no regrets.  This is no ordinary pizza. This is inarguably the best pizza in Portland. Possibly the US. These are huge discs of a New York-Connecticut hybrid pie. The thin, bubbly crust is on point, the toppings perfectly allocated (not too much!), and don't forget the awesome sauce.

Apizza Scholls Anthony Bourdain Tweet
Apizza Scholls Anthony Bourdain Brian

We pretty much always opt for the simple, perfect Apizza Margherita - Tomato sauce, mozzarella (whole milk & fresh), grana padano, fresh garlic, extra virgin olive oil & fresh basil after bake. But they have plenty of exciting options to choose from with and without sauce. 

We also always get the Veggie Plate as an appetiser, which has amazing quality olives, artichokes, peppers, fior di latte cheese, and the best semi-dried tomatoes we have ever had. We would buy a whole bucketful if we could (ahem, Apizza Scholls, could you get on that??). Their caesar salad is also incredible and is super-popular.

Word to the wise, always make a reservation - especially in the summer, their line can be out the door as soon as they open, but with a reservation, you can waltz right in and be seated.

Apizza Scholls Veggie Plate - 3 Things You NEED to Eat in Portland, Oregon
Apizza Scholls Apizza Margherita Pizza - 3 Things You NEED to Eat in Portland, Oregon

2. ¿Por Qué No? Taqueria

No one can say no to tacos. And these are some of the best. Trust us; we've had a lot of Mexican food. These tacos are seasonal and use local, sustainable ingredients. They don't just have tacos, they also have tamales, bowls and salads, but the tacos are the main event.

We like to change it up and try as many varieties as we can, but we of course still have favourites. The seasonal veggie taco never disappoints, and Marcin loves the carne asada and the pollo verde. But probably our absolute favourite was a seasonal item we only saw once - lamb barbacoa.

And the best part? One of the ¿Por Qué No? locations is just right down the street from Apizza Scholls, which is how we discovered it, so it's usually tacos for lunch and pizza for dinner! Score! Their other location is in West Portland on Mississippi. Expect lively music and eclectic, colourful decor (oh, and usually a line out the door around lunchtime).

Por Que No Taqueria - 3 Things You NEED to Eat in Portland, Oregon
Por Que No Taqueria - 3 Things You NEED to Eat in Portland, Oregon

Basic cooking skills are a virtue... the ability to feed yourself and a few others with proficiency should be taught to every young man and woman as a fundamental skill. [It’s] as vital to growing up as learning to wipe one’s own ass, cross the street by oneself, or be trusted with money.
— Anthony Bourdain

3. Blue Star Donuts

A lot of people and publications list Voodoo Donuts as the place to go in Portland, but we disagree. Blue Star is the way to go. They advertise as "donuts for grownups".  These are not your classic, run-of-the-mill donuts; these are fancy gourmet donuts made with natural, local ingredients. With flavours like Blueberry Bourbon Basil, Passionfruit Cocoa Nib, and Cointreau Creme Brulee, these go above and beyond. 

These are perfect for the more mature, refined palette. However, we've seen plenty of kids enjoy them too. Some of our other favourites include their Mexican Hot Chocolate and Olive Oil Orange. They also have seasonal flavours that vary throughout their 7 locations in Portland (they also have two locations in the LA area now).

Blue Star Donuts Mexican Hot Chocolate
Blue Star Donuts Passionfruit

Bonus: Coava Coffee Roasters

Our all-time favourite coffee roaster (so far), and we've tried a lot.  Now with four locations in Portland, and one in San Diego, they are expanding fast but still great. We like to hit up their Public Brew Bar and Roastery on SE Main St. since it is close to all of our other favourite places.

Coava Coffee Roasters Portland Oregon - 3 Things You NEED to Eat in Portland, Oregon
Coava Coffee Roasters Portland Oregon - 3 Things You NEED to Eat in Portland, Oregon

As you move through this life and this world you change things slightly, you leave marks behind, however small. And in return, life — and travel — leaves marks on you. Most of the time, those marks — on your body or on your heart — are beautiful. Often, though, they hurt.
— Anthony Bourdain

Of course there thousands of great places to eat in Portland, Oregon, but these are our absolute favourites that we keep going back to over and over.

Do you have a favourite eatery in Portland that we didn't mention? Let us know in the comments!

About The Authors:

Destination: Overlooked | Small-Town Travel, Coffee and More
Destination: Overlooked | Small-Town Travel, Coffee and More

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