Despite the fact that it’s the middle of December, tourist never stop coming to our beautiful city. Every year, each month holds a special attraction for visitors and December is no exception. Our downtown Christmas Tree – which required an electric chain hoist to get all 42 feet of it upright and standing tall, was lit at the end of November to the delight of a record number of admirers. That was just the beginning of this very festive Season in Portland.
The shops and restaurants are full. The coffeehouses are staying open later than usual serving eggnog, hot chocolate and of course rich roasted coffee. All of downtown has opened its arms in welcome. For outdoor enthusiasts, most of the hiking trails remain clear along the Columbia and Willamette Rivers, bringing the possibility of adventure at every turn.
Winter is different in Portland from where I grew up. The Midwest was – as I recall, gloomy and dreary. During the winter in Akron, Ohio you had to be fearless to be outdoors. We took our lives in our hands getting on the icy expressway to get from one part of town to another. Traveling became a white-knuckle undertaking most of the time. Oregon has its share of overcast days, there is no denying that, but there is a quality of life here that shines straight through.
Locals as well as folks from out of town ask the perpetual question; where should we go to eat? If you like to mix things up and you’re ready to come in from the outdoors, then you can head to some of our most memorable eateries. Portland has fine dining that accommodates the refined palette to the food truck connoisseur. However, on the food truck end of the spectrum, you will find yourself outdoors again.
Five new restaurants serving to rave reviews are:
Considered an all-hours café means you can get tasty Asian inspired pastries, and small plates throughout the day. A small venue with a large sense of what people like to eat, the menu includes yummy treats like soup dumplings, deep fried, fresh green beans and tacos. By night the Solo Club becomes the place to go for cocktails and steamers and ribs.
In the mood for seafood? Last October, famed, James Beard Award winning Chef Vitaly Paley, opened the door to Headwaters. He and his wife, Kimberley Paley can now count four restaurants in the greater Portland area and each comes with rave reviews. Headwaters is located in the newly renovated and beautifully designed dining room of the downtown Heathman Hotel, and the ambiance is as delicious as the food.
If Chinese food is what you’re craving, then try this newcomer to an old tradition. Also, located downtown, this oriental gem gets thumbs up for their variety of dim sum and an eclectic array of pot stickers.
Fun, rustic and certain to be a crowd pleaser. If you want to be assured of a good – no make that great, pizza get over to the Associated. Nine scrumptious pizzas to pick and choose from including four vegan selections. Mix and match toppings or trust the kitchen to know what they are doing when they put together ingredients like Marsala Bechamel base sauce, pan fried chicken, mozzarella, mushrooms, onions, basil and parm. Can you say yum?
OK, last one for now, but couldn’t leave you without mentioning Tusk. I haven’t had the pleasure yet, but the feedback is “ya gotta go”. Cooking with the freshest vegetables from local farms and greenhouses, Executive Chef Sam Smith has conjured up the trendiest ways to eat your greens.
Remember “greens” are all colors and if you are lucky enough to get in without a reservation, order the fried beet and sprouted chickpea fritters, miso and sweet onion, chicken skewers and don’t dine and dash without an order of Amish butter popcorn baklava.
It’s difficult to just give you five new restaurants to try while you’re in Portland, but I must limit myself, so you don’t get into overwhelm. If you want to learn more about the restaurant scene in Portland visit Eater, Portland, Or. You can check out our next post by visiting this link.