Food Lover's Guide to Portland
The Food Lover's Guide to Portland: The Shops
LONGEST BUTCHER COUNTER
Gartner’s Country Meats
(7450 NE Killingsworth St; gartnersmeats.com)
Opened in 1959 by Jack Gartner, this old-school butcher shop is a family affair, with roots deep in grandfather Hans Gartner’s German sausage-making ancestry. While contemplating the largest selection of cuts in Portland, including whole primals (the big meat-meridians that steaks and roasts are cut from), remember: Gartner’s is the best place to get a hulking T-bone steak, cut three inches thick to order from the short loin.
GERMAN MEAT MAVENS
(3119 SE 12th Ave; edelweissdeli.com)
Specializing in hard-to-find European imports like curry ketchup and pungent Munster cheese, and packing 18 varieties of old-world Bavarian sausage, this Southeast Portland delicatessen will have you humming like the Von Trapps. Head this way for unparalleled Black Forest hams, silky bolognas, rich Fleischkaese (finely textured German meatloaf), and some of the tastiest headcheese in town.
(3155 E Burnside St; laurelhurstmarket.com)
Near the entrance to Laurelhurst Market’s American brasserie is a small, curated butcher case containing the best Oregon meats money can buy. Crimson bavette steaks and beef short-ribs mingle with racks of clover-fed lamb. Don’t miss the venison pâté with hazelnuts and dried cherries, or the expertly cured guanciale and Tuscan pancetta.
Otto’s Sausage Kitchen
(4138 SE Woodstock Blvd; ottossausage.com)
Otto Eichentopf migrated to the Woodstock neighborhood in 1922 to establish his weiner paradise, complete with an outdoor grill and picnic tables that remain open throughout Portland’s damp winters. You’ll find a “wurst” for every meat imaginable, but the real find is the hot dog, smoked with harvested alder wood in a fourth-generation smokehouse, and stuffed into sheep casings for a memorable snap.
Victor’s European Meat Market
(13500 SW Pacific Hwy, #30, Tigard)
Although Polish founder Witold Lunkiewicz passed away last year, his Eastern European smokery lives on. Jars of borscht, cans of fish, and crazy pickles line the sparse interior, with Serbian, Hungarian, and Romanian sausages and some superlative kielbasa on display front and center.
Halal Meats & Mediterranean Market
(11535 SW Pacific Hwy, Tigard)
Inside a Tigard strip mall just off of 99W, Mustafa Elogbi feeds populations of Middle Eastern and African immigrants who hanker for his locally sourced meat, slaughtered according to Muslim custom. Entire goats fill the display case, and every bit of offal, from the heart to whole heads, has been butchered with pious finesse.
Anzen Hiroshi’s Inc
(736 NE MLK Jr. Blvd; 503-233-5111)
A premier poke-around market as distressed as a vintage kimono, Anzen is a mom-and-pop grocery, hardware store, and junk shop crammed with Japanese snacks and cooking essentials. Every nook reveals something to savor: handsome somens and sobas for noodle adventures, plush shiso leaves, a world of Japanese crackers, and, near the door, garden tools and a rotating display of beautifully illustrated Japanese vegetable seeds. The fish counter, plastered in old seafood posters, boasts sushi-quality cuts, fresh wild black cod, smoked salmon collar, and real wasabi root—a rare find, and yours for a cool $139 a pound. Pastel parasols hang like colorful clouds over the housewares section, where even the kitchen scouring pads look like pop art.
Rose International Gourmet
(6153 SW Murray Blvd, Beaverton; 503-646-7673)
No worries about getting lost in labyrinthine aisles here. This strip-mall store is as cozy as a kitchen, and everyone—from owners to customers—shares tips for tapping Rose’s stash of Iranian comforts and Middle East specialties. Look for the unusual: Afghani bread as big as a pillowcase, sour lemon pistachios, golden prunes, kebab skewers, and golden, hand-formed rocks of cardamom sugar spotted with black seeds—drop into tea or crush in a mortar and pestle to sprinkle sweetly aromatic pleasures over crisps and cookies. If you haven’t yet met a melon seed, the Middle Eastern answer to sunflower seeds, this is the place. The wise stock up on the house secret stashed in the pastry case up front: dreamy, savory yogurt full of vivid scallion perfume.
(16055 SW Regatta Ln, Beaverton; 503-617-7585)
Far from the funky, worn shelves of local grocery bazaars, India Connect is as sterile as an operating room. Don’t let the glare fool you: discoveries come more easily in these bright, organized aisles. Head to the produce cooler for fresh curry leaves, their potent lemon-lime punch the key to true Southern Indian cooking. One corner is a shrine to masala blends—instant spice nirvana tailored for beans, lentils, and potatoes. Stock up on Janaki’s Masala Corn Flakes, a lip-buzzing snack of crunch, flakes, fire, and roasted chickpeas—a small handful electrifies a bowl of potato chips. Regulars come for vats of homemade dosa batter, a welcome shortcut to nailing the challenging South Indian crêpes.
Boo Han Oriental Market
(1313 SE 82nd Ave; 503-254-8606)
Nothing about this barely marked Korean grocery suggests what awaits inside: Portland’s biggest selection of homemade kimchi, with eight varieties at a time packed like wavy sand art into hulking glass jars. The family recipes of owner Katie Kim deliver the ad hoc whooshes of fermented fire that drive Korean-food addicts into ecstasy. You’ll find biting snaps of baby radish, soft thrashes of garlic stems, and a soulful squid kimchi as invitingly dangerous as an early Stones record. But don’t stop there. Boo Han stocks a stand-up collection of Korean cooking staples, and everyone seems to grab ready-made bulgogi (barbecued beef). Roam the aisles to find a wealth of soup-worthy seaweeds as intricate as royal veils, intriguing snacks, and a daunting collection of dried noodles.
(10500 SW Beaverton-Hillsdale Hwy, Beaverton; uwajimaya.com)
Deep inside Beaverton’s Japanese superstore, past aisles of colorful candy, vacuum-sealed Kewpie mayonnaise, and shelves of sake dispensers, you’ll find an undersea paradise. Ceiling-high fish tanks hold gangly Opilio crabs, mountains of oysters, and whiskered catfish, while a fresh display case holds beautiful sea bass steaks, glistening albacore loins, and every species of salmon known to man. The store’s strong ties to Hawaii mean you’ll have access to the first batches of seasonal snapper and a whopping 10 types of poke, the spicy raw fish salad and cult island favorite.
(6509 SE Powell Blvd)
Don’t be fooled: this SE Powell Boulevard seafood market may look like an aquarium, but it’s actually a retail shop. Owner Sharon Chan, a native of Guangzhao, China, keeps her open-air fish tanks teeming with hundreds of just-caught Dungeness crabs, gigantic Maine lobsters, and heaving sacks of live periwinkles. Keep an eye out for ABC’s first haul of seasonal Northwest crustaceans, like spot prawns and razor clams.
BEST SMOKED FISH
Newman’s Fish Market
(735 NW 21st Ave; newmansfish.com)
Leave it to one of Portland’s oldest fish markets to uncover the secrets of smoked seafood. Inside City Market, knowledgeable fishmongers dole out house-smoked morsels, from orange mussels and glitzy-golden whitefish to pacific escolar and albacore flanks. Salmon is king here, with fatty chinook belly hot-smoked with pepper, and wild cold-smoked sockeye lox. The greatest find of all? Half-moon salmon collars from behind the gills, yielding the fish’s deepest, richest meat at half the price of a fillet.
Linda Brand Crab & Seafood
(multiple farmers markets; lindabrandcrab.com)
For devoted Portland market junkies who crave a fine seafood selection with their farm-fresh produce, the Linda Brand stand delivers. From up and down the shorelines of Oregon and Washington, this operation has been reeling in coastal staples like halibut, rockfish, Willapa Bay clams, and Dungeness crab for 36 years. Snag your picks at the farmers markets, New Seasons, or at the Linda Brand retail shop in Chinook, Washington.
Oils & Spices
(7814 N Interstate Ave; fijiemporium.com)
Its aisles stuffed with teas, spices, sweets, bags of rice, and mountains of curry powders from Fiji, India, Australia, and New Zealand, Fiji Emporium has been the city’s premier source for everything East Indian since 1994. You’ll also find New Zealand lamb in a variety of cuts, goat meat, tropical fish ... and musical instruments.
Blue Heron Herbary
(27731 NW Reeder Rd; blueheronherbary.com)
Located on an idyllic patch of Sauvie Island bordering the Columbia River, Blue Heron Herbary has cultivated a variety of specialty beds that yield more than 275 medicinal, potpourri, everlasting, and culinary herbs. Whether you’re looking for spices, rubs, lavender, or an inspiring garden stroll, this colorful landscape is worth a visit.
(3731 N Mississippi Ave; atthemeadow.com)
Mark Bitterman’s salt mecca is a curated shop of wonders for the Portland foodie. Beyond its impressive 146 varieties of gourmet salts, you’ll also find artisan chocolates from around the world, aromatic cocktail bitters and syrups, worldly wines, well-tested kitchen gadgets, and local, seasonal flowers.
(multiple locations; penzeys.com)
Sure, it’s a national chain dominated by the mail-order side of its business, but nothing compares to the selection of spices you’ll find at Penzeys. A visit to the store is a journey into a pleasantly displayed, highly organized world of spice, each one clearly categorized and available in a variety of sizes.
Benessere Olive Oils and Vinegars
(multiple locations; benessereoil.com)
With more than 40 traditional and flavored oils and vinegars on offer in its “tasting room,” Benessere is that rare place where you can taste everything before buying anything. The room is filled with shiny metal carafes: amble from spout to spout, following your palate to find your favorites.
The Spice & Tea Exchange
(536 SW Broadway; spiceandtea.com)
Colorful jars of herbs, spices, teas, and sea salts line the walls, and worldly aromas fill the warmly lit room at this downtown spice haven. Everything is super-fresh, and you’ll find all the usual suspects—but what sets it apart are rare finds like annato seed, fenugreek, and pumpkin powder, as well as spot-on blends for everything from seafood to desserts.
OILS & SALT
Real Good Food
After a trip to Italy, Jim Dixon realized that most Americans never taste the best Italian olive oils, because they’re rarely exported. He began importing his favorite olive oils himself, selling them out of his ActivSpace warehouse and at farmers markets. Dixon has since become the city’s go-to source for the best stuff you can buy, whether it’s balsamic vinegar from Modena, garbanzo beans from Eastern Washington, or heirloom brown rice from the San Joaquin Valley.
BEST LOCAL CHOCOLATIER
(140 NE 28th Ave; almachocolate.com)
From their chocolate apothecary tucked away on NE 28th Avenue, Sarah Hart and her cohort of chocolatiers dream up creations previously unseen: Thai peanut butter cups, white-dog whiskey bonbons, ginger almond toffees, and impressive gilded chocolate icons, from the Virgin Mary to Buddha. Alma is Portland’s sweetest secret, quietly churning out treasures inspired by the world, as well our local landscape.
(2225 E Burnside St; pixpatisserie.com)
The dessert case at Pix is a quirky, colorful menagerie of Parisian delights: truffle cakes and lemon tarts nestle up to boozy chardon chocolates and multicolored macarons. The cozily kitschy pâtisserie launched in 2003, grew to encompass two locations, and earned its stripes in Portland’s food landscape with tea parties, movie nights, and champagne flights. Owner Cheryl Wakerhauser recently shuttered both shops to expand once again into Bar Vivant—a 3,000-square-foot headquarters on E Burnside Street, complete with a serious sparkling-wine list, a tapas menu, and outdoor seating.
BEST WORLDLY BARS
(multiple locations; cacaodrinkchocolate.com)
For a handpicked, highly curated selection of bean-to-bar chocolates from small manufacturers around the world, plus a gleaming case of tantalizing confections from local chocolatiers—and the most addictive flight of drinking chocolates you’re likely to find—you can do no better than Portland’s own Cacao. Each visit to the meticulously arranged house of chocolate, staffed with disarmingly well-versed chocolate obsessives, will yield new discoveries, so ask questions ... and try the samples.
SODA FOUNTAIN SWEETS
Cosmic Soda Pop and Candy Shop
(817 SE 34th Ave; fizzportland.com)
Bins of bulk candy in every shape and size, and refrigerators filled with obscure, small-batch sodas (from Lester’s Fixins’ “Bacon Soda” to Avery’s “Bug Barf”) line the walls at this cheery, throwback candy shop just off of SE Belmont Street. Fill your bag and head to the counter, where 37 flavors of fountain soda and a menu of milkshakes, floats, and frothy egg creams offer another dose of nostalgia.
CARAMEL CORN CENTRAL
(10883 SE Main St, Milwaukie; 503-654-4846)
Having grown from its original operation as a no-frills popcorn joint into an ornate boutique universe evocative of early-1900s Parisian sweets shops, Enchanté appeals to the kid in all of us. Pink bows and pastel-colored wrappers abound, along with malt balls, pecan turtles, salted caramel bark, and chocolate Eiffel Towers. It’s still the popcorn, though, that provides the biggest draw, with flavors ranging from cheddar to white chocolate and caramel.
ICONIC RETRO CANDIES
(740 NW 23rd Ave; nwsweets.com)
At Northwest Sweets, you can find confectioner and candy queen Tricia Leahy toiling in her haute Nob Hill candy shop, crafting tantalizing varieties of fudge, from dark chocolate to salted caramel and rocky road. You’ll also find a charming collection of nostalgic goodies, like clove gum, wax soda bottles, candy buttons, and Squirrel Nut Zippers.
Fressen Artisan Bakery
(various farmers markets; fressenartisanbakery.com)
This roving operation exudes European gravitas with badass grainy breads and ethereal pastries. Of the former, seek vollkornbrot, a rye-and-wheat concoction that will make you want to scythe a field. Of the latter, the Bavarian croissant—a Munich-inspired pretzel with a Parisian soul—might be the single tastiest baked good in the city.
Helen Bernhard Bakery
(1717 NE Broadway; helenbernhardbakery.com)
This anti-hip east-side favorite recalls a time when “artisan” evoked a quaint European shoemaker. A go-to choice if you need, say, a birthday cake with a pirate theme, HB can thoroughly gluten-ize you, with excellent doughnuts and an array of breads, from English muffin–style to Portuguese, for cheap.
Ken’s Artisan Bakery
(338 NW 21st Ave; kensartisan.com)
Ken Forkish opened a new frontier of serious authenticity when he started turning out exacting French-style breads and pastries in 2001. His crackly skinned, deep-crumbed loaves ennoble any sandwich, while exuberant sweets like the “Oregon croissant”—more of a Danish, slam-packed with seasonal berries and a topping of sugar pebbles—bring fun to the rigor.
(102 NW Ninth Ave; pearlbakery.com)
From the dense chewiness of its kaiser rolls to the spring of the pain au levain used in its ready-made sandwiches, Pearl Bakery combines European technique and brisk American bustle. The gibassier, a glorified doughnut flecked with orange and anise, should be served with every breakfast, everywhere.
(6031 SE Belmont St; cheese-bar.com)
Cheesemonger Steve Jones stocks his modern, tidy shop/bar with more than 200 cheese varietals, and his friendly staff can wax eloquent about even the most uncommon ones. Sample morsels before you buy, or—better yet—order the cheese plate and let one of the city’s true experts tantalize your palate.
Foster & Dobbs
(2518 NE 15th Ave; fosteranddobbs.com)
Do your picnic basket proud at Foster & Dobbs, where a selection of more than 120 cheeses (including a particularly robust sheep’s milk collection) awaits. Pair your wedge with one of Seattle’s Salumi Artisan Cured Meats’ 10 salamis, and a bottle of something wonderful from the Willamette Valley (there are 130 wines to choose from).
(multiple locations; pastaworks.com)
Given the name, it should come as no surprise that Pastaworks’ case of more than 100 cheeses leans heavily on Mediterranean styles like Parmigiano Reggiano and Bethmale—the perfect complement for the fresh-made fettuccine, linguine, and ravioli this local market has been cranking out for almost 30 years.
Murray’s Cheese Counter
(7555 SW Barbur Blvd;murrayscheese.com)
This revered 72-year-old New York chain recently expanded its brand into three Oregon Fred Meyers, opening in-store cheese counters stocked with more than 150 cheeses. Each varietal not only sports detailed tasting notes, but also directions on what to serve it with.