Travel

Downtown Specialty

Establishment neighborhood
Quin Candy
1025 S.W. Stark St., Downtown
Situated in the shopping alley Union Way, next door to the Ace Hotel on Stark and the famous Powell’s Books on Burnside, Quin is a candy boutique filled with caramels, chocolates, lollipops, gummies, and more, made in-house by a small, skilled staff. Candy-maker and owner, Jami Curl, sticks to locally-sourced ingredients like Oregon-farmed nuts and berries, caramel and chocolate made from fresh cream and butter, coffee flavors from locally-roasted beans, and extracts from locally-sourced fruits and vegetables. With its no-nonsense philosophy, Quin is perfect for health-conscious parents and their kids (or anyone with a sweet tooth, really). There's a second location on Ankeny Street.
Cacao
414 S.W. 13th Ave., Downtown
Specialty chocolate has exploded in the last ten years, and this sweet little shop, which is somewhat of a requirement on any walking tour of Downtown, dedicates its shelves to the very best varieties from around the world. The knowledgeable staff will walk you through finding something that perfectly suits your tastes (or a friend’s, as this is a great place to shop for gifts). Kids will freak out over their decadent, creamy, house-made drinking chocolate.
Pine Street Market
126 S.W. 2nd Ave., Downtown
This brand-spanking-new food hall downtown occupies the old United and Carriage Transfer building, offering more than 10,000 square feet of grab-and-go food concepts. Most of the stalls are offshoots of existing local restaurants, so it’s an excellent place to get a solid feel for the food scene if you’re short on time: Definitely hit Ken Forkish’s bakery/pizzeria, Olympia Provisions’ hot dog stand in the center, and Shalom Y’all, an Israeli concept from the Tasty n Alder group. There’s even a mini Salt & Straw.
Heart Coffee Roasters
537 S.W. 12th Ave., Downtown
Great coffee is in no short supply in Portland, but this café serves up some of the best—their experts roast the beans themselves as soon as they come in fresh from Central America, South America, or Africa. If you’re not into black coffee, their fresh, house-made almond, cashew, and hazelnut milks are a creamy, delicious alternative for those dairy-averse customers and go especially well with one of the flaky, buttery croissants, massive chocolate cookies, or fresh-baked brioches that are brought in from local bakers daily. There's a second location in Kerns.
Ruby Jewel
428 SW 12th Ave., Downtown
While it doesn’t garner nearly the lines of the more famous Salt & Straw, many locals argue that Portland's best ice cream is actually at Ruby Jewel. They have three locations (one in each major neighborhood, Downtown, in Boise, and Richmond, and while ice cream is as advertised, they’re really famous for their ice cream sandwiches, with flavors like lemon cookie with honey lavender, dark chocolate with fresh mint, and “The Chub,” their way-better take on a Chipwich.
Voodoo Doughnut
22 S.W. 3rd Ave., Downtown
The famous punk doughnut shop is the stuff of Portland legend at this point, with unbelievably good doughnuts shaped like voodoo dolls, joints, and everything in between, in a candy-colored shop with an excellent sense of humor. Sure, the line is around the corner no matter what time of day (or night), but it’s so, so worth it for flavors like the Bacon Maple Bar (includes two full strips of bacon), Captain my Captain (made with Captain Crunch), and the Tangfastic donut (which is genuinely made with Tang). Oh, yeah, and it’s a popular wedding destination. This is the original location, but they've also opened a second shop on the other side of the river.
Blue Star Donuts
1237 S.W. Washington St., Downtown
While Voodoo Doughnut, with its long lines and anti-establishment atmosphere, is an important pilgrimage for foodies, locals head straight to Blue Star for delicious donuts and much more manageable lines. The vibe here is decidedly more buttoned up, with tall ceilings and subway tiled walls, and the flavors to match. You won’t find any cereal-themed donuts here—instead, opt for sophisticated flavors like brioche, lemon poppy buttermilk, blueberry bourbon, or the famous apple fritters. There are three other locations in Portland, in Northwest, Boise, and Sunnyside.
Alder St. Food Carts
Alder St., between 9th & 10th Ave., Downtown Portland
Portland’s Alder Street food carts, which occupy an entire city block of space downtown, are emblematic of the city to the point that they’re one of downtown’s major tourist attractions. Don’t let that deter you, though—plenty of locals like to hang out here, too, and come lunchtime the entire parking lot is buzzing with vendors and customers. The lines themselves are usually the best indicator of where to find the best-tasting dishes, but we recommend Whole Bowl for veggie-centric rice bowls and Nong’s Khao Man Gai, which, as the name suggests, only serves khao man gai.
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