2671 N.W. Vaughn St., Northwest
Our friend Georgia Lee Hussey took us to this vibrant distillery—and we’re still thanking her. Light pours into the front entrance and bar, bouncing off the sapphire-and-copper wallpaper and dazzling gin and whiskey bottles that look like shiny teardrop-shaped jewels. It’s an arresting space. But that’s not even half of its charm. Once Jesse Brantley, the head of sales, started our tour, we knew we were witnessing something different. Freeland Spirits is both founded and run by women (an anomaly in the distilling world). Founder Jill Kuehler, a leader in agricultural education, started the distillery as a way to celebrate and honor Oregon’s rich bounty of fresh grains, produce, and water. You’d think it would be an impossible task for someone with no distilling experience, but Kuehler did it—teaming up with master distiller Molly Troupe. The team has since landed on the radar of discerning spirits enthusiasts around the globe. You’ll want to spend several hours here. Take a tour to learn about Freeland’s history (which is artfully painted on the wall); smell the fresh anise, lavender, and mint; and learn about the cold-distillation process Troupe uses to preserve…
723 N.W. 18th Ave., Northwest
Owner Teri Gelber brings people together over tea. She blends small batches of organic botanicals and teas, all by hand, and sells them at her light-filled retail studio in Northwest Portland. Her loose-leaf combinations are whimsical and inventive, inspired by her experience working in the food world (she’s authored several cookbooks). The blends are named after songs plucked from nostalgic eras of music. There’s Tangled Up in Blue, an Earl Grey with Indian black tea, blue cornflowers, and bergamot oil. Green Green Grass of Home is a blend of Japanese sencha and Oregon mint. And the herbal Kozmic Blues marries licorice root, mint, and spices. Gelber packages her teas in tins made of 80 percent postconsumer recycled material.
2021 S.E. Clinton St., Northwest
Owner Chad Draizin moved to Portland for the first time for an internship at Portland Brewing, so it shouldn't come as a surprise that Fifty Licks is famous for its ice cream cocktails. Draizin's on the tail-end of a major menu overhaul, so it'll be a few weeks before the cocktails are back in order, but there's plenty to enjoy while you wait: We love the Cuban coffee (which is sort of a Cuban version of an affogato) and the Chocolate Porter float (which is a 21+ root beer float). All of the ice cream is made French style, using real egg yolks, and its not too sweet, so the focus is on flavor.
Blue Star Donuts
921 N.W. 23rd Ave., Northwest
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 Boise, Downtown, and Sunnyside.
1800 N.W. 16th Ave., Northwest
Breken Kitchen occupies a stand-alone space with train tracks on one side and highway overpasses on the other—it sounds loud, but it's actually quite cool. Coffee flows freely here, they offer salads and sandwiches, and the brick-lined interior is always filled with light. There are also varied seating options, from couches to café tables, to long community tables.
915 N.W. 19th Ave., Northwest
The adorable décor in here is enough to convince you to stay before you’ve even had a sip of coffee—the whitewashed space is punctuated by green wire chairs, a mirror that’s really more of an art piece, and a mint-green cappuccino machine. Chef/owner Kim Wilson is famous for her amazing baked goods, which they bake fresh onsite every day. While the brunch menu is good enough to merit a visit any time, you’ll almost always find people here on their laptops enjoying the natural light and perfectly brewed coffee.