Downtown Specialty

Specialty neighborhood
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.
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.
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.
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.
KURE Juice Bar
518 S.W. Taylor St., Downtown
Like so many good casual spots, Kure started out as a food cart—when the lines got out of control, the owners knew it was time to expand into brick-and-mortar. The menu is full of fresh-tasting acai bowls and smoothies, along with a healthy selection of cold-pressed juices and other healthy eats, like oatmeal and matcha (the West End location actually has some heartier lunch options, too, like salads and quinoa bowls). Astonishingly (and awesomely), 90% of the ingredients used in their products are grown or made in Portland. There are locations in almost every neighborhood: West End, SE Division, Hawthorne, and Moda Center.
1205 S.W. Washington St., Downtown
This restaurant is named for a salumi made from backfat, which is appropriate, as the entire menu is really an ode to pork from the meatball banh mi to the pastrami cheeseburger to the french fries (which are made with pork fat). Part of the charm of the place, too, is that it’s such a Portland story: started as a food cart, check, adventurous foodie menu, check, enormous craft beer list, check. There are locations on both sides of the river—in addition to this location, they're in Northeast Portland and on Hawthorne.
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.
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.
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