63 Things Every Portlander Must Do

Must Do: Eat & Drink

Take a walk on the wild side: Justin Oswald's guide on where to get good, fresh meat in Portland. Don't like meat? How about Paige Powell's guide to going vegan?

By Karen Brooks July 14, 2010 Published in the August 2010 issue of Portland Monthly

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Paige Powell gets floury with Katherine Lansdowne (left) and Morgan Grundstein-Helvey at Dovetail Bakery.

Go Vegan

ANDY WARHOL’S confidante and one-time associate publisher of his magazine, Interview, Paige Powell is a pop culture savant, international arts adviser, and tireless animal rights activist. She’s also an 18-year connoisseur of all things vegan, meaning no dairy, no honey, and no shopping for cool leather boots. But Powell says it’s not a sacrifice, just “healthy, humane and the best way to leave a small paw print on the planet.” Despite our carnicentric reputation, Portland is still a vegan stronghold, too, and Powell now sees a growing cluster of caterers, cafés, food carts, and even a vegan strip club (Casa Diablo) championing the lifestyle.

Paige Powell's Humane Haunts

Food Fight!: A full-on, all-vegan neighborhood grocery store in an ad hoc vegan mini-mall (how Portland is that?), Food Fight provides everything for a barbecue or even a wedding dinner, from mock-smoked drumsticks to hoof- and egg-free marshmallows. 1217 SE Stark St; foodfightgrocery.com

Dovetail Bakery: Even omnivores are buzzing about the fantastic scones at Dovetail. Modeled after the popular community-supported agriculture co-ops, this tiny bakery also offers subscriptions to changing treats on-hand. Your weekly take-home box might include scratch-made granola or pizza dough or beans from local standout Courier Coffee Roasters, whose product is served at the counter. 3039 NE Alberta St; dovetailbakery.blogspot.com

Powell’s City of Books: Portland’s iconic book emporium has a large and excellent selection of vegan cookbooks. Start with progressive musician Moby’s philosophy on industrial farming in Gristle or perhaps contemplate the Vegan Soul Kitchen of eco-chef Bryant Terry. 1005 W Burnside St; powells.com

Dine with Strangers

NINE YEARS AGO, Portland became a supper club pioneer with Michael Hebb and Naomi Pomeroy’s famous Ripe Family Supper. Today, dozens of labor-intensive meals are popping up in settings where everything is a surprise, including the company. And no one has a bigger crush on these communal affairs than Robert More, owner of Red Horseshoe Paper, an online store for journals and note cards with a vintage aesthetic (redhorseshoe.com). A frequent flier at local cooking classes, More makes a supper club visit a monthly treat. “You eat great food and sit next to interesting folks that you never see again,” he says. “A restaurant just can’t touch the experience.”

Robert Moore's Dinner Dates

Abby’s Table: Perfect for food-sensitive friends of all stripes—four-course BYOB meals are free of gluten, dairy, soy, and sugar. $18–35. 609 SE Ankeny St; abbys-table.com

Din Din: Self-made cook Courtney Sproule’s ambitious, interant brunches and dinners are lovingly curated from top purveyors like Weppler Farms and with local spirits on offer—all occasionally backdropped with a silent film projected on the wall. $35–60. dindinportland.com

Simpatica Dining Hall: Themed menus, from Moorish to Southern BBQ, are never the same at this intimate, industrial Friday- and Saturday-night supper club. But you can always count on farm foods, artisan meats, and some of the best cooking in town. $35–40. 828 SE Ash St; simpaticacatering.com

Head Out A’Hunting


Trevor Payne (left) and chef Jason Barwikowski of Olympic Provisions

JUSTIN OSWALD’S love of meat began at the “Temple of Doom,” his father’s hand-forged, 15-foot-high barbecue shrine in Lake Tahoe. A Portlander since 1998, Oswald finds that his cravings live on, gloriously, in a city where pork belly is revered like the Buddha. At 30, Oswald has already run an experimental art gallery (Portland’s Gallery 500), owned a local roller-derby team, and killed a goat with Masai warriors in Africa. Now he’s exploring the newest meat movement in Portland’s food scene: ethical butchery and craft-cured charcuterie. Oswald says our small-town ethos is tailor-made for conscious carnivores, with easy access to livestock farmers and artisan butchers.

Justin Oswald's Meat Counter

Bald Hill Farm: Buy cuts of lamb and grass-fed beef of exceptional quality direct from this partnership of Corvallis families. Place an order, and the owners will meet you with the goods along the Interstate 5 corridor as far north as Portland. 541-753-3500; baldhillfarm.com

Portland Meat Collective: Former Portland Monthly restaurant critic Camas Davis’s traveling butcher school presents local pros in changing locations. Classes draw a diverse crowd, from grandmas to food activists—anybody ready to kill and cook a chicken or pig. pdxmeat.com

Olympic Provisions: Grab handmade salamis, fresh pâtés, and serious sausages made on site from rising charcuterie star Elias Cairo at this restaurant and meat counter hot spot. 107 SE Washington St; olympicprovisions.com

Fill Your Home with Local Spirits 

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Minott Kerr’s tabletop bar

Trained as a medieval architectural historian, Minott Kerr makes his living developing elaborate maps of Portland present and future for the Metro regional government. But at home, he savors his coffee-pot collection (100 and counting) and a liquor cabinet equipped with at least 15 gins for making the perfect martini. (“It’s tautological,” he says. “There is no best gin, only the best gin of the moment.”) A serious home cocktailer at his Northwest Portland pad—“I have more stemware crystal than any straight guy on the West Coast,” he boasts—Kerr these days is focused on local craft distillers who are making a national splash with their bold expressions of Oregon flora.

Minott Kerr's Sipping List

Ransom Old Tom Gin: From Ransom Spirits in Sheridan comes a stunning gin like no other: dark, relatively sweet with cardamom notes on impact. Don’t mix, just sip. ransomspirits.com

Eau de Vie of Douglas Fir: What says Oregon better than a forest-green concoction of handpicked and macerated fir buds blended with Clear Creek Distillery’s world-class pear brandy? Well, nothing. This spirit is best for adventurous tipplers. 2389 NW Wilson St; clearcreekdistillery.com

White Dog: This unaged whiskey from House Spirits Distillery is made entirely from malted barley, unlike its corn-based cousin, moonshine. Available only at the distillery. 2025 SE Seventh Ave; housespirits.com

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