Greetings Internet Stranger! Sometimes you step into a chain store and all the goods seem to blend together. All of them mass produced, all of them designed to make us look the same so that it will be easier for our consciousnesses to merge as one when the Borg finally invade. That’s why you need this one day in Portland Oregon itinerary! There are so many markets in Portland that sell homemade goods and local products. You’ll never buy anything factory produced again!
One Day in Portland Oregon Itinerary
Where to Stay?
Portland is a very cool city, so for your one day in Portland Oregon itinerary you need to stay somewhere equally cool. That’s why I recommend the Ace Hotel Portland. It has a central location, a delicious breakfast included every morning, comfy beds and robes, and plus you get freshly baked local goods as an amenity!
See! I told you people in Portland were friendly!
One Day in Portland Oregon Itinerary
Morning: Portland Markets
Portland has a very crunchy, DIY, hipster reputation. And if you love shopping, that’s good news for you! Portland is full of markets, both food and un, that sell locally made goods you can’t find anywhere else. Just keep in mind that the best day to go marketing with this One Day in Portland Oregon itinerary is Saturday because that’s the only day the Portland State University Farmers Market is open.
One of the joys of going shopping in a market is just exploring and picking up whatever strikes your fancy. But I can give you some guidance with…
Three Fun Facts: Portland Markets
1) I’m hungry! Why won’t you feed me?
Slow your roll, Internet Stranger! The food is coming! And if you’re not lucky enough to be enjoying this one day in Portland Oregon itinerary on a Saturday, fear not. There are other farmers markets available on other days in the city, especially during warmer months. But I suggest getting breakfast at the Saturday PSU Farmers Market. Many of the places are cash only, but ATMs are plentiful in the area.
One pro tip is to pick up biscuits and gravy at the Pine State Biscuits stall at the Farmers Markets. If you go to the brick and mortar Pine State Biscuits, you’ll wait online for approximately a jillion years. But the lines for the biscuits at the Farmers Market move at the speed of light. I recommend the spicy sausage gravy. It was impressive how the biscuits managed to stay fluffy under all that gravy!
For that all important breakfast dessert, get a little pastry at Mio’s Delectables. These treats use Japanese and French pastry techniques to create some of the most Instagrammable, seasonal, and delicious treats around. I visited in the spring, so naturally I got an Easter themed lime curd tart. This baby is almost too beautiful to eat, but don’t worry! I definitely ate it all. It had the perfect combination of sweetness and tartness.
2) Now I want to shop! Where Can I spend all my money?
If you’re in Portland on a Saturday, it’s an actual crime to not visit the Saturday market. Artists come from all over Portland to peddle their wares here. I saw everything from fine jewelry to artisanal bongs being sold here. The Saturday Market was founded in 1974, and it now has over 350 artist members, so shopping here can be a little overwhelming. Give yourself plenty of time.
I believe every traveler should have a collection, and I personally collect earrings. They are pretty, portable, and practical because I wear earrings every day. But just to give you an idea of how many wonderful artists are at the Saturday Market, usually I only get one or two pairs of earrings in a city. At the Saturday market I bought…five.
First I got a lovely gold and silver pair from Wild Heather Design and I thought that would be it! But then I kept finding different earrings made from cool objects. Here’s a pair of roses made from resin! There are some earrings made from upcycled guitar strings! There are earrings made from Readers Digest book covers! And finally some lovely purple ones made from upcycled advertising tins! I couldn’t choose, so I got them all. I regret nothing!
3) Can You Only Buy Earrings?
Of course not! There are a ton of potters selling their goods at the Saturday Market. You can get bowls, toothbrush holders, and soap dishes, but if you’re like me, you might have these already. But I did not have a handmade holder for my sponge! This piece makes washing the dishes a much more enjoyable experience.
You can also find many paintings and drawings on sale to decorate your home. Wander around and find something that really speaks to you. You’ll be able to recognize the right piece as soon as you see it. I knew right away that I wanted this girl with an iguana. She looks kind of like me as a teenager, but I think I would have been a much happier teen if I’d had an iguana to sit on my head all the time.
The Farmers Market is the place to go for food shopping, but you can still find some foods at the Saturday Market. This mojito lime tea makes a most refreshing iced tea. (And for teetotalers, don’t worry. There’s no actual booze in this tea.)
One Day in Portland Oregon Itinerary
Afternoon: Alberta Arts District Food Tour
One of the best ways to see a city is through a food tour. What better way to learn the history of a place than through its food? But street art tours can also be excellent ways of getting to know a locale. That’s why I was so glad to find the Alberta Arts District Food Tour through Eat Adventures for this one day in Portland Oregon itinerary. We’d be able to nosh on some of Portland’s finest treats while also getting an expert tour of the many gorgeous murals in this charming neighborhood.
I don’t want to spoil everything we saw on the tour, but I will get you started with…
Approximately Top 5: Alberta Arts District
1) Stella Taco
The first stop on the itinerary was the most exciting for me. It wasn’t because the tacos at Stella Taco were so much better than all the other stops, though the tacos were really tasty. No, I was excited because my name is Stella! I think that legally means I own part of Stella Taco. And I’ll be satisfied with ten percent of the gross!
I want all of these sauces! That way I can wake up in the morning and say, “Hmm, I’m feeling Stella Spicy! Or maybe even Stella XXX!”
But enough about me, back to the food! Stella Taco was founded by people who moved to Portland from Austin and missed Austin-style tacos. (Interestingly enough, both Austin and Portland claim that their slogan is “Keep Austin/Portland Weird”. This fight could get nasty, except the residents of both cities are too chill to keep a feud going.)
Here we chowed down on a local beer with lime and some slow-cooked pork tacos. I very approved of the tacos because they were made with corn tortillas, not flour. I’ve had one or two good flour tortillas in my life, but generally speaking they are of the devil.
2) Dar Salam
This restaurant is the only Iraqi restaurant I’ve ever been to, and I’m so glad that I experienced the food here. This is a family run restaurant. The husband came from Iraq as a refugee, and the family wanted to show the neighborhood what Iraqi food was like. And we certainly feasted here!
Our appetizer was an aromatic lentil soup. Our guide, whom I shall call Fred, said that the family calls the soup liquid gold, but I honestly think this soup tastes much better than melted gold would.
For the main course, we could choose between chicken or lamb shawarma (slow-cooked meat). I chose the lamb, and I regret nothing! But even if you are veggie and you take this tour, there would be enough to eat between the soup, the dips, and the amazing homemade bread without the shawarma. No one on the tour could finish all the food.
3) Fine Goose
The next stop was as surprising as the previous two. Fine Goose is a food truck that serves French cuisine. I didn’t even know that was a thing you could do! What would Paul Bocuse say? Our bite here was French gnocchi, which are different from Italian gnocchi because they’re made with flour, not potatoes. They are as light as a winged balloon made from clouds. It’s a good thing that there’s seating at this food truck park because Fine Goose makes everything to order, so we had to wait a bit for the gnocchi. But that wasn’t a problem because…
4) Pine State Biscuit
It’s time for our second Pine State Biscuit of the day! Fred went to pick these up for us while my fellow tour guests and I waited for our gnocchi. Pine State has nothing to do with Oregon. It’s the nickname of the great state of North Carolina. Like Stella Taco, this business was founded by people who moved to Portland from another state and missed a hometown treat. But in this case, it was proper Southern biscuits.
It didn’t feel repetitive to nosh on two Pine State Biscuits in one day because the biscuits this morning were savory and these were made sweet with an apple butter accompaniment. (One girl on the tour actually scarfed down all the leftover apple butter with a spoon, that’s how tasty it was. I was tempted to join her, but I wanted to save room for dinner.)
5) Bunk Sandwiches
Are you still hungry? That’s very impressive, Internet Stranger! But it’s also a good thing because we have two more food stops on this one day in Portland Oregon itinerary. First, we’re getting sandwiches at Bunk. Once again, this is a place founded by someone who missed the comforts of home. In this case, it was a dude who missed New York-style sandwich shops. As a New Yorker, I have to say that our sandwiches are pretty amaze!
The sandwich and beverage pairing here was perfect. We got a margarita with a Cubano sandwich. This Cubano isn’t entirely traditional because the Cubano sandwiches you find in Miami are made with ham, and this was made with pork belly. The pork belly combined with gobs of melted cheese just made the whole thing that much more indulgent.
PS. If you’re wondering where the name comes from, Bunk is a major and beloved character on The Wire, that HBO show no one watched. (I kid. I love The Wire. I’m just trying to get more hate mail from angry young men on the internet.)
At last we have dessert! And this is the most local dessert imaginable: the marionberry tart. The marionberry is more properly called the Franken-berry because it was made in a lab at the University of Oregon. The mad berry scientists crossed a blackberry with the sweetest flavor with a blackberry that was easier to grow, and voila! It’s AAAAALIIIIIIIVE! And by alive, I mean delicious. Who knew science could be so tasty?
One Day in Portland Oregon Itinerary
Late Afternoon: Go For a Walk
Once the food tour ends, you’re going to want to spend the late afternoon of our one day in Portland Oregon itinerary going for a walk. That way you’ll work up an appetite for dinner. At the end of the food tour, Fred gave us a map of the murals in the Alberta Arts district, so we could go back and spend more time with our favorites. Don’t miss this mural showing the history of Portland.
Portland is very politically progressive, so the mural doesn’t shy away from the darker parts of Portland’s history, like the devastation to the Native American communities in the area or the racist housing policies that confined African-Americans to separate and unequal neighborhoods. Segregation wasn’t only in the South.
If the weather’s nice during your one day in Portland Oregon itinerary, walk over to Grant Park. It’s a bit of a hike, but it’s worth it to see the Beverly Cleary Sculpture Garden. This lovely tribute to the local author of the Ramona Quimby series includes statues of her beloved characters. The Ramona books were just about my favorite when I was a girl. (The rambunctious Ramona and I had a lot in common! As you can tell, I still have a hard time sitting still!)
One Day in Portland Oregon Itinerary
Evening: Dinner at Nodoguru
I hope you worked up an appetite running around with Ramona because dinner tonight is really something special. Nodoguru is easily one of the best Japanese restaurants in the country. You have to check the website carefully to make reservations because they sell out fast. And you actually pay for your dinner in advance by purchasing a ticket when you make your reservation. The menu is omakase, which means a chef’s choice tasting menu, so you don’t get to pick and choose what you eat. But who wants to choose when the food is this delicious!
The menu changes every day…possibly even every evening. So there’s no point in my telling you exactly what I ate, since you definitely won’t eat the same thing. And the tasting menu is fifteen courses long, so there’s no way I can keep you entertained as I describe each one. But I can give you an idea of what to expect. And I can’t stress this enough–the ingredients are very authentically Japanese, so this is a place for foodies, not picky eaters.
I lost count of all the ingredients I tried for the first time here. Paper thin eels in an astonishingly umami dashi broth? Check.
I’ve been to Japan more than once, and I studied Japanese in college, so I was familiar with some of the traditional Japanese ingredients. For example, I loved eating the teeny tiny firefly squid that pop up all over Japan in the spring. But I had never seen them in the US before! What a treat!
The seafood was as fresh as a Prince of Bel-Air, whether it was served raw in sushi…
or cooked with a savory egg custard called chawanmushi.
And then there were creative Japanese-inspired dishes that were unlike everything I’ve tasted. This fried eggplant was as light as any Japanese tempura, but made even more delicious with the addition of an avocado cream.
And this king salmon was smoked with cherry wood, which I had never tasted before. One bite, and I felt like a princess who had run away to live in the woods because my evil stepmother was trying to rip out my heart and feed it to her mirror, or whatever evil stepmothers do.
The entire meal was flawless, from the sparkling wine served as a welcome drink to the refreshing kiwi and coconut dessert! It was the perfect way to end our one day in Portland Oregon itinerary.
That’s a Perfect One Day in Portland Oregon Itinerary!
What would you do on a one day in Portland Oregon itinerary? Are you willing to eat eels and firefly squid? (Please say yes!) And when will Stella Taco acknowledge me as an official owner? Please leave your thoughts below!
Note: If you want to know how I put my travel itineraries together, just click here. Keep in mind that while this article is about how to have a perfect 24 hours in Portland Oregon, that doesn’t mean you should ONLY have 24 hours in Portland Oregon. If you’re looking for another 24 hours in Portland Oregon, click here.