Welcome to Portlandia: Native Guide to Portland

Before I knew about Portland’s creative culture, not only regarding ads, but also in the fashion, music and art worlds, I had heard about the city’s outstanding cuisine. Portland will happily make you buy your food from a food cart and proceed to make you eat it standing up in the pouring rain. What’s better is that you’ll happily comply because the food from downtown’s food carts is so damn good and comes in every flavor/country imaginable. This food is affordable and in the heart of the city, making it easily accessible to students, business-type folks, and hipsters alike.

Don’t Forget About the Food

For those millennials who are traveling with parents or have awkward amounts of extra cash lying around, Portland is constantly cultivating chefs, most of whom are guided by Vitaly Paley, the executive chef and owner of Paley’s Place, a restaurant continually featured in newspapers (New York Times) and magazines (Oprah Magazine) for its commitment to excellence, changing daily menu, and use of local produce and meat. A look at today’s menu shows an Oregon Dungeness Crab Risotto, Wild Mushrooms, Roasted Squash, and White Truffle Butter. I just drooled on myself. One of Paley’s recent grads is Chef Gabriel Rucker who, with the help of Chef Paley, has risen from college drop-out status to being named one of Food and Wine’s Best New Chefs of 2007 with his acclaimed Portland restaurant, Le Pigeon, where I once enthusiastically ate pig’s ears over spring onions, radish, and mustard cream as well as a lamb tongue appetizer with peas, morels and truffles. All of this was followed by my entree of duck with bread pudding, porcini, and walnuts (drooling again). More recently, I celebrated my 21st birthday at Rucker’s newest restaurant, Little Bird, where I enjoyed a bone marrow appetizer (impeccable). Both are must eats during a Portland visit.

Oh and the Coffee

Back to the regular needs of strapped-for-cash millennial traveler. Visit us for coffee. It’s cheap and we make it well, what with our large hipster population, I find it hard to believe that we could make it poorly. Of course, we are brimming with about 20 billion Starbucks, but if you’ve already managed to muster enough money to get yourself to the Pacific Northwest, don’t use your gift card. The extra $2 (or so) for an espresso at Barista won’t put you out and will live up to its slogan, “Serving exceptional coffee from the world’s finest roasters, prepared by the most skilled baristas in Portland, Oregon.” Well, that may have been a tad of an overstatement but its delicious coffee in a fun environment. If you’re a tea drinker (they often don’t mingle with the coffee drinkers) head to Townshend’s where you can buy fine loose teas or order drinks to stay, my favorite being an Earl Grey Latte.

The Places You Will Go

Finally, arriving at any of the previous destinations is simple and cheap for a millenial. Portland is known for its easy, reliable transportation system. Buses run almost everywhere and the MAX light rail and the Portland Streetcar are both fun and slow (especially if you are from NYC, Chicago, or anywhere in Europe) but will get you to your destination. The best part is watching the Portlanders, most of whom have a particular look. The city has also been named the most bike friendly city in North America and ranks among the top in the world. Most streets have bike lanes, the city is relatively flat allowing easy riding, and bike locks crowd the sidewalks.

The creative culture, foodie atmosphere, locally owned coffee shops, and easy transport makes Portland a perfect place for any millennial to live. I have yet to hear a complaint from the large 20 something community in my city. Most of them seem quite happy working at coffee shops, bookstores, bike shops or in the ad/art/food worlds. Come visit. Bring your bike, grow a mustache and be prepared to eat locally raised chickens.

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