“Blame the coffee geeks, blame the microbreweries, blame the climate, and all that local produce … Fact is, Portland’s food scene is where it’s at.” With that 2011 announcement, Bon Appétit magazine put the foodie world on notice that the upstart, indie-minded Stumptown had officially cemented itself as a bona fide culinary capital — and that a coming-out party was in order. Enter Feast Portland, the city’s first-ever world-class food festival.
The inaugural three-day event in September 2012 drew upon a deep roster of Portland-bred talent (national James Beard Award-winning chefs, renegade food-cart cooks, sommeliers and beer experts, just for starters) and an international cast of kitchen royalty, including chefs from Michelin-starred restaurants, food writers from The New York Times and Bon Appétit, and foodie TV personalities.
Feast now returns every September, bringing marquee events, special dinner series, hands-on classes, boozy discussions and more. In 2016, the festival promised the return of much beloved-events, like “Brunch Village,” which transformed Pioneer Courthouse Square into an open-air food hall, with Portland’s culinary greats serving up tasty bites and drinks to huge crowds; “Smoked!,” a meat and smoke-fueled evening with beer, cocktails and wine; and the “Grand Tasting,” where up-and-coming chefs and makers predicted and sampled what’s ahead in the food and drink scene. The festival featured culinary creations by famed Portland institutions like Olympia Provisions, Salt & Straw, Pok Pok, Departure, Kachka and dozens more.
Don’t worry about trying to taste everything over one long weekend, though; Portland’s food scene dazzles in any season. The fertile Willamette Valley fills the pantries of acclaimed chefs and stocks booths and shelves at some of the country’s most impressive farmers’ markets and gourmet specialty shops. Close proximity to the Pacific means just-caught salmon, tuna and Dungeness crab. Organic farms deliver grass-fed beef and hazelnut-finished hogs. Deep, rain-washed forests harbor fresh chanterelle and morel mushrooms.
Around town, more than 70 breweries produce thirst-quenching beers, while wine (and spirit) lists at nearly every restaurant are dominated by local products. Our bounty also spills over to a legendary food-cart scene (some 700 and counting) — and it’s not unheard of to experience all of these delights on the same city block.
Your table is waiting.