“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 festival returns Sept. 12-15, 2019 with plenty of delicious events. (Though some events have already sold out, there are still plenty to choose from on Feast’s website!)
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 returns every September, bringing marquee events, special dinner series, hands-on classes, boozy discussions and more.
Beloved events sell out fast, so it’s a good idea to check the Feast website for updates. A couple of favorite events sold out in 2019, including “Brunch Village” (an open-air food hall with Portland’s culinary greats serving up tasty bites and drinks to huge crowds) and “Smoked!” (which takes over The Fields Park in the Pearl District with a meat- and smoke-fueled evening with beer, cocktails and wine).
As of Aug. 15, 2019, there are still tickets to “The Big Feast” (formerly “The Grand Tasting”), one of the festival’s most prominent events. Taking place for the first time at Tom McCall Waterfront Park, this event challenges up-and-coming chefs and makers to predict and sample what’s ahead in the food and drink scene.
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 80 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.