Portland is home to an abundance of patio bars and outdoor dining destinations, but nothing beats spreading out a picnic blanket on a sunny day. And with more than 200 parks within city limits, there’s no shortage of spots to stake out and feast on local eats. Need help narrowing it down? Here’s our cheat sheet for three perfect Portland picnics:
Breakfast in the Pearl
Wake up with a cup of artisanal coffee from the champion bean-slingers at Barista, whose expert espresso pulls and latte art have earned national awards. Follow the sweet smells wafting from nearby Nuvrei to find flaky almond croissants, chewy chocolate macarons and other authentic French pastries. At sunny Lovejoy Bakers, eggy breakfast dishes star alongside warm loaves of bread and picnic-perfect sandwiches — think grilled eggplant and fresh mozzarella served with scoops of potato salad.
Beloved by local chefs for its deep selection of Mediterranean imports and gourmet deli dishes, World Foods is a great place to pick up global snacks, from kumquats and olives to cheese and charcuterie. Better yet, create your own lavish Lebanese meze plate with items like house-made hummus, spinach pies and stuffed grape leaves.
When you’ve gathered your goods, take your pick from three prime Pearl District parks: The Fields, which features an off-leash dog area, Jamison Square, home to a cascading water feature and kid-friendly splash pool, and Tanner Springs, a lush square of native wetlands, are all only a few blocks away.
Lunch on the West Side
Classic grab-and-go lunch fare has made Elephants Delicatessen a longtime local favorite. Pick from club sandwiches, pasta salads, vegan wraps, granola parfaits and even hot soups. Zupan’s Market makes it easy to stock up on quality wines, fresh fruit and cold juices, as well as fresh-made deli options and plenty of pre-packaged sandwiches and snacks.
Treat yourself to a handcrafted truffle from Moonstruck Chocolate, where whimsical treats come in colorful shapes and creative flavors like sea salt toffee clownfish. (Yes, it’s shaped like a fish!)
Accessed from Southwest Skyline Boulevard, 159-acre (64 ha) Washington Park makes an ideal destination for a meal surrounded by lush greenery and towering trees. Just steps away, the 10,000 blooming rose bushes perfume the air at the gorgeous International Rose Test Garden, which promises picturesque views of downtown Portland.
Dinner in Southeast
Specialty shop Pastaworks boasts an unsurpassed selection of Italian wines and European imports; stop by the meat counter for house-made pastrami and Parisian-style baguette sandwiches. Local grocery New Seasons Market is a safe bet for anything left on your shopping list, be it organic produce, bulk trail mix or healthy, seasonal deli salads. No eastside spread is complete without some goodies from Cheese Bar, named one of the country’s top cheese shops by the Food Network. Score wedges of organic Tuscan pecorino or creamy local chèvre, along with artisan jellies, chocolates, and ham and brie sandwiches.
Lest you forget dessert, Petite Provence Patisserie stays open into the evening, serving decadent French chocolate cakes layered with luscious mousse, meringue and ganache.
For a memorable romantic evening, hike (or drive) to the top of leafy Mt. Tabor Park, which occupies the slopes of an extinct volcanic cinder cone in the heart of Southeast Portland. Uncork that bottle of wine and watch pinks and oranges streak the sky as the sun dips behind the city skyline and the West Hills.