North Portland's nickname is NoPo, which, aside from the obvious shorthand, makes sense since this is a great place to "know Portland." Located east and north of downtown across the Willamette River, NoPo is an eclectic mix of culturally diverse neighborhoods. Start by visiting the locally owned shops, eateries, and art spaces on buzzy Mississippi Avenue and in the Alberta Arts District. Then, discover retro NoPo, including the twin-palm neon masterpiece outside The Palms Motel, by driving north along North Interstate Avenue. Finish your tour by snapping an Instagram shot of NoPo's iconic Paul Bunyan statue, a 31-foot-tall concrete-and-metal lumberjack standing at the intersection of North Interstate and North Denver Avenues.
Trendy food option: You won't have time to hit the hundreds of PDX food carts in one visit, but on North Mississippi you can sample the wares of up to nine carts at Mississippi Marketplace. Opened in 2009, the mini-city of mobile eateries is Portland's original purpose-built food truck pod. Newer grazing options include burgers and thick shakes (try the Nutter But the Best Shake made with Nutter Butter cookies) at 503 Burger Company, opened in summer 2015. The Marketplace is open daily; however, cart owners set their own hours. Check the website for a current schedule.
Classic food option: After basking in the glow of the Palms's sign on North Interstate, visit an equally old-school (and neon-lit) NoPo institution, the Alibi, a tiki and karaoke bar. The dimly lit Polynesian restaurant and lounge oozes faux-Hawaiian vintage: plastic bamboo and palm trees, seashell lamp shades, neon tiki torches, and a 3-D dancing hula girl mural. Embrace the vintage charm by splitting a Hawaiian appetizer platter—including coconut shrimp, pot stickers, and chicken egg rolls—and a potent Punch of the Tiki, a four-straw, fruity rum concoction sure to build up your courage for karaoke.
Unexpected food option: For a next-generation North Interstate experience, head to Pinky's Pizzeria. The artisanal pizza parlor, which offers gluten-free and vegan options, stocks a mind-boggling collection of 232 whiskeys—and counting. Ask the bartender to suggest a spirit from the whiskeys, aged rums, botanical gins, cognacs, vodkas, more than 30 tequilas, and other craft spirits to pair with your pie. Topping options range from a basic Margherita (marinara, mozzarella, and basil) to Pinky's originals such as the John Goodman (mozzarella, deep applewood smoked bacon, roasted potato, medium Tillamook cheddar, green onion, and fresh ground black pepper). Pinky's is open Tuesday to Saturday, 5-11 p.m.
Sights & Bites: What to Eat While Touring Portland, Oregon
The culinary style in PDX (Portland’s airport code and local nickname) blends fresh, Pacific Northwest ingredients with the city’s signature quirkiness.