Seven dishes you must try in Portland, Oregon: Nolan Hirte, Proud Mary coffee, Melbourne and Portland

MEATBALLS, AVA GENE'S

Meatballs – the ultimate comfort food, especially for the long Portland winter. The meatballs at Ava Gene's is such a simple sounding dish but, like all their dishes, nothing is simple here. Ava Gene's sources a variety of flours and grains to make their pasta. Every Monday, they pair one of these pastas with meatballs made from locally raised beef. Combined with a rich, grandma's-Sunday-style tomato sauce. It is Ava Gene's refined, intentional and genuine care and understanding of food that really makes this one of my favourite places to be. See avagenes.com

HUMMUS, TUSK

Tusk offers the simple pleasures of full-flavoured, beautiful and sustaining healthy dishes that always leave me wanting more. Those who have been to Tusk, know you must order the hummus. Ah, the hummus, it's so incredibly creamy and full flavoured and the toppings change with the seasons. I am always torn between resisting ordering more of the bread that accompanies the hummus with the risk of filling up or leaving more room to order as many dishes as possible. Tusk is bright, light and fun and it is not just the food that delights. The service is genuine, fun and heartfelt. It's obvious the Tusk team are passionate, vibrant and love what they do. See tuskpdx.com

 

CORNED BEEF SANDWICH, LAURELHURST MARKET

Americans sure know how to make a sandwich and Laurelhurst Market is no exception. Their corned beef baguette with spicy pickle relish, red onion, Swiss cheese, mayo and Dijon is the ultimate lunch fix. This sandwich is an example of the care and amount of work that goes into producing what appears to be simple, and honest food. In true Portland style, this chef-owned business pays full respect to their local farm producers, who are of course the most important part of the whole process.  See laurelhurstmarket.com

MISO GLAZED EGGPLANT, BAMBOO SUSHI

Again, a place that holds the producers in high regard. Bamboo Sushi lives by their core values – sustainably caught, humanely raised, naturally grown, no compromises. Like many people these days, I am eating less meat and am grateful for such amazing vegetarian and vegan food that Portland does so well and Bamboo Sushi is no exception. Bamboo Sushi's Miso Glazed Japanese Eggplant – ginger, honey, sesame seeds, nevi, and rice crisps is knock-your-socks-off awesome. Of course, the sashimi and sushi here is phenomenal as well. The attention to detail, authentic Japanese flavours, atmosphere and proud-as-punch service makes Bamboo Sushi a great place to enjoy with family and friends. See bamboosushi.com

FISH TACO, POR QUE NO TARQUERIA

Mexican food in the US is what Asian food is in Australia – cheap and cheerful. This is the place to grab authentic Mexican street food. These guys have a few locations around Portland and there is always a line out the door. The place is always bustling and is super simple, no frills counter-service style. However, the staff are always bubbly and bright and the atmosphere is fun. The Pescado #2 is a must have: crispy cornmeal encrusted Newman's line-caught Alaskan Cod, topped with tangy escabeche crema and a serrano-cabbage slaw. See porquenotacos.com

CARAMEL RIBBON & SEA SALT ICE CREAM, SALT N STRAW

This Portland brand is a household name that has expanded to other locations around America. The original store is across the road from Proud Mary on NE Alberta Street. My favourite flavour (and my daughter Rosie's favourite) is absolutely the Caramel Ribbons & Sea Salt. Salt N Straw are of course about ice cream, but they have proven to have the ability to bring the community together through offering delicious and experimental ice cream, including one made purely from food waste. See saltandstraw.com

STRAWBERRY-SPRUCE SHRUB, WILLOW

Willow pairs non-alcoholic drinks with their tasting menu. My favourite is the Strawberry-Spruce Shrub (shrub is a type of concentrated syrup). This pairing is great as it feels like you are not missing out and the drinks are amazing. Willow also does a great wine pairing too. I love the feel of the place, it's like being at someone's home. I love the genuine and heartfelt approach they have to their food, drinks and service. See willopdx.com 

Proud Mary opened in 2009 on the backstreets of Collingwood, in Melbourne and today has a cafe, coffee brand, training school for coffee and the hospitality industry and a coffee roastery.  Last year, owner Nolan Hirte and his family moved to the US to open a cafe and coffee roastery in Portland, Oregon. See proudmarycoffee.com.au

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