Maybe it's the region's connection to Lewis and Clark that makes the food culture of the Pacific Northwest both pioneering and close to the earth. Dishes take full advantage of abundant local treasures: coastal Dungeness crab and salmon from the Pacific, free-range cattle from the high desert, foraged wild mushrooms and fiddlehead ferns from the Cascade Range. Even better, because these world-class ingredients don't have to travel far from source to table, chefs frequently leave them alone. The result is simple yet innovative, whether you're eating in a five-star bistro, a cozy diner, or a green market.
—Liz Crain, Food Lover's Guide to Portland blog (lizcrain.com)
Hopworks Urban Brewery
Nothing goes to waste at HUB: Recycled kegs double as decor, and the kitchen's used frying oil becomes biodiesel. The spot is so ecofriendly that you can buy a bike tube right at the bar. There are 12 rotating taps, with organic brews ranging from crisp and light to hoppy and bold. Naturally, all the hops are grown in the Pacific Northwest. 2944 SE Powell Blvd., Portland, 503/232-4677, hopworksbeer.com, beer $3.50.
The Farm Café
One thing you'll notice right away—there's no farm in sight. Housed in a restored Victorian in the Lower Burnside area, the café brings the farm to you: tomatoes from Junction City, eggs from Scio, hazelnuts from Monmouth—all less than 120 miles away. Among the café's fans: the Food Network, which touted the eggplant-filled veggie burger on its show The Best Thing I Ever Ate. 10 SE 7th St., Portland, 503/736-3276, thefarmcafe.com, veggie burger $11.
Tasty n Sons
If you don't like sharing, don't bother coming to this popular family-style spot. Chef John Gorham sends local ingredients on exotic vacations: Moroccan chicken hash, Burmese red pork stew, chocolate potato doughnuts. The chalkboard at the entrance acts as a sort of birth certificate, listing names and locations of farm suppliers. 3808 N. Williams Ave., Ste. C, Portland, 503/621-1400, tastynsons.com, pork stew $9.
Sauvie Island Farms
It's hard to say what's more delicious about Sauvie Island Farms: the setting or what comes out of it. The family-owned farm is a go-to spot for pick-your-own fruits, flowers, vegetables, and fall pumpkins. Flanked by the Willamette and Columbia rivers, the island is quilted with trails and beaches to explore after filling up on freshly harvested pears and marionberries. 19818 NW Sauvie Island Rd., Portland, 501/621-3988, sauvieislandfarms.com, seasonal market price produce by weight.
About a half-hour south of Portland in West Linn, Pascal Chureau's Allium serves French cuisine with a Northwestern twist (think grilled wild sturgeon with green lentils and truffle-thyme butter). Reserve a spot at one of the seasonal farm dinners, when local growers sit alongside guests to talk turkey, among other ingredients. 1914 Willamette Falls Dr., West Linn, 503/387-5604, alliumoregon.com, entrées from $13.