‘Tis the season to shop til you drop (hopefully not due to being Tasered by someone over the rights to a deeply discounted tea towel set), and unless being unable to find street parking in under 45 minutes elevates your blood pressure beyond medically acceptable levels, you can’t beat downtown Portland for a most festive buying experience. But besides burning money, shopping also burns calories, so you will likely need sustenance at various intervals during your spree—hence, here are 16 downtown snack stops.
Clyde Common’s Egg Nog
By now I think we’ve all either tasted or at least heard rumors of the ambrosial holiday staple that is Clyde bar manager Jeffrey Morgenthaler’s spiked egg nog, crafted with Anejo tequila, Amontillado sherry, eggs, cream and nutmeg. It’s only on the cocktail menu until the new year’s ball drops (or possibly a bit longer), which totally justifies that third round.
Multnomah Whiskey Library’s Old Fashioned
You’ve heard rumblings about the MWL’s 3-hour waits, but no worries, because you’ve got a plan. Put your name in, then see if you can get all your shopping done before it’s your turn to get raptured to whiskey heaven. It doesn’t hurt that boutique greats like Alder & Co., Frances May and Woonwinkel are all in a one-block radius, and Union Way is just up the street. It will feel like mere minutes until you’re settled into the leather sofa in front of the fireplace, a flawless Old Fashioned in hand, Buffalo Trace tartare on the way.
Tasty n Alder’s Dollar Biscuits
Tasty n Son’s super popular downtown brother can be a mob scene at high dining tide, but if you happen in during midday menu (2-5:30pm), it’s both peaceful and has dollar biscuits. And nothing fortifies a weary shopper like dollar biscuits with honey butter, $6 sparkling wine, and $7 Tasty sours.
Boxer Ramen’s Spicy Ramen
You’ve made the Union Way rounds, and you’ve got a few sacks of Quin caramels, fruit chews and lollipops stashed in your shopping bag, a Little T gingerbread pudding cake for later, and some delectable Danner boots…now you’re hungry for something hot and hearty. Boxer Ramen’s at your service, with wiggly bonito-flake topped tots, spicy ramen, and delicate passion fruit mochi. Make sure you save some good hard cash for the occasion—they don’t take cards.
Bailey’s Taproom’s Beer + Santería’s Cochinita
After you take the requisite holiday stroll through the Benson Hotel lobby to check out their annual gingerbread and marzipan masterpiece, head down Broadway, claim your seat and order your beer at Bailey’s, then cross the alley and order your cochinitas nachos at Santería. Then, no matter what your mom says at the holiday dinner table next week, think back on this and remember that you DO make very good life decisions. Sometimes.
Cacao’s Drinking Chocolate
The holiday season is stressful and chocolate is therapeutic, so this time of year, for your health’s sake, you should be popping into this elegant West End chocolate mecca at least once a day for the drinking chocolate trio. While you’re there, pick up a few jars to slip into your favorite people’s stockings. Also, if you haven’t gotten my present yet, I’ve registered for one of everything in the store (not officially, but I have in my heart).
The Picnic House’s Roasted Tomato Soup
Soup and freezing shopping bag-clutching fingers go together like going to the Nutcracker and wishing the champagne intermission would come faster, so don’t pass The Picnic House without getting a bowl of their divine wild mushroom with fresh thyme or roasted tomato with basil cream, or, if it’s happy hour (3-6pm), the darling soup shot flight. If you’re downtown the day after Christmas, reserve seats at their Christmas Carol Dinner—three traditional English Christmas dinner courses accompanied by a live abridged rendition of the famous Dickens classic.
Oregon Wines on Broadway’s Ruinart
Two Saturdays ago, my best friend and I went into OWOB at 7pm for a dignified bottle of champagne to toast our successful day of buying bawdy holiday napkins for her upcoming holiday party and Christmas presents for ourselves. At 7:30pm, a lovely gentleman at the bar, Sam, bought everyone in the place a glass of Ruinart. At 9pm, we were drinking vodka sodas at Magic Garden, and then it was 11pm and we were dancing to a Beyoncé song being played on The Barrel Room’s dueling pianos. Suddenly, it was 2am and we were eating nachos at Santería. So don’t ask me how that all happened, but trust that Oregon Wines on Broadway will pour you a great glass of champagne in great company. Plus, you can get a generous wedge of Brie and Pearl Bakery baguette for $5.
Higgins’ Bar’s Beer + Burger
You’ll undoubtedly be exhausted by the time you battle your way through the heart of downtown and up into the quieter section of Broadway where Higgins restaurant lies, so its cozy British pub-esque bar’s epic beer menu and burger is your pot of gold at the end of the retail chaos rainbow.
Imperial’s Icebox Cake
Not only does this classy downtown eatery inside the Hotel Lucia boast a robust happy hour daily from 2-6pm, it also has one of the finest dessert menus in town, and since it’s the season to splurge, at the very least on dessert, order pastry chef Michelle Vernier’s incredibly decadent icebox cake, in whatever incarnation you might find. Right now, it’s milk chocolate banana icebox cake, and if reading that that didn’t knock the icicles right off your eyeballs, I don’t know what will.
Driftwood Room’s Springtime in Paris
It’s a few blocks off the beaten downtown path, but worth the detour for the inimitable, seductive sense of cozy imparted by this legendary little bar in the glammy Hotel DeLuxe. Time your arrival between 2-6:30pm and 9:30pm-close and you’ll be treated to $6 champagne cocktails like the sweet, wishful-thinkingish Springtime in Paris, $20 bottles of wine, and various happy hour eats.
Ruby Jewel’s White Chocolate Peppermint Soft Serve
I hope you’ve already been following Ruby Jewel’s holiday going on’s like an ice cream loving hawk, because every day until Christmas they are featuring some sort of delicious deal, raffle, or freebie. If so, you already know that for a limited time only, they’re featuring a white chocolate peppermint soft serve dipped in a dark chocolate shell on a waffle cone. This calls for a hashtag: #speechless.
You know what’s festive? Hot toddies, that’s what, and you can get very good ones in chef Anthony Cafiero’s posh modern cuisine-driven dining room, alongside his inventive menu of small plates, like the terrifically tender octopus and duck confit with smoked apple cider and pickled mustard seeds. If you’ve already blown your holiday budget, fear not, you don’t have to commit to the $50 tasting menu, because from 5-6pm you can graze the selection of $8 happy hour raciones. Draft cider is but $3, and if you’re lucky, the $6 cocktail of the day will be the hot toddy. Score!
Urban Farmer’s Sliders
You can’t beat The Nines Hotel for downtown decadence, and since their own Urban Farmer restaurant serves happy hour from 3 until 6 daily and 10pm-close, it’s just the spot for a leisurely glass of wine and some beer cheese soup, deviled eggs and $4 beef sliders on Parker rolls. People watch to your heart’s content from the mile-long white leather sofa, or escape the lobby hubbub by ducking into the rarely-occupied library for leather couch sittin’ and a relaxed game of pool.
Punch Bowl Social’s Ole Uppercut Punch
Besides the bowling and private karaoke rooms, the punch bowls are the best thing about this Pioneer Place Mall entertainment center, and while they are a pricey indulgence at $36 for a bowl that serves 4 light drinkers, if you have cash to spare, splash out on the bourbon, black tea and bitters-laced Ole Uppercut. It’s going to make you want to drink punch from tiny crystal cups every day henceforth.
Scooter’s Jello Shots
Make sure you’ve got time to spare before you ask the bartender at Scooter’s what kind of jello shots she’s got, because she’s got a lot. In keeping with the season, just go for whatever’s red and green, of course. They come lined up in a plastic fish ‘n chips basket and stuck with tiny straws, but why stand on ceremony, just squeeze, slurp, and hit the shops again.