Anthony Bourdain in Portland, OR:
3 Spots Where Tony Ate
When you think about Portland, Oregon, what comes to mind? Endless forests of evergreen trees? Counter culture, grunge rock musicians, and serial killers? World-class cuisine? Portland – and the entire Pacific Northwest – are home to all this and more. As Anthony Bourdain points out in his episode focusing on Portland, it’s a city (and region) known for obsessives – in every aspect of life.
Anthony Bourdain visited Portland to film season 3 (episode 3) of his show No Reservations; it was his only on-screen visit to this PNW city, and happened quite early in his career – just as Portland was becoming a foodie destination. In addition to sampling the local flavors, Tony did a fair amount of other exploration, like ghost tours and camping trips, too!
If you’re planning to visit Portland, lucky you – get ready to eat at the places visited by Anthony Bourdain in Portland by donning some flannel, loosening your belt, and putting on a solid grunge playlist. Let’s dig into the admittedly few but nevertheless delicious spots Tony ate in Portland.
Want to watch the episode where Anthony Bourdain visits Portland, Oregon?
The No Reservations episode (“Pacific Northwest”) is available on Amazon and Hulu.
In this post, I promote travel to a destination that is the traditional lands of the Cayuse, Umatilla and Walla Walla, Stl’pulmsh (Cowlitz), and Clackamas peoples, the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde, and the Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians, among others. With respect, I make a formal land acknowledgment, extending my appreciation and respect to the past and present people of these lands. To learn more about the peoples who call these lands home, I invite you to explore Native Land.
The (Haunted) Heathman Hotel
To be transparent, Tony doesn’t actually eat at the Heathman Hotel – though he does stay there during his Portland visit.
He also references the property twice, which is why I decided to include it on my list. First, he meets author Chuck Palahniuk in the lobby to hear some stories about Portland before they set out on foot to explore. (As an aside, Chuck Palahniuk was my all-time favorite author when I was young – before I discovered Anthony Bourdain.)
Later, he returns to the hotel to set on a camping trip with the chef, Philippe Boulot, and chef/restauranteur Craig Plainfield to eat truly fresh food cooked over a campfire: escargot, tube steak, Copper River salmon and wild mushrooms, pork and pigs head stew, fresh asparagus and fiddlehead ferns, with crusty local bread. While Boulot is no longer the head chef, the restaurant at the hotel is still open and you could dine there during your Portland trip too, even though Bourdain didn’t.
If you’ve ever heard about Portland’s food scene, you’ve probably heard Voodoo Doughnut mentioned. This Portland donut shop is famous for their weird and wacky toppings – think crunch berries, jams, and – at one time – medicine like Pepto and Nyquil (which the owners later learned they could not add to food…)
During his visit, Bourdain tries two of their iconic sweet treats: the Old Dirty Bastard – dipped in chocolate frosting, topped with crushed Oreos and peanut butter drizzle – and the bacon maple bar, one of the classics that he gets a jonesing for the next day. This latter is a must-try if you decide to visit to follow in Tony’s footsteps.
Bourdain’s third and final stop in Portland is at Apizza Scholls, a pizzeria famous for its incredible hand-made doughs and rules about how many toppings you can add (no more than three toppings and no more than one meat): “There are rules to the proper preparation and enjoyment of pizza.”
With a handful of heavily-tatted chefs, Tony digs into clam pie, pizza margarita, and quattro formaggio, raving about the quality and comparing it to New York-style pizza. This is quite a compliment from him, since he is still in the time of his career where he identifies strongly with (and compares a lot to) the food experiences he knows from home.
Portland Food Tours to Try
Since Anthony Bourdain didn’t visit many places in Portland, you might still be hungry even after all three of these spots. Luckily, Portland has some fantastic food tours you can try to supplement your sampling of the various flavors the city has to offer. Here are a few that caught my eye, offering similar experiences to what Tony had – even in ghost hunting!
Have any questions about the places visited by Anthony Bourdain in Portland? Let me know in the comments below.