This is the city that basically invented the food cart trend (there are currently 500 and counting). Here, people will try creative methods to get the food they want. Better yet, they're known for paying attention to where it comes from. So it comes as no surprise that Stumptown has a great selection of shops for sourcing everything from sausages to scones, and coffee to cod.
Bob's Red Mill Whole Grain Store and Visitors Center
Most folks have come across Bob’s Red Mill oatmeal or purchased their quinoa flour for a baking experiment, but they are always surprised to learn that there is a real Bob. Over the past three decades, Bob Moore has built his company from a humble mill to a multimillion-dollar operation, but he still takes a hands-on approach to management. Visit the 15,000-square-foot Bob’s Red Mill Whole Grain Store and Visitors Center just south of downtown Portland and you’re likely to run into the company’s octogenarian founder chatting with customers and tucking into a bowl of Scottish oatmeal. The store boasts all 400 of Bob’s products—from exotic whole grains to staple beans, baking ingredients, and their extensive line of organic and certified gluten-free products.
Beyond helping us eat better, Moore’s focus on giving back to the community has garnered him national praise. In 2010, Moore handed ownership of his company to his employees through an Employee Share Ownership Program, and he’s subsequently donated millions to nearby Oregon Health Sciences University and the National College of Natural Medicine to create institutes to conduct research and educate the community on how to eat better to prevent chronic diseases.
Named for the bean from which chocolate is made, Cacao is not your average candy store. With 150 bars of chocolate from 30 of the best premium chocolate producers in the world, plus handmade truffles from 15 of the region’s best chocolatiers, Cacao is chocolate nirvana. Cacao’s two elegant shops—a 290-square-foot jewel box in the Heathman Hotel and a chic, slightly larger address in the hip Pearl District—have a hushed, reverential feel, but snobbery is blessedly absent. Instead, chocophiles will encounter friendly owners Jesse Manis and Aubrey Lindley and their passionate, well-trained staff who happily educate concerned customers about the issues around chocolate production.
Instead of bars made from commodity market chocolate, Cacao carries only chocolate from premium chocolate companies that are so small, they often have a direct relationship with their small-scale cacao farmers. This limited chain of ownership and distribution not only yields stunning chocolates with all the nuances of a fine wine, but also benefits the laborers, who earn better than fair-trade prices, and the biodiversity of the areas where the shade-loving cacao beans are grown. Visitors will find socially responsible brands like Hacienda el Vizia (chocolate made at the plantation), Askinosie Chocolates (donates 10 percent of net profits to their farmers), and Pacari, a line of organic, single-origin Ecuadorian bars. After browsing, try a shot of the made-to-order “drinking chocolate,” an intense, thicker version of hot chocolate made with single origin chocolates and local milk.
Eric Finely and Paula Markus of Chop Butchery want to get to know you. Just look at their logo T-shirts that say “Know Your Butcher.” If you have any doubt, ask them for a sample of their curry salami and you’ll get an enthusiastic tale of who raised the pig, what it was fed, and how they cure the meat. The duo have been working in a tiny corner of City Market in tony Northwest Portland for over a decade and all of their meat, from the 100 percent grass-fed beef to their free-range, antibiotic-free lamb and pork is sourced directly from as nearby as possible.
They do much of the butchery themselves, and every bit of the animal is used—so not only will you find double-thick pork chops and dry-aged prime rib here, but you’ll also encounter a case full of treats made with the rest of the animal, including pâtés full of local ingredients like porcini mushrooms, hazelnuts, and apples. There are also two dozen types of fresh handmade sausages, including hard-to-find delicacies like Merguez, boudin blanc, and andouille. In early 2012, Chop expanded to a second location in the back of the LEEDS-certified Hub building in Northeast Portland in order to open a USDA-certified curing facility, enabling the intrepid butchers to expand their repertoire with a range of thick, chewy salami links, pickles, and cured meats.
Ruby Jewel Scoop Shop
Ruby Jewel Scoop Shop creator Lisa Herlinger began her title as queen of Portland’s indie ice cream scene at the Portland Farmers Market in 2004, where local fruits and herbs served as inspiration for her all-natural, grown-up ice cream sandwiches with quirky flavors like cinnamon chocolate espresso, honey lavender, and fresh mint with dark chocolate cookies. Fast forward eight years and Ruby Jewel now has two brick-and-mortar “scoop shops,” where the local, handmade ethic continues—ice cream is made in small batches with local rBST-free milk from Lockmead Farms, fair-trade vanilla beans from Singing Dog Vanilla, and local/organic mint, coffee, and seasonal fruits. Though flavor comes first at Ruby Jewel, the company is dedicated to the environment too—spoons are made of recyclable wood, cups are compostable, they use wind power to fuel the kitchens, buy carbon offsets to compensate for their shipping, and even the Neapolitan-colored walls are painted with eco-friendly paint made by local paint company Yolo.
Salt, Fire, and Time
Salt, Fire, and Time is a small grocery and kitchen classroom dedicated to all things old world and delicious, so it’s fitting that the operation is set up in a purple Victorian home in Northwest Portland. From this charming spot, owner/instructor Tressa Yellig makes organic, long-simmered prepared foods that nourish the body—think stews, bone broths, organic beef jerky, lemon curd, and even rendered lard from biodynamically raised pigs. The small store also sells Yellig’s line of gut-friendly fermented foods like kvass (a whey-fermented beet beverage), crème fraîche, kim chi, and jugs of flavored kombuchas. In addition to the prepared items, Yellig also sells locally grown ingredients, everything from the hazelnut oil to the organic milk and free-range eggs with yolks the color of the setting sun come from less than 100 miles away. Through classes on hot topics like canning and cooking for cancer patients and gourmet community dinners, SFT is spreading the word about the health benefits of local, organic foods. Event prices are intentionally kept low so that education and good food can be accessible to the whole community.
Steven Smith Teamaker
Set in an industrial building in northwest Portland that was once a blacksmith’s shop, Steven Smith Teamaker isn’t the kind of place where you’d find frilly tea cozies and orange pekoe. Instead, think modern tea served in flights in a spacious room surrounded by Indian antiques. Look through the huge picture window behind the bar and you’re likely to see Steven Smith himself hand-blending and packing premium quality tea for discerning palates. The 35-year veteran of the tea trade had a hand in starting both Stash Tea Company and Tazo Tea (bought by Starbucks in 1999). With his third tea venture, Smith uses his connections with the world’s top tea and botanical producers, including Oregon mint farmers to make world-class tea blends that are sold at gourmet shops like William-Sonoma.
Smith uses whole leaves (as opposed to the sawdust-like flushings normally used in mass-produced tea bags) and fresh botanicals in his blends and packages them in large silken sachets to allow the leaves to expand and better infuse each cup. Smith is so obsessed with quality, each box of tea includes a batch number so you can look up the provenance of your cup on their website—from the person who blended the tea to a map of exactly where the ingredients were grown, total transparency is at your fingertips. A new line of bottled ice teas include blends with local marionberries, pears, apples, and even bamboo leaves from the shop’s back garden for beverages so complex and refreshing, you’ll rue the day you ever heard the name Snapple.
Sweetpea Baking Company
Anchoring the corner of Portland’s “vegan strip mall,” Sweetpea Baking Company has been offering up vegan pastries and lunch fare since 2008. Owner Lisa Higgins’ cupcakes topped with creamy buttercream, silky-flavored cheesecakes, cookies, bars, and muffins are so good, even non-vegans swear by them. What’s more impressive is Higgins’ dedication to sourcing local ingredients—flour is from Shepherd’s Grain (a Food Alliance-certified sustainable farming collective in eastern Washington), other baking ingredients come from Bob’s Red Mill (see this list), local Glory Bee foods, and a small organic vegan sugar company.
The bakery cases tend to focus on the seasons, so you’re likely to see local organic marionberries in the scones in the summer, organic apples from Hood River in the donuts in the fall, and local hazelnuts in the muffins in winter. Soy milk and tofu come from OTA tofu, just a few blocks away. Sweetpea composts about 80 percent of their waste, they use compostable packaging, and they serve fair-trade coffee from Stumptown Coffee, roasted in the neighborhood. From stunningly moist “cookies n cream” cupcakes to mighty marionberry cheesecake, this little bakery is a mighty force in Portland’s vibrant café culture.
Small-batch coffee roasters are a dime a dozen in coffee-crazy Portland, but coffee and bike aficionado Charles Wicker has set his Trailhead Coffee apart in a number of ways. First, all of the micro-roaster’s wholesale deliveries are made in a locally made cargo bike. You’ll frequently see Wicker at the helm of his “bicycle café,” offering free coffee at bike-friendly events, including the monthly “Shift to Bicycles” days, where coffee and breakfast are offered to encourage people to commute by bike. As for the coffee itself, Trailhead purchases most of their beans from Café Femenino, a social program that helps support women who grow organic coffee. Wicker pays higher than fair-trade prices for the carefully chosen beans and donates a percentage of profits to the company’s grant program to help rural women and their families in specific projects such as building safe water treatment plants in Peru. The “do the right thing” philosophy carries over to their brick and mortar operation, Accidental Café. The tiny café, also home to their carbon-neutral roastery, charges on an anonymous “pay as you like” scale and hosts single-origin coffee tastings.
Walk into Woodsman Market, an offshoot of Stumptown coffee owner Duane Sorenson’s buzzy Woodsman Tavern next door, and you’ll feel as if you’ve walked back in time to a tiny neighborhood grocery your great grandmother might have frequented. The old-school meat counter features local free-range cuts butchered nose-to-tail style in the back kitchen, including nitrate-free Irish bacon, sinfully rich pork rillettes, corned beef, sausages, and wares from the best local salumists. The adjacent wooden counter is stacked high with house-baked brown butter almond tarts, cookies, and almond scones (set next to jars of house-made marmalade, natch). Take a quarter turn in this micro-market and the feast continues with a cooler filled with select local produce, organic milk, eggs, butter, and artisan specialty items like hand-chopped kim chi and homespun desserts like chocolate pudding and creamy rice pudding sold in returnable glass canning jars. Non-cooks can cheat and pick up seasonal vegetable and grain salads, scratch soups, and hearty sandwiches, prepared by Woodsman Tavern chef Jason Barwikowski.