Portland Saturday Market Food Court--Portland, Oregon

a Rogue beer and a Polish hotdog from the Taste of Poland in the food court at Portland Saturday Market, Portland, Oregon
a Rogue beer and a Polish hotdog from the Taste of Poland in the food court at Portland Saturday Market, Portland, Oregon

While we were out visiting my family in Portland, Oregon back in October, there were two destinations in the city that we knew we couldn't miss. One was Powell's City of Books, the largest independent bookstore in the country, housing new and used books in a several-story building that takes up an entire city block. A trip to Portland is never complete without spending the better part of a day browsing the shelves at Powell's and stocking up on some hard-to-find reading material to last us through the year. The second destination was Portland Saturday Market.

From March through December, every Saturday and Sunday the Old Town / Chinatown neighborhood of Downtown Portland is transformed into a huge arts and crafts open-air marketplace where local artists sell handcrafted items and art. Aisle upon isle of booths spread out under the Burnside Bridge and through the adjoining park. There you can find everything from photography, handspun yards and woven textiles, fine art watercolor and oil paintings, homemade soaps and bath products, handmade clothing, hand poured candles, stained glass art, jewelry, fine crafted musical instruments and much, much more. Two stages feature local musicians and performers throughout the market hours, and other performers roam about the market. (My favorite is the piano man who pushes his upright piano around downtown Portland--when he gets the spot under the bridge the acoustics are fantastic!)

You're probably wondering what all of this has to do with food. Oh, the food! Portland Saturday Market has two large food courts where local vendors sell food from a huge variety of nationalities. Above, you can see a picture of a Polish hotdog that my husband enjoyed from the Taste of Poland tent in the main food court. Their perogis are also wonderfully addictive (but if you're a vegetarian, make sure you ask them to hold the bacon toping!).

There are several other diverse food offerings as well. I have long loved the simple but delicious vegetarian Himalayan cuisine from Kathmandu Café (their lentil dishes are very good and hearty). My first taste of pad Thai and Thai iced tea came from Tim's Thai food, and I have since been a life-long addict. Jalisco's Natural Foods is a wonderful haven for a health-conscious vegetarian like me, and their burritos, fruit salads, and smoothies are delicious. Horn of Africa has provided me with a few new food experiences as well; I love their small fried veggie appetizers. My husband appreciated the Creole flavors at My Brothers BBQ, and the falafels at Beirut Café are always good. (Can you tell we've been to Saturday Market every single time we visit Portland?)

For those who want something a little less exotic, there are of course some more mainstream American options. Grilled burgers, pizza by the slice, hotdog stands, and traditional fair foods like elephant ears and funnel cakes can all be found with ease. There are a few different bakery goods stands. And we both warmed up half-way through our visit with a coffee from Cloud Cap Espresso.

If you are planning a visit to Portland, Oregon, make sure you spend some time at Saturday Market and be awed by the art. While you're there, enjoy the food!

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