Carrie Brownstein's Portland: The Best Places to Eat and the Coolest Things to Do

Who better to trust, honestly?

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Case Study. I prefer to make coffee at home with my AeroPress, but the baristas here will not look down on you for specializing your order.

For Brunch:

Broder Nord. Swedish-inspired dishes, presentational, and rich in flavor.

When You've Got Out-of-Town Visitors: 

The Pearl District is so shiny and new that it looks like it was built out of Legos. It's a very walkable area with tons of restaurants, and it's good for window-shopping.

For Something to Spruce Up Your Home:

Canoe is a highly curated home-goods store with a bent toward Scandinavian design and clean lines with an eye on practicality.

To Browse for Your Next Read: 

Powell's is the biggest independent bookstore in the U.S. It's easy to spend an entire day perusing the aisles in a state of wonder.

To Load Up on Beauty Essentials (And Discover New Ones!):

Aesop. I love their hand lotions and natural deodorants. They are generous with samples and never overwhelm you with sales pitches or heavy scents.

To Get Your Hair Cut: 

Tiger Tiger Salon. Their new North Portland location has large windows, which are great for people-watching while you're sitting in the chair.

Will Leather Goods. It's a fancy souvenir but these bags, some of which are made in Oregon, feature exquisite textures and timeless shapes.

For a Place That Can Only Exist in This City: 

Forest Park. There's nothing else like it. This dense, verdant, and vast park is a continual source of enchantment.

For a Killer Pair of Shoes, New Bag, or Jeans: 

Frances May is really the only boutique in town you can find something by Rachel Comey, ACNE, or Opening Ceremony.

For Takeout: 

Nong's Khao Man Gai. The simplicity of their chicken dishes is close to perfection. Great for warming up in cold weather and light enough for summer.

For a Low-Key Cocktail: 

Angel Face. A sweet and intimate space that features beautiful wallpaper. 

For a Decadent Dinner: 

The Nines. In a city known for its culinary down-home rusticity and authenticity, Chef Gregory Gourdet has created something both delicious and luxurious. Plus, the view of the city is incredible. 

For Comfort Food:

Killer Burger. My go-to style for comfort food is to eat like a kindergartner. A burger and fries definitely satisfies that urge; it doesn't hurt that they put peanut butter and bacon on most of their patties. 

For a Quickie Mani/Pedi:

Lotus Spa. Unfussy, friendly salon that gives great mani/pedis that won't be ruined mere hours later. 

For an Intense Workout:

I like Motionlab PDX for their gyrotonic classics. They are taught by a former Russian ballerina who is not afraid to make things tough on you. 

To Catch an Indie Movie: 

The Hollywood Theater was always known for their art house, indie, and fringe films, but after a recent renovation they now provide a first-rate movie going experience. Their best events rely heavily on audience participation and on novelty. 

To Hear New Music: 

Everyday Music is open until 11 PM every day and I'll often stop in there on my way home to listen to new records and figure out what I should buy. They have a great selection of used vinyl as well. 

To Fall Back in Love with the City: 

Washington Park posits you in a rose garden with a panoramic view of the city and Mt. Hood in the background. It's difficult to think of living anywhere else from this vantage point. 

Insider's Tip to Help Navigate the City: 

Portland has great public transport. Hop on the light rail Max, take the streetcar or rent a bike. The city is a grid and relatively flat; you'll feel like a local while also getting a real sense of the geography. 

To Watch a Glorious Sunset: 

The bluffs in N. Portland overlook the Willamette River. On a sunny evening everything is aglow in a honeyed hue.

Need more Carrie Brownstein in your life? Her memoir, published by Riverhead Books, is out now. Buy it here. You can also follow her on Instagram @carrie_rachel

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(Image credit: Courtesy Riverhead Books)

A version of this article appears in the November issue of Marie Claire, on newsstands now. 

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