Once upon a time, airports like Portland International Airport were merely gateways to somewhere else, a place to spend the least amount of time possible—zombie lobbies filled with fast food and junk trinkets, barren of good eats. No longer. PDX, in particular, has become a foodie destination, with some of the ‘best of the best’ restaurants setting up shop. Here are some favorites to try before you fly.
Take a local legendary deli, plant it inside PDX, and artisan sandwich aficionados are doing a pre-flight happy dance. Artisan bagels, kosher meats, salty, crunchy pickles—his is one of the finest authentic Jewish delicatessens in the country. Portland is known for sandwiches, and Kenny & Zuke’s got the ball rolling and staked a claim in the sandwich game long before Bunk, Stacked, Lardo and Devil’s Dill were born.
It’s in the name. While mothership spin-off stores seem to be multiplying like rabbits, Flying Elephants is still the same old Portland-based beloved stop for fresh food on the go. Grilled sandwiches, soups and salads are ideal fare to avoid starvation by plane pretzel packs. For those in a hurry, most entrées are neatly packed and ready to breeze through security undercover.
Pre-flight anxiety or just a little thirsty for some of Portland’s finest spirits? House Spirit Distillery‘s Tasting Room is the world’s first airport distillery, serving up craft cocktails just past security (though those security folks could probably use a cocktail, too) at Gate C6. Open daily starting at 5 a.m, you’ll never have to fly out of PDX without a little buzz ever again.
photos courtesy of Port of Portland
Plan ahead before you take flight; Country Cat makes it worth getting to the airport early. This is James Beard award nominated culinary eats taken to new heights. Morning fliers can enjoy a Bloody and some eggs Benny with savory shaved country ham. Afternoon travelers can consume some wicked fried chicken before single filing down the ramp. Located in the north lobby of concourse D/E, just a stones’ throw from that haunting security line, this is worth doing a lap around the concourse for.
For those really early flights requiring an Uber to pull you up curbside at the ripe hour of 4 a.m, Petite Provence has you covered. Scrumptious pastries, salads, scratch-made soups and desserts will fill both the belly and some time as you await your seating area to be called out via overhead speaker.
If you are wiped out from running the concourse, or need a little extra energy to smile at those strangers you’re about to sit elbow-to-elbow with, there isn’t anything a blueberry bourbon basil donut can’t fix. If you haven’t tried a donut from Blue Star, Portland International is a great place to bite into that first taste of a classic brioche donut, made fresh daily, while killing time.
Three words: beer to go. Unfortunately not to open on the plane, but a six pack of some great brew makes a terrific last-minute gift for that friend you are flying to crash with for a few days. Laurelwood Brewing has not one but two locations at Portland International, ready to make your seat mates green with envy over some garlic fries and a burger as they sip on their cup of Sprite. Located in both concourse A & E, you can hit this spot going pretty much anywhere out of the city.