Not to Miss in Portland
A Food & Wine Best New Chef and Top Chef Masters contestant, Jenn Louis is a champion of Pacific Northwest cuisine and one of Oregon’s most beloved chefs. At her restaurants Lincoln and the more casual Sunshine Tavern, Louis strikes the ideal balance between rustic and refined with a less-is-more approach to cooking. Below, Louis shares seven places not to miss in Portland, from jet boat tours to Russian caviar and the best griddled burger.
Willamette Jet Boat Tours leave from OMSI and are a blast. They tour you up and down the river noting all the interesting stuff. I saw a bald eagle and a 10-foot sturgeon being caught by a fisherman. If the first rows are not available, wait for the next boat!
1945 SE Water Ave., Portland, OR; 503-231-1532; willamettejet.com
One of the country’s largest urban parks, Forest Park has eight miles of walking trails.
Portland, OR; 503.223.5449; forestparkconservancy.org
Powell’s Books is the largest bookstore in the country! The main location is more than a city block and houses more books than anyone could know what to do with!
1005 W Burnside St., Portland, OR; 503.228.4651; powells.com
Kachka is a newish Russian restaurant with lots of soul. From blintzes and caviar to beef stroganoff and cabbage rolls, everything on the menu is exciting to me.
720 SE Grand Ave, Portland, OR; 503.235.0059; kachkapdx.com
Super modern ramen in a whimsical environment. The broth is rich and complex and the noodles have the perfect ramen texture.
1025 SW Stark St., Portland, OR; 503.894.8260; boxerramen.com
You’ll find Portland’s best Tex Mex at La Taq. All of the usual from a Texan himself: great tacos of all kinds (beef heart to grilled chicken), the best chips and salsa, and queso that will melt your heart.
1625 NE Killingsworth St, Portland, OR; 971.888.5687; facebook.com/pages/La-Taq
Helvetia Tavern is on the way to the coast, about 20 minutes west of Portland, in an old roadhouse on a country road. This is my favorite burger (next to Sunshine Tavern’s): griddled patty, sesame bun (nice and soft), cheese and iceberg.
10275 NW. Helvetia Rd., Hillsboro, OR; 503.647.5286; helvetiatavern.com
About Jenn Louis
Consistent, simple and purposeful. This is the philosophy and approach that has propelled Chef Jenn Louis to a culinary career spanning nearly two decades. After graduating from Pitzer College in Claremont, CA, Louis traveled throughout Europe and North and South America, even settling in Southern Israel for several months to work on a dairy kibbutz. Upon her return to California, she learned of a job opening from a close friend cooking for an Outward Bound base camp deep in the North Carolina woods. Louis landed the job and after a few short weeks at the camp, she had an epiphany that cooking was her passion and could lead to a successful and fulfilling life-long career – something she had never considered before. Louis followed this dream all the way to the Western Culinary Institute of Portland, and shortly after began working as a line cook at the prominent Portland restaurant, Wildwood.
In 2000, Louis’ entrepreneurial spirit led her to open Culinary Artistry, a full-service catering company, providing everything from valet service to floral arrangements to an array of menu styles. Today, it is considered one of the top event planning companies in Portland.
Eight years later, rooted by the myriad inspirations of their home, Louis and husband David Welch opened their first brick-and-mortar concept, Lincoln Restaurant. Lincoln is a balance between old and new, modern and classic, rustic and refined. Louis’ menu takes its cue from the seasons, harvesting locally-grown Pacific Northwest ingredients and transforming them into sophisticated, yet honest fare. Her mix of fortitude and finesse immediately made Lincoln a standout in the Portland restaurant scene. Just a few short months after opening, the restaurant was recognized as one of Condé Nast Traveler’s “Hot List” of 50 top new restaurants in North America, while Louis was recognized as a semifinalist for the 2010 and 2011 James Beard Foundation’s “Best Chef Northwest.”
The success of Lincoln was overwhelming, but it sparked an idea for her next venture. In the spring of 2011, Louis and Welch launched their second restaurant, Sunshine Tavern, in the Southeast Division district of Portland. Louis and Welch sought to create a haven for both food enthusiasts and beverage connoisseurs, serving up soul-satisfying food, playful cocktails and an impressive selection of craft beers. For this quintessential tavern, Louis created dishes that are comforting and unfussy, while using the highest quality ingredients available – a philosophy she has felt passionate about throughout her culinary career. In 2012, the popularity of Lincoln Restaurant and Sunshine Tavern catapulted Louis’ presence on a national scale and she was named one of Food & Wine’s prestigious Best New Chefs. The following year, Jenn was selected as a cast member of season five of the hit Bravo TV show, “Top Chef Masters.”
When not in the kitchen or planning events, Louis can be found traveling the globe with her husband, teaching cooking classes, playing the drums or spending time with her three cats, White Cat, Orange Cat and Wasco.