If you have a sweet tooth, Portland has you covered. From chocolate and ice cream to Russian afternoon tea, here are all the places to find your sugar high.
Photo courtesy of Dina Avila
This temple of chocolate is a must-visit for any chocoholic visiting Portland. Cacao has one of the best curated collections of chocolate in the country.
Portland’s excellent selection of bean-to-bar chocolate makers is well-represented, including Xocolatl de David and Cloudforest, along with an array of rare specialty bars from around the world. If you like coffee, try the Shot in a Shot ($3.50) – equal parts espresso and deep, rich drinking chocolate.
Photo courtesy of Salt & Straw
Salt & Straw
This cult favorite ice cream shop is known for its long lines and friendly staff who encourage guests to sample as many of the avant-garde flavors (Arbequina olive oil, pear and blue cheese) as they like. Now, Salt & Straw has scoop shops in Seattle, San Francisco, Los Angeles, San Diego and Anaheim, but the magic all started in Portland.
Each month brings a new batch of seasonal specials.
Photo courtesy of Carly Diaz
Foie gras profiteroles at Le Pigeon
When you sit at the chef’s counter, a single foie gras profiterole is the final heavenly bite in the tasting menu at Le Pigeon. There’d likely be a revolt if this decadent blend of savory and sweet ever left the menu, and it’s available in a trio ($16) a la carte as well.
Profiteroles are stuffed with foie gras ice cream, then drizzled with housemade caramel sauce and sprinkled with sea salt and foie gras powdered sugar. There’s even foie gras folded into the butter of the pâte à choux dough for the profiterole shells.
Photo courtesy of Evan Sung
Hazelnut torte at Ox
The hazelnut torte ($11) has been on the menu at Ox since day one, inspired by some of husband-and-wife team Greg Denton andGabi Quiñonez Denton’s favorite childhood desserts and candy.
Crunchy, slight bitter honeycomb balances the sweet creaminess of honey-chamomile ice cream. The best part? The hazelnut brown butter torte is gluten-free, made with ground whole roasted Oregon hazelnuts and almond flour.
Photo courtesy of Marielle Dezurick
Potato skin dessert at Castagna
Castagna is Portland’s premier fine dining experience. To conclude the tasting menu ($165), chef Justin Woodward serves a playful but sublime dessert inspired by discarded potato skins. He roasts potato skins with butter, then steeps them in milk overnight for a flavor infusion before spinning the milk into caramelized potato skin ice cream.
Buttermilk ice adds a little tang while meringue pieces on top are the crunchy trompe l’oeil, resembling the skins themselves. A couple drops of BLiS extra old fine solera aged sherry vinegar is the acidic garnish to make everything pop. “It’s thick like a syrup, so we put only a dot of it onto the ice cream,” Woodward says.
Photo courtesy of Alanna @lannadelraujo
Cloud City Ice Cream
Cloud City Ice Cream is off the beaten path in a strip mall in the residential Woodstock neighborhood, but it’s worth the trek to try the more than 30 creative flavors they have on offer at any given time.
They’ll always have eight vegan flavors and seasonal specials like roasted pear cajeta (pictured), along with signature flavors like Better Than Therapy – a fresh lemon curd ice cream base swirled with gluten-free housemade ginger snap cookies.
You’re encouraged to try them all! Owner Bryan Gilbert opened Cloud City as a tribute to his mom and many signature flavors, like bananas foster, are based on her desserts.
Photo courtesy of Carly Diaz
Chocolate chip cookie at Coquine
Chef Katy Millard spent seven years perfecting her chocolate chip cookie recipe for Coquine. A perfect balance of crunchy and chewy, strewn with smoked almonds, salted caramel and hand-chopped Guittard organic dark chocolate chunks.
In 2018, they sold more than 27,000 cookies, which are baked throughout the day so you’re never more than 20 minutes away from fresh cookies. You can also pre-order them by the dozen ($26) for pick-up or to ship nationally.
Photo courtesy of Josh Chang
Banana pudding at Yonder
Chef Maya Lovelace pays homage to her childhood in Eastern North Carolina at Yonder, a casual restaurant devoted to Southern comfort food. For instance, her nostalgic banana pudding ($5) is inspired by the classic treat she’d find on every single restaurant menu and served at every celebration growing up, including at birthdays instead of cake.
“I wanted to offer Portland a slightly dressed-up version of this Southern classic,” Lovelace says. She mixes fresh bananas with Nilla wafers and buttermilk bourbon vanilla bean whipped cream, then sprinkles rum-soaked cacao nibs from Cloudforest chocolate on top.
“It tastes and feels just as comforting as the pudding I grew up loving, but has a little more of my personal flair and flavor.”
Photo courtesy of Headwaters
Russian tea at Headwaters
When chef Vitaly Paley took over as executive chef at The Heathman Hotel, he was tasked with serving weekend afternoon tea ($42) at Headwaters. Paley tweaked the formerly English tea service to add a Russian flair inspired by his own heritage.
Looseleaf tea blends are by Portland’s own Smith Teamaker, accompanied by Russian savory snacks and tea cakes. Offerings change regularly but might include steopka (his grandmother’s sour cream & walnut cake), zapekanka (Russian cheesecake) and medovik (honey cake).
Photo courtesy of Jael Canteras / Urdaneta
Tarta de queso at Urdaneta
At Urdaneta, chef Javier Canteras offers his signature version of tarta de queso ($9), a burnt Basque cheesecake that originated in San Sebastian.
The crustless cheesecake is made with Philadelphia cream cheese with a deeply caramelized top, contrasted with a soft, nearly molten center reminiscent of custard flan. It’s topped simply with housemade fruit compote and Amontillado sherry whipped cream.