When you tell people Portland, Oregon and Paris, France are a lot alike, you’ll probably get a few raised eyebrows. Sure, Portland doesn’t have the centuries-old architecture, major fashion houses, museums or same magical charm as the City of Light – but look past the surface and you’ll quickly realize that this Northwest city and the French capital have a whole lot more in common than you initially thought: French Restaurants.
In fact, Portland is a French Restaurant haven on the West Coast. From artistic and creative residents, to a love of green city spaces, to public transportation, and emphasis on walkable neighborhoods, the two P cities align very closely. Add to that an incredible food scene starring many up-and-coming, creative chefs, an emphasis on local, seasonal products and an abundance of excellent and local wines, and you’ve got a place where you can get a taste of Paris without ever leaving the country.
Next time you are jonesing for that trip to old Par-ee, visit either of these terrific Portland establishments and you’ll experience a little bit of France, right in the heart of the Pacific Northwest.
After living in Paris, I’m a hard sell at most U.S.-based French bakeries, but Saint Honoré is flat-out the best French bakery I have been to outside of France. If you are looking for local, simple ingredients that have been transformed into mini edible masterpieces (all with a French flair), then make sure you stop by this boulangerie in Northwest Portland.
French native and bakery owner Dominique Geulin (who won a Meilleur Ouvrier de France Award for his boulangerie), keeps the menu simple—and very Parisienne.
He serves up simple French fare that’s focused on high-quality ingredients, like fresh salads (with the most perfect French vinaigrette), an amazing prosciutto, arugula and brie sandwich on a baguette, and the best chausson aux pommes (flaky pastry filled with French applesauce) this side of the Atlantic—in a great atmosphere that encourages guests to linger (just like in France). So, get a big café au lait and a fresh-baked boule, and linger awhile.
Location: 2335 NW Thurman, Portland
Another French-run restaurant with traditional French fare, Le Bouchon has a mostly native, French-speaking staff that serves up flavorful, simple dishes in a cozy space. Always on the menu: savory specials including duck or rabbit (ah, French comfort food), as well as other specialty regional dishes. It’s definitely à la francaise without being pretentious (or overly expensive).
Location: 517 NW 14th Avenue, Portland