City hitlist: Portland

It's tempting to lampoon the quirks, but Oregon's City of Roses keeps it weird in all the right ways.

By Matthew Hirsch
Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall

Where to stay

The Benson
Coffered ceilings, crystal chandeliers, sweeping staircases, stately wooden panelling and live jazz in the lobby bar might seem like ancient relics in a city that thrives as a hipster hotbed. But it's exactly those details, along with seasoned staff and a prime downtown location, that make the Benson, the grande dame of Portland hotels, such a standout.
309 SW Broadway,
The Benson.

What to see

Portland Japanese Garden
Hidden in the hills of Washington Park beneath towering Douglas fir trees, this garden showcases eight different designs and is considered to be the most authentic of its kind outside the Land of the Rising Sun. (And be sure to stop and smell nearly 650 rose varieties at the International Rose Test Garden, just a short stroll away.)
611 SW Kingston Ave,
Portland Saturday Market
Tap into the city's distinct food-cart culture and undying love for all manner of arts and crafts at the Portland Saturday Market, the largest continuously operated outdoor market in the United States.
2 SW Naito Parkway,
Portland Japanese Garden. Photo: Getty

Where to shop

Beam & Anchor
The standard-bearer for local homewares, accessories and apparel, all gracefully displayed in a converted warehouse.
2710 N Interstate Ave,
Powell's City of Books
Home to nearly one-million new, used and out-of-print titles, Powell's City of Books is the world's largest independent bookshop.
1005 W Burnside St,

Where to eat and drink

Go for the pelmeni – tender little treasures stuffed with minced meats, farmer's cheese or sour cherries – and stay for the parade of Slavic flavours that comes together with deft touch and modern sensibility at this convivial eating house. Propaganda posters and tables dressed in oil cloth up the kitsch factor, while retro Russian radio hits provide the perfect soundtrack for sampling the extensive selection of vodkas.
960 SE 11th Ave,
Afuri Ramen + Dumpling
One slurp of the revered Tokyo chain's signature yuzu-infused shio broth makes it clear what all the fuss is about. Pale gold, complex and nuanced, it's nirvana in the form of noodle soup. Don't stop there: almost impossibly succulent kaarage chicken with citrus-bright egg mayonnaise, and delicate vegan kimchi gyoza are also worth stretching the stomach for.
50 SW 3rd Ave,
OK Omens
There's nothing tired about the all-too-familiar "share plates and natural wine" trope at this inventive, playful Eastside newcomer. Airy beignets rolled in honey powder are filled with Tillamook cheddar, beef carpaccio finds favour alongside scorched beetroot and aïoli, and the wittily annotated wine list is seriously considered. Stick around for late-night happy hour, when lights and prices drop way down.
1758 SE Hawthorne Blvd,

Getting there

Airlines including Qantas, Virgin Australia and Hawaiian fly one-stop to Portland from select Australian cities.