On most days, the landscape of the Pacific Northwest resembles a Hokusai print — all misty skies, gray-blue waves, white-tipped mountains, and deep-green trees. But still, in the popular imagination, the muted palette (and like, all the rain) does nothing to dilute the majesty of the place, which has beckoned adventurers west for centuries and has nurtured communities of native people for eons longer. And maybe that perception is slightly off anyway, because there are, of course, days when the hues brighten — 200-plus sun-drenched ones each year, in fact, when the seas turn to turquoise, the evergreens sparkle, and the cities erupt with life.
And for many people, that life is mostly pretty good. Even as cities like Portland and Seattle grapple with the burden of their own success, there’s a permeating sense of balance — a rabid outdoorsiness and creative spirit to offset the Amazonian tech boom — that keeps young people moving here in droves. Eating well is an equal pleasure, thanks in large part to that aforementioned terrain which gives forth some seriously swanky ingredients considering the region’s crunchy reputation: oysters, wine, and truffles — granola this is not.
But there’s more to the Pacific Northwest — which here includes Washington, Oregon, and ... Idaho (the region’s borders are fluid, but Idaho, particularly Boise, is increasingly in tune with its western neighbors) — than great hiking, third-wave coffee, and fish (though we cannot undersell the fish). As we went about compiling stories for our latest of Eater’s guides to America’s diverse regions, we wanted to revel in some of the deeper cuts. So yes, we have pieces on eating like a champ at Seattle’s iconic Pike Place Market, and the best food carts in Portland, and an ode to a local chowder institution. But we also tell the unexpected backstory of Tacoma’s growing Koreatown, salute the forgotten godfather of Seattle’s signature teriyaki, and hail the unsung eateries behind the ’90s grunge revolution. We tour the famous wineries of Walla Walla, Washington, and crawl through the gems of Portland’s Southeast Asian scene. This is, of course, all in addition to our 19 indispensable maps which pinpoint the utterly essential places to eat and drink in this achingly beautiful hotbed of marionberries, flannel, salmon, and Shakespeare. Pull on your raincoat and dig in.
Who Is Portland For?
Portland proper — not the hipster caricature that’s come to stand in for it — is still one of the most important food cities in America, if you know where to look
The 15 Definitive PNW Foods
An Oral History of Grunge Food
The Best Street Food in Portland
The Tycoon of Teriyaki
Ivar’s the Great
One writer’s devotion to Washington’s iconic chowder chain
Tacoma’s Killer Koreatown
Cheap Eating in Seattle
Where to Eat at Pike Place Market
The greatest bites at the region’s greatest tourist trap
Where to fuel up in America’s dueling coffee capitals
Life Beyond Pok Pok
Wine Tripping in Walla Walla
Where to Eat Across the Pacific Northwest, Mapped
Editorial lead: Lesley Suter
Creative director: Brittany Holloway-Brown
Editors: Lesley Suter, Matt Buchanan, Erin DeJesus, Gabe Guarente, Brooke Jackson-Glidden, Rafe Bartholomew
Contributors: Meghan McCarron, Bruce Pavitt, Tove K. Danovich, Lesley Balla, Gabe Guarente , Brooke Jackson-Glidden, Naomi Tomky, Samantha Bakall, Chandler Baird, Matthew Lombardi, Nick Woo, Susanne Robertson, Scott Wink, Jennifer Burns Bright, Jeffrey Stull, Krista Garcia, Alli Fodor, Kara Stokes, Megan Hill, Kelly Knickerbocker, Dylan Joffe
Photography: Lauren Segal, Charles Peterson, Meghan McCarron, Farley Elliott, Lesley Balla, Suzi Pratt, Samantha Bakall
Illustrations: Carolyn Figel
Fact-checking: Dawn Mobley, Samantha Schuyler
Copy editors: Emma Alpern, Rachel P. Kreiter
Engagement: Adam Moussa, Milly McGuinness
Project manager: Ellie Krupnick
Special thanks to Sonia Chopra, Carolyn Alburger, Patty Diez, Amanda Kludt