Insider Guide: Portland, Oregon
Maylin Chavez, chef and founder of Olympia Oyster Bar, shares what to do and where to eat in her town. “Nothing is cookie-cutter here.”
Sunset’s Insider Guide series highlights seasonal diversions and secret travel tips from local experts. Follow along as we learn where to eat, drink, stay, and shop.
Meet the insider: Maylin Chavez, chef and founder of Olympia Oyster Bar
Baja California flavors meet Pacific Northwest bounty in Maylin Chavez’s seafood-centric cuisine. The Portland chef, who was born and raised in Tijuana, turned her oyster and wine bar into a roving pop-up amid the pandemic, but her next brick-and-mortar is in the works.
“Nothing is cookie-cutter here,” Chavez says. “That’s what makes Portland a really diverse and entertaining city.”
WHERE TO EAT:
You’ll find a “symphony” of seafood flavors at Jacqueline restaurant and oyster bar, plus a natural wine list. The Dungeness crab toast with hollandaise is “delectable.” Chavez also loves Luce, a “quaint” Italian restaurant inside a small corner store, where you can have a “long, lingering lunch” over homemade pastas and Sicilian wine. Outside the city, Sugarpine Drive-In offers over-the-top sundaes in a converted 1920s gas station on the banks of the Sandy River.
WHAT TO DO:
You can “get lost in the forest” at Tryon Creek State Natural Area. Of course, you could also head to the Oregon coast, which Chavez calls her “happy place.” Head up Highway 101 for bivalves at JAndy Oyster Co. in Tillamook, and stop along the way for a short hike.
“If you’re looking for fresh crab, it doesn’t get any better” than Kelly’s Brighton Marina right off Nehalem Bay, where you can hop in the boat to crab yourself! From there, head to The Salmonberry restaurant in Wheeler. End your journey in Astoria, where the Columbia River meets the Pacific Ocean and spirits flow at Blaylock’s Whiskey Bar.
WHERE TO STAY:
In Astoria, the chic yet pet-friendly Bowline Hotel sits right on the river. Back in Portland, The Jupiter hotel has “one of the best places to get cocktails in the city:” its Hey Love bar, bedecked in hanging plants.
WHERE TO DRINK:
A different brewery pops up each month at Function, an event space with a full bar. The 2022 slate includes breweries from Oregon, California, Washington, and more.