The time is finally upon us for the Pacific Northwest’s most gorgable four-day food festival: Feast. Starting tomorrow, September 13, the plates will be piled, the drinks will be flowing and chefs from all over the world fly into Portland to stuff lucky attendee with their award-winning wares. Now in its seventh year, there are still tickets available for some of the events, so if you’ve been sleeping on dinner, it’s time to wake up and get to Portland. Here’s how to tackle the best of the fest.
THE MAIN EVENTS
Feast is centered around five main events, with three at night and two during the day.
Thursday Night — ’80s vs ’90s: Thursday’s theme-tastic night features the throwback-iest party of the weekend. The music will be hipping and hopping, leg-warmers and cropped tops are both highly in style and highly recommended, and chefs will break down some of the classic foods you picked off platters back in the day to reinvent with their cheffy flair. And, magically, tickets are still available.
Don’t Miss: Turkey & the Wolf who won Bon Appetit’s top spot as best restaurant in the country for their New Orleans sandwich spot last year.
Friday + Saturday Day — Grand Tasting: The main daytime events of Feast, Friday and Saturday afternoons see Pioneer Courthouse Square turned into a gourmet gallery of samples from top local artisans and producers. While Saturday is sold out, tickets for Friday are still available.
Friday Night — Night Market: Ring of Fire: Held at Zidell Yards, Night Market changes themes but always brings it with the row upon row of inventive, memorable bites and endless drinks from locals and sponsors alike. While it’s (predictably) sold out, folks wanting a little Pacific Rim flavor can still get tickets for the “Fun Size Event” Big Feast in Little China, featuring chefs from Seattle, Portland, San Francisco and Chicago.
Don’t Miss: Carlo Lamagna who will be showing off in preparation for his forthcoming Portland restaurant, Magna.
Saturday Night — Smoked!: Held outdoors at The Fields and totally sold out, you may be able to snag some tix secondhand if it pours. But don’t let the weather make you miss out on this incredible lineup of chefs cooking meaty goods outdoors for your pleasure.
Don’t Miss: Reem Assil from Reem’s California in Oakland.
Sunday Morning — Brunch Village: Brunch enthusiasts can eat their belt off Sunday morning when brunch becomes a sport.
Don’t Miss: Edouardo Jordan who makes Southern food shine in Seattle
WHAT TO WEAR
It rains here. You have to know, going to the PNW, that rain is often on the menu. Events like Smoked and Night Market are largely outside, so definitely don’t rock suede shoes and think you’ll be fine when it pours. It can get chilly fast, so bring some layers.
Leave your stilettos at home. Sturdy shoes for the gravelly ground of Zidell Yards’ Night Market and the possibly gushy grass of The Fields for Smoked are advised. Rain boots, water-resistant tennis shoes and wedges (if you insist on wearing heels) will keep things fun for hours.
Pack your stretch pants. Say it with us: stretch pants. If you’re ponying up a pretty penny to eat at these big events, you’re not going to want to stop on account of your pants pulling.
Rock the fanny pack. Besides being perfectly appropriate for ’80s vs ’90s, having your hands free is vital when you’re balancing plates. And with crowds aplenty, a bulky bag or backpack is ill-advised. A tote bag for the Grand Tasting may be a good call, since free samples are handed out in bulk.
WHERE TO STAY
Downtown: Being able to take a beat or take a nap between events is how eaters become feasters and amateurs turn pro. The Kimpton Hotel Monaco and Hotel Vintage are in prime locations and bring their charming decors to the plate. The Hotel Lucia, The Duniway, The Porter and Sentinel are also highly recommended.
Eastside: The Hotel Eastlund is lovely and convenient for some of the Fun Size Events and dinners on the Eastside, plus only a short Lyft away from the main events downtown.
1) You can’t eat everything. It’s a tough realization, but if you try, you may not make it through the weekend.
2) Take breaks to explore Portland. Whether this is your first time in town or you’ve been wanting to get into a restaurant for a while, you have a good chance of getting on the list since folks may be occupied otherwise.
3) Bring layers. It gets chilly or may heat up suddenly, so try to plan for your day when you leave.
4) Say hi to the chefs. This is one event where no one sends a proxy and you can get up close and personal with amazing chefs like Nina Compton (Compere Lapin, Top Chef), Brad Farmerie (Saxton + Parole, Public), and Dominique Crenn (Atelier Crenn). Don’t be shy.
5) Listen for after parties. Media, chefs, sponsors, etc are going out after the event to some pretty sweet parties. If you’re invited to be someone’s plus 1, don’t hesitate — they know how to party.