Spark Romance with these 5 Portland Date Night Experiences

Portland is full of amazing date night experiences, which is why we have created a guide featuring 5 uniquely local dates. Each date has 3 different activities all located in the same neighborhood, easily walkable or bikeable. Now, all that’s left is to spark romance and make memories. We dare you to try them all!

For an Old-Soul Rendezvous: A Walk through North Portland

The Lineup:

  • Stem Wine Bar - 3920 N Mississippi Ave
  • Mississippi Records - 5202 N Albina Ave
  • 1905 - 830 N Shaver St

First Stop: Stem Wine Bar

Feeling fearless? Make a reservation at Stem Wine Bar and learn how to safely saber a champagne bottle for $150 per half hour lesson. Talk about the ultimate party trick! While the saber is not included, four artisan truffles certainly are. If wielding a saber isn’t your thing, take your date on an international wine tour instead. Here you can choose from 20 curated wine flights that span across the globe from Lisbon to Provence. Pro Tip: Order the Dealer’s choice and let their knowledgeable sommeliers pick your flight for $12, which includes specialty selections not listed on the menu! Still wondering if romance is in the cards? Book a tarot reading with resident mystic Wei-En. That should clear up any uncertainty before the next activity.

Second Stop: Mississippi Records (1 minute walk from Stem)

Just a few blocks down the road, you and your date can sift through an eclectic assortment of old vinyls at small but mighty Mississippi Records. Look for the motto ‘Love over Gold’ written above the door, a constant reminder from owner Eric Isaacson to guide every decision with passion and love, never money. Widely recognized for its diverse collection of hard-to-find vinyls, this store is a mecca for audiophiles. Don’t be surprised when you stumble across rarities, worldly gems, and great deals on records. Come prepared, this establishment only accepts cash.

Third Stop: 1905 (1 minute walk from Mississippi Records)

After rifling through rows of records, elevate your date night and nosh on some fantastically crispy neo-Neapolitan style pizzas at 1905, appropriately named after the opening year of the first New York pizzeria. Come for the thin-crust and stay for the live jazz shows on the patio! They have even hosted Grammy winners and Pacific Northwest jazz legends. 1905 offers an intimate setting where you can build your own custom pie while you sip on a smokey Manhattan made with Dikel Rye and Averna Amaro. You can even plan ahead to see someone truly amazing with their live performance event calendar.

Saber a Champagne Bottle Tutorial at Stem Wine Bar. Photo via Instagram (@stemwinebarpdx)
Saber a Champagne Bottle Tutorial at Stem Wine Bar. Photo via Instagram (@stemwinebarpdx)

For Self-Care + Junk-Food: A Bike Ride through NE Portland

The Lineup:

  • Knot Springs - 33 NE 3rd Ave Suite 365
  • Cartside - 1825 N Williams Ave
  • Creo Chocolate - 122 NE Broadway

First Stop: Knot Springs

It’s time to silence your phones and turn your out-of-office notifications on. If quality time is your partner’s primary love language, why not spend a couple of hours pampering yourselves at the pristine and ultra relaxing Knot Springs? Weekdays are the most affordable and least-crowded (between 8am-2pm). Grab a pass for only $49, which includes a 90-minute visit and access to their sauna, steam room, hot soaking pools, and cold plunge. Relaxation mode activated, do not disturb.

Second Stop: Cartside (13 minute bike ride from Knot Springs)

Head over to Cartside on bike and devour some Korean street-food at Ko Sister’s. Must-tries are their sinfully satisfying Mozzarella-Filled Korean Corn Dogs. Be prepared for the longest cheese pull experience of your life after biting through the crunchy coating. Be sure to try their Spicy Duk Bok Ki (simmered rice cakes in a gochujang sauce) and the perfectly crisp and savory Kimchi and Pork Mandu. Looking to get boozy? Then, be sure to visit Cartside Taphouse where you’ll find warm reclaimed wood fittings, 25 beers and ciders on draft, plus a full bar for something a bit stiffer.

Third Stop: Creo Chocolate (2 minute bike ride from Cartside)

Calling all sweet tooths! Portland has its very own chocolate factory and we are giving you the golden ticket. After the nourishments from Cartside, head over to Creo Chocolate at 2pm (Tuesday + Friday) for their factory tour and the chance to make your own artesian dark chocolate bar (reservation required). Choose from ingredients like dried raspberries and blueberries, nuts and seeds, crystalized ginger, peppermint, coconut flakes, sprinkles, potato chips, and a variety of spices. Learn about the origins of cocoa beans, how Creo makes their delectable chocolate bars, and taste test several of their offerings. We couldn’t keep our lips sealed about this PDX secret.

Korean Mozzarella Corn Dog from Ko Sisters. Photo via Instagram (@mrs.mftasty)
Korean Mozzarella Corn Dog from Ko Sisters. Photo via Instagram (@mrs.mftasty)

For the Love of Art + Culture: A Bike Ride through Burnside

The Lineup:

  • Soro Soro - 2250 E Burnside St
  • Walking/Biking Mural Tour - Various Locations
  • Pambiche - 2811 N.E. Glisan St

First Stop: Soro Soro

What a better place to start your day, then at the charming Soro Soro. This Korean coffee and dessert shop will melt your heart; cuteness overload! From the baby bear latte art to the smiling calico cat cakes, this shop will fill your soul with warm and fuzzy feelings. Soro-Soro specializes in unique, animal-inspired cakes and inventive, out of the box caffeinated beverages. Our top picks are the visually stunning three layer Strawberry Shortcake (in three hues of pink) with the freshest berries and fluffiest whipped cream. Their most popular dessert is a super airy and light twist on Tiramisu made with green matcha. Pair it with a Banana Latte or try their Snow Affogato which, simply put, is espresso poured over house-spun cotton candy. Don’t forget to get some Instagramable content while you are there.

Second Stop: Portland Mural Tour (12 minute bike ride from Soro Soro)

We have compiled a list of some of our favorite Portland street art murals. With the help of Travel Portland, the Portland Street Art Alliance has created a map for street art installments, which you can download here. They include a walking map of Alberta Arts District, a biking map of the Central Eastside Industrial District, and an all-city map. Walk, bike, or scooter to the Keep Portland Weird mural. From there you can follow our suggestions below or download a map and take your time snapping shots as you go.

  • Keep Portland Weird - 350 E Burnside St
  • Bad Karma Mural - 1875 SE Belmont St
  • Rhino Mural - 1300 SE Morrison St
  • Art Fills the Void - SE 12th and Division St
  • Attitude of Gratitude - 959 S.E. Division St
  • Pambiche Mural - 2811 N.E. Glisan St

Third Stop: Pambiche (0 minute bike ride from your last Mural stop!)

We aren’t in Portland anymore, Toto! Before grabbing a table for lunch at Pambiche, take a minute to admire the 35 by 50 foot vibrant cultural depiction of Cuban life on the East side of the Apambichao building. Once inside, the traditional tunes of Latin American and colorful, eye-catching tropical decor will transport you to Old Havana. The extensive menu features flavor-packed dishes, including vegetarian friendly fare, an extensive cocktail list, and a few Cuban Heritage Rums. Salud! Be sure to try the Cuban hand pies, which are made entirely from scratch. Be advised, they do take up to 15 minutes to prepare. Do not skimp on their delectable house sauces, like the banana ketchup and habanero hot sauce. With outdoor heated seating, this is a restaurant you and your partner can enjoy all year long!

Assorted Cakes and Latte Art from Soro Soro. Photo by Khushbu Shah via Instagram (@khushandoj)
Assorted Cakes and Latte Art from Soro Soro. Photo by Khushbu Shah via Instagram (@khushandoj)

For Plant-Based Passions: A Walk through SE Portland

The Lineup:

  • Herbivore - 1211 SE Stark St
  • Fermentor Kombucha Brewery + Pub - 1403 SE Belmont St
  • Fermentor Workshop - 1407 SE Belmont St
  • Ice Queen - 1223 SE Stark St

First Stop: Herbivore

Planning a date for your plant-based partner? This one’s for you! Start by heading to the Herbivore, a Portland staple and the world’s first vegan mini mall. With a focus on ethical veganism, Herbivore carefully curates a selection of products that support this moral foundation. From clothing to snacks, books to accessories, there is something for everyone here! Want to kick things up a notch? Challenge your partner to an impromptu gift exchange. Both you and your partner must select a surprise gift for the other based on specific themes and parameters. For example, you could agree to choose gifts based on your partner’s favorite color. Set a time limit (15 minutes) and a monetary cap (no more than $20), and ready, set, GO! Swap gifts at dinner and enjoy the conversation that ensues.

Second Stop: Fermenter (6 minute walk from Herbivore)

Need a little funk in your life? After secret shopping at Herbivore, take a quick stroll to Fermenter Kombucha Brew Pub, known for their tasty ‘booch’ ​​and vegan fermented goodies. Their entirely vegan menu features outstanding burgers and sandwiches and a case full of guilt and animal-free cheese and charcuterie selections. Their lentil-millet-tempeh burgers are to die for! Earthy texture and lightly sweet, these burgers are seedy in the best way possible and so, so satisfying. Filling, but not heavy. Try their miso apple glazed burger glazed in a lightly sweet miso apple butter and homemade kraut. And be sure to try their hazelnut cheese! Sip on house made kombucha, ginger beer, or kefir. Just be prepared, vegetables will be slaughtered here, as the sign that hangs in their Fermenter Workshop reads. Pro Tip: Looking for a memorable activity? Reserve a seat and participate in one of their unique workshops. Classes range in dates and subjects – like how to make soy-free tempeh.

Third Stop: Ice Queen (6 minute walk from Fermenter)

I scream, you scream, we all scream for…Plant-based popsicles! Nestled off of SE Stark Street, this popsicle shop is taking Portland by storm, and for good reason. Walk through the front door past the joyful cartoon characters holding their paletas. Then up to the neon pink encased window and choose from several different vegan variations on popular, nostalgic flavors that’ll send you back in time. With fun flavors like Oatchata, their take on the classic horchata, and Partner’s ‘N Cream made with dreamy soy milk and crushed sandwich cookies, every popsicle sounds better than the last. Dare to try the Mangonada with mango, chamoy, and spicy chile! Step aside, ice cream man, because there is a new Ice Queen in town.

Miso Apple Glazed Vegan Burger by Fermenter. Photo by Katie G. via Instagram (@flavormoth)
Miso Apple Glazed Vegan Burger by Fermenter. Photo by Katie G. via Instagram (@flavormoth)

For an Eye-Opening Adventure: A Drive through SW/NW

The Lineup:

  • Van Gogh Immersion - 777 NE Martin Luther King Jr Blvd
  • Lechon - 13 SW Naito Pkwy
  • Bantam Tavern - 922 NW 21st Ave

First Stop: Beyond Van Gogh

Want a truly visually engaging and other-worldly experience? Then we suggest not missing the stunning Van Gogh exhibit at the Oregon Convention Center. We hope more showings are added but for now, the last exhibit experience is on February 12. Take a step inside Van Gogh’s mind (without going mad) and get ready to be fully immersed throughout this spectacle of brilliant colors, energies, dynamics, and textures. During the experience you can view the brilliant artist’s work via the 4 trillion content pixels, which offer an extremely high-resolution experience unlike anything your eyes have seen before. Plan for about an hour to walk through the entire exhibit and remember to bring some dramamine for motion sickness as the images swirl and move around you. Hop in your car and Gogh now!

Second Stop: Lechon (5 minute drive from the Oregon Convention Center)

Time for happy hour! The next stop will seduce you with their stunning ambiance, massive aquariums, and spectacular food options. As you walk into Lechon, off of Naito Parkway, you are immediately welcomed by a 1,000 gallon coral reef tank with bright tropical fish gazing back at you. You can’t miss the breathtaking 300-gallon tank behind the bar filled with magical jellyfish. Jaco Smith, Lechon’s Chef, takes inspiration from South American cuisine and executes each dish flawlessly. Dishes are designed to be enjoyed family-style. Take advantage of their generous happy hour menu that starts at 4pm Monday-Saturday. Imagine the queso of your dreams married with mild piquillo peppers and an unforgettable smoky ancho aioli. Yum! Forged wild mushrooms are accompanied by a farm fresh egg, parmesan cheese, and sweet caramelized onions, all on a perfectly toasted piece of brioche. Be warned, you WILL be craving this place for days. Maybe this will become your date night go-to, permanently.

Third Stop: Bantam Tavern (9 minute drive from Lechon)

Quaint, sincere, down-to-earth Bantam Tavern steals the show for our nightcap pick. With the friendliest service and beautifully crafted cocktails, it is the perfect spot to wrap up the evening. Sit outside by the sultry, crackling fireplace and see if sparks fly between you and your flame. Feeling frisky? Have a jello shot! Bantam adds class to this college drinking pastime with a rotating list of shots that are inspired by classic cocktails and come in real barware (not that infamous plastic cup). Need a late night pick me up to keep the conversation flowing? Order the Coffee Old Fashioned that they carry on tap with smoky rye, See-See espresso, demerara, and bitters. If by chance you are still hungry, opt for the Spam Sliders. You will not be disappointed.

Fireside cocktails at Bantam Tavern. Photo via Instagram (@bantamtavern)
Fireside cocktails at Bantam Tavern. Photo via Instagram (@bantamtavern)

We hope you try these truly epic date night experiences that have made us fall in love with the city we call home! And, if you have found that special someone, we would be honored to cater your wedding! Fill out a Get Started Here Form! Be sure to follow us on social media @sporkbytes for more local insights.

Now, go spark some romance! 

The Spork Bytes Team

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