Feast Portland is back for its eighth year, and in 2019 the festival is bigger and busier than ever before. The largest celebration of food and drink in the Northwest, Feast features four days of eating and drinking at a slew of different events, from the smaller drink tanks to the massive main events. 2019 is promising an even larger festival, with the daytime main events rebranded as The Big Feast and moved to a much larger venue at the Waterfront — for those who didn’t get it together until now, a number of tickets are still available.
Seasoned veterans have picked up various tips and tricks over the years to help navigate the sometimes-overwhelming, often over-indulgent, festival. Whether it’s your first time or your eighth, read on for a primer.
Leave the car at home
Many of Feast’s events are at areas with little parking. However, basically all of them are right along major Trimet bus and MAX routes. Public transit is a safe, easy, and cheap way to get to and from the festival — especially for those planning to get buzzed — and the Hop Pass app makes it easy to buy tickets and add fare on your smartphone. For those who don’t feel comfortable riding transit for whatever reason, Lyft and Uber offer a variety of Feast discounts. And if you’re someone who can walk long distances, walking to and from events can help you work up an appetite when the idea of another tiny pork belly bite sounds terrible.
Build a Google Map of your events ahead of time
If you have a packed schedule, building an individual Google Map with all the different event addresses will help you figure out the city and how to get from point a to point b — it’s a pain to try to keep track of all the different events and locations on the day of. It’s a good idea to include your hotel or home address, plus the nearby coffee shops to any event: The food coma hits early. If that sounds like too much work, Feast made its own, and Eater PDX made a version with the main events and nearby coffee shops.
Pack a bag
If you’re not someone who carries a purse, definitely keep some sort of bag or backpack on you. Good things to carry with you: a rain jacket, a portable phone charger, a water bottle, sunscreen, hand sanitizer, Tums or Pepto Bismol for the inevitable overeating discomfort, and Advil for the hangover.
It’s a bit of a no-brainer, but Feast is all about putting as much food in your mouth as humanly possible. In order to compete at the pro level, it’s important to come hungry, which means no pre-feast snacking. It’s not essential to skip lunch or anything, but it is important to avoid eating for at least four hours or so before any event. The exception is the drink tanks, where the focus is all on drinking, not food — come too hungry and expect to stumble away.
Get to events early
Lines at events like Smoked and the Night Market can get pretty long. There’s really no avoiding it, and chatting with fellow Feasters in line is just part of the fun; still, getting to an event early helps. It also helps to research who will be there ahead of time to find your favorite chef’s booth before the line gets too big.
Pace the drinking
Over-drinking can be a bigger issue than overeating at Feast. Lines for drinks are often shorter than those for food, and there’s always a plethora of wineries, breweries, bartenders, and liquor brands at every event. It’s easy to overdo, so remember the standard rules about alternating drinks with non-alcoholic ones. Start drinking later in the day, and stop drinking earlier in the evening. This year, Feast has made it even easier to drink responsibly with a greater focus on healthy lifestyles, including sober dinners, kid-friendly events, and non-alcoholic drink options beyond water at every event. And hey, if you’re a sober person needing some support in the midst of the boozy bacchanal, there are organizations like Ben’s Friends along with local AA chapters throughout the Portland area.
Team up with a friend
With the larger main events, divide and conquer. Two people can split up and wait in different lines to find what’s best and what’s not worth the other person waiting in line for as well. Added bonus — there’s rarely room to sit, and the buddy system means an extra pair of hands to hold a plate or cup while diving into a messy dish.
Know when to call it
Remember, this is supposed to be fun. If your stomach hurts and you’re tired and you’re just stuffing your face because you think you should, don’t do that to yourself. Go take a walk around the city, do a touristy thing (Powell’s, anyone?), or just straight-up take a nap. That Brunch Village ticket is a sunk cost, and there’s no reason to make yourself miserable if you overdid it earlier in the weekend.