9.13.16 How to eat your way through Portland OR in 4 days
A couple of years ago, Forrest and I went on a little trip to Portland, Oregon. It was fantastic, but there was one little problem. With only 2 days in town, we weren’t there nearly long enough to even make a dent in the long list of things we wanted to do and places we wanted to eat, drink, and sip coffee at. We knew we needed to go back.
And then, a couple of weeks ago, I turned 30, and while trying to come up with the perfect way to celebrate the occasion, it struck me. Portland. And so last week, Forrest and I left Leo with his grandparents, and made our way back to the City of Roses for another go. This time, we had 4 days. Here’s how we spent them:
We flew into PDX late Saturday night and didn’t do much more than crash at the hotel. But we woke up Sunday morning refreshed, and ready to get out and experience Portland. We stayed at the Ace Hotel (possibly the most Portland Hotel ever?), and it was fantastic. Being away from Leo for a few days meant we were also going to be taking some time to seriously relax on this trip in between all the eating and shopping, and this was just the place to do it.
Our first order of business was to get some brunch, and we opted to go to Tasty N Alder. Have you seen the Brunch Village episode of Portlandia? That was the brunch line at this place. It ended up being cool though, and totally worth it. We got a spot at the bar surprisingly quickly, and proceeded to stuff our faces with Budapest coffee cake, patatas bravas, and hangtown fry, which is basically an omelet made with bacon and fried oysters, and is basically amazing.
We followed brunch with some shopping, stopping at places like Alder and Co., Pendleton (aka the cabin porn store), and of course Powell’s City of Books, where we bought so many books, I was a little concerned we wouldn’t be able to fit them all in our suitcase (don’t worry, I made it work). We celebrated with a rooftop beer flight at 10 Barrel Brewing.
As dinner time approached, we hopped across the river to check out Kachka. Not having eaten nearly enough Russian food in my lifetime thus far, I was really excited to try everything, which is exactly what we did. We went all out with the full Zakuski experience, and ate all of the things - pickled veggies, smoked fish, beef tongue, rye bread, herring under a fur coat (as the menu says, like 7 layer dip, but Russian), caviar, and of course, plenty of vodka.
We capped off the night at Cascade Brewing. I love sour beers, ergo, I love Cascade Brewing, which specializes in sours. The figaro - sour blonde ale aged with figs and lemon - is probably my favorite here, but there are so many good ones! They also make a few non-sour beers - we snagged a grenade (mini-growler) to take back to the hotel with us.
Monday morning, cool and cloudy, seemed like the perfect day for Blue Star Donuts and Stumptown coffee in bed, so that’s exactly what we did. Blue Star had a lot of interesting flavors, but not being able to get them all, we had to settle on just a few. My favorites were the hard cider apple fritter (I’m a sucker for apple fritters) and the passionfruit with cacao nibs (CACAO! Really, how many Portlandia jokes am I allowed to make here?)
After a relaxing morning spent lounging around (how wonderful not to be woken up at 5:30 am!), drinking more coffee (Heart this time) and reading from our mountain of books, we decided to hit up the downtown food cart scene. An entire block of food carts of all kinds means we managed to find some pretty fantastic food here. Things like Jian Bing - a savory chinese crepe filled with all kinds of tasty things like scrambled egg, chile, and black bean paste from Bing Mi, and fried chicken sandwiches with gochujang sauce, pickles, and kimchi slaw from Boke Dokie.
We then headed across the river into Northeast Portland to go to school. By which I mean the Kennedy School, which used to be a (supposedly haunted) elementary school, and is now just a fun place to hang out, complete with several bars, a movie theater, and a brewery, among other things. We explored, grabbed a beer, and then headed to the nearby Salt and Straw for some ice cream. This place has some of the most interesting flavors of ice cream I’ve ever seen, everything from chocolate gooey brownie, to pear and bleu cheese, to bone marrow and smoked cherries (for real!). In the end though, we opted for Oregon honeyed rocky road and almond brittle with salted ganache.
Post ice cream, we walked around the neighborhood, and when we came across the Bollywood Theater, we made the executive decision to stop in for a snack. I’m a sucker for Indian food, and with an Indian street food-themed menu and bollywood movies projected on the back wall, this place was perfect. We snacked happily on masala spiced nuts and dahi papri chaat, and wished we were hungrier as we watched more and more delicious looking food leave the kitchen. After all that, we decided to call it a day, returning to our hotel, our books, and our stash of Cascade Beer.
Tuesday, we decided, was the day we were going to go to Pok Pok. I’d been dreaming about Pok Pok since the last time we were in Portland - that’s how good it is. We lounged away the morning at Dapper and Wise, a coffee shop basically across the street from Pok Pok (we weren’t excited or anything) with all kinds of interesting beverages like coffee sodas. I went sans coffee here in favor of the hoppy soda, which was a sparkling white tea infused with citra hops, honey, and lemon.
And then, it was Pok Pok time. Let me just say this: Spicy Vietnamese Fish Sauce Wings. Get them. Everything else was absolutely amazing as well; we opted for the fried egg salad, sticky rice, and a spicy flank steak salad, but it was so hard to choose! We left incredibly happy and full, and figured that after gorging on Thai food all afternoon, some walking was in order. So we hoofed it over to Base Camp Brewing for an afternoon beer, followed by an afternoon nap back at the Ace.
For our last night in Portland, we decided to finally take advantage of the awesome happy hour situation at Clyde Common (also conveniently located in the hotel). I mean, we obviously had to go. We thoroughly enjoyed ourselves, sipping cocktails at the bar and snacking on things like togarashi honey popcorn and filipino style eggrolls. Then we ventured to the basement bar, the speakeasy-esque Pépé le Moko, for negronis and manhattans. And when we saw they had a grasshopper on the menu, we knew it would be the perfect end to the night. Because ice cream.
Our last morning in Portland was rainy, but we brightened things up with our last stop of the trip - Måurice. Yes, I am totally in love with this place. We sipped tea and nibbled on currant rosemary scones and mini cheesecakes with candied fennel and raspberries. It was kindof a perfect way to end the trip. We had way too much fun, but were seriously missing Leo, who apparently also had way too much fun with his grandparents while we were away. I’d say it was a win-win.
Despite being in town significantly longer than we were last time, we still didn’t make it everywhere I wanted to go. But we definitely had a solid showing. And we had a blast. I guess we’ll have to go back again sometime.