We have a lot of catching up to do here.
I spent the last 6 months of 2015 traveling around the U.S – mostly for work, with a little fun interjected, so I have a lot of travel stories and pictures to share, so stay tuned for those. Of all the trips, 2015 was definitely Portland’s year for me, the Pacific Northwest in general really – between several trips to Portland and Seattle I spent a little over a month collectively in the PNW in 2015. Practically a second home :)
Since I’d grown to love the place so much, searching for houses on Craigslist kind of love, it was probably a good idea that Scott visited. We went for a long weekend and I was able to share with him some of my favourite spots as well as discover some new ones with him and now I shall share with you :)
To Stay/Eat/Drink: Jupiter Hotel and The Doug Fir
Given Portland’s indie vibe, there’s a surprising lack of boutique hotels. McMenamins generally rules the roost in small and unusual hotels, but a stay at the Crystal Rooms put me off (ten years ago it may have been good, but I’m not the single bed and shared bathroom kinda gal anymore). I’ve stayed at The Jupiter a handful of times now and it’s a great place to call home in the Rose City.
Aside from the cute rooms (resplendent with condoms and chalkboard doors) and ridiculously comfortable beds (seriously they’re my favourite – I’m becoming a hotel bed connoisseur) Jupiter is home to the Doug Fir, an adorable, excessively PNW themed bar that is also home to some of the best breakfasts on the west coast. We quite literally rushed from the airport to grab the biscuits and gravy before the 3pm cut off.
To Drink: The Sandy Hut
The Sandy Hut is a Portland classic that’s been around since 1923. It recently came under new ownership, which can frequently have terrifying results, not so with The Sandy Hut. In fact, the new owners have gone about restoring features that were long hidden, including murals and stained glass features. The drinks are cheap and large and the onion rings, delicious.
To Eat: Tasty N Alder
So Tasty N Alder (the sister restaurant to Tasty and Sons) is the best restaurant I have ever been to. This is not hyperbole.
Albeit I’ve only ever been for brunch, but their brunch is beyond. I dream of their Patatas Bravas (with over easy egg and aioli) and their frittata is drool worthy and that bottom picture, oh, just banana walnut bread french toast….
Oh god. I need to go back to Portland and eat now.
To Do: Burnside Bridge and Portland Saturday Market
I’ve definitely determined that I am an Eastside girl (I mean really it’s not a hard thing to deduce – the harder part is determining whether I’m North East or South East…) that said there are a few things worth heading west for, and heading west is quite a fun little walk. The Burnside Bridge is a super quick jaunt over the river and the best way to see the very Instagram worthy Portland, Oregon sign.
Just over the bridge, along the river, is the Saturday Market, an eclectic market where you can purchase local crafts (yes, things with birds on, amongst other things)
To Eat: Sizzle Pie
Sizzle Pie is proof that NYC does not have the monopoly on the “slice of pie”. With a delicious array of toppings (as well as vegan and gluten free options, it is Portland after all) it’s the perfect fix for a quick bite (or a whole pizza if that’s your jam). There’s several locations, one on Burnside on the east side and one on Burnside on the west side as well as two other locations and locations in Eugene.
Can you tell that eating in Portland is one of my favourite things to do?
To Do: Powell’s Books
If you’re a book shop nerd like Scott and I, Powell’s is basically mecca. With a bazillion books, both used and new, covering possibly every genre, it’s a pretty amazing spot. Be prepared to spend hours and give up some precious weight in your baggage.
To Eat/Drink/Do: The Bye and Bye & The Know
The Bye and Bye is a bar and restaurant in the Northeast of Portland (Alberta Arts District) – the food is all vegan and actually delicious – not always two things that go together. Pictured above are the Chilli Pie and the Spaghetti – both were excellent.
All the art in the bar is by a relatively unknown artist by the name of Juan Casas, he does a lot of work for local bars and the one pictured above in particular really caught me.
Nearby (also on Alberta) but not photographed is The Know – a great dive bar and intimate music venue – perfect if you want to check out what’s happening in the punk and/or metal scene in Portland. We caught Hooded Hags and were rather impressed – check them out here.
To Drink: Rev Nats
Anyone that’s known me for pretty much any amount of time know’s how much I love cider, and cider production in the PNW is pretty prolific. Rev Nats is Portland’s very own cider maker, and whilst it’s no Colorado Cider, it’s a fun experience and they have a great tasting room. I particularly enjoyed the quote on their glasses “Juice is for children, wine is for adults but cider is for the enlightened”
To Eat: Pine State Biscuits
Pine State Biscuits, whichever location you visit, is always likely to have a line, but don’t let that deter you. The line moves fast and the wait is worth it. These are the best biscuits you’ll ever eat. Hands down.
Of the three locations, the one least likely to have a line (at least in my experience) is the Schuyler Street location, which also boasts a Sizzle Pie. So you can get really fat.
To Drink/Do: A Roadside Attraction and Vintage Shopping on Hawthorne
On one of the nights we were out, we drove past (in our trusty Uber) a really great looking bar, I couldn’t see any signage so I quickly whipped out my phone and used Google maps to see what it was. It was called The Roadside Attraction (and evidently it was for me).
So on our last day we went a wandering. First we stopped off in some really great vintage stores on Hawthorne. Lounge Lizard is an amazing spot for furniture (the furniture prices made me ashamed to vintage shop in Los Angeles – so affordable) and Really Good Stuff, well the name is on the can, it’s the kind of vintage spot you can spend hours going through treasures – I was particularly fond of the vintage photos (or as they say – a chance for you to put together a new family album) and I picked up a Super8 camera. Once we’d filled our vintage shopping quota we then made our way to Roadside Attraction.
It’s a great bar, really interesting decor and super cheap drinks, seriously, $1.50 pints of PBR. That’s cheaper than water, my kind of bar.
To Eat: Bollywood Theater and Salt and Straw
Bollywood Theater is a great Indian street food restaurant with two locations (one on NE Alberta and one on SE Division). As a Brit I was skeptical, but was put at ease by the fact the restaurant was filled with Indian families, always a good sign. The food was really good, particularly Vada Pav (a “poor mans burger” a potato and chickpea dumpling/fritter in a bun).
Across the street is one of Portland’s many Salt and Straw’s (we have them in L.A too now!) It’s infamous for it’s line (though the two times I’ve been I’ve had no line – one of which was thanks to visiting in the dead of winter…). Pictured above is their rhubarb pie, which was a seasonal flavor. Pro tip – if there is a line, you can skip it to buy pre packaged pints!
To Drink: Rogue Brewery
The Rogue Brewery in the Pearl District (west side of the river) is a great place to sample a massive variety of Portland’s famous beer. The staff is surly and slow (it’s possible we, or rather they, had a bad day) but the beer is good and the varieties endless – and they allow you to make your own flight, so you can really get to sampling.
To Eat: Slappy Cakes
Slappy Cakes (an Asian import, I believe they started in Japan) is a novel spot for breakfast. Each table comes with it’s own griddle and instead of ordering complete dishes you order batter and toppings.
For me it was perfect, I rarely order pancakes in restaurants since I can’t just eat sweet food – this way I was able to both savoury and sweet and I throughly enjoyed the novelty of the experience. My dining companions (my husband and best friend) did not quite appreciate the novelty of making their own food as I did – but I think ultimately they had fun :)
To Do: The Rose Garden and Forest Park
Every Forest Park experience I’ve had has been different, which is pretty amazing. Forest Park is the largest urban forest in the country and it’s really great. A quick trip on the MAX light rail deposits you under the forest and an elevator brings you up into the park.
There’s a lot of trails and this time we did a combination of a few different ones, ending up at the Rose Garden, appropriate given Portland is the Rose City.
To Eat: Voodoo Doughnut
It would be remiss of me not to mention, what is probably, Portland’s most famous eatery, Voodoo Doughnut. Locals will groan and tell you it’s not worth it, but honestly – it’s worth doing at least once. The donuts are good, the flavours are fun and it’s pretty cheap.
There are two locations, the one west of the river (the original) always has a ridiculous line but the one on the east side (on N.E Davis St) has a pretty fast moving line and is a much better bet. Both locations are cash only.
If you’re looking for a non cliche donut experience (lol) Blue Star is really yummy with some great gourmet flavours and four locations across the city (and they just opened in Los Angeles too!)
Ack. Now I’m homesick for Portland….