Monday, October 19, 2015

Portland | Oregon

We were in Portland for the first two nights and first full day of our Oregon trip. For me, a perfect weekend in the City of Roses ended up going a little something like this....
  We arrived from Boston at 8:30 on a Friday evening and after settling into our hotel at SW Clay and 6th Street, walked fifteen minutes to Little Bird BistroI hadn't made a reservation but knew they served food until midnight and so we were in no rush. The hostess was able to seat us within 10 minutes. Our meal was wonderful. Their take on classic french is comforting and innovative.

What we ate + drank: Marrow Bones ($19) roasted garlic, char broiled squash, lentil hummus, toast /  Merci Merci ($10) Pampelaire, Aviation Gin, Aperol, Dolin Blanc /  Manhattan Noveau ($10) bourbon, bordeaux wine, benedictine / Fried Chicken "Coq au Vin" ($25) pommes raclette, bacon glazed mushrooms, rosemary-balsamic juice / Green Beans ($10) roasted cherries, foie gras vinaigrette.
Little Bird Bistro Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato  

Our Saturday morning began at Blue Star Donuts. These glamorous photo-shoot-ready brioche treats were no match for my old iphone. Still I am reminiscing, practically drooling over the flavors we had: passion fruit cocoa nib, blueberry basil bourbon (Bulleit!), hazelnut dulche de leche; and the ones I wish we did: marionberry jam with peanut butter powder, hard apple cider fritter. We washed down breakfast with a Stumptown cold brew coffee.
We seemed to have timed this visit perfectly - we arrived to the pristine kept, light filled space and waited in line no more than 5 minutes. By the time we left the place was a mob scene!! And my #donut selfie? A must after laughing at their blackboard.
We leisurely perused Powell's City of Books and strolled around Pioneer Courthouse Square and the city center; the gorgeous weather adding to my affections. 

We debated taking an Uber to lunch, but I am always interested in a cities public transportation system, turns out Portland's is great. Between the bus lines and the max light rail the TriMet was a breeze.  We caught the #4 bus at Salmon and 5th which took us over the Hawthorne Bridge to SE Division and 32nd for lunch at Pok Pok

I read all about Portlander's braving two-hour waits, the famed spicy papaya salad and Vietnamese fish sauce wings and about Chef Andy Ricker opening outposts in NYC and LA.  I watched him chauffeuring Anthony Bourdain around Thailand on Parts Unknown. ALL THE HYPE.

I can't tell you if Pok Pok was worth the wait, because we didn't have one. (Afterwards, we walked out to a huge crowd on the street. We looked at each other all - are we really that good?! Missing all the lines?!) What I can tell you is that I loved it here at this Thailand street style inspired bungalow shack. If you are in Portland, you should go. 

What we ate + drankPapaya Pok Pok ($9) central Thai style spicy green papaya salad with tomatoes, long beans, thai chili, lime juice, tamarind fish sauce, garlic, palm sugar, dried shrimp, peanuts / Sticky Rice ($3) / Heat Ray ($10) tequila, som celery drinking vinegar, fresh lime, Thai chili / Muu Paa Kham Waan ($15.50) boar collar meat rubbed with garlic, coriander root and black pepper, glazed with soy and sugar, grilled over charcoal, served with a spicy chili lime garlic sauce and cooling mustard greens. 
Pok Pok Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

After Pok Pok we crossed the street to Salt & Straw. Again, lots of hype about this spot, starting with the rating as one of Food Networks top 5 ice creams in the US. And again, we somehow avoided the long line as a crowd showed up directly after us. That's three times now at popular spots!! The ice cream itself is something to write home about; perfectly smooth and creamy with creative flavors using local ingredients. I wasn't that into my Pear & Blue Cheese, though. The Bartlett pear was tooth achingly sweet and I hardly got any crumbles of the pungent blue cheese, which certainly would have added some balance. 
I was infatuated with Bob's pick - the Freckled Woodblock Chocolate. Woodblock is the first bean-to-bar chocolate maker in Portland, roasting cocoa beans in a 19th century-old fire roaster. Then they add harvested Jacobson sea salt from the Oregon coast and use an old-school ice cream making technique called “freckling” to suspend the chocolate in an untempered state. The sea salt really made this flavor stand out. 

We walked with our ice cream in the warm sunshine about half way down SE Division Street, eventually deciding to hop back on the #4 bus a few stops. It was time to get our brewery crawl on! From small batch handcrafted beers that started as garage experiments, to the emerging style of barrel aged sours, to European style brews with a focus on Northwest grown ingredients, these beers and their tasting rooms are so incredibly unique and thoughtful. Enjoy a photo montage of our afternoon, and look for the complete list below.

I won't get into specifics of all the beers we drank (though I really could recount each and every one with some effort, these beers are that good!) I will mention our bar snacks at Hair of the Dog - which were excellent and much needed at that point in the day. Pork Toast ($5.25) / tender bits of pig, warmed on grilled bread, Pickled Vegetable Sampler ($4.50). I had never had pickled broccoli or brussels - loved them.

Around dusk we headed for the hotel which was a solid half hour walk. Our 9:15 pm dinner reservations allowed us time to meander back, relax and freshen up. We then hopped the TriMet over to The Pearl District to Irving Street Kitchen. The large rustic-urban space enveloping us in a warm glow, we settled on glasses of wine and main courses each. I am still thinking about this meal. Dreaming, lusting, swooning. It was fantastic.
What I ateBeet & Ricotta Cavatelli ($19) / black truffle Stracchino, Ras El Hanout breadcrumb, roasted carrot
Irving Street Kitchen Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato 

After Irving Street, we wandered the neighborhood taking in the abundance of trendy bars and shops. We settled on watching football games at local haunt Life of Riley Tavern and closed out the evening at Deschutes Brewery. We've come full circle! The next morning we cheered on the half and full marathon runners near the finish line. We had no idea there was a marathon going on until we arrived, so that was fun!

We also spent a half day and night in Portland on the back end, which worked out well for fitting in a couple of things we didn't have time for on the front. Since I mentioned a lot in this post, but omitted certain things too - here's a handy recap. A quintessential guide to Portland for beginners if you will: books, beers, donuts, roses

[My Portland top 5]

 5) Northeast Alberta Arts District. Inevitably you will find yourself downtown and in the Pearl District. And hopefully in SE Portland. Northeast has a flare all its own. Funky graffiti artwork on walls and benches, hip coffee shops and art galleries and bars. We got a cappuccino at Just Bob, walked around for a bit, then got cocktails at the trendy but low key hangout The Knock Back.  

4) Powell's City of Books / 1005 W Burnside St. You just don't see bookstores like this anymore. Powell's is inspiring. I could have spent all day perusing the shelves. 

3) The Rose Garden / 850 SW Rose Garden Way. Do your best to get here. We skipped it initially but I was so glad we went on our last day. Portland is the city of Roses, after all!

2) The Food. I know - when do you go on vacation and not expect to eat well? Regardless, all the research/proof you could ever need is in that link. It can be extremely overwhelming, just take your pick and you are sure to come out on top. I debated a lot but in the end, was really happy with everywhere we choose! 
BreakfastBlue Star Donuts / 3459 SE Hawthorne Blvd,  Bunk Sandwiches / 211 SW 6th Ave.  
LunchPok Pok / 3226 SE Division St. 
DinnerLittle Bird Bistro / 215 SW 6TH Ave, Irving Street Kitchen / 701 NW 13th Ave - Pearl District, Departure / 525 SW Morrison Street. 
SweetsSalt n Straw / 3345 SE Division Street, Voodoo Doughnuts / (Had to mention! The line was always too long, otherwise I would have tried them.) 
CocktailsJackknife / 11th & Alder. 

1A brewery crawl in Southeast Portland. There is an abundance of unique microbreweries within walking distance in this residential meets industrial neighborhood. Tasting barrel aged sour beers on the sun drenched Cascade patio was a favorite trip moment. All of the breweries are listed in order of our crawl. Deschutes is actually over in the Pearl District- we ended up there at last call.

Baerlic Brewing / Hosford-Abernathy neighborhood / 2235 SE 11th Ave

Cascade Barrel House / handcrafted sour beers / 939 SE Belmont St.

The Commons Brewery / traditional European beers w local ingredients / 630 SE Belmont St. 

Hair of the Dog / small batch bottle conditioned beers / 61 SE Yamhill St

Deschutes Brewery / award winning, distinctly Northwest craft beer / 210 NW 11th Ave.

Thank you for sticking with me on this adventure. I know these last couple posts have been much longer than usual. The Columbia River Gorge is up next! 


  1. I reallyyy need to plan a trip to Portland!! If only for those Voodoo doughnuts :) And beer!!


  2. No one would eat marrow bones with me... I should have gone with you! Looks like you enjoyed the area as much as we did!

  3. I NEED to get myself to Pok Pok! And Salt & Straw...and Blue Star. Both have locations right around the corner from us. Looks like you definitely took advantage of your time here - so fun!!

  4. I'm DYING to visit Portland-- I think my husband would move there in a second if I agreed! Sounds like such a fun city, and I am 100% drooling just reading those doughnut flavors.

  5. Portland has been on my list forever! So cool to see all the spots you explored.

  6. All the rose photos were lovely! You know me and flowers. The Beach Comah tank is classic. Portland looks like fun!