Portland: A culture of 20 & 30-something transplants, fair trade coffee, impressive cocktails, sandwiches, bikes and a locavore dining scene. Take a peek at what we got to eat, drink and enjoy in 96 hours while visiting Portland last Memorial Day weekend.
8 a.m. Dylan and I arrived early from our 6am flight from Los Angeles. Tired and groggy, we were greeted with an abundance of sunshine. Welcome to PDX!
8:30 a.m. Finally found the MAX. The Max is all you need to get from PDX airport to the City Center. We took the Red Line towards the City Center/Beaverton to get to our hotel. Cost: $4.75.9:30 a.m. We looked into several hotels, but nothing really caught our eye like Portland's Ace Hotel. Northwestern style and hand painted murals come together at the former Hotel Clyde built in 1912. Having a Stumptown Coffee outpost and Clyde Common adjacent to the lobby was another huge bonus for us.
Checking into The Ace
Checking into The Ace
10:30 am I've heard so much about Stumptown Coffee before arriving so it was a magical moment walking into the Ace and smelling what was going to be my favorite cup of coffee. We sat around the lobby checking out the local Portland Mercury (equivalent to our LA Weekly) as we enjoyed our lattes.
This Is Not Ikea
11:00am After checking in and freshening up, we hopped on the free bus line and headed over to Broder for a delightful Scandinavian brunch. Come for the food, enjoy the design. I love a color palette consisting of yellows and teals, add a Scandinavian touch and I go crazy.
Egg scramble with smoked trout.
My first moment with Æbleskivers! I'm in love.
A side of potato pancakes please.
Cocktails at Noon
12 p.m. After stumbling back from our amazing brunch at Broder, Dylan and I were ready for a nap. But while walking by Clyde Common, we couldn't resist a post-brunch cocktail hour.
Portland has a great cocktail scene. Vintage cocktails, fresh local fruits to juice, and a love for small batch spirits has definitely put Portland on the cocktail map.
Visiting The BEAST
6 p.m. You cannot visit Portland without visiting Beast. Naomi Pomeroy, Food & Wine's Best New Chef 2009, brings together all that is Portland at her restaurant Beast. Her appreciation for meat, inspiration from French Grandmothers and love for rock-and-roll music is simply seen and appreciated in her humble cooking.
Beast is a small restaurant in NE Portland with only about 20 seats at two or three community tables. Seatings are at 6pm and 8:45pm. Arrive, make friends, order wine and enjoy watching Pomeroy and her sous-chef Mika Paredes grace through their open kitchen as they plate your six-course prix-fixe experience.
Six-course tasting menu ($60)
1) Chilled Fresh Shelled English Pea Soup
2) Spring Greens with Sauvignon Blanc Vinaigrette and Shaved Sheep's Milk Cheese
3) Shaved Fennel Salad & Charcuterie Plate
4) Rabbit Saddles Stuffed with Brioche & Spring Vegetables and White Wine Braised Leeks with Prosecco Butter
5) Selection of Steve's Cheese, Anise & Fleur de Sel Shortbread Fruit & Hazelnuts
6) Brown Sugar & Cream Cheese Custard.
Our favorite was Pomeroy's Charcuterie plate. So many little bites of delicious goodness.
Most Bike Friendly City in America
9 a.m. After a full day of eating and waking up with a complete calorie hangover, Dylan and I decided we need to get off our fat butts and work for our food. We ended up renting bikes for the next few days since Portland has an amazing (amazing = best bike city in the US) bike network that can connect you to every corner of the city.
PSU Farmers Market
10 a.m. If you love Farmers Markets, you'll go crazy at the PSU Farmers Market. Don't forget to wait in a long line for Pine State Biscuits!
Fell in love with this egg farmer. I love men in suspenders.
Welcome to the Kingdom of Brine. Picklopolis!
Pine State Biscuit's Reggie Deluxe: Fried chicken, topped with cheese, bacon, fried egg and country gravy. It was worth the calories.
12 p.m. Even though we just inhaled Pine State's Reggie Deluxe, it was high noon and we needed to eat a proper lunch. Hello Bunk Sandwiches! They are only open from 8am-3pm, so get there early before the good stuff runs out. We were dying to try their pork belly banh mi, but they were sold out. Sniff.
Dylan's pulled-pork sandwich and Picklopolis pickle.
My PBLT (pork belly, lettuce, and tomato) sandwich. I loved my simple sandwich.
2 p.m. If you've followed our travel posts, you might know that one of our traveling traditions is to get a haircut in every city or country we visit. Why? Because it's fun putting your hair on the line for the sake of a laugh. Dylan and I usually get it after several drinks, but this time we were completely sober and had a couple of hours to kill before meeting up with our friends.
I needed a quick trim on my bangs, so we stopped by Rudy's Barbershop in SE Portland. The woman cutting my hair was actually a recent transplant from Silver Lake. I was a little bummed, I wanted a Portland chop. Oh well. She messed up my bangs anyways. So far I haven't had a decent haircut abroad. My stylist hates when I do this. Note: Getting a haircut abroad is a lot more fun when you're buzzed because you won't notice the disaster until the next morning.
Snacks at Pok Pok
5 p.m. Pok Pok is more or less a big bbq party at someone house, actually, Chef Andy Ricker's house. That is how Pok Pok came about. Chef Ricker used to sell take-out Kai Yaang (roasted natural game hen rubbed with lemongrass, garlic, pepper and cilantro) out of his house. People came and crowds grew. He ended up opening up his entire home to cook. It's the house party that wouldn't stop growing. Welcome to Pok Pok!
7 p.m. You're probably wondering how in the hell did Dylan and I find all these great Portland finds. We really have to thank our food friends Kevin of Guilty Carnivore, Ron aka SauceSupreme for you old school Chowhound folks, and their friend Matthew B. We must have sent over 30 emails back and forth before getting to Portland. These guys are truly great men of food.
We met everyone for dinner at Tanuki, a small izakaya in Portland's Nob Hill neighborhood.
Tanuki serves up some homey and creative izakaya dishes that reminds me of izakayas I frequented in Japan. Izakayas are the birthplaces of "what the hell is that" kind of dishes that seem to work out perfectly.
Kelley Swensen at Ten 01
10 p.m. After drinking tons of sake, our friends and I were ready to move on. It was time to get serious. It was cocktail time. We all headed over to Ten 01 for cocktails by Kelley Swensen, one of Portland best bartenders.
We enjoyed staring at his unique stock of spirits while sipping on seasonal cocktails.
One Last Round at Clyde Common
12 a.m. Ended our night with some beers and late-night conversation before heading up to bed. Thank God Clyde Common was downstairs from our room.
9 a.m. Dylan and I woke up surprised we were still alive after putting our bodies through some major calorie shock in the past two days. Our friend Ron ended up picking us up to showcase HA&VL, one of his favorite Vietnamese restaurants in Portland. HA&VL has daily specials and Sundays are supposed to be their best. This is truly what we needed after two days of eating.
Pho Ga (chicken pho) and Bun Thang (rice noodles with shredded egg and free-range chicken).
11 a.m. The Stumptown Annex is wine tasting meets coffee lab. Cuppings are held daily at 11am and 3pm for free. Evaluate your senses in order understand the balance, body, and acidity of a coffee bean. Please slurp. Like ramen, when you slurp you allow air in (scent) to mingle as you taste. It sounds super geeky, and it is, but it's definitely an experience. Enjoy the caffeine overload.
Eat at EAT an Oyster Bar
2 p.m. My husband loves oysters. We eat them every week almost. If he can switch his career, he'd become an oyster farmer. He'd probably start smelling like the sea. I really hope he doesn't become an oyster farmer.
Eat An Oyster Bar is all Dylan. I can eat a handful while my husband will devour dozens.
Beers, vintage cocktails, oysters, fried okra.
Secret Society Lounge
5 p.m. If you have dinner plans at Toro Bravo (see below) and need some time to kill because they don't take reservations during the weekend, put your name on the list and head over to Secret Society Lounge for vintage cocktails.
Alhough it's not a secret anymore, The Secret Society Lounge is small and quaint. Sit up at the bar and enjoy any of their vintage cocktails.
7 p.m. Dylan and I unanimously decided to have have light dinner. Both of our stomachs were screaming "STOP EATING" by day 3 of our trip. We were basically fois gras'ing ourselves into misery.
We loved everything at Toro Bravo, but I think we started losing interest in food. We had a hard time finishing everything. How completely depressing.
Kenny & Zukes
9 a.m. After Toro Bravo, we got a lot of rest and were ready for our last day in Portland. We decided to eat breakfast at Kenny & Zukes since Kenny & Zukes was downstairs from the Ace (another perk staying at the Ace.)
Shared some bialy's with a Corned Beef Hash and 2 Eggs plate with Dylan. Perfect portions for overeating travelers.
CITY OF BOOKS
10 a.m. I was bummed we only spent a hour or so at Powell's Books. It's seriously the best book store I've ever been to in my life. We found some amazing vintage cookbooks inlcuding a 1978 Hong Kong & China Gas Cookbook and a 1947 Trader Vic's Bartender's Guide. Sick.
11 a.m. Dylan and I were heading out to the Columbia River Gorge, so we decided to pick up some deli goods over at Pastaworks in SE Portland. Pastaworks is a cute little European deli and market carrying some amazing meats, cheeses and all things edible. They also make all their pastas which you can try at their adjacent eating space, EVOE.
Lunchtime at the Falls
12 p.m. Dylan and I rented a car and headed out to check out the Columbia River Gorge and waterfalls. Too bad everyone else visiting Portland went the same day too. Instead of fighting crowds to look at falling water, Dylan and I found a bench and enjoyed our leftover Bialy's from Kenny & Zukes, and mortadella, sopressata, cheeses and deli goods from Pastaworks.
2 p.m. On the way back to the city, Dylan and I stopped over at Edgefield for a couple of cocktails. We were blown away at the size of their property. 74 acres! It really was an amusement park for kid-like adults. Golfing, winery, distillery, spa, movies...all without looking like a cheesy Dave & Busters. The McMenamin chain does a really great job restoring old buildings and creating really cool hotels.
Edgefield was once the Multnomah Country Poor Farm which housed incoming farmers arriving to Portland back in the 1800's. So it's not surprising that parts of Edgefield seem creepy, like super haunted creepy.
4 p.m. Ever imagine how cool it would be to drink alcohol at school. Well welcome to The Kennedy School. We had just enough time to visit the Kennedy School before our flight back to Los Angeles. Like Edgefield, the Kennedy School is part of the McMenamins chain. The Kennedy School was once an old, abandoned school that has been converted to one of the coolest looking hotel spaces we've seen.
Spent our last hours in Portland in the Detention Room drinking some fine vintage cocktails before heading home.
We'll be back up in Portland this Memorial Day Weekend (we're making this an annual thing). We're definitely stopping by our favorite spots and hoping to hit up a new selection of bars and restaurants along the way.
If you haven't been to Portland yet, Dylan and I highly recommend heading over RIGHT NOW. It's a beautiful city with an open-minded and environmentally-responsible community serving up some of the tastiest experiences in the US.
Special thanks to our Portland friends Kevin, Ron and Matthew! Thank you for all the insight and tips! Can't wait for Round 2.