When in Portland…

Saturday, May 7, 2011

“Why are you going there?”

This tends to be the response you’ll receive from sunshine-loving Californians when you inform them of an upcoming weekend jaunt to the cloudy Oregon city of Portland. The answer? “Why not?” Portland is quickly establishing itself as a progressive actor on the arts and cuisine fronts and if you know me, you know I like to eat my way right through a vacation. I can skip the stupid tourist sites and simply go to bed happy if I’ve conquered a city’s best eats. Here are the highlights of my recent trip to Portland. It’s mostly food-related. Why do you look so surprised?


Touche Restaurant and Bar

touche-diningDo NOT go into this restaurant expecting much by the way of its innards. As in, I think my travel buddies and I may have witnessed some of the worst art we’ve ever seen. I’m not sure what the heck was going on at this place, but I’ll tell you this – their food took my mind off the hideous wall hangings. The lasagna di forno nearly made me faint and Julia’s and Kristie’s gnocchi rendered them almost unable to talk. Pair all that with a reasonably priced Malbec (Trabiche 2008) and a hot, Italian waiter (what? How can I not include that part?) and you’ve got an amazing meal.



Why do I love traveling with my friends? Well, because after stuffing ourselves so full of Italian fare

Cacaothat we nearly had to roll out of Touché, instead of trekking to a martini bar like any good 30-year old girl would, we  hopped right on over to Cacao for sipping chocolate. And promptly made ourselves sicker than dogs because we. couldn’t. stop.  The girls and I ordered the samplers (cinnamon, spicy and dark). I think I’d go back and just get the cinnamon, to be honest. But you’re the star in your own chocolate world, so go take a spin at Cacao.


Public Domain Coffee

Public DomainWhoa. This place actually made me feel bad for ever going to Starbucks. Downtown Portland sees coffee as an experience, not a simple caffeine quencher. That being said, it means your cup of joe isn’t going to only take 30 seconds to get to you at Public Domain. Instead, they are going to make sure it blows your mind and slooowly drip it into its awaiting cup. The girls bought espresso drinks (hand-pulled!) and I went with an Ethiopia Sidamo drip. Public Domain also serves pastries from a local baker (literally. Down the street). Go for the almond croissant.

Mother’s Bistro

Look. You aren’t going to find a better breakfast joint. Just face it and roll with it. From pecan

Mother's_Bistro_015cinnamon rolls (holy isssssh) to crab benedict to OMGTHEBESTOMELETTEOFMYWHOLELIFE, Mother’s has breakfast down. My only warning is that we waited for roughly 45 minutes and I thought the girls were going to gnaw off their own arms. Or mine. Seriously one of the best breakfasts I’ve ever had (I say “one of” because I’ve been to Pancake Pantry in Nashville, and let’s just leave that for another travel post).


Portland Paragon

Fresh, local food and a gorgeous ambience (fireplace!) Only drawback? They wouldn’t serve us another glass of wine at 10:01 because they had “closed.” Major malfunction. However, the gorgonzola cheesecake made up for it. What a genius idea. If you order wine and there is more than one of you imbibing, I’d heartily suggest ordering a bottle, as their prices justify it. Well, in my mind, anything justifies a full bottle, but…you know.


Waterfront Bike Rentals

Portland Bikes

Well, with all of the food intake, there unfortunately comes a time when the caloric intake catches up to you and you should probably get in some exercise. Enter Portland’s Waterfront Bike Rentals. I was a tad bit wary (I’m clumsy. I fall off my own feet, I could barely imagine two wheels), but I consider this one of the best parts of the trip. The staff is incredibly helpful, knowledgeable about the trails and routes, and the prices are cheap. Take your bike up to the Oregon Zoo and come back down through the Nob Hill District and hit Kenny and Zukes for lunch. Their subs are to. die. for.


And there you are – a quick guide to an active, cultural city on the West coast. I’d lastly recommend jumping on Portland’s MAX rail – great public transportation on the cheap. Happy travels!