In December, I found myself in Portland, OR for the first time and managed to eat and drink as much as I could in my down time from work. I ate donuts, drank some potent beer and walked off the jetway last week thinking “last time I was in this airport, I was hung the F over”. Ah, memories. Note to self: don’t do that again.
As mentioned in my first post about Portland, if I had it my way I’d be back to experience more of this quirky city. I got lucky and was assigned to head out to Oregon once more, this time in thankfully warmer temperatures than the post-ice-pocalypse weather I was dealing with last time. It still rained every single day. I think I’m good with wearing my Hunter boots for a while.
Wet weather aside, I can now add even *more* to the list of fun things to do in Portland!
Is it Portland if you don’t have your fix of hipster donuts? No, I still haven’t gone to Voodoo. All the locals say it’s overrated. While I’m sure they’re sweet and delicious in their own right, after having such a wonderful experience at Blue Star last time, I had to go back.
Blue Star Donuts // 1237 SW Washington Street
I went 2x inside of 24 hours. On Friday afternoon, I beelined directly for a donut after my afternoon run. My first of the weekend was a Blueberry Bourbon Basil donut (below left) and a coffee. Delightful.
Hi ho what’s this, Blue Star is on the walk to work in the morning? Don’t mind if I stop in again for another pair of pastries. Saturday’s breakfast was lemon poppyseed, and I grabbed an OG (horchata cinnamon glazed) for later. Nom nom nom.
I couldn’t control myself, and popped in again on Sunday afternoon on the walk home from work. Passion fruit cacao nib, with a hint of cayenne pepper in the glaze. I’m an addict.
If I weren’t on a red-eye home and their airport location were open when I was headed out? I’d have stopped and eaten there too.
Bamboo Sushi // 404 SW 12th Avenue
It helps when you’ve got friends who live in and travel to cities all over the country. On a recommendation, I was told to eat at Bamboo if I wanted good sushi. So, I did.
After a pit stop at the local lululemon post-donut (had to kill a little bit of time to digest), it was time for sushi! Bamboo takes quality & sustainability very seriously, and is the first certified sustainable sushi restaurant in the world.
To drink, I went for the craft cocktail list and ordered a Red Letter Day (bourbon, hibiscus syrup, lemon, lavender bitters), subbing out bourbon for vodka. Before you ask, sake just doesn’t blow my skirt up. Hibiscus cocktails, on the other hand? It’s rare for me to spot hibiscus on the menu and NOT give it a try.
For my main, I ended up listening to the bartender and the recommendation of the couple seated next to me. It was one of their signature rolls, the Green Machine, tempura fried long bean and green onions topped with avocado and cilantro sweet chili aioli. It’s a veggie roll, so I added on albacore tuna. Talk about a happy meal.
Side Note: Did I buy any lululemon? Yes… I caved on the deep forest Swiftly LS, and found a black Circuit Breaker Skirt *Tall for $29. How could I not. No sales tax.
Powell’s City of Books // 1005 W Burnside Street
Book nerds, prepare to get lost in here for HOURS. Powell’s is the largest independent book retailer in the country, and their Portland location takes up an entire city block. Rooms within the store are color coded and divided by subject area.
After about an hour and a half, I gave up on trying to choose which book I wanted (I’ve already got a backlog of 5+ at home I’ve yet to read), and ended up buying some color bar socks (super exciting to the AV geek in me) and a package of gummy bears. I felt like such a dope making a non-book purchase in such an institution. Oh well. Gummy bears rock.
Why did I leave Powell’s after only an hour and a half? Well, you see, I got these tickets…
Roseland Theater // 8 NW 6th Avenue
Some of the best apps you can have on your phone if you often travel to random places on business are the ones who find entertainment for you based on your location. Thanks to Songkick, I found that the Flaming Lips were playing just a few blocks away from my hotel. Sold out. Wah. Wait, oh hey there StubHub. Instant download!
The Roseland Theater has some of the best indoor acoustics I’ve heard in a small music venue in a very long time, if ever. The venue isn’t that deep, but it’s wide, so it’s tough to have a bad view from anywhere, whether you’re in GA or up in the balcony. If you’re into indie music at all, keep this venue’s calendar on your radar.
As for the band I saw? Well, the Flaming Lips are known for putting on one crazy show, and they did not disappoint. Pictured above: their lead singer crowd surfing in a giant bubble. Not pictured: him, riding a unicorn draped in LED rope light through the crowd. At that point, I had been awake for 23 hours. Long day!
Jake’s Famous Crawfish // 401 SW 12th Avenue
A few coworkers had seafood on the brain, so I went along with the group decision to head to Jake’s. Had no clue that this restaurant was owned by McCormick & Schmick’s until I went to go link the location.
Jake’s gives off a old-school upscale dining vibe, with waiters in white coats and lots of hardwood & brass decor. It was dim, classy and delicious. The menu is updated on a daily basis, and the servers will let you know which fish are locally in season, so you know you’re getting the freshest catch possible in any menu item that features said seasonal fish. Spring in Orgeon? Halibut season.
Anyhow, the restaurant was so dimly lit, I wasn’t able to get any decent photos of my dinner. Halibut cheeks, piccata style. Cleaned my plate.
Imperial // 410 SW Broadway
Twice I’ve been to Portland, twice I’ve had a helluva meal at Imperial, twice I’ve forgotten to pause and take a satisfactory photo of the space to share on the blog.
Imperial has the kind of cocktail menu where every single concoction listed included at least one ingredient I had to Google before cautiously placing my order. Exactly what you’d expect in a craft cocktail list in Portland. 🙂
For dinner? I got what sounds like the safest item on the menu, but also one of the most popular: fried chicken.
The chicken is buttermilk brined, and whatever is in the seasoned coating has just the right amount of seasoning and crisp to it. A lover of pickles and onions, I happily downed the garnish along with the main course, leaving nothing but a cast iron dish and a few mustard seeds behind. It was also served with freshly-made house special hot sauce, served to you in an eyedropper bottle, so that wusses like me can cautiously enjoy dinner in moderation.
I wasn’t able to snap any nice photos of my drinks, but the 2 I tried that evening were:
- No Poblano – tequila, ancho reyes, lime, pamplemousse grapefruit liqueur
- Fingers Crossed – vodka, lemon, peche, cappelletti aperitivo
Had to Google: ancho reyes, peche and cappelletti aperitivo 😛
OH… and I noticed a dessert on the menu served with a scoop of orange blossom cashew nougat ice cream. I didn’t want the pie, just the ice cream. 2/2 on Katy’s loving the garnish as much as the actual dish, Imperial. Nicely done.
At the simplest description of my meal, I had fried chicken and some ice cream. Makes me sound like I’m 5 years old. It was one of the best meals that I’ve had in a while, and the service was top notch.
Portland Timbers Soccer // Providence Park – 1844 SW Morrison St
So I was at the Timbers game… sort of. My view from the truck was slightly less thrilling than that of the fans inside the stadium. Soccer is alive and well in Portland, and the local MLS team had its 113th consecutive sellout. The waitlist for season tickets is 13,000 people long. If you’re looking for something to do with a bunch of enthusiastic fans? Yay sports!
I was having a good braid day, so I took a selfie in the restroom on set day. That’s the only photo from inside the stadium I have. Next time, I’ll do better. I promise.
A Baller Hat, Vinyasa Scarf, Hunter Boots and my trusty lululemon rain jacket were my de facto uniform all weekend long.
Multnomah Falls // 53000 E Historic Columbia River Hwy, Bridal Veil, OR 97010
Long story short, it took me 24 hours to get home from Portland. It should have taken 7. Flight delays on flight delays gave me an extra 10 hours to kill before I was able to even board an aircraft.
No point in sitting in the airport for that long, when there are cars to rent and sights to see. I went down to National and redeemed a free rental day I had earned through their loyalty program. They were running low on cars for the Emerald Aisle, and were putting luxury cars in the Executive section out of desperation.
So, I managed to get myself an Audi Q4 for the day for the cost of taxes. $6.65 later, I was on the road to Multnomah Falls, ignoring TLC’s 90’s advice to stick to the rivers and lakes that I’m used to.
Located about 30mi east from Portland, there’s a restaurant, historical exhibit, snack bar and restrooms at the base of the falls for those who want to casually walk to the bottom and crane their necks looking up. For those who want to hike the 800+ foot vertical gain in just over a mile to the top of the falls, a paved trail chock full of switchbacks make it possible.
I had my miniature pocket tripod with me. Photographic selfie silliness ensued. I’m sure I was judged by bystanders, but who cares. I had an afternoon to myself and was determined to make the most of it.
The trail is paved, and features 11 switchbacks in total. Because it actually takes you up and above the top of the upper falls, the elevation gain is a workout. Halfway up, I switched my Garmin watch on to make sure I got credit for not only running in the hotel gym that morning, but hiking up the falls!
I casually embarked on said hike without having a bottle of water with me. Mistake. I did this hike on Monday afternoon. My glutes were sore until Thursday. Worth it.
I tried to get that whole “side profile contemplating life while appreciating nature” shot that’s so pervasive on instagram, but the cheeseball photos came out much better.
Just before the BIIIIG falls, there’s a small waterfall at the top to take a gander at. The trail terminates in a platform with railings about 7 feet up and 5-10 feet back from the top of the falls.
Then, you take a peek over and PRAY you don’t drop your phone. Say hello to the cars below!
Thunder Island Brewing // 515 SW Portage Rd, Cascade Locks, OR 97014
After said hike, I felt like I earned myself a damn beverage. Just 15 minutes east of the falls in the town of Cascade Locks, I found Thunder Island Brewing, which is located along the Columbia River. The Yelp photos looked gorgeous, but the weather was sh!t and I sat inside.
My salad was enormous and the beer was delicious. Time and money well spent. It was here that I got the notification from Delta that my red-eye had been delayed. I ordered a second beverage.
On the Map
All of the places I visited downtown were within walking distance of my hotel at SW Washington & Broadway, the farthest being the soccer stadium. Portland is an incredibly walkable city!
Because WP is being silly with the embedding code, here’s a screencap of a custom Google Map I put together for you all.
[Click on the image to open an interactive map in a new tab]
The Trip Home
Ah, yes. That fiasco. After Thunder Island, I reluctantly made my way to the airport. With my Delta card, I took advantage of the discounted SkyClub access and holed up in the corner with some chardonnay and celery sticks, waiting for my aircraft and watching the ETD keep pushing farther and farther into the future.
We ended up taking off around 12:30a, as opposed to its scheduled 10:40p departure… which was a replacement for my originally scheduled flight at 1:35p earlier that day.
I woke up somewhere over the lower 48 to the beginnings of a sweet sunrise, and missed my connection in Atlanta. The treat yo self food MO from Portland carried me to Chick-Fil-A. Zero nutritional f*cks given at this point in time. I had tickets to see Temples in Brooklyn that night, and was starting to wonder if I’d ever make it back to the northeast, much less the show.
I left my hotel room in Portland at 10:30a PST on Monday. I walked in my front door at 1:30p EST on Tuesday. 24 hours of fun.
I’m 0 for 2 getting out of PDX on time. Next time, I’m taking the early flight. Why do I say that? Because there is definitely a next time. I love this city.