Andrew will tell you he had only two goals in this city: see some waterfalls and eat Thai food. I would argue that the second was slightly off, perhaps he meant "eat food", Thai cuisine included, but not excluding doughnuts, ice cream, charcuterie, barbecue, a Lardo sandwich...with fries. We ate a lot in Portland. Our first stop after the bus ride into the city wasn't Ryan and Christine's house (where we'd be staying), it was the Alder Street food pod for Nong's Khao Man Gai. Followed by Blue Star Donuts. Only to then receive the text from Christine saying not to eat too many sweets, there were Blue Star Donuts waiting for us at home - oops (we ate those, too).
It was pretty easy to have a long list of food spots to hit in this quirky, funky city thanks to Michelle, as she lived in Portland for some time and had some fantastic culinary guides on her site. Especially the desserts! I let my sweet tooth loose here, it almost felt like the great sugar massacre of 2015. So if you have a penchant for sweets and love to try out new things, I definitely recommend checking out her blog.
We had savory celebrations too, especially thanks to our hosts and friends Ryan and Christine, who fulfilled Andrew's ultimate dream of consuming as much Thai food as he possibly could in an hour at Pok Pok, and who bought us the perfect bbq meal on our last night. Along with having some kickass recommendations for the part of Portland we didn't plan for quite as well (aka the non-food things) - they had us check out a couple of colorful streets full of vintage shops and trendy barber shops, as well as a hidden hiking trail basically around the corner from their home. I can't thank them enough, for providing us with the warmest bed to playing Mario Kart and watching the Batman Lego Movie, to treating us to our first ever liege waffle experience and telling us about the best running spots nearby. We loved staying with you guys, and hopefully we'll be back soon.
The full list of places we visited will be at the bottom, with some stories scattered in between the photos like my Seattle post. The final leg of the trip will be up soon!
- Highlight: Eating the cutest mini doughnuts at Pip's - that honey and sea salt one was insane
- Lowlight: Getting pooped on by a bird. Terrifying and gross
- Insight: I'm getting a better understanding of what real Thai food is, as opposed to commercialized Thai-American food. It helps to have a Thai boyfriend, I suppose.
- Highlight: Pok Pok with Ryan and Christine
- Lowlight: Multnomah Falls parking
- Insight: Floral ice creams are delicious
This is khao man gai, one of Andrew's favorite Thai dishes. We even made it back at home last fall because he wanted it so badly. The premise is really simple (rice, boiled chicken, sauce, cilantro, cucumber, with an accompaniment of soup), but the flavor is incredible. It was our first stop, right after getting off the bus and eaten on the sidewalk, fresh and ready for our hungry bellies.
We had zero intentions of going to Voodoo Doughnuts, especially after hearing about their normally long lines and seeming a bit "too touristy" - we wanna eat like the locals, after all! But our walk to Wiz Bang Bar (see the soft serve above) brought us near this pink shop, and there was absolutely no one waiting in line. We thought it might be closed, only to be quickly corrected by an employee that it was a 24 hour establishment - oh shit, well we gotta go now, right? So in our best tourist-y effort, we got the cheesiest doughnut we could think of and had fun with it. We named it Revathi. It was a great laugh and I'm overall glad we stopped being tourist snobs for a second to make this precious memory.
Pok Pok's famous wings - I could have eaten the whole order if I wasn't saving up room for everything else we still had to eat. They are sticky, salty, spicy, sweet, and crispy. I'm drooling thinking about it again.
The surprising winner of the ice creams we ate in Portland - and it wasn't even ice cream! This is the frozen yogurt at Eb & Bean - palm sugar pecan covered in cold brew bourbon sauce. My favorite cold dessert of the city by far.
Our last morning was devoted to hiking in the Columbia Gorge - home of the famous Multnomah Falls. I definitely recommend adding hiking to your plans if you head out to Portland - it's so lush and green, and the waterfall views are one hundred percent worth all the sweat to get up to them. Parking was a little frustrating just because there are so many people who visit these beautiful areas on the weekend, but if you have some good tunes in the car, it's certainly worth waiting out the lines.
- A mixed (half dark, half white) order of khao man gai from the original food truck: enjoyed in the sunshine on the sidewalk next to the Alder Street food pod. Basically the perfect start, and the beginning of a very Asian-oriented three days of food
- A lemon poppyseed buttermilk old fashioned donut at Blue Star Donuts: humongous, worth sharing, and the beginning of our journey through all things sweet
- Ken's Artisan Bakery for some beautiful tarts and a good strong loaf of country brown, to bring back home to our lovely hosts
- More Blue Star donuts back at Ryan and Christine's: we tried their favorite flavor (blueberry bourbon basil) as well as the matcha latte for a little pre-dinner snack
- The chef's choice of cheeses and meats at Olympia Provisions: where, for once, the mortadella didn't freak me out and every cheese was crazy perfect and delicious. They also had fresh bread that blew our minds. Oh yeah, and after that we had forgotten we ordered the rapini, but still managed to find room for that delicious dish as well
- A cup of elderflower lemon soft serve with a blueberry lavender shell, and some sprinkles on top from Salt & Straw's soft serve venture, Wiz Bang Bar: probably Andrew's favorite frozen treat in Portland! It was creamy and the floral notes were clearly there, making it a super interesting combination
- The voodoo doll at Voodoo Doughnuts: We started with the arms and went for the head, and then the body, where, to our surprise, we found jam! I guess it makes sense? This whole experience was hilarious, that's all I can say
- Our first ever liege waffles at Gigi's Cafe: we loved these and only want waffles like this now please! It's pressed with pearl sugar which caramelizes on the outside - oh god guys, they are seriously my favorite waffle now
- All the Thai food at Pok Pok: Ike's famous wings and khao soi, along with other dishes I can't pronounce, but everything was legit. And I can sorta say that because I'm dating a Thai man who claimed it was legit (minus the wings, those are fusion, I guess?). The most clutch part about this was, there was no wait! We went on a weekday for lunch, which I highly recommend. We saw the line for dinner later that evening, and at that moment I was so thankful for Ryan and Christine's know-how in the city
- A giant scoop of strawberry honey balsamic with black pepper, in a waffle cone at the famous Salt & Straw: which Andrew called (on numerous occasions) salty stick, salt & stick, and variations thereof (sigh). He got it right by the end of the trip, don't worry. Anyways, the strawberry was fresh, the balsamic was subtle, and the whole thing was rich and we definitely walked around after that
- All the cute shops on Division Street! Including the restaurant Bollywood Theater, which has a section that is more like a grocery store, and where you can smell all the different spices used in Indian cooking! We had fun here. So many vintage stores, and funky barber shops in Portland! I guess it makes sense, all the hipsters have to tend to their beards and man buns somehow
- A cold brew from Stumptown Coffee Roasters: necessary at this point of our food coma
- More adorable shops and book stores on Mississippi Street and Williams Street (recommended by Christine and Ryan)!
- The Saigon (fish sauce) wings at the White Elephant food truck: gahhhh I never thought I'd say it, but fish sauce is tasty and I'm quite into it now. Does this make me a bad Korean? Do Koreans eat fish sauce? I hope so
- The palm sugar pecan frozen yogurt covered in a cold brew bourbon sauce from Eb & Bean: as mentioned before, my absolute favorite - the sunset shadows helped along with the magic too
- A boozy moscow mule made with the ginger som (soda) from Pok Pok: which made the Lego Batman movie even funnier than it already is
- Six of the cutest doughnuts you ever did see: 2 cinnamon sugar, 2 honey and sea salt, 2 nutella and sea salt. With the yummiest chai from Pip's Original Doughnuts and Chai. I loved the atmosphere in this magical shop, with the friendliest service I have received in a good long while. It was great fuel for our hike
- Columbia Gorge for waterfalls: breathtaking and well worth some of the crowds around Multnomah Falls. We also checked out the trail Angel's Landing, as well as the Wahkeena Falls, equally beautiful and not nearly as busy!
- A korean pork shoulder sandwich and lardo fries at Lardo: one of the only fusion Korean things I have ever really loved and I would 10 out of 10 eat this again. They fry herbs with their french fries! Next time I'll try the dirty fries
- The biggest bbq dinner from Block & Board: Ryan and Christine found out that one of Andrew's favorite foods is bbq (is that really a food?), so they knew they had to get him some before we left the city. The beans with burnt ends were incredible, as was the pulled pork and the brisket. And the mac and cheese. And the beers. Seriously fell asleep fat and happy that night
Portland truly was a marathon of good eats and great memories. I feel like a gained five pounds just from writing this post. That being said, we will definitely be back because even though we tackled a lot of our food list, there was even more we wanted to try.
Last, but certainly not least, I'm thinking of and praying for Portland especially hard given their recent news. It's sad and frustrating and difficult. But it also calls us to action, to remember that we cannot be passive if we want to live in a kind and beautiful world. Portland is a beautiful city and I wish for everyone's safety there and everywhere else.