Foodcation: Portland, Oregon
They say if you live in Portland, you need three things: a bike, a dog, or a tattoo; if you have all three, you’re the epitome of cool. I think there’s an unspoken quality on that list: “must enjoy food and drink.” (And for men, also a beard. And maybe a manbun.) I may not have a bike, a dog, or a tattoo, but I do have a quality that Portlanders would appreciate, and that is my love of food. Queue Oliver Twist: Food, glorious food! We’re anxious to try it. Three banquets a day! Our favorite diet.
I associate Portland, first and foremost, with one word: Food. No, not even food. FOOOOD. Ask me to accompany you on a weekend foodcation (food vacation) in P-Town, and I’m there. Here’s a taste.
The iconic Voodoo Doughnut evokes mixed feelings in locals and tourists alike. Some might say Voodoo is popular for the crazy names of its flavors, and its even crazier toppings. Some might say it’s flat-out delicious. Some might say it’s good after a night of drinking; if this is true, the locale is conveniently open 24 hours a day. Whatever your reason for going, Voodoo Doughnut is worth a visit if only to say you’ve seen, and hopefully tasted, its zany concoctions.
If that’s not enough sugar for you, Salt & Straw is a good excuse any day. In fact, I’d return here until I’ve tried all the flavors…including the monthly specials. (See current specials in photo below.)
While Portland has a reputation for rain, the “rain” is more likely to be a mist or a slight drizzle, and it’s usually bearable. (Hey, all that lush greenery needs water!) And despite the weather, people are surprisingly nice. And cheerful. Maybe it’s because they’ve got such a rich food (and beverage!) scene. If I had such accessible deliciousness in my life 24/7, I’d always be in a good mood too.
If you like bold flavors, SuperBite might be your style of good mood. With its globally influenced menu, your table might be an eclectic mix of French confit, American burger, Japanese mushrooms, Hawaiian musubi, and Spanish wine. Just save room for Chocolate Pudding Cake. And maybe four other desserts.
It’s a gray day. But remember, the rain is often only a slight drizzle. Ooh, we can duck in from the cold in a bookstore that occupies four floors across an entire city block. City of Books, the downtown HQ of Powell’s Books, reminds me of the moving staircases of Hogwarts Castle. (Don’t pretend you don’t know that reference, you Harry Potter fan.) The Blue Room takes you up to the Gold Room, which leads you down to the Orange Room, but halfway up (or down) the stairs, you can turn into the Green Room. (See Google Maps’ 360 view.) With the moving staircases, four floors seem to lead to half floors, which really feel like seven floors. Ok, I’m officially tired. And sleepy. And getting hungry. Again. What’s that? We’re having Greek for dinner? Yum!
Do I burn enough calories wrapping dolmades and spanakopita to warrant all my baklava consumption? Probably not. But between the lemon rice and the chicken with tomatoes, the fruit counts towards my 5 A Day, right? No? Ok, we’ll try again tomorrow. (Eyebrow wiggle.)
Hippie. Hipster. Eco-friendly. Progressive. There are many words associated with Portland. While many are not inaccurate, there’s also more to Portland than its stereotypes — which seem natural to look beyond with signs like this adorning many shop windows.
Many businesses make personalized signs, but they all say the same thing; and it really makes you feel like you’re in an accepting community. Well done, Portland.
Another thing that’s well done? Nola Doughnuts. What better way to start your day (and keep it going)?
A Mocha Bite, a beignet, a Lemon/Poppyseed…be still my beating heart! Seriously heart, be still, I think I’m having sugar-induced palpitations. La’ssants from Nola Doughnuts turn any day into good one. Between two of us (I seem to eat an unfairly larger share), we finish the box in a day. So. Very. Good. And because this post wouldn’t be complete without yet another sweet mention, you may also want to check out Pip’s Original Doughnuts. Something else you might want to check out? Street art.
Portland is a very artsy-craftsy kind of city. If you need more visual proof, consider that everyone here knits. Everyone. Ok, maybe not everyone. But almost. Or at least it feels like it. There are numerous yarn stores to corroborate! (Check out Twisted or Knit Purl if your stomach is in knots.)
If you’re still wound up, maybe stop in for some mint tea at Shalom Y’all. And by stopping in for tea, I actually mean having some tea with your hummus and falafel and labneh and smoked mackerel. And after you’ve played your afternoon away in the rain (just don’t use umbrellas — Portlanders are allergic to them), end your day at Ned Ludd.
Dear Ned, I know you’re not a real person, but can I tell you how your deliciousness makes me feel like all is right in the world? Spice Trade or Sasquash? Craft cocktail or Willamette Valley Wine? Wine-braised Farro or Brussel Sprouts and Kale? Tuscan chicken liver or the trout? Order it all. Ned Ludd doesn’t know how to make bad dishes. And if you have room, finish with an Oven Kissed Chocolate Chip Cookie (in a cast-iron skillet) and a Blood Orange Cake with Meyer Lemon Curd and Pistachio Thyme Crumble. And if that’s not enough sugar, the staff is really sweet too.
In case you can’t tell, I have a huge, huge sweet tooth. Can we look at those Nola Doughnuts again?
I dream of those doughnuts. I’m not even a doughnut girl. But please pass me a Spiced Honey Walnut!
I’ve often joked that all it takes to keep me happy is to feed me. So, when’s our next foodcation?