On Tuesday I told someone at a work event that I was in Portland, Oregon over the weekend and the first question he asked me was: “Where did you eat?”
Excellent question! The answer should have been, “Not enough places.” Portland, OR is easily one of my favorite cities in the U.S. Way back in 2007, my friend Diana and I interned at The Oregonian together. We lived at 20th and Burnside, and spent the weekends hiking and exploring the Oregon coast.
I remember how much I loved living in Portland: wandering the Japanese gardens, hiking their pretty trails, and living life being 21 (it was the first and only time I’d climbed on top of a bar and danced). Nowadays, Portland is just a touch fancier – more hipster, better designed, with fancier condos and stores boasting artisanal/handmade/organic/dog-friendly/gluten-free.
Portland’s food carts | 1 p.m.
I made sure to stop by the food carts on a weekday because my favorite cart, Nong’s Khao Man Gai, is closed on the weekends. It’s the closest thing I can get to comfort food from home – fragrant chicken-flavored rice and aromatic soup. Also, after a week of eating trail mix and PB&Js while hiking at Zion, this hearty meal really hit the spot.
Marine Layer Loft check-in | 3 p.m.
The Marine Layer Loft was absolutely spectacular. Marine Layer is a high-end hipster store that runs an airbnb above their storefront. As a guest, you get a professionally designed, private space, with the comfort of knowing that there’s always someone at the storefront that can help. And, it was right in the heart of Nob Hill, literally steps from everything.
Bamboo Sushi, followed by Salt & Straw | 6 p.m.
My co-worker said I couldn’t leave Portland without visiting Salt & Straw, a local ice-cream store. We went there, and even though I’m not a huge ice cream fan (sorry Mo!) the Sea Salt with Caramel Ribbons was a terrific mix of salty and sweet.
Powell’s Books | 9 p.m.
Because you can’t go to Portland without going to Powell’s, and it’s amazing every time.
Farmer’s Market | 11 a.m.
Hung out with some family friends in the morning, and then we headed over to the Portland Farmer’s Market at PSU. It’s easily the most beautiful farmer’s market I’ve ever seen – lush trees, organic produce, and incredible food.
Pearl District & Downtown | 2 p.m.
We spent some time meandering the downtown shops and the Pearl District.
TILT | 5 p.m.
After walking past Rogue, we ducked into TILT. Talk about an awesome place to kick off some afternoon drinking. Whisky. Biscuits. Fried Chicken. Tater Tots. I could have spent hours there. Drinks turned into dinner, and then we wandered around even more.
Santa Fe Taqueria | 11 p.m.
Half-price menu after 11 p.m.! Late night guac totally hits the spot. Bonus points for being across the street from the airbnb.
Stepping Stone Cafe | 10 a.m.
The Portlandia skit about the brunch line is one of my favorites. This brunch place was not. Thumbs down.
Tender Loving Empire | 12 p.m.
I was keeping an eye out for a birthday present for my sister, and my friends and I agreed that Tender Loving Empire was definitely the best store in Nob Hill. It’s so good, I went back twice. It’s beautifully curated, and I got my sister a July Nine bag (I saw them on kickstarter) and my friend bought some Urban Oreganics fancy clay masks for her sister.
Pok Pok | 4 p.m.
You can’t really visit Portland without going to Pok Pok, which has won so many awards and been on so many TV shows it’s not even worth me mentioning. But, every time I’ve visited Portland I’ve been unable to try Pok Pok because the line is always so long. The secret: Go between lunch and dinner on a Sunday. There was no wait. The meal was wow. The Thai flavors were so complex and refined, and yet the restaurant was so casual and low key. These are absolutely my favorite types of restaurants.
Little Otsu | 6 p.m.
I’d never heard of Little Otsu before, but I was lured in by the illustrations in the window. As it turns out, Little Otsu is an independent publisher of books and journals, and the store is a well-curated mix of other beautiful publishers, like Rifle Paper Co. It also had these blue ribbons which I think I need to pin to my laptop.
- Archive Coffee & Bar in Salem, OR. It’ve never found an easier or more beautiful coffeeshop to work out of. They serve beer, cocktails and coffee, and have a bar that you can stand and work at. What more do you need?
- Also: The Japanese Garden is also a highlight of Portland, OR. It was closed on this trip, but every time I’ve gone in the past I’ve loved it.
Thanks for having me, Portland! I’ll be back soon!
p.s. I know it wasn’t really 36 hours but you know what I was getting at.