Places to eat, see, and play in Portland

Places to eat, see, and play in Portland

In lieu of a massive post about my entire week in Washington/Oregon with Christina, John, Edwin, and Kevin, I’ve decided to break it up into different parts of the trip because otherwise, there would be no post about my trip until next year. My week in the Pacific Northwest was nothing short of FREAKIN’ AMAZING, so I can’t wait to dish all the details.

To start off this long series of posts, here’s my “list” of places to hit while you’re in Portland! I don’t really want to just give a list of places and a short description, so I’m just going full story-mode with our short Portland itinerary. Feel free to scroll and skim through my painfully long blurbs. If you want more thorough descriptions or more info, I’ve included links to all the spots for easy access!

Due to last minute planning, we decided to opt for a four-person hotel room during our stay. For about $50 per person, we were able to book a sweet room at the Courtyard Marriott in Portland Downtown/Convention Center. Everything was a short drive away, and it felt nice to sleep on an actual bed for a night.


Our first stop was, of course, food. After a long drive from Steilacoom, we were all hungry and decided to stop by Pine State Biscuits for a hearty brunch. Our meal here was one of the best that I’ve had. You can never go wrong with fried chicken, biscuits, and a huge dollop of sausage gravy. I was in love, and the enormous hash brown pancake was soft and crisp (yaknow, the perfect combination for a really great hash brown). John got the shrimp and grits, and I highly recommend this dish—the grits were topped with perfectly cooked shrimp with the perfect amount of garlic kick.


When in Portland, you get coffee. We unfortunately didn’t have time to visit Stumptown Coffee Roasters (sidenote: if you didn’t know, Stumptown originated in Portland and made its way to NYC, LA, and Seattle. Their flagship cafe is on SE 45th and Division). We instead visited Good Coffee, a coffee shop with more than just good coffee. The shop aims to impact the lives of others through coffee growers, drinkers, and their communities. If you’re a New Yorker, your instant reaction to this shop would most likely involve the word hipster because of the shop’s curious similarity to what you would probably see in Williamsburg. That about summed up the entire trip to Portland for us—a larger Williamsburg with more coffee shops and strip clubs. Oh yea, we’ll get to that later. We enjoyed our coffees outside in the gorgeous weather while counting the amount of bearded folk passing us by.


With my growing affinity for beers, I make it a priority to check out the local breweries on most of my trips. Deschutes Brewery was on the top of that list, but I mistakenly didn’t check the location of the actual brewery, Bend, OR, a three hour drive from where we were. Nope. Instead, we went to the Portland alternative, which was the brewery & public house, where they served food, all the beers and more. If you take a walk to the bathroom, you can see the enormous vats they use to create their delicious beers as well as aging barrels of beer on their way to achieving perfection. Beer flights are always the way to go, so we opted for different flights to try as many beers as we could. The crowd favorite was the Pacific Wunderland, only available at the Portland pub. I love my IPAs, but my appreciation for dark beers hit a peak with the Obsidian Nitro Stout and the Black Butte Porter.


We wandered into Porch Light, an delightful antique shop filled with goodies that ranged from beautiful postcards to shelves and shelves of glass goods. The displays alone would make any old soul swoon. Definitely worth a visit if you’re looking to kill some time looking at a beautifully curated store of goods.


When in Portland, you visit Powell’s Books for one of the largest collections of used, new, and out of print books. When I say large, I say four-floors-and-the-span-of-an-entire-block large. Wander all around the store and explore the different categories of books and don’t forget to check out the rare books room on the top floor. In addition to all the books, they sell goodies with their name emblazoned on mugs, shirts, and tumblers along with other Portland-branded knick knacks.


We headed into Grassa for some quality Italian food for dinner. It was nice enough to sit outdoors, so we grabbed our own table to enjoy our meal in the brisk night air. The menu changes, with a large, chalkboard menu-board from which you order your food and cocktails. I highly recommend the Italian Greyhound, a mixture of vodka, fresh-squeezed grapefruit juice, and Campari, as well as the cauliflower side dish. Simple is always the best, and Christina’s dish of the Pomodoro was the winner with Ed’s braised oxtail agnolotti as a close second.

While deciding whether or not we should visit a strip club for the sake of visiting one, we ended up at Bailey’s Taproom. Beer on tap and the availability were all displayed on an electric screen behind the bar. It also let you know when the beers were freshly tapped. Kind of gimmicky in my opinion because you don’t really need a screen to tell you which beer to get, but still a fun way to engage visitors because of the enormous variety of beers they had.

{Links may be NSFW} Speaking of strip clubs, did you know Portland had the most strip clubs per capita? From vegan strip clubs to steakhouses, the possibilities seem endless (ha ha). We ended up at a hole in the wall strip club called Kit Kat Club, nestled in an alley and right next to the famous VooDoo Donuts. This was my first strip club experience, and I’ll just end my blurb here to keep this post PG. Definitely an experience though, and if you’re in the right company, a Portland strip club worth a visit! No photos for obvious reasons.


In an attempt to detox from all the food we loaded into our bodies, we found KURE Juice Bar along the same block as Lardo, our next destination. Detox to eat more, right? I can never resist a delicious looking acai bowl, so I had to get the Sunnyside, which was a blended base of acai berries, banana, strawberries, vanilla protein, and apple juice, topped with banana, strawberries, chopped hazelnuts, goji berries, hemp seed granola, shredded coconut, cinnamon, and agave. Any acai bowl that doesn’t have teeth-shattering granola is a win in my book.


If you know me, you know how much I love pho. Create a twist on a french dip sandwich with all the elements of pho, and I’ll be yours forever. Lardo is hands-down one of the best sandwich restaurants that I have ever been to. Another post coming up on just Lardo with more photos in the near future. Yes, it was that good. The Chefwich features a local chef’s sandwich creation and is available for one month, and more often than not, you probably can’t go wrong with it. However, the Pho’Rench Dip sandwich was hands down the winner of the entire trip.


Faced with the difficult decision of going to Blue Star Donuts vs. Voodoo Donuts, we decided to go with Blue Star Donuts because the donuts here apparently taste better than Voodoo. Because I can’t compare the two without trying Voodoo, I can’t be objective, but Blue Star’s were delicious. I grabbed a Valrhona Chocolate Crunch doughnut, which had rich dark chocolate with a delicious cream filling.


We wandered around Downtown Portland to where all the food trucks were lined up to grab some more food (hello triple chin). With our food in hand, we all sat on a bench at Tom McCall Waterfront Park and enjoyed the waterfront views as people whizzed by on their bikes and segways.


At Christina’s suggestion, we went to Steven Smith Teamaker and ended up choosing a tea tasting flight. We went with Bai Mu Dan, Jasmine Pearls, Honeybush, and Big Hibiscus. The crowd favorite was the Honeybush, to which Christina and I snagged some loose leaf tea for ourselves and John, and the Jasmine Pearls. On the other hand, we didn’t enjoy Big Hibiscus as much—Ed described it as Kool-Aid, and it was spot on because it was way to sweet for my liking. We learned how to properly taste the teas from the sweetest woman behind the counter.


Our final stop in Portland was Salt & Straw for some ice cream! I initially got the pear with blue cheese flavor because of the delicious bites of pear, but the blue cheese began to make me feel queasy. Absolutely not a blue cheese gal (Brie anyone?). After seeing Christina’s reaction to the Potion of Malicious Delight, one of their limited edition flavors for Halloween, I knew I had to get a scoop. And boy was it worth it. The poprocks were the perfect little hidden kick inside of the grapefruit and mango ice cream.

In the two days we spent in Portland, I don’t think I even scratched the surface of what the city has to offer in terms of coffee, food, and sights. I still have so many places that I want to visit in Oregon, but I was happy to finally visit one of the cities on the top of my bucketlist. I’ve learned a lot about myself through traveling with my friends, which I’ll reserve for another post. Super excited to head back to Oregon sometime in the near future in order to fully explore this beautiful state. Pacific Northwest, you have captured my heart.

This post was originally posted here.




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