Watermelon Popsicle on The Road: Portland
Portland has always been one those city that intrigued me for a long time. All everyone kept telling me about it was that it rained a lot there, that people there are considered pretty weird and that the overall vibe of place was just grunge. So when we decided to take a trip there, I set my expectations pretty low.
All I can tell you is that my mind was blown after the first few hours there, and by end of the third day Chris and I had both decided that we actually want to move there at some point. Think great atmosphere and nightlife, cool people, gorgeous city and the food… the food was just BOMB.COM, which is probably the main reason I want to move there. I’ll always trade good weather for good food. Judge me!
I also think that the fact we went there during a week of really good weather, with fall in “full bloom,” made the whole trip even better.
I didn’t really know if I should structure this post by day or by kinds of activities, but I decided to it by day, because I feel like it gives you a better idea of how much stuff you can do in one day there.
We arrived in Portland in the afternoon and went straight to our airbnb, which was the cutest little thing. After looking up some things to do and places to go, we decided to hit up a nearby area in East Portland/Kerns.
Doug Fir Lounge was our first stop because they have live music and we thought it would be interesting to see a local band. We ended up not staying for it, because we were both super excited to explore the area, but we did have a delicious steak app and drinks, and my dear readers, I kid you not, I had the best margarita of my life! It was just too good for words.The whole decoration of the place was amazing. I can best define it as log cabin meet luxury.
We heard a lot about Portland breweries and decided to give this one a try. The beers were indeed great and the apps were divine!! We had the smoked trout deviled eggs and the chickpea fritters.
We went to Bar Casa Vale because we heard that they have really good tapas, so we decide to pick a couple of them to try. All I can tell you is that we ended up having another eight, because they’re really good and different. One of our favorites was the chicken heart skewers. As a Brazilian, I pretty much grew up eating chicken hearts as part of our barbecues, but Chris had never had it. We both liked it a lot. Since Casa Vale is a tapas bar, their stuff is meant to be shared, so the tapas are small, but also super cheap, which means you can try a bit of everything without going broke.
When day two rolled around we were ready to do as much city exploring as possible, which means that we walked a whole lot, but also ate and drank a lot. We got explore the Downtown area of Portland as well as the super cool neighborhoods of Nob Hill and Pearl District. I fell in love if Nob Hill, because of its lively vibe, cute bars and shops and historic architecture.
First stop of the day was at Voodoo Doughnuts. We heard so much about that place that I knew we couldn’t miss it. The place is this super quirky and cute pink shop with a ton of different flavors of doughnuts. We ordered their two most popular ones, the Bacon Maple Bar and Voodoo Doll, plus their Oreos base doughnut, Pot Hole. All three of them we’re delicious, but Chris and I couldn’t eat more than two bites of each. There’s such thing as too much sugar… The bacon one was by far my favorite and I’d definitely have it again right now if I could.
Voodoo Doughnuts is located on the entrance of this cute little cobblestone street called SW Ankeny St., which has a lot of little bars and cafes right next to each other. We ended up going back there later that day to grab some oysters and clam chowder at Dan & Louis Oyster Bar, and they too were super yummy!
Quiet, peaceful, interactive and full of history, the Chinese Garden is a little escape point right in the middle of the city. You can opt to have a guided tour or just walk around by yourself, which we did. There’s a few hidden activities in the rooms of the garden that make the tour pretty fun. While you’re there: don’t miss their tea room, it’ll make you feel like you’re in Old China.
After we explored a bit of Nob Hill, we stopped for lunch at Rams Head, a super cute old school restaurant that used serve alcohol in coffee cups during Prohibition. The outside of the place gave me major Parisian vibes, and the inside looks super Irish. Chris had one of their craft beer and I had a cider mix, apple plus blueberry, which I totally loved. The food was super tasty too, he had these beer marinated steak bite, and I had a freaking amazing curry bowl that has shrimp, mango chutney, coconut and summer squash. It tasted even better that it sounds.
Chris and I decided to try out this new bar hopping technique of doing “one drink, one app” per place, so we could try as many different places as possible, without spending too much money, getting too full or too drunk. So one of our first stops for happy hour was the Bacchus Bar, which is located right in the lobby of the Kimpton Hotel. I love the mid-century vibe of the place and the great happy hour prices. Try their rose paired with bacon wrapped dates. It’s a match made in heaven.
Next stop of our experiment was the rooftop bar Destination, at The Nines Hotel. The place sounds kinda swanky at first, but it does have great views of the city and the mountains around it, as well as amazing happy hour deals for foods and apps.
After we had the oysters I mentioned earlier, we headed to this super fancy place called Multnomah, which has one of the most impressive whiskey libraries in the country. And they actually do make it look like a library inside. I had a tequila and egg based drink that was delicious and super smooth. I’m not a whiskey person, so I can’t really say much about their selection, but they have a super long list that literally goes from A to Z. I’d totally recommend going there just for the experience alone. We also had a charcuterie board that was super different and good.
Three words: aesthetics and good food. We went to Lovejoy because we wanted a place close to Washington Park, where the Rose and Japanese gardens are in, and the place just ended up being a pleasant surprise. The tile floors and walls were just the cutest and the drinks and food were superb. Portlandians do no wrong when it comes to food.
Very things in life can beat the smell of fresh roses. Portland prides itself in being dubbed Rose City, so of course its official rose garden had to surpass any expectations. The place is like a dream with so many hidden areas and pretty colors. I wish I could have sat there all day just looking at those beauties and thinking about life. Note: they have a gift shop there that has locally made rose tea bags and candles. I got both and they are totally worth it!
Fireside was the cherry on the top of the whole trip. Located in Nob Hill, this amazing looking restaurant was the perfect destination for our last lunch in town. The inside was super cozy and the outside was just straight out of a movie. There was a guy playing the accordion on the corner, which just made the whole situation even better. There’s something about dining with yellow leaves falling around you that just makes it feel like you’re in a movie.
For our last night in Portland, we decided to check out the Concordia District, which also has super cute restaurants and amazing food truck. One of the places that is also in that area is the Kennedy School, an old elementary school turned into a hotel with multiple bars and restaurants. The whole place is creepy AF, but also really cool. The food wasn’t good (for the first time in the whole trip), but the drinks were not bad. I do feel like it’s worth checking it out because it’s one of those weird Portland things to do.
It’s safe to say Portland passed every test with flying colors. I honestly can’t wait to go back and experience some of the same stuff all over again, and visit all the places I didn’t have a chance to the first time.