My overall impressions of Portland: Very outdoorsy and eco-conscious. Very transient-friendly. Very difficult to tell who’s homeless and who’s just dressing down sometimes. Into arts and culture, but appreciative of the darker/weirder edge of such things. Fond of tattoos and piercings. Great for bike-riders and walkers. A lot like Charlottesville in some ways, just much larger (and consequently with many more and better things to do) and with a rawer edge to its hipsterism. But mostly, a true foodie town, dare I say even food-obsessed, focused on sourcing local farms for ingredients. I’m not kidding. We ate our way through the City of Roses. Most of what I learned about Portland was that the food (and drink) is delicious.
Our very first night, we got into the hotel around 9:00 pm, dropped our stuff in the hotel room, and took to the streets to find dinner for David, dessert for me. We ended up at a place that would figure heavily in our short time there, a delicious bar and restaurant called Southpark with a kick-ass bartender. David fell in love with the house version of the old-fashioned there called the Oregon Sage, though he got it once when a different bartender was working and didn’t like it as well. I got their amazing bittersweet chocolate crostada. From there…well, we just continued to eat.
The next day, we had an early lunch at Pastini Pastaria – early because that afternoon, we went on an epicurean tour of Portland, visiting 9 different establishments around town and tasting food and drink. (We did walk around to the art museum and down to the riverfront park between lunch and the tour.) We had a seasonal salad at our own (delightful independent) hotel, the Heathman. Then another seasonal salad and a glass of wine at Southpark, olive oil and balsamic vinegar tasting at Benessere (so new they don’t even have a website yet), tomato orange soup at Flying Elephants Delicatessen, salt tasting at the Spice and Tea Exchange, hors d’oeuvres at Chez Joly, small bites at Park Kitchen, Oregon wine tasting at Vino Paradiso, and chocolate/wine pairing at Sweet Masterpiece. Then we ran back to our hotel restaurant to change clothes and run to our anniversary dinner at Nel Centro. After which we went back to our hotel and passed out, totally stuffed and jet-lagged and tired from walking all over downtown Portland.
The next day started out with more eating, though I still was not hungry, and even had a bit of a stomachache that lasted most of the day. But we had plans to meet my cousin Peter, who I had not seen for about 15 years, for breakfast at Kenny and Zuke’s. We stopped at Stumptown for coffee on the way, too. Fortunately, after that, our day lightened up for a while. We met up with our friend Jason at Powell’s Books, though I still didn’t feel good and we didn’t stay long. Then we walked down to a really cool little indie comic shop, Floating World, and spent some time there with David drooling all over the store. We took the Max and a shuttle to the Japanese Gardens, where we sat and soaked in the zen, and my stomach finally started feeling better. Then a bit of bar-hopping. Jason’s girlfriend Heather met us at Rock Bottom Brewery, and we shared some appetizers (still weren’t terribly hungry), then on to Kell’s, and then to Bailey’s Taproom (my favorite of the three). My pal from grad school Josh joined us for a pint at Bailey’s, and then he had to take off to a prior appointment. Then we wrapped up the night at Ground Kontrol, a classic arcade and bar. On the way back to the hotel, we encountered Josh’s prior appointment – the annual Portland Naked Bike Ride!
Our last day, we got up and packed up and checked out of the hotel, then had brunch in our hotel’s restaurant – an award-winning restaurant to which we hadn’t actually been yet. Then we took off to play underground, blacklit, 3-D mini golf at Glowing Greens, followed by another trip to Powell’s (where I got in some actual quality browsing this time since I felt better). Then we took in a movie at the Living Room Theaters (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, which was good, but the book is better), and we fell in love with this theater. It made David start thinking about building one here. One last dinner at Southpark, and then back to the hotel bar for a couple of drinks. David finally got the 25-year-old Bowmore he’d had his eye on since we got there. And then we were off to the airport for our red-eye back to the east coast, having eaten more in 3 days than we probably had in the entire preceding week. Ah. I love vacations.