My wanderlust is kicking up fiercely right now, so I thought it'd be a good time to finally (I'm only three months late, I know) share the highlights of my trip to Portland. I also learned, when in Portland, you donut stop drinking coffee. Yes, donut. Because they, along with coffee, are everywhere and for good reason.
After being in Seattle for a few days, I took the train down to Portland for the remainder of the weekend. While my stay was shorter than I would have wished and I didn't get to do any of the outdoors mountaineering like my friend Jen, I got to explore quite a bit and drink my bodyweight in the divine PNW coffee. This city is FULL of good coffee and food though, so I feel like those alone would warrant at least another few weekends out here to cover the spectrum. I do have to do my field research, don't I? Hehe. Seriously though, I don't think I had a single bad cup of coffee or a bad meal here.
I'm going to divvy up this guide a bit differently than some of my past travel posts. Where to stay, eat, drink, explore- snippets of everything. Alright, I've got so many awesome places to share with you so let's get this show on the road!
WHERE TO STAY
Overview: My goodness- this is the first Kimpton hotel I've stayed at, and they've found a new loyal customer. The room and common areas are squeaky clean, beds are so plush (a must for me!), the decor was so very true to it's city. Location is also perfectly central for exploring.
Seriously, I had a very rough transit situation from Seattle (mudslide derailed my train route, had to transfer onto bus, and back to train- a 4 hour commute took 10). Upon checking in, the kind concierge saw my exhausted face asked about my commute, patiently listened to the pitifully scatter-brained girl aka me, and promptly told me the bar had a glass of wine with my name on it waiting for me. It's the little things! The customer service and staff here get 5 stars for authentic friendliness and hospitality.
Decor/Perks: The hotel very recently went through a remodel and the attention to detail in decor really shines through. Funky and eclectic, just like Portland! Each Kimpton hotel tends to have a theme, and Hotel Vintage's is WINE. Yes, WINE. Which meant free glasses of wine and local wine tastings during happy hour everyday, wine-themed artwork and decor, and beautiful wine cellar displays. They also have rental bikes available, as Portland is an extremely biking-friendly city.
The Room: In each room, the housekeeping staff leaves you a welcome note with a fun trivia fact about Portland- apparently Voodoo Doughnuts can marry you! I mean, I might rather donuts than a wedding cake, so that works. Again, beds so plush, super clean even to my OCD standards, a spare umbrella because it's the rainy PNW, AND they have sweatshirt robes. I have never seen this before! Nearly stole mine because it is genius and I never, ever wanted to get out of it...
WHERE TO CAFFEINATE
3 blocks from my hotel, this place was my go-to in the morning.
Everything you want: fantastic & skilled baristas, damn good beans, wifi, and plenty of seating. They also have a massive size mug for those who are super hardcore (trainer me does not recommend that much caffeine for the health of your heart- yikes!).
For the ultimate coffee snob/nerd: this place is your heaven.
A garage turned industrial brewbar, Coava takes their coffee almost intimidatingly seriously.
But I promise, they're nice here. Pourovers, espresso drinks, the whole nine yards are offered up.
I got a pourover because I love them when they're available, camped out while sipping it slowly, and enjoyed every moment of it.
Also, free wifi and outdoor seating when the weather is nice!
I went to the Westside location, and it reminded me much of my beloved Happy Bones in NYC. On the smaller side, white painted exposed brick walls, and excellent coffee. After my first cup of coffee here proved to be my limit for the day, I switched over to the cutest teapot of green tea that was delicious too. This Westside location is also awesomely close to three other spots on this list coming up:
Blue Star Donuts, Ruby Jewel Scoops, and Tasty n' Alder
*Lastly, I sadly did not make it to the original Stumptowns, but I prioritized hitting new spots since there is a Stumptown in NYC- but find the five locations in Portland here.
WHERE TO DONUT/SUGAR HIGH
Dare I say the best donuts I've had? I opted to try this spot (the SW Washington St location) instead of the famous original Voodoo Doughnut because of the flavors and also the ingredients.
Voodoo is your spot if you want funky ones covered in cereals and candy, but Blue Star appeals more to my taste buds with passion fruit cacao, raspberry rosemary buttermilk, and blueberry bourbon basil. They are all made with sustainable bread flour/cage-free eggs/hormone-free milk/European butter- also cooked in rice oil, rather than traditional canola, which I'm all for!
Was also obsessed with their hilariously accurate social media wall.
Went to the SW 12th Street location looking for a single scoop, but I stumbled into a kids birthday party, where this awesome Momma decided to share (and let me annoyingly photograph) their ice-cream flight.
Get the punny "Rip City Hippie," if not just for the name, but for the delicious Oregon berries & granola that's in it, and the Marionberry syrup (tastes like blackberry/blueberry).
Hand-crafted ice cream done so well + they make homemade ice cream sandwiches if that's your thing. Ruby Jewel also sources from local, organic, and sustainable farms for their ingredients, which, as you guys know, I love and appreciate.
WHERE TO NOM ALL DAY
*if you're not already dying full of the coffee & donuts diet here
Speaking of dying full of coffee & donuts, I waved my little white flag by the end of my trip because my body is not used to the copious amounts of caffeine and sugar that these Portland kids are accustomed to-- my girl Jen recommended the Açai bowl here and they kindly customized it to my allergies. An awesome place for healthy macro bowls, cold-pressed juices, and I wish it were here in NYC. Also, the interior. Just yes.
This actually makes it to my list of all-time favorite restaurants I've ever been to while traveling. If I could only eat at one place in Portland (or life) again, this would be it.
The awesome bartender/waitress was so helpful navigating the impossible-to-choose menu, and I settled on a hearty Korean fried chicken bowl w/pickled cucumber, scallions, a fried egg over spicy Korean-style chicken... and I was in heaven.
But it wasn't over.
After some serious girl-bonding with my waitress, she sent me home with their famous radicchio salad because I "just couldn't go back to NYC without tasting it!" Actually though, when you type "Tasty n' Alder" in google, the first suggested search is "radicchio salad"-- because it's that crazy and everyone knows it! Radicchio, bacon lardons, manchego, and a 6-minute egg = dream.
(not pictured, but just do it. Really.)
Also a Jen recommendation- well, it was more me seeing it on her Instagram, drooling, then adding it to my list. I got the classic "Reggie" which was a biscuit with fried chicken, bacon, and choice of mushroom or sausage gravy (the mushroom is AMAZE). I wussed out after about 4 bites because of the intensity of the fullness I was already feeling, but if you are looking for amazingly fluffy biscuits and decadent gravy, this is your spot. Also, expect a line well out the door, especially for weekend brunch!
I had heard that Portland was hiding some amazing Vietnamese food.
This place had a line out the door, even in the rain- and it paid off. $8 for a giant bowl of amazing pho to warm me up on that chilly, rainy night was everything I needed to lift my spirits after a tough day. Seriously though, fantastic authentic Vietnamese food with a giant menu selection and for absurdly cheap. Banh Mis, Vermicelli Bowls (Bun), and a huge selection of unusual cocktails.
The iPhone photo is so dark, but this very hungry girl that had walked around the city all day was really quite distracted by the bowl of noodles sitting right in front her waiting to be slurped!
Lastly, the Food Truck Corner is on SW Alder Street and SW 9th Ave (P.S. for you Bachelor nerds like me, this is where Lauren B. took Ben on hometowns!)-- so a variety of cheap and delicious food options here.
WHERE TO GO WANDER/WALK IT ALL OFF
Fall foliage here is just stunning-they have so many vibrant reds here in the maple leaves compared to back East! This is a nice little green park to stroll around by the river on a nice day out, and I imagine it'd be fun to bring a little picnic here on a lazy Sunday.
This little area is known for its shopping and cute little brick streets with the public monorail going through. Pioneer Place is a small little mall, then right outside are larger stores like Apple, Tiffany's, etc. Then, Pioneer Courthouse Square is where they put up the Christmas Tree and is a beautiful little area to wander around in. This is Portland's official "Downtown" area, and it's full of stores and restaurants to entertain yourself with!
Special thanks to Hotel Vintage for welcoming Living Minnaly. As always, all opinions and reviews are wholly my own.