how to do Portland in 3 days: sights, food + coffee
Portland, OR (well, both Portlands, actually) has always been at the top of my domestic travel list. I'd heard it was a more hippie-version of California cities or Seattle; heard it was the hub of great food and great coffee.
I traveled to Portland right after running my first marathon in Newport, OR, about 2.5 hours away.
side note: do NOT ever sit in the car for that long immediately after running 26.2 miles. you will hate yourself. I did.
my first impression: it's a city full of bridges. like, more than most big cities; a little reminiscent of London, almost.
for about 3 days, we ate, wandered, and drank (coffee). for a look at my favorites from Portland (aka what to see and where to eat and drink), keep reading!
what to see
our first stop was to walk along the water, specifically the Tom McCall Waterfront Park. it's perfect for pictures, walking, relaxing, and even running.
next up: the Keep Portland Weird sign. it was a short walk from the water, right by Voodoo Donuts. as many people have said, it's kind of underwhelming. people park in front of it and there's no way to get a good pic of yourself, but since I have this weird obsession with taking pictures of people taking pictures, it was fine.
it's essentially a library — you'll find people gathering stacks of books and staying for hours to read. but you'll also find great prices on books as they have a ton of sales. enter and prepare to stay awhile...
my family is big on hiking wherever we go, but this was the only "hike" we did due to my legs still being unbelievably sore from the marathon. it was a super easy 0.5 mile-ish walk in Forest Park; we took the MacCleay trail to the "Witches Castle." There's not much incline or decline, but the greenery was refreshing to see and the stone building was pretty picturesque.
for more hikes in Portland, check this out.
my ideal future includes me wandering around farmers' markets for a long time. we did stop by Portland's big Saturday market (which actually is also open on Sundays) by the waterfront, but also stumbled upon this cuter, smaller one downtown. their strawberries reminded us of the ones we grew in our backyard — small, beautifully red, and unlike any of the ones that you'd find in a supermarket.
the best part of farmers' markets (IMO)? free samples. Ground Up Nut Butters is a local PDX brand that I first heard of through my friend Holly — if you've seen her bowls, you know that nut butter is essential. and when those bowls feature things like lavender honey nut butter how can you go wrong?
I loved that these nut butters are only sweetened with <1 tbsp of honey for the entire jar (if they're sweetened) and have unique flavors without extra oils or weird ingredients. and a bonus is that the company has a great mission behind it — go women empowerment! I wish I could've taken a jar of this on my carry on.
where to eat
I was so pumped that Harlow was right down the street from our AirBnb on Hawthorne. they feature smoothies, bowls, salads, desserts, drinks (both alcoholic and non-alcoholic), and even brunch. everything there is gluten free, and it's super accommodating to all dietary restrictions.
no joke, if I could live there, I would. my sister and I split an Urban Bowl with roasted garlic sunflower cream (that cream was legit a life changer — if I get my hands on that recipe I'll be set for life) and zucchini noodle pasta. I also took advantage of my newly (well, kinda new) legal status and ordered a warm cocktail of bourbon, lemon, ginger, cayenne, and local honey.
we didn't get the chance to make it out to their sister restaurant, Prasad, but you can bet that if I were to go back to Portland, I'm heading there ASAP.
if there's one cuisine that I consistently love, it's Latin American. not only are a lot of the options naturally gluten free, but the flavor profile is so vibrant. Teote is 100% gluten free (they only use masa aka corn), which makes my heart 100% happy.
I got the Teote bowl with the El Diablo meat and my sister had her first arepa (mole). we split a starter of masa fritas with beet pico and you can believe the entire meal made my stomach 100% happy. so just happiness all around over here.
another recommendation from the lovely Nat. Eb & Bean has dairy free and regular frozen yogurt options, amazing flavors, and unique toppings. everything is organic and almost everything is gluten free. I had the chocolate hazelnut pudding and raspberry hibiscus non-dairy flavors (made with almond and coconut milk, respectively), with hazelnuts, cacao nibs with sea salt, and toasted coconut on top. h e a v e n (especially since it was so hot outside).
another recommendation from Nat at Blonde Gone Clean! I love bone broth; it's nourishing and full of great stuff. it was sunny but a little chilly in Portland that day and we were both feeling a little under the weather (hello allergies), so this was perfection.
P.S. they have an in-store library so you can chill and read while you sip your broth; we also tried a kombucha flight which allowed us to taste a bunch of different flavors; our favorite was the rose!
Hawaii will forever and always be my #1 favorite place for poke, but I had good feelings about West Coast poke (I am from CA, after all). my sis and I stopped by Quickfish, and although we paid more $$ than I would like for a questionably small bowl of poke, the fish was fresh AF. I got a BYO poke bowl and she got poke nachos — love that almost everything on this menu is GF (and if it's not, it's clearly marked).
this place is both a food cart and an actual restaurant; we tried visiting the food cart one day but it was closed due to a protest in the city; we did manage to visit the restaurant right before I flew back to Boston and it was actual heaven. like honestly, it's a paleo heaven, and even people who are non-paleo would love it (the exception would probably be vegans — this is a decently meat-heavy place).
we started out with a crudité platter: fresh raw veggies with bacon and liver pâté. for the main dishes, you pick a main and then a side. I got zoodles and meatballs with pesto instead of tomatoes with a side of jicama slaw; my sister got the pork carnitas tacos with a side of bacon broccoli slaw; my dad got grass fed all meat chili with a side of the bacon wrapped dates. I finished off with some local, seasonal kombucha; also love that they had an in-store library and ton of paleo goodies you can buy. (for more details, check out my Yelp).
we were staying in an Airbnb, so we took advantage of that to save some money and make our own breakfasts and dinners. this was one of them — riced broccoli with organic mixed veggies and grilled onions and peppers, topped with fresh Copper River salmon and paired with rosé.
where to caffeinate
we spent a lot of time in coffee shops; our routine looked like this: breakfast, explore the city, lunch, coffee shop, dinner. neither of us actually ended up getting coffee at Good Coffee (go figure), but we loved the vibe and the drinks we did get (iced holy basil tea for me and chai for my sister).
and, of course, we had to visit Stumptown. the first was a plain black coffee at the ACE Hotel in downtown; the second was an iced decaf Americano at the Hawthorne location. I thought the hot coffee was OK and the iced decaf was good, but overall, worth the visit but not worth the hype.
while I didn't get any coffee from the espresso bar, having just gone to Commissary, I did buy a bag to go per another local's recommendation (thanks, Giselle!). it smelled heavenly, and I just used it in my French press for the first time — I'm in love.
the last coffee stop was Commissary; I got the cold brew. loved the vibe here — it was bright and open, with tons of mirrors; it had great coffee and each table had an entire bottle of water that you could pour for yourself... now that's what I call good service.
well, that's it for my PDX roundup! I'd love to hear from you if you have any more suggestions, or if you've been to any of these places — I know that I'm definitely adding Portland to my list of places to return to when I need a short vacation!