So we went to Portland again {March 2014}, and it remains magical. Cyclists everywhere, beer everywhere, and lots and lots of good food everywhere.

This time we stayed in SE Portland, just off Burnside, in an apartment found via Airbnb (as per usual). I think we would likely remain in the area next time - Breweries up and down the street, a half hour walk downtown plus an easy bus route running the same way, and tons of other amenities (food and entertainment) in the neighbourhood. It's also incredibly easy to navigate from this location, since Burnside is the east-west street dividing the city.

Here's what we loved this time round...


Heart Coffee Roasters - We were staying just a five minute walk from Heart, so needless to say, we were there nearly every morning for coffee. Perfect every time, and lovely sidewalk tables to take in the sun.

Ristretto Roasters - Closer to the east end of the Burnside Bridge, is a brand new outpost of Ristretto. Their coffee was delicious, and the café is beautiful. It's also just off the hustle and bustle Burnside; Especially excellent if you are in need of some quiet time.

Ken's Artisan Pizza - We went to Ken's Artisan Pizza twice. It's incredible, and definitely worth the wait. A giant wood burning oven anchors the space, with meats being sliced almost directly onto pizzas as they come out of the oven. My favourite consisted of nettle pesto, smoked Prosciutto, garlic and sheep's cheese.

Burnside Brewing - We sort of stopped at Burnside by default our first night in town. It's a pretty big space, with hops hanging from the ceiling, and a giant chalkboard listing available beer. We didn't ever eat here, but the bar was a perfect spot for a beer on the way 'home'.

Café Castanga - I'm a little sad we didn't make it back to this spot, but it was fantastic for a happy hour meal our first evening in town. For around $40 we sampled their burger, fries and some veggies, plus a solid cocktail and a couple beers. Service was fantastic and the spot was incredibly cozy.

Coalition Brewing - We did a tiny beer crawl with my uncle, who drove in from Corvalis for the day. One of our stops was at Coalition for a little sampler. Although the red came highly recommend, we walked away incredibly impressed with the Wu Cream, which was soft, not too bitter and perfect for spring ('cause it was spring there).

Captured By Porches Brewing - I'm sort of glad we arrived a little early for Coalition's opening, because we ended up wandering around the corner to find a fantastic food cart pod at 28th and Ankeny... Where Captured By Porches happened to be parked.

I was sad to have to skip them last time when we found them at the Division pod (which no longer exists, btw). Their beer is fantastic, with the easy drinking amber stealing the show for all of us that day. The 2 Towns cider was also one of my favourites from the trip.

Grilled Cheese Grill - This is probably one of the best known food carts in the city, and their grilled cheese is very good. I had the classic, with four kinds of cheese in the middle, alongside our tasting tray of the above beer.

Wolf + Bears - You can't exist on grilled cheese and beer alone (wait...), so I grabbed us a salad from this cart, which I also spotted downtown. The Gomasio salad was delicious, with tons of veggies and a tahini dressing.

Alma Chocolate - Another one we stumbled across in the neighbourhood after heading in the wrong direction one evening. I grabbed some of their items at the PSU farmers' market last time we were in town, so was happy to find their shop. I left with a couple kinds of toffee, a salt and hazelnut bar, and a jar of chocolate-caramel sauce finished with a local whiskey.

Canteen - This one was recommended by our host, and it didn't disappoint one afternoon when I was craving a simple snack. I ended up with an apple-ginger-greens smoothie that hit the spot perfectly. They have tons of patio seating as well.

Pok Pok - For some reason I ended up feeling a little disappointed with Pok Pok last time, but this time I went hungry, and it was one of the highlights of this trip. Wings, pork belly, catfish and drinking vinegars.

Olympic Provisions - Although I would have liked to have made it here for dinner, brunch was delicious, and the space was amazing with all the extra light. I ended up with the Choucroute Garnie so I could try as many of their meats as possible, and Charles with the Pork Frankfurter.

Nong's Khao Man Gai - Do not go to Portland without stopping at Nong's. Last time we visited the cart downtown, and this time her store front just down the street from us. We sat outside and gobbled up our chicken and rice.

Salt and Straw - We had plenty of good ice cream last we were in town (Ruby Jewels and Lovely's Fifty Fifty), but I was glad to finally make it to Salt and Straw. Charles went with the classic - sea salt and caramel - while I went with Rose City Riot, a seasonal flavour created for Persian new year, with rose, pistachio and saffron. I love that they've incorporated so many products from Portland and Oregon into their flavours (Fleur de Sel from The Meadow, Woodblock Chocolate, Alma, Pok Pok Som, etc.).

Imperial Bottle Shop and Taproom - What else is there to do when it's 22 degrees out? We ate some ice cream and then crossed the street to check out this newer taproom. I love that you can get half glasses of everything at any bar or taproom, and went with a fairly strong apple cider, that was lovely and just sweet enough. Charles went with a stout from Pelican Brewing.

Belmont Station Bottle Shop - Even though we didn't get a chance to enjoy their taproom, we did trek up to Belmont Station one morning to select some bottles to take home. Their selection of bottles and glassware was impressive for sure, though considering the time and effort it took for us get there, I think we would have been happy to pick up bottles elsewhere.

Laurelhurst Theater - I looked up this second run theatre just before our last trip, but sort of discounted it. I'm glad we made it this time - Since it was so close to our apartment, there were no excuses. All movies are just $4 (we ended up at Nebraska), and there's a chalkboard full of beer and cider from Oregon. They also sell candy made in Portland, and make a pretty solid pizza. There's the standard soda and popcorn as well, it's just super inexpensive, and is served in compostable packaging. Portland-ia.


Deschutes Brewing Public House - We ended up here a couple different times back in 2011, so it was nice to return to their bar. Although we can now get a few different brews from Deschutes in AB, we were able to sample some of their beers casked, for just a few dollars.

Grüner - We ended our last trip to Portland here, so I figured since it was my birthday, and we were off to a concert just around the corner a little later, why not do the same. Like last time, we ordered the croquettes, radish salad and trout; the latter two were changed up a little for spring, which was nice. As we remembered, the plates were beautiful.

Pearl Bakery - Charles was quite set on getting back here, so on our first morning in town, we stopped in for pastry and a baguette. Delicious as remembered. They are also doing chocolate now.

Nuvrei - Although I came across Nuvrei during pre-trip research, I wasn't planning on going out of my way to find them. We ended up stumbling by on Sunday afternoon, and ended up downstairs at their express bar, where they offer classic croissants and macarons (their entire menu is available upstairs). Of all the flavours we tried, I liked the hazelnut best. We also scored a couple free croissants, since they were making room for their new batch (made fresh each hour).

Food Carts - We didn't make it to quite as many food carts as last time, but we were lucky enough to go on a tour with Brett, the guy who started Food Carts Portland. We started at the pod at 9th and Alder, visiting the Dump Truck, El Taco Yucateco and The Gaufre Gourmet. He took us to a couple more pods downtown, explaining the history, some of the food laws and telling us about some of the more famous carts and pods around town. We finished the tour about an hour and a half later with smoked salmon sliders at Salmon Fusion (the owner is a former salmon fisher in Alaska, and knows his stuff).

Cacao Drink Chocolate - Of course I couldn't resist heading back to this spot to find some chocolate bars. While I found their stock a little reduced compared to last time, I was still able to pick up some favourites from Cocanu and others.

Bailey's Tap Room - I was sort of keeping this one in my back pocket for emergency purposes, and am glad I did. We couldn't get a spot at Little Bird until 10pm, so hung out here until the time came. Like most spots in town, you can get halves or wholes of any beer on the menu. I was happy to find a beer from Block 15, aged in chardonnay barrels for their 6th Anniversary - delicious. I love that their draft menu is posted online with quantity left, as well as tapping soon.

Little Bird - We had a great meal at Le Pigeon last time, but I was sad about missing their burger. Luckily you can get that one at their sister restaurant, Little Bird, where we were also able to enjoy bone marrow, oysters and monkfish. It was also late night, which meant happy hour prices.

Blue Star Donuts (above)- We wasted no time at Voodoo, but headed straight for this spot. Someone in front of me got the last apple cider fritter, but we enjoyed a sesame-caramel-pretzel donut and a classic glazed. Super light and soft, and incredibly fresh.


The Meadow - I'm always happy to stop by this spot for chocolate, bitters and salts, and that we did, this time at their NW local.

Ken's Artisan Bakery - I guess we were on a bit of a bakery tour, but in addition to Ken's Artisan Pizza, we also made it to the bakery. Although it wasn't very pretty inside, the baked goods were some of the best I've encountered anywhere. An amazing canelé, pecan tart, baguette and chocolate macaron were enjoyed as we wandered down the sidewalk.


Here's what made it back to Edmonton.

-Sausage from Olympic Provisions {Saucisson D'Arles, Chorizo Andalucia and Sopressata}

-Beer {Bend Brewing Scarlet IRA, Ninkasi Spring Reign Ale, Pelican Brewing Red Lantern IPA and 10 Barrel Brewing Co. 16 Barrel Double Golden Ale aged in Pinot Noir barrels}

-Cider {2 Towns Ciderhouse Chop and Stalk and Reverend Nat's Revival Dry}

-Chocolate {Alma toffees, filled chocolate bar and whiskey chocolate-caramel sauce, plus bars from Cocanu}

-Clothes {For those interested... From Frances May, Bridge and Burn and Tanner Goods}


{September 2011}

Portland is an amazing town. The food, the drinks (especially the beer), the people and the bike-ability all make it incredibly user friendly.

Food carts - we made it to a little over half a dozen, though there were a possible 200 hundred we could have checked out. Here's the post.

 Nong's chicken and rice ($6) is a must!

NE Portland - Our base for the week. Well connected to transit and bike routes, and with lots of great food and shops. Here's what we loved in the neighbourhood.

SE Portland - Home to great breweries and distilleries plus famed restaurants like Pok Pok and Le Pigeon. Details on our time in the SE are here.

Downtown and Pearl District - Central Portland is incredibly planned out. Short blocks make it pedestrian friendly, and this area always seemed busy. No wonder its shops, food carts and restaurants thrive. Downtown/Pearl love is here.

Corvallis, the Oregon coast and the Columbia Gorge - Three beautiful areas definitely worth checking out.