4 Days in PORTLAND
Meeting friends. Last minute trip to Portland! It was all rush-rush to the airport, to try to catch an 8:50pm flight from SFO. In just under two hours, we landed in Portland. Taking the MAX rail, the red line to downtown Portland from the airport, is very convenient! After forty minutes by train and walking two blocks, we found the Westin Hotel. It is nice and clean, has an elegant staff, contemporary pictures on the walls, and a peculiar white-tea smell. Now we were ready to meet our friends. A couple was coming from Vancouver and the other friend was coming from Colombia for a tech conference, which was the reason we were here. As we walked to meet them, the streets were small, clean, and full of food trucks.
Feels like home when old friends are around! First stop, Teardrop Cocktail Lounge in the Pearl District. Everything there is hipster style. The place is chic, charming, and has a great cocktail selection. From their classic cocktails’ list, we ordered the Scorpion Bowl, a mix of alcohols and fruits. It is strong and flavorful! Walking back to the hotel, we randomly found an open pizza place, Sizzle Pie. I ordered a Canadian bacon-pineapple slice, which was thin, crispy, and fresh! We left with the intentions to come back for another tasty late snack.
We looked for an early open sports bar to watch La Liga – Real Madrid Vs ATM. James Rodriguez was playing and we didn’t want to miss it. Blitz Pearl, looks like a liquor store from the outside, but when you go in you’ll find everything you expect from a great sports bar. Time for Bloody Mary’s, soccer and small corn-dogs! The main floor is big, full of TV screens, pool tables, and a huge bar. Explore the Pearl District and you’ll see a full block belongs to Powell’s Books. Read, buy, or sell books in here. As I walked around all these books, I took a moment to browse through a yoga book and then passed by every other genre imaginable. I enjoyed a hot coffee at their cute coffee shop and was sure to not miss the souvenir store.
Portland is known for being weird and hipster, as well as having great coffee shops and microbreweries. So the next stop was Bailey’s Taproom, a local microbrew bar with more than twenty beers on tap. We ordered twenty 5 oz. beers, while sipping and laughing, all the while trying to decide which ones were the best and worse— a difficult task for five friends to agree on! The best were a mixed of Oktoberfest, IPA’s and Red Ale’s. Definitely going back and would recommend this fun place!
Getting hungry, we searched online for a nice place to have lunch that we could walk to. A place across the street called Santeria came onto the screens. None of us thought the place would have sold food, it looked more like a weird cult when we walked by earlier. Going there with low expectations, we ordered traditional, fresh strawberry margaritas and amazingly fabulous tacos with various choices: carnitas, carne asada, al pastor, and special ones. These were some of the best tacos that I’ve ever had. It’s a small restaurant with the restroom located in the back and shared with the place next to it (where an artistic dancer is taking her clothes off). It was a bizarre surprise and a welcome addition to the “Keep Portland Weird”. We walked further downtown and enjoyed a calm, happy afternoon.
The Ace Hotel is known for showing an authentic Portland style and the restaurant next to it looked promising, called Clyde Common with simple wooden tables, it looked charming, trendy, and hipster. We ordered cocktails at the bar. Everything looked appealing on the menu. For appetizers, we chose the prosciutto plate, shell-less mussels, pork belly, and scallops. All of them were small and delicately wonderful. For an entrée, I had the vegetarian gnocchi. It was cooked in an original way with one big, flat, and tender gnocchi. It was yummy-yummy! You should definitely try this place, everything is outstanding. We finished this exquisite dinner with a cup of drip brewed coffee— an unexpected, balanced, a little sophisticated, and delicious cup of coffee.
What’s next? We could not leave Portland without experiencing one of its top attractions. After all it’s the city with the most strip clubs per capita in the US, according to the general public. Walking towards Club Rouge past some half-naked people, some others wore costumes and exotic make up. After a round of vodka-soda drinks and we were in the strip-club. It’s fun to go with a group, but as a woman, I wish these kind of places didn’t exist and that men stop the demand. Anyhow, I went, and, yes, I was part of the demand— stepping out of my comfort zone.
Try brunch at Mother’s Bistro Bar, it’s a popular brunch place, meaning a twenty minute wait for a table. While waiting, walk three blocks to find a good cup of coffee at Stumptown. For brunch, “Mike’s Eggs” was my delightful choice and mimosas with fresh squeezed orange juice. The service was slow, but we got a table outside, which is a big plus, especially on a sunny day. Explore the waterfront park and walk towards the Hawthorne neighborhood by crossing the Willamette River. Getting thirsty! We made a quick stop by the next place where people were dancing upstairs and dressed up on a Sunday afternoon. It felt like a different era or world. This is awesome!
Houses in Hawthorne are big, with small windows and built in a classical style with tall trees all around that create huge shadows. After walking some more, we arrived at Palio, a small, cute coffee shop full of books and people on their computers. I ordered an iced caffé latte and water for the warm afternoon and a much-needed caffeine boost to continue exploring this unique neighborhood. On Hawthorne Blvd you can find small shops, restaurants, breweries, pubs, coffee shops, theater… The 49ers were playing, so we stopped at a pizzeria place, ordered local beers, and had an interesting conversation about entrepreneurship. Continuing on Hawthorne, we found an interesting place, Barley Mill Pub, It’s very colorful with a mix of styles, psychedelic, friendly, and with a good selection of beers and pub bites. Take the bus to go back to downtown using a $5 day-pass that includes buses/MAX/WES. I love public transit-friendly cities! Back in the Westin Hotel, I had a well-done Cucumber Moscow Mule at the Westin-Daily Grill bar and my girlfriend noticed that a band had just arrived for a meeting. This just happens in Portland. KISS, yes! My first time seeing them without make up— I had only seen them on TV before in full makeup. They looked very pleasant, wearing classy, and maybe too-serious attire.
Now, it is time for round two at Sizzle Pie pizzeria!
Breakfast was at Penny Diner and coffee at Courier— the simplest and hippest coffee served in mason jars. The atmosphere was filled with music from a record player. They offer great espressos and drip brewed coffees that everyone should definitely try!
Portland does not have sales taxes, so take some time for shopping that can’t be missed. Our friends left using the Amtrak, through a cozy station north downtown, close to Chinatown and the waterfront district. Chinatown has a popular garden, Lan Su, which I just passed by when I was walking to the old town. I tried Kalé for a late lunch in a casual Japanese place— I never had Japanese curry before. It was too much rice and too little meat, but had a good flavor. Sadly it was time to take the red line, MAX rail, and another forty minutes back to the airport. Take advantage if you have some extra time at the airport and buy souvenirs from the charming Made in Oregon store and enjoy a last coffee in Portland from Coffee People. My 6:50pm flight was on time and sweet home awaited with amazing yellow-purple orchids from my love who had an early-early flight.
Living hard! Living wise! With Simply Green.
I am at Peet’s Coffee in Cupertino writing this article and a Sir leaving the coffee shop said , “Excuse me, Mrs., you are totally the picture of a Californian woman.” I responded, “Ahhh… What do you mean? I am from Colombia (sounding totally like Sofia Vergara!).” Sir replied, “ok. But you are here at a coffee shop, on your apple computer, with an iced coffee, wearing big sunglasses, ponytail, enjoying the weather outside. You should be on a Glamour cover or something like that!” It made me laugh.
Nice comments from Californians make my writing unexpected.