A week in Oregon (Part 1): Exploring Portland
A week in Oregon (Part 1): Exploring Portland
After the marathon I needed a place to sit down. We ended up at the local downtown running store: Foot Traffic. Worth a stop if you are a runner! Friendly staff, great running clothes and products, and free weekly group runs.
I arrived in Portland with a 2 page word document of restaurant recommendations. Let’s just say it was good I ran a marathon! Cafe Broder was high on the list of brunch recommendations and a great place to celebrate post-marathon. The Swedish restaurant is on the opposite side of the bridge from downtown Portland. Had I been more mobile, I would have loved to walk around the neighbourhood it is in and explore the various shops.
Brunch is very popular at the cafe but they do have a coffee thermos conveniently set up outside for waiting customers. We lucked out with a seat at the bar and no wait! We started our meal with 2 Swedish donuts (amazing) and coffee. I really enjoyed my main course: a Swedish hash with braised beef short ribs and smoked ham.
After brunch, it was back to downtown Portland for a short nap at the hotel then post-race drinks with friends who also ran Portland. Henry’s 12th Street Tavern was a good low-key spot for drinks and appetizers with a bigger group.
I visited Whole Foods in the Pearl District many times during my trip. It was perfect for a cheap breakfast ($3.99 oatmeal with plenty of topping choices), easy dinner at the salad bar, or to load up on road trip and train snacks. If you get sick of eating out for every meal while travelling, Whole Foods can be a good alternative to restaurants.
This was my favourite meal of the trip! The brunch at Tasty n Alder was fantastic and funnily enough we ended up being seated right beside friends from Vancouver. My travel buddy Hilary and I split the Tasty Steak and Cheddar Eggs (served with cornmeal pancake and jalapeno butter) and the Cowboy Breakfast (baked beans, skirt steak, and over-easy egg). Both dishes were delicious but that cornmeal pancake and butter. Oh my goodness!
There was almost an hour wait to get into Tasty n Alder. We killed time by grabbing coffee at Stumptown Coffee a few blocks away and sitting in the Ace Hotel lounge. I didn’t quite feel hip enough to sit in the lounge, but it was a good spot for people watching.
After brunch, we wandered up the hill to Washington Park, one of the oldest parks in Portland with over 15 miles of trails. The park is beautiful and home to the Portland Zoo, Hoyt Arboretum, International Rose Test Garden, and the Portland Japanese Garden among other attractions. We spent time walking on the forested trails and then wandered over to the Rose Garden. It is the oldest continuously operated public rose test garden in the US and quite stunning to see. While the Rose Garden is free, there is an admission fee for the Japanese Garden.
We spent the afternoon meandering along the water in Tom McCall Waterfront Park, a 2.4 km stretch of greenery along the Willamette River. It is unsurprisingly a popular spot for runners, walkers, rollerblading, and cycling. I loved the views of Portland’s many bridges from the park.
Brief stop at hotel and then it was off to dinner at Andina, a Peruvian restaurant that also came highly recommended. The restaurant is in Portland’s Pearl District, which quickly became one of my favourite areas of the city. The former warehouse district reminded me of Vancouver’s Yaletown or Toronto’s Distillery District with its cobblestone streets, strung lights, stylish boutiques and restaurants.
The service at Andina was topnotch and the food was unique and flavourful. The menu is mostly tapas and there is a separate gluten-free menu available. I had the De Betarraga Salad to start (roasted red and golden beets, served with ají verde al batán, pickled vegetables and sesame oil). My entree was the highlight: Arroz con Mariscos, a Peruivan style paella (infused rice served with mussels, octopus, shrimp, fried white fish, and a seared diver scallop, accompanied by salsa).
In need of a sweet treat post-dinner, we decided to check out the famous Salt & Straw ice creamery. On our way there, we happened upon REI, the American version of our Mountain Equipment Co-op. I’ve often read about REI on other blogs and it is always fun to check out new outdoor and running gear! Post-ice cream we of course had to stop in Trader Joe’s. I left with a bag-full of yummy snacks (RX Bars are my new addiction) and dried mango and apple rings.
I rarely eat ice cream but am I ever glad I tried some at Salt & Straw. The ice cream is small-batch, chef-driven and made by hand with local ingredients. It is some of the best ice cream I have ever had and their flavours are awesome (check out their Spooktacular Series flavours for October). They also have unlimited samples and great service, what’s not to love. I devoured the Sea Salt with Caramel Ribbons and Chocolate Gooey Brownie.
By this point, we were very full! NW 23rd Avenue was a pretty and interesting street to walk along with our ice cream with plenty of shops to explore.