Portland Eats!!! (and Drinks)

I spent much of the month of April in Portland Oregon for work.  While I’m not a fan of too much traveling for work, I really don’t mind going to Portland.  Mostly because I know the city and have friends there.  A part of me feels at home there.  I mean good wine, good food, and people to share them with – how could it not feel like home?  Portland is such a great town for food that I went on this trip with a mission to try some new places along with some standing favorites.  Here are some of my favorites/memorable eats/drinks!!

Food

1) Boke Bowl – This restaurant is near the office and so is very convenient for lunches.  Recommend – Korean Pot Roast Steamed Buns (spicy, sweet & tangy all in the same mouthful), cauliflower & brussels sprouts salad (flash fried & seasoned with tofu cubes – really delicious & light), and the Ramen bowls with all kinds of topping options.

2) Bunk Bar – Around the corner from Boke bowl – On my first visit I had the French Fries with debris gravy & bunk cheese  – definitely an artery clogging, once in a blue moon kind of treat.  This is like poutine (A Quebecois specialty) on steroids.  It’s a plate full of golden crispy fries topped with a pulled pork gravy and cheese which melts on top.  Yum!  Their soups & tater tots & sandwiches are really good too.  Especially the grilled cheese & tomato soup.

3) Raven & Rose – A fun place for late night drinks – Logsdon Seizoen from Hood River OR  – Awesome beer and a great place to hang out with a group!  Food was pretty good too!

4) Kell’s Irish pub – This place has really great pub food.  The Spicy BBQ wings made with Jameson whiskey are out of this world!!!  I did not try any of their beers but was told they have a great variety.

5) New Seasons Organic market – This food market is so cool. You have to understand that I love food markets!  I could spend a whole day in one.  Malls I can live without.  The cheese selection alone at this market had me drooling for a 20 minutes.  And all the produce was so fresh.  Even at the best markets in the Northeast, I don’t see such great quality and variety.

6) Departure Restaurant at the Nines hotel – This is one of the new “IN” places in the city.  The food is Asian fusion. The restaurant is located on the rooftop of the hotel with seating inside and outside and great views of Portland.  The kale and roasted squash salad with goji berries & warm bacon vinaigrette was very yummy! I also had their short rib steamed buns to compare with those at Boke Bowl.  They each had their own appeal and I can’t say I have a favorite.  My favorite at this restaurant was the cocktail I ordered called a Tasho macho made with chili infused vodka, muddled Thai basil, lime juice, and ginger beer.  While I wasn’t disappointed in the food, it’s likely a place I would only go back to for cocktails.  The vibe was better for it to be a bar or lounge than a restaurant.  The seating too is very uncomfortable unless you have amazing posture and long legs.  I have neither.








7) Toro Bravo – This restaurant was recommended by one of the pourers at Anne Amie winery (see below).  I went with a friend of mine who lives in Portland and we had a great time, first enjoying some sherry while waiting for a table and then ordering an array of tapas to try.  Some of things we ate were grilled octopus on toast, arugula fritters, grilled bread with goat cheese and greens and ofcourse the required empanada.  The octopus was the best I have ever eaten.  It was grilled to perfection and just melted in your mouth.  I have to go back here on my next visit to try more things on their menu.

8) Mother’s – This restaurant was recommended by the server at the makeshift Starbucks in my hotel, but I had heard of it before.  I had also heard the lines are really long.  I decided to chance it for brunch on Sunday before hitting the wineries.  Sure enough the line was wrapped around the corner and I was told the wait was nearly two hours.  Luckily, they have a bar that you can eat at which is first come first served.  I looked over and saw a tiny little spot in the corner made just for someone my size, and grabbed it.  I ordered what this place is known for – biscuits & gravy with two eggs over easy & a bloody mary.  All I can say is OMG!!!!  That’s how good it was.  I don’t think I’ve ever eaten that much before and was thinking I wasn’t going to be able to fit out of that tiny little spot I’d manage to get into.   I left happy and glad that I had a 1.5 mile walk back to the hotel to work off some of those calories.

Some of the other restaurants that are standing favorites that I go to on nearly every trip include Rockbottom Brewery, Three Degrees Grill (only because it has a nice deck overlooking the river), and the Veritable Quandary (the “VQ” as the locals call it).

Drink

1) Prost – A German Biergarten with wonderful brews and traditional food like sausages, sauerkraut, pretzels, etc.

2) Willamette Valley Wineries – On this trip I went to St Innocent to order my usual case from them.  Even found a few 2008s stashed away in their cellar.  The new ones I went to were Anne Amie & Carlton Cellars.  Both great wines with friendly staff.  Anne Amie has a beautiful patio that overlooks a gorgeous vista.  The whole drive that day was just very picturesque with blue skies and white, puffy clouds.  I did also go to Ken Wright Cellars but the experience was forgettable.  They couldn’t have cared less and were too busy collecting far too much money for small tastes and letting you know that the wine could only be purchased in multiples of six bottles.  That’s one I’ll be boycotting in the future.  I like to give my business to folks who actually want it.

St Innocent Winery

View from Anne Amie’s Patio

3) Aviation Gin – This is a locally produced gin that when I first had it in a martini, I did not care for – too herbal.  Then someone at my office suggested I try it with Dry Cucumber soda.  So of course I had to go searching…..I did not find the Dry brand but did find cucumber flavored sparkling water from RW Knudsen which I bought and took back to the hotel bar to see if they would mix me up a drink.  With a little muddled mint and lime, the cucumber water was a perfect combination with the gin.  I loved it so much that I ordered two cases of the stuff on Amazon when I returned home.  I will likely mix it with my favorite gin, Rangpur.

Lastly, I cannot forget to mention the Downtown Waterfront Marriott Lobby Bar where I ate so many meals when it was raining or if I just didn’t feel like going out. The food is your typical, overpriced hotel variety but the staff is friendly – most of them know me now so sometimes I felt a bit like Norm.  I don’t have my own bar stool…..yet!  The pulled pork tacos and buffalo wings are my favorites.  The mushroom & goat cheese flatbread isn’t too bad. Their wine & draft beer selections are also decent and changing regularly.  If you’re ever there, be sure to say hi for me!

The next time you find yourself in Portland, I hope you’ll give some of these places a try.  Let me know what you think.  If you find a new place not on this list, I’d love to get your recommendations.

Happy Eating!!

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