Inspiration from the Humble City of Portland

M and I recently visited Portland over a long weekend for a wedding. I wanted to share some great places we visited while we were there. We are food people and were really excited about the food scene in the city. From kitschy cafes to Voodoo Donuts, Portland has quite the variety of restaurants to fit your occasion or mood. We had a long list of restaurants to choose from, and we made it to quite a few. All were lovely experiences, and we definitely need to go back for some of the rest. 

We started our trip bright and early on a 7am flight, where our attendants happily offered complimentary glasses of wine or beer. It being only 7am, M and I passed, but there were definitely a few takers on the flight. Running on 4 hours of sleep we needed coffee, not alcohol. As soon as we we settled in the hotel, we ventured with M’s parents to Park Kitchen in the Pearl District. The restaurant’s idea of lunch is “a really good short story” observing the time constraints of their lunchtime working customers (I’d like to try their “novel” dinner sometime too). Their menu allows choices of individual items or a lunch combo with a starter, main and a dessert. I can’t remember exactly but I think the latter choice was called something like a Power Lunch. I ordered a Roasted Beet Sandwich with home made potato chips and it was fantastic. It inspired my Meatless Monday meal (see recipe below). There were so many delicious items, including the bread which they get from a local bakery, Ken’s Artisan Bakery. Oh, the bread was divine! I completely fell in love with the rustic country bread they delivered during our lunch. I just don’t understand how people on the low carb diet plans can give up bread.

Ken’s Artisan Country Bread, Photo by M

Park Kitchen Leek Soup, Photo by M
Park Kitchen home made hot dog, Photo by M
Park Kitchen beet sandwich and house potato chips, Photo by M

We visited the Japanese Garden and spent some time on the grounds of Reed College for the wedding ceremony. Both beautiful places. We hiked around two waterfalls and drove a loop around Mt Hood. That is one big mountain! Portland is definitely green and lush. My inlaws fell in love immediately. The weather was in the 90’s which M and I are not used to, but relished in for the time we had. Oh, how I miss summer nights. Maybe we’ll have some summer in September and October (which is usually the case). 

Voodoo Donut: Original Voodoo Doll, Photo by M

Voodoo Donut: Chocolate Frosting, Rice Cereal, Peanut Butter Drizzle, Photo by M

Columbia River Scenic Overlook, Photo by M

Latourell Falls Hike, Photo by M

Latourell Falls, Photo by M

We stopped for coffee at Barista, also in the Pearl District, in a renovated warehouse space with a little loading dock charm. The loading dock is now a quaint little space with tables and chairs for sipping coffee. And not just any coffee. These are not your fast food coffee baristas like Starbucks, and I do appreciate a fantastic latte. I’m willing to wait five minutes for my latte when they look like the image below. Beautiful. I want to learn how to do this. I might use our espresso machine more often. Barista serves Ritual coffee as one of their espresso choices, and Ritual Roasters is one of the best coffee shops in San Francisco. I need pretty cups and saucers like these! 

Pretty! Barista Cappucino
Doesn’t M make a lovely cappuccino face?

Mt Hood, Photo by M

We had a nice time in this small town. Yes, it is small. It feels small. but it’s clean and happy. I didn’t take any more pictures of our food, but I hope this inspired you to try something new. If you aren’t able to travel this fall, find a local restaurant in your home town to support. They do exist! Check out our list below for some of the places we couldn’t fit in, and some of the places we fell in love with above. Don’t forget to eat your beets in sandwich form next Meatless Monday

Beet Sandwich
2 large beets

To roast your beets, preheat your oven to 425˚F. Wash your beets and cut off the stem and tail (the tail always reminds me of a little rat.. just what you want to think about when cooking!). You can remove the skins before or after they are roasted – just a matter of preference since they will still stain your fingers pink no matter the order. Center the beets on a large sheet of aluminum foil and coat with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Fold the sides of foil together to create a sealed pocket. Roast for one hour. Remove and let cool. Peel the skins off if you haven’t already and slice into 1/4 inch thick rounds. 

For the Sandwich (serves 2 with some Beets left over)
4 pieces good quality bread
goat cheese

To assemble the sandwiches, toast the bread. On one piece of bread spread some goat cheese, on the other piece of bread spread a thin layer of tahini. Lay 4-6 beet slices on the bread and top with lettuce. Simple, delicious and vegetarian. 

Here is the list of restaurants and places to visit M and I made, with great suggestions from friends and co-workers. If you are ever in the Portland area, please check out the great local restaurants below! 

We used a variety of guides including GQ City Guides: Portland, CitySearch Portland, and UrbanSpoon: Portland 

places to eat: