If you asked me before we started this trip which city I was most excited to visit, Portland probably wouldn’t have even made the top five. I feel like I keep saying this about new cities we visit, but ohmygosh this city is everything!! We even decided to stay an extra day here to keep exploring.
We did stop at Olympic National Park before hitting up Portland, but we’re just going to gloss over that. Sadly, most of our trip was spent trying (and trying, and trying) to keep water out of the tent and stay dry! We did manage to get in one quick hike at Sol Duc falls (beautiful!) and even had a few sunny hours the afternoon before we left. It all felt pretty worth it once we saw salmon swimming up the cascades and a few sea lions riding the ocean waves!
Alberta Arts District
The best decision we made was choosing to stay in the Alberta Arts District on the east side of Portland. This cozy neighborhood completely set the tone for a fantastic week. Our host made our experience pretty much everything Airbnb could ever hope to be. In addition to the space being perfect, she left so many special touches like this chalkboard sign, tips for things to check out, and even homemade pies (with strawberries from her garden)! We are still in awe of her generosity and agree that when we visit again we can’t stay anywhere else! After having a string of mediocre to just plain not great experiences the past couple weeks in California, this stands out to me even more.
We were in the perfect location a few blocks from the Alberta Main Street and Alberta Park (where some dog watching obviously went down). The *coolest* bar in the area would have to be the The Kennedy School. This converted elementary school now houses hotel rooms, restaurants, bars, a theater, and soaking tubs. You might feel a bit of nostalgia walking through the hallways even though it’s like nothing you’ve seen before. While perusing the school we stopped at the Cypress Classroom Bar and the Detention Bar. I probably would’ve been more likely to be found reading in the honors room in school, but since I got detention once I can fit in right?? And it was obviously for something way cooler than just chewing gum in the middle of geometry class…
Hawthorne & Mississippi
The Hawthorne and Mississippi Ave areas were my personal favorites to explore. I’d be hard pressed to find more interesting restaurants, boutiques, vintage shops, and yes, donuts! Magpie vintage in Hawthorne had one of best selections we’ve seen on this trip, but we stayed longer to read all of the funny handwritten tag descriptions on each piece. We found some of the best pizza ever at Ken’s Artisan Pizza which has become our gold standard for comparisons ever since.
While exploring Mississippi Ave I realized how lucky I am to have Max to keep me from buying a new wardrobe I can’t afford because there are so many cute shops here! I should mention our stay was full of those idyllic fall days that aren’t cold but just a little crisp and happen to make me want all the chunky fall sweaters. and scarves. and booties. But I just got one burnt orange pullover, so I’m personally pretty proud. Sloan Boutique is definitely worth a stop if you’re in town!
We couldn’t miss Por Que No? for killer tacos and margaritas or Blue Star Donuts while in Mississippi either. We did visit the famous Voodoo Doughnuts later, but I couldn’t help feeling like it wasn’t much more than a creative Krispy Kreme. Blue Star is completely creating its own lane. Just to give you a taste of their gourmet-ingredient, inventive flavors we opted for meyer lemon key lime curd (that’s just one!), raspberry rosemary buttermilk, lemon poppy, and orange olive oil. Woah, I know, I’m going to give you a minute to digest all that.
Another super cool thing about this city – you’re so close to so many other cool things to do! One day we drove out to visit Multnomah Falls and The Timberline Lodge. Sadly, there is still a fair amount of fire damage around the falls and most of the hiking trails are closed with only the lower platform and bridge view open. I’d love to visit again once the area recovers more! The Timberline Lodge is a must-do if you’re a fan of The Shining. This hotel on Mt. Hood was used as the exterior in the Kubrick film and has retained all of its 30’s charm.
Our last day we had a little time to kill before dinner and popped over to the St. John’s Bridge (the bridge in the first pic) for good sunset views. This park was the perfect spot to relax and soak up the fall weather. Downtown we first checked out The Old Portland, which is quite possibly the least pretentious wine bar to ever exist. It has Portland’s musical history surrounding you on all sides and a simple 4 item menu. We also had to try Rogue and 10 Barrel breweries, but my favorite breweries are still in Bellingham, WA! And of course we had to see the famed Powell’s City of Books. As the world’s largest independent bookstore, it’s easy to spend a couple hours perusing and getting lost in here.
This all lead up to the main event – dinner at Canard. It’s too early to tell, but this is a serious contender for the distinguished award of my favorite restaurant of the trip. This was a place Max found that I truly wasn’t all that excited about. I did think I would like the garlic fries topped with gouda, but what I didn’t know was that the whole experience was about to be next level. We sat in the very back of the small restaurant and shared a bottle of wine while watching the chefs work and guys run up to the food storage on a ladder (carrying food up and down the tiny ladder successfully was seriously impressive).
We started with their shrimp toast that was so crispy and somehow even their chili mayo was memorable. The gouda fries and classic steam burger with american cheese were nothing short of amazing. Plus, at $3 a piece I could’ve been a very happy camper with just the sliders. But no, the dish of the night? of the year? of the century?? That title belongs to the foie.gras.dumplings. Holy smokes. You get three and you best be savoring every single bite. I truly don’t know how to describe the out-of-body experience. I’ll just say the menu describes it as foie gras dumplings with miso corn, plum tomato jam, and truffle vinaigrette. I know you’re thinking Moe, we’re being a liiiitle dramatic today, but girl this is the tea. Just get on up here and please take me back with you!
Portland, I’ve rambled on too much, but I love you and can’t wait to come back!