Four Days in Portland, Oregon
WHAT TO DO//
It’s so easy to walk around this city, I quickly found that I was able to learn my way around, navigating the grid-like sidewalks without using Google Maps for help.
While in the city, definitely check out Powell’s City of Books store. I popped my head in for a minute, but you can explore the aisles of the book store for hours on end.
While there are wonderful places to visit like the Japanese gardens and a number of parks, I chose to rent a car and drive up to the mountains - twice.
Needing to get away from the city and into the mountains for a necessary detox from life, I arranged a daily rental and drove up to Falls Creek Falls in Washington.
*Because I am me, and I forget everything, (Every.thing.) I ended up not bringing an iPhone charger to Portland. Luckily, and because I will wait until I absolutely NEED it, I decided to forgo buying a new charger and stick with my Google Pixel for the weekend. However, Google Pixel chargers do not have USB ports, which would conveniently allow me to charge my phone in the car.
Consequently, the three mile hike up to the falls was just me, my thoughts and the sound of the rushing water to my right.
Able to clear my head and just take pictures, using my heel to mark pathways I wasn’t sure I’d remember on the way back, I made it to the end, having shed layers of sweaters and rain jackets along the way. The hike is worth it for the peace and solitude of the inset falls, but mindful of the mist of water that dampened my hair and pilled in droplets on my clothes, I turned back.
An easier, more accessible waterfall on the way back to Portland is Multnomah Falls. While a bit touristy, it was nonetheless a breathtaking site. You’ll need to crane your head all the way back to take in. There’s an additional hike with 12 switchback and head on to continue all the way up the mountain, but I figured I’d done more than enough for one day of hiking.
After spending a full day exploring all the food, coffee, and bars Portland had to offer, I rented my second car to get out to see Mount Hood. I only really had time for one full exploration and Trillium Lake did not disappoint. It started to snow, and the driving roads in the national park were fully blocked to vehicles, meaning to get to the lake, you had to get there on foot. It was truly a winter wonderland and even alone, without music or conversation, it was calming and comforting, and speaks for itself in image.
WHERE TO EAT//
Portland is a hub for amazing restaurants from local farms and unique twists on traditional favorites. As it is growing in popularity thanks to the likes of, for me, Portlandia, and the few Instagram posts here and there, there are tons more spots still on my list.
Here are a few I was lucky enough to try:
The Hoxton truly never ceases to disappoint. After a night of drinking, I posted up at La Neta with the New York Times and mug of coffee that didn’t stop pouring. Shrouded in a gray sky outside, I felt cocooned in the melancholic calm of the space. (Maybe it was over-tiredness. Maybe it was the hangover.) I could truly sit in that seat for hours on end. Mexican with a PNW twist, La Neta offered a healthy option my body was honestly craving without sacrificing any of the indulgences of vacation.
Caught in another rainstorm, I found shelter in Irving Street Kitchen. Arriving minutes before the doors opened, the warmth of the space shook any cold from the winter rains. Nothing better than a menu that draws your eyes in immediately, I got the Pumpkin Sage & Brown Butter Waffle with a sunny side up egg and breakfast sausage. It doesn’t hurt to add that the chef comes from Gramercy Tavern and Eleven Madison Park in New York City, or that the staff, curious of my picture taking, engaged me in a conversation about bloggers and the future of Instagram before leaving me again to enjoy the meal.
Just a quick walk over the water is a new restaurant called Canard sitting next to its sister restaurant, Le Pigeon. I was greeted by another friendly waiter who happened to come from Brooklyn as well. Getting straight to the point, how could I not order the Duck Stack (pancakes, duck gravy, tabasco onions and a duck egg). The dough of the pancake was a perfect balance of sweet and savory, doughy on the inside with a slight crisp to its pan fried shell. While I’m not a pancake person (or waffle person, for that matter), I had to force myself to put down the fork when I was well beyond full.
The following are spots where you can feel comfortable with an open laptop, or to pop in and out. I tried to hit as many spots as I could, fueled by the ethos that you’re never wasting money on coffee.
By far my favorite was Coava Coffee, but here are some other spots worth checking out:
Case Study Coffee Roasters
Lardo: the perfect spot for comfort foods after getting caught in the city’s perpetual drizzle.
I got the Pho’ Rench Dip which is shaved beef, hoisin, sambal mayo, thai basil and a pho broth (for dipping? Not sure, but that’s what I did, and it warmed my soul right up).
I was truly spoiled by Departures, a Pan Asian restaurant on top of The Nines Hotel from the moment I walked through the door. The space overlooked the consistent theme of rain for my trip, which historically hovers over most winter days in the city. As a romantic sheen of raindrops dripped slowly down the wall of windows in the back, I was served a special cocktail whose name now escapes me, and I hardly had time to shoot the dishes before more appeared in front of me.
I was treated to the local greens salad which truthfully was one of my favorites, with sun choke, winter truffle and herbs, so flavorful yet simple and light. Next came miso scallops with kuru squash, apple, serrano and pickled celery, the departure wings, done lollypop style (the waitress let me know) so to easily pick up and devour in bites, and the Ishiyaki steak with ginger, garlic, tare and decorated with gold flakes. For dessert, a caramel chocolate ganache with orange ice shavings reminiscent of my own childhood, and which I believe was one of the best desserts I’ve ever had in my life. While I left feeling a strong need to be rolled out of the place, from the second I sat down, I knew I was in for not only unreal food, but a full and decadent dining experience.
I took a very long walk as the city did offer me a few hours without rain, and entered one of the most welcoming spaces I’ve ever walked into. Armed with a glass of Malbec, I sat behind a flickering candle as I watched guests filter past the metal bar in the dim lighting to their seats; cackles of laughter flooding the outskirts of the dining room. I was lucky enough to invade the open kitchen to shoot a bit of the meals as they came out of the prep area and the chef called for a server to deliver each dish. What has now become one of my favorite shoots I’ve ever done, I hope captures the calm and orderly chaos of this kitchen as the team steadily produced hearty French meals with American accents, bringing together the elegance of the cuisine with the rustic tenor of Portland.
I will preface this by just saying, I was offered still or sparkling for water, and as a treat to myself on my first night, I went with sparkling, because it’s more fun. Upon getting my receipt, I was charged $7 for that bottle of water and I will never forget that. Now that it’s out of my system, we can talk about the actual food.
Straight from the website itself, “The forest of Arden in Shakespeare’s ‘As You Like It’ was a retreat from the pomp and circumstance of the court” and I can attest that it feels just that way. A little retreat for a New Yorker, the restaurant feels more like it belongs in a more North Eastern city than the Pacific Northwest coziness of Portland, all with the same patient and steady pace of the city.
WHERE TO STAY//
Hotel DeLuxe, once a hub for the Hollywood elite, is reflected as such throughout the rooms, hallways and common areas with the same touches of gold and ivory that speaks to the glamour in the height of the era. My suite overlooked the rush of the city, provided me with more than enough space, and walking into my room, an offering as a direct way to my heart - a cheese plate and champagne as well as the most comfortable beds to come home to.
The Hoxton has quickly become a brand close to my heart. Every space, while designed and collected with intricate thought and detail, is colorful, eccentric and seemingly effortless with a relaxed comfortability. If those adjectives don’t draw you in immediately, the free wifi in the common areas should surely perk your ears. Unlike a lot of spaces in any city you might visit, The Hoxton wants you to make their spaces your home, encouraging guests and locals to sit, have a coffee or cocktail and relax until you’re ready to move on to the next activity with no pressure. It’s a unique experience I have not come to enjoy anywhere else, which makes me want to visit each location time and time again. The bedroom, while ‘snug’ had enough room for a New Yorker, and greets each guest with the radio lightly playing next to a stack of used books collected by local tastemakers. From the bath amenities to the patterned blankets and pillows, I’m not sure I could find a hotel that aligns more with who I am as a creative as it breaths a unique itself-ness.
While there are so many more spots to explore in the city, these stops made my trip unforgettable and a place I look forward to visiting again.