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Portland, je t’aime

We took advantage of the long President’s Day weekend to meet up with our San Francisco-based friends in Portland.  I had high expectations for our little getaway – mostly concerning food. And they were all met, even surpassed.  Portland was like Brooklyn, but with nicer people and more rain.  All the beards, bikes and small-batch local breweries you could want, except everyone was so friendly and the prices were incredibly cheap (at least in the eyes of DC and San Francisco dwellers).

Portland Outdoor Store

It was a quick trip. We were there about 65 hours total. Here are some of the highlights:

The Ace Hotel
Staying at the Ace Hotel pretty much assured that we would have the Portlandia experience – everything down to the contents of the mini-bar was either handmade, locally sourced, organic, vintage, or a combination of those. The lobby was outfitted with repurposed furniture, airplant terrariums, a photo booth, free bikes to borrow for the day, and couches forming a “U” where guests read newspapers or art magazines, or flipped through their iphones.

hair of the dog barrels

Local Breweries
Without planning it, we ended up visiting Portland during Zwickelmania, a statewide event that features tons of Oregon breweries providing free tours and shuttles. Over the weekend we visited three breweries. Each one of them had delicious, carefully crafted beer. We felt like we had stumbled on a well kept, gourmet secret; but I guess amazing beer is just run-of-the-mill in Oregon. The first two we visited are in Portland. Full Sail Brewing Co. is about 45 minutes outside the city, along the beautiful Columbia River.


On the way to visit the Full Sail brewery, we made a spectacular detour to see the Wahkeena Falls. We hiked up a moss-covered trail with several switchbacks to see the falls up close, and to get a great view of the Columbia River.

waterfall OR

Whiskey Soda Lounge
Before heading to Portland, everyone I talked to mentioned that the Thai restaurant Pok Pok is a must. They don’t take reservations, so we knew there would be a wait to get in to this famous spot. We were prepared for a 1 or 1 ½ hour wait, but we were pretty deflated (and starving) when the wait time was 2 ½ hours. Fortunately, their sister restaurant across the street, Whiskey Soda Lounge, has several menu items that are the same as Pok Pok, including their famous chicken wings and drinking vinegars.  We had an amazing meal, and still have an excuse to go back.

Powell’s Books
We made a point of visiting Powell’s Book Store, a massive book shop in downtown Portland. They have a bigger foreign language section than anything in DC. We picked up several books in French and several weekly French magazines. That assuaged some of the guilt we felt for not studying much French over the weekend!


And still more…
Not to mention the food trucks, of course. We also enjoyed Voodoo Doughnuts, Stumptown Coffee, The Original (amazing boozy shakes), and Isabel for breakfast. Yum, yum and yum.  And the prices were SO cheap. We consistently would spend on the four of us, what each couple was used to paying for just two in DC or S.F. Also, the Portland Art Museum was worth the visit.

I’d love to visit again, ideally in the summer.  I feel like we only scratched the surface. Portland, je t’aime.

Full Sail beers

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