Someday, I hope to visit every state in the US! In an attempt to check another state off the bucket list, Nick and I took advantage of the extra-long Thanksgiving weekend and visited Portland, Oregon. Oregon was state #24, and the third new state in 2013, including Hawaii and Nevada. I’m almost halfway there!!
Considering I’ve lived in 6 states and driven though most of them (drive-through only doesn’t count!), it’s hard to believe I’ve only visited half the country. Goals before moving from the West coast again include Washington (Seattle!!), skiing in Colorado, and Alaska!
Anyways, back to Oregon. We wanted to visit Portland for several reasons, 90% of which revolved around food and drink. Obviously. Portland has more microbreweries than any other city! It also has lots of micro-distilleries! It’s the food truck capitol of the US! And it’s home to Voodoo Doughnut– only the most amazing place ever seen on the Food Network and Travel Channel!
So yeah, we’re total fat kids but that’s OK. We also did some hiking, so I’m sure we burned at least 5 of the 35,000 calories consumed.
We got to Portland super duper early on Friday morning, so we rented a car and headed out of the city, about 40 minutes to Multnomah Falls. We took the Historic Route 30 Columbia River Highway (on advice from a car rental employee), which turned out to be a beautiful, windy drive, with lots of places to stop and admire Oregon’s natural beauty. We stopped at the Crown Point Vista House, and then at several smaller waterfalls on our way up to Multnomah. Everything was SO GREEN and pretty!
Crown Point Vista House
Views from the Vista House
Once we made it to Multnomah, we admired the falls (which photos just DON’T do justice to), then hiked up a couple miles to the top, and past it a bit into gorgeous lush forest.
In true Pacific Northwest fashion, it was overcast and damp, but still the beauty of the place put all the Cali mountains to shame. Maybe I miss rain, just a little bit.
Looking down from the top of Multnomah Falls
After hiking back down to the bottom, we decided to have lunch at the Multnomah Falls Lodge, basically thanks to lack of options. But it ended up being pretty good! Nick got a reuben and I had a salad with PNW smoked salmon on top!
As much as I was dying for their cranberry pumpkin bread pudding, I decided to hold off for all the upcoming tastes of Portland.
After the falls, we ventured a little further up the highway to the Bonneville Dam and Fish Hatchery. At the dam, you can watch salmon swimming upstream through the fish ladders (from underwater windows) and tour the power house (the dam is used for hydroelectric power). Nick was totally into the fish hatchery next to the dam, where they hatch salmon and trout.
Lots of fish eggs ripe for hatching!
They had tons of fish ponds to look at, including some gigantic sturgeons.
Giant 10-foot sturgeon!
After we’d had enough fish for one day, we headed back into the city, returned our car, and hopped on the MAX (their above-ground subway system) to our hotel. We took a break to defrost and recharge (getting up at 4 am and hiking and go-go-going all day will take it out of you), then headed out to catch the tail end of Portland’s tree lighting and holiday concert. Yay, Christmas!
Next up, dinner at Southpark Seafood Grill. Urban Spoon led us to this place not far from our hotel and boy was it a good selection! After some Pacific oysters and the most amazing beet salad (with arugula, blue cheese and a delicious, crunchy anise-y pistachio brittle), I enjoyed perfectly cooked wild salmon with brussels sprouts, apples, carrots and all kinds of seasonal treats.
Nick had Arctic char– a special– with some kind of carrot bread pudding and greens. Both dinners were phenomenal.
Somehow we were too tired and full for dessert and headed back to the hotel to call it a night.
The next morning I was on a mission. For Voodoo Doughnuts, of course.
It was drizzly and dreary and the entire city seemed to be asleep. We hardly saw a soul until we turned the corner to see a line out the door of Voodoo Doughnut. Luckily, the line wasn’t too long relative to how it CAN be there, and it gave us some time to decide between the zillions of flavors.
We ended up getting a classic Voodoo doughnut– a voodoo doll shaped donut filled with blood red jelly, with a pretzel stake through his heart; a maple bacon bar; and a Dirty Snowball– a chocolate cake donut with marshmallow frosting, dipped in coconut with a dollop of peanut butter in the middle.
The Voodoo man was by far the cutest, but the maple bacon bar stole the show, flavor wise. The dirty snowball was kind of dry and just OK.
The Voodoo location we went to only had outdoor seating and since it was raining, we decided to take our doughnuts back to the hotel.
But first we stopped at the little coffee place next door, Caffe Vita, for some lattes.
After breakfast, we decided to check out the Portland Farmer’s Market at Portland State University (a Saturday morning occurrence).
We bought a day pass for the MAX (Portland’s public transportation) for something like $5, which ended up being VERY worth it! The public transportation system was super efficient, clean, easy to use, and got us every where we wanted to go pretty easily!
The market was amazing. Along with lots of fresh produce, the market was full of local artisan foods. There were so many delicious looking breakfast foods and fresh baked breads and pastries, we wished we hadn’t stuffed ourselves with sugary donuts!
We visited one booth, Chop Butchery & Charcuterie, and Nick fell in love with a pheasant pate. The guy was nice enough to wrap up a piece with an ice pack so we could take it home. We were hoping and assuming (correctly) that we had a fridge in our hotel room! We also went home with some smoked salmon from The Smokery and some elk jerky. The market was basically a foodie heaven. I’d probably go broke if we had one like it!
While at the market, we chatted with one of the vendors about what to do around town. She sent us on the streetcar to NW 23rd Ave, a street full of cute little shops and lots of restaurants.
On the way, we stopped at Powell’s Books, a famous Portland bookstore. Nick is not even a big book guy, but we both spent HOURS in this store. It is HUGE and AMAZING. They have a ton of new and used books and I found a few used bestsellers that I never got around to the past couple years for super cheap!
We hopped back on the streetcar and continued to NW 23rd. We strolled around, then stopped in to Kornblatt’s Deli for lunch.
They brought us a bucket of pickles to start, so we were both immediately sold.
Since we were still a little sugar high (and were already thinking about dessert plans), we decided to split a Pastrami, Corned Beef & Swiss Sloppy Joe.
So yummy! I definitely could have chowed a whole one. But good thing we didn’t, because next up was ice cream! On another recommendation from a farmer’s market vendor, we hit up Salt & Straw.
Salt & Straw is known for their unique ice cream flavors, and when we arrived there was a line out the door (on a cold, rainy day), so I knew it had to be good. Nick went for a salted caramel flavor, but I decided to be a bit more adventurous with spiced pear & blue cheese.
The blue cheese might sound weird, but I thought it was the perfect salty compliment to the sweet ice cream. I loved it!
After ice cream, we decided to head back across town to check out a few micro-distilleries.
On the walk from the bus stop to our first distillery, we stopped in to a really neat store called Grand Marketplace. They sold refurbished vintage and antique pieces that were all way out of my price range, but fun to look at!
Nick liked this old missile-thingy.
Our first stop was Eastside Distilling. They specialize in bourbons, Nick’s favorite, so it was at the top of our list.
We participated in a tasting where we learned about the distillery and tasted several bourbons, rums and liquers. My favorite was an eggnog liquer! ‘Tis the season.
Nick went home with a bottle of double barrel bourbon for with birthday and was a happy boy.
After Eastside, we walked up the street to House Spirits Distillery for another tasting.
House Spirits is most known for their Aviation gin, but we also tried some aquavits, vodkas and more. My favorite was their coffee liquer, which was like drinking a shot of espresso… not sweet or thick and syrupy like Kahlua.
The last of our Portland adventures took us to Brasserie Montmartre for dinner. After the amazing dinner the night before, this one was just kind of so-so. It was good, but we weren’t blown away, and it managed to go unphotographed. I let it slide since I was so good with documenting the rest of the weekend!
We left early the next morning to get to the airport (pate, smoked salmon and ice pack in tow). We packed a lot in to two days, but we LOVED this city and would love to go back someday! I’d definitely recommend Portland to anyone, but especially foodies. We didn’t get to check out any of the zillions of food trucks, so that will be left for next time!
You can check out more of our adventures on my Travel page!