Not an unusual sentiment for anyone, but I love me some Oregon. My husband and I rolled in to Portland on a Friday morning this fall for a Timbers soccer match and had about 26 hours to
eat see everything we wanted, before driving to Eugene, where my brother lives. My husband lived in Portland for several years, while he studied at the Western Culinary Institute, and stayed a few years after to work and enjoy the Pacific Northwest. If there’s one thing that guy still loves from Portland, and in general, it’s the Timbers – so a surprise birthday trip to a home match for the now-MLS team was a must. And that meant I got to eat up on everything new and wonderful. (And make my traditional stop at the Dr. Marten’s store to see if I finally fit in wearing combat boots in Portland.)
So, with very little time and very hungry tummies, we set out on our Portland adventure.
10:30am PST: Roman Candle Baking Co.
I’d been wanting to try the sweets here ever since I saw Shauna post pictures of their gold shears for cutting pizzas. It was more impressive than I expected it to be. The space seems to go on forever. Up front you have a really beautiful white subway-tiled wall with hanging baskets of bread, glass and wood pastry cases of cookies, pastries, cakes, mousse, panna cotta, etc. And the kitchen just looks like a magical factory, where flour and water goes in – and beautiful bread and pastries come out. It’s really a dream come true. It’s very refined, but also very approachable. We sat at one of their big, handcrafted farm-style tables (of course, duh, it’s Portland)and enjoyed snacks. Russell had house made hashbrowns and a croissant, and I had a lemon poppy seed cake and a baba au rum. I love the solid black layer of poppy seeds on the mini-cake, and the baba au rum basically was dripping in rummy syrup.
11:20am PST: Andy Ricker’s Sen Yai Noodles
Maybe he will prove me wrong in the future, but as of now, I say anything Andy Ricker touches turns to delicious, spicy, umami Thai goodness. And I must eat it all. This is truly across the street from Roman Candle. I stopped at one store between the two to look at a pretty plaid coat, then we sat in the rain outside Sen Yai until they opened. No food rest for the wicked. I had the daily special: Singaporean seafood curry. I think Russell had drunken noodles, but I really didn’t care about anything other than my soup. It was one of the happiest-tasting things of my life. Also had some divine greens covered in more garlic and chiles than you can imagine. Eat those, too, when you go.
2:15pm PST: Salt & Straw
You want to go here if you are a human who loves ice cream. Or even sort of likes ice cream. Russell is the former, I am the latter. If you are reading this, you’re probably a pretty cool, in-the-know person already, so this won’t be a new place to you. But you should go anyway. Russell had a giant cone of two flavors. I had a vegan vanilla-based ice cream with chunks of vegan caramel made just up the road at Petunia’s Pies and Pastries. Was in complete awe of this ice cream. This stop was unnecessary because we could hardly breathe, we were so full, but I guess there’s always room for ice cream.
3:00pm PST: Petunia’s Pies and Pastries
I just had to see what the heavenly place was that made those caramels in my ice cream at Salt & Straw. Embarrassed to say we didn’t buy anything here, but it’s worth a stop if you are vegan, gluten-free, and/or want to see the most perfect-looking bakery imaginable.
4:45pm PST: Kenny and Zuke’s Delicatessen
They request you not use phones or cameras in this place, so I don’t have any photos, but this is a great Jewish-style deli with wonderful bagels, bialys, knishes, cured fish, smoked fish, etc. You get the picture. We sat down to an early and light dinner with Russell’s friends from culinary school and loved every bite. The atmosphere is to die for and the servers make you feel at home. I believe I had pickled herring and a bialy. Naturally. Russell had a pastrami sandwich. Of course I had a few bites of his!
6:00pm PST: Providence Park, Home of The Portland Timbers
It was a cold, wet Portland night. At least we got the stereotypical Portland experience, right? I thought this game would just be fun for Russell, but I would say it’s a must-do Portland activity. The Timbers Army is the fan group for this now-MLS team. When Russell started following them about eight years ago, it was just a lil’ team. Now they are big-time. The Timbers Army puts every other fan group I’ve seen to shame. Their songs, chants, dances, etc. are above and beyond. We were lucky enough to sit in the club section for the first half of the match – with lots of yummy hot dogs and beers. The second half, we used our tickets for the fan section. It was amazing to watch the fan section both from afar, and from nestled in it. The team did not win, but it didn’t matter. If you’re planning a trip to Portland, make sure it’s during a Timbers home game.
10:30pm PST: Kachka
I already wrote about Kachka once. It was a place I really had to try while we were there, so we had no choice but to go very late, after the game, for their late-night menu. It was phenomenal, even with an abbreviated menu. They serve vodka by the gram – and hot tea is served in the most elegant silver wares I have ever seen. It was incredibly dark, so I only have one, dimly lit photo. Trust me, the drive is worth it. Go to Kachka, and go during their regular menu hours for me. I can’t wait to return. You go there, and it’s like you’ve entered a new universe.
(The next day) 8:30am PST: Breakfast at The Ace Hotel
If I’m being very honest, I didn’t really understand The Ace. I think I’m just not quite cool enough to understand it. It’s so very boutiquey. Our room was beautiful, but just very boutiquey. Ok, yes, you should stay there – the lobby is beautiful and perfect for lovely Instagram photos, and they are attached to Clyde Common and Stumptown. Their breakfast is one of the lesser known things about The Ace. It’s a European style breakfast – lots of yogurt, granola, a bowl of walnuts with a nutcracker, juices, meats, cheeses. It’s wonderful. Stay there just for the breakfast!
9:30am PST: Blue Star Donuts
Russell is a very lovely husband, as he went to Blue Star to pick up donuts for Shauna and me while we met in the lobby of The Ace to catch up and talk about my branding project. I had a vegan berry-glazed piece of art. So wonderful and amazing. And unnecessary after my huge breakfast, but I had to fit in just one more wonderful sweet thing.
11:30am PST: Martinotti’s Cafe & Deli
We met up with Russell’s school friends again, and my good pal from high school who happened to be in town. We met at one of Russell’s former favorite places, Martinotti’s. It’s this little Italian market with lots of nice Italian products like amaretti cookies, sodas, meats, etc. Most of us had their signature Italian sandwich for lunch – I had some lentil soup with pancetta. This place is great. You’ll see people kicking back, enjoying themselves and playing games at the little cafe tables. It is an old-school, no-nonsense shop with a great feeling.
And then we drove to Eugene and ate some more…