Portland Mini-Trip: Foodie Edition

I confess...I am a foodie.

I know this might sound good, but I have always have felt slightly embarrassed to admit to being a foodie. Which got me thinking...why? After some thought, I guess it comes down to my need for everyone to like me and that as a foodie someone might think I'm a food snob. But really, it just means I like food. I like eating it, cooking it, baking it, reading about it, researching it, talking about it, photographing it...just like a hobby. Nothing to be ashamed of, right? I hope you agree. 

Great, and now that the foodie confession is off my chest, I want to talk about food. Surprise! Josh is transitioning jobs right now and got a few days off between work. We seized the opportunity to go on a family mini-trip down to Portland. We haven't been to Portland since we moved to Seattle in 2010. Crazy, huh? I mean we just live three hours away. I chalk it up to: life. 

Portland has really grown since the last time we were there, especially in the restaurant scene. It's become a real foodie town. As soon as I knew we were headed down, I started to compile a list of lists of where to dine. I looked at my Pinterest board, asked Facebook friends, and read some of my bloggers Portland must-eats. You know, foodie research.

I know we wouldn't be able to do it all - not just because it was just a day and half long trip, but because bringing a baby along changes everything. Oh, and my list was way over 50 restaurants/cafes long (heh!), but that's neither here or there.

We did get to some pretty awesome places. Also, I snuck some food photos for you (again, slightly embarrassed to be taking photos of food. Apparently not enough to not take them, though). 

Okay, enough of the talk. Here's where we went and what we ate...

Breakfast  

Barista {Day 1 - Coffee} There is a picture of me with the Barista sign from our last visit (see photos below). I am pointing at my head because it was when I was working as a Starbucks barista in Eugene. Wow, that seems like a long time ago. Back then, I'm pretty sure that was the only Barista location, but this time we found there were several locations.

Lucky for us, Barista was just a nice walk away from the AirBnB we were staying at. It snowed that morning, so we walked down and got ourselves some delicious coffee. I ordered the hazelnut latte and Josh got the Valhorna Mocha. I normally don't go for hazelnut lattes, but it was housemate syrup and I saw someone rave about it on Yelp. It was delicious - slightly sweet, nutty, and smooth. The mocha was a winner, too. The chocolate was rich, but not too much - it was just right. 

Blue Star Donuts {Day 1 - Food} Honestly, I don't have a huge want to go to Voodoo Donuts. Most of them look like they are covered in cereal. They might be delicious, and if I get the chance, I'll try one. Mostly, though, I look for a classic donut with a fun twist. And that is what Blue Star delivered. They were so freaking good. 

The gal was late to open the store, but she let us hang out inside (snow in the PNW always slows things down!). So we had time to debate what flavors to get...it was so tough. We ended up with the Raspberry Rosemary, Mexican Hot Chocolate, Smoked Grapefruit, Bourbon Blueberry Basil, and Breakfast fritter (bacon potato goodness). I think my favorite was the Raspberry Rosemary donut, and Josh couldn't decide but mentioned the Smoked Grapefruit being a favorite because it was just so different. I think I have to say it: this was the best donut I've ever had. 

Sterling Coffee Roasters {Day 2 - Coffee}  I always have a dilemma when traveling. You find something you really enjoy one day, but should you return to it knowing you really liked it or should you try something new? What if the something new isn't quite as good? #firstworldproblems. I usually end up forcing Josh to make the decision. Generally, Josh is on Team Try Something New, so that usually want we end up doing. And that is the case on our last morning in Portland. Instead of Barista, we walked a little longer to check out Sterling. It's a tiny coffee shop made more for commuters than dwellers. It was swanky and nice inside, though. I ordered a vanilla latte with their homemade vanilla syrup. Josh ordered their house caramel latte. Both were smooth, creamy, and delicious. We also purchased some beans to take home and we are still enjoying their coffee. Their beans are quite good, in fact. Unfortunately, I don't remember the exact ones, but I believe they were Ethiopian.

We took our coffees to go and strolled back to our AirBnB for some food to go along with the coffee. Man can't survive off coffee along...or, can he? Naaawww. Food required!

Trifecta Annex - {Day 2 - Food} If you continue to read, you'll know we went to Pine Street Market. When we were there we picked up some bread and pastries. For breakfast, we noshed on sweet citrus morning buns. They were buttery and had a lovely touch of orange zest inside. Take that an dip it in your coffee. Now, that's what I'm talking about.

Lunch

Lardo {Day 1} Our intention was actually to get lunch at Tasty 'n Alder, but it was a 45 minute wait. When you have a baby who's nap is coming in about an hour this just won't do. Instead, we crossed the street and hit up Lardo. This place specializes in meat and sandwiches. If you can do a good sandwich, oh man...

I indulged in the Pork Meatball Banh Mi while Josh got the Philly Joe Jones. Both were terrific. To accompany the sammies, we go the fries which were also great with herbs and such. Josh got some red velvet beer, which was in fact red colored. He thought it was great and refreshing. A great spot for lunch! 

Tasty โ€™n Alder {Day 2} Basically everyone I asked mentioned we should go here. It's one of John Gorham's restaurants, and he's the hit restaurateur in Portland right now. We ordered the house cottage cheese with pineapple jam for Caleb. Caleb refused it, but don't let him tell you if it was good as he's currently only living off fruit and puffs right now. Anything else gets dropped, hidden, or squished. We ate it instead and our impression of cottage cheese was changed for the better. And now I want to know how to make it!

I enjoyed the Polenta n Sugo, which was basically creamy polenta topped with a chicken and pork ragu sauce with mozzarella and topped of with an egg. Oh man, it hit the spot on the rainy day. Josh took the waiter's advice and ordered the Korean Fried Chicken, which was spot-on spicy and delicious. This place didn't disappoint...even after all the hype. 

Caleb enjoyed this Bamba (peanut puffs). And flirted with the ladies next to us.

Snacks

Salt & Straw Ice Cream {Day 1 & 2} Oh man, oh man, oh man. This ice cream is the BEST. Da Bomb! The creme de la creme. Probably the best ice cream ever. Statement made. Done. 

The flavors are freaking amazing. Different but not so wildly different that you scratch your head in confusion. We opted to share a flight of ice cream. Yup, a flight of ice cream. We found it to be the perfect way to enjoy several flavors. We tried the Chocolate Gooey Brownie, Arbequina Olive Oil, Coconut with Petuniaโ€™s Salted Caramel Bars, and Pear & Blue Cheese. We both thought the Pear & Blue Cheese was the best (of the best!). And Caleb liked their spoons. Can you find the missing spoon in the photo below?

Guys, it was so good, we made a pit stop before hitting the road back to Tacoma for a treat to go. Josh got the rootbeer float, which was dynamite. I couldn't resist and got a waffle cone of the pear and blue cheese. 

Dinner

Jo Bar & Rotisserie {Day 1} We arrived late afternoon to Portland, and didn't have much time before Caleb needed to go down for the night. He's an early to bed guy, so we need to eat at 5pm if he's going to join us. We were staying within walking distanced to 23rd Street in the Alphabet district (slash near Nob Hill), so we walked down to see what would work. We landed at Jo Bar, which received good ratings on Yelp (not that Yelp is the end all be all of rankings, but it usually steers us well). The good thing about early dining is happy hour. We both got a drink - Josh a beer, and me a cocktail (blood orange old fashion, my fav!). Our favorite dish was the fondue. Not only fun to eat, but delicious. Then we shared the rotisserie chicken since rotisserie seemed to be their specialty. We ended up having to gulf it down because Caleb started to get tired (that's code for - fussy, flailing arms, shrieks, etc). But it was a solid dish and worked well for that evening. 

Pine Street Market {Day 2} We always love a good market. Like The Ferry Building in SF, Krog Market in Atlanta, Pike Place in Seattle, Granville in Vancouver. If there is a market in the city, you can probably guess Josh and I will check it out. Pine Street Market is fairly new - just opened a year ago (according to some guy that served me some food). It has several little restaurants inside and is very hip/trendy. And we loved it. We ended up with ramen from Marukin Ramen, which was soul warming. Before we left, we bought bread & pastries from the Trifecta Annex to enjoy later. I would definitely want to come back and try more places! I love marketplaces. 

What a great weekend! What a culinary adventure! I'm pretty proud of us for getting to so many places with a baby/toddler. We definitely have to return to PDX soon. So many good places to try still. Have you gone to Portland recently? Foodies Unite!