portland

{places to see, eat, & play in portland, oregon}

{Warning: this post is still massive, ha.}

In lieu of a massive post about my entire week in Washington/Oregon with Christina, John, Edwin, and Kevin, I've decided to break it up into different parts of the trip because otherwise, there would be no post about my trip until next year. My week in the Pacific Northwest was nothing short of FREAKIN' AMAZING, so I can't wait to dish all the details.

To start off this long series of posts, here's my "list" of places to hit while you're in Portland! I don't really want to just give a list of places and a short description, so I'm just going full story-mode with our short Portland itinerary. Feel free to scroll and skim through my painfully long blurbs. If you want more thorough descriptions or more info, I've included links to all the spots for easy access!

Due to last minute planning, we decided to opt for a four-person hotel room during our stay. For about $50 per person, we were able to book a sweet room at the Courtyard Marriott in Portland Downtown/Convention Center. Everything was a short drive away, and it felt nice to sleep on an actual bed for a night.

{Bloody Mary.}

{Bloody Mary.}

{Slicin' it up.}

{Slicin' it up.}

{Everyone going for the magical hash brown.}

{Everyone going for the magical hash brown.}

Our first stop was, of course, food. After a long drive from Steilacoom, we were all hungry and decided to stop by Pine State Biscuits for a hearty brunch. Our meal here was one of the best that I've had. You can never go wrong with fried chicken, biscuits, and a huge dollop of sausage gravy. I was in love, and the enormous hash brown pancake was soft and crisp (yaknow, the perfect combination for a really great hash brown). John got the shrimp and grits, and I highly recommend this dish—the grits were topped with perfectly cooked shrimp with the perfect amount of garlic kick.

{Shrimp & grits // McIsley.}

{Shrimp & grits // McIsley.}

{Biscuits & gravy with fried chicken.}

{Biscuits & gravy with fried chicken.}

{The best sign ever. And mini Ed, John, and Christina in the back.}

{The best sign ever. And mini Ed, John, and Christina in the back.}

When in Portland, you get coffee. We unfortunately didn't have time to visit Stumptown Coffee Roasters (sidenote: if you didn't know, Stumptown originated in Portland and made its way to NYC, LA, and Seattle. Their flagship cafe is on SE 45th and Division). We instead visited Good Coffee, a coffee shop with more than just good coffee. The shop aims to impact the lives of others through coffee growers, drinkers, and their communities. If you're a New Yorker, your instant reaction to this shop would most likely involve the word hipster because of the shop's curious similarity to what you would probably see in Williamsburg. That about summed up the entire trip to Portland for us—a larger Williamsburg with more coffee shops and strip clubs. Oh yea, we'll get to that later. We enjoyed our coffees outside in the gorgeous weather while counting the amount of bearded folk passing us by.

{Love.}

{Love.}

{John's chai // Ed's latte.}

{John's chai // Ed's latte.}

{Coffee remnants.}

{Coffee remnants.}

{The nicest barista!}

{The nicest barista!}

{Gorgeous interior decor.}

{Gorgeous interior decor.}

{Hello pretty!}

{Hello pretty!}

{Sharing laughs over coffee.}

{Sharing laughs over coffee.}

With my growing affinity for beers, I make it a priority to check out the local breweries on most of my trips. Deschutes Brewery was on the top of that list, but I mistakenly didn't check the location of the actual brewery, Bend, OR, a three hour drive from where we were. Nope. Instead, we went to the Portland alternative, which was the brewery & public house, where they served food, all the beers and more. If you take a walk to the bathroom, you can see the enormous vats they use to create their delicious beers as well as aging barrels of beer on their way to achieving perfection. Beer flights are always the way to go, so we opted for different flights to try as many beers as we could. The crowd favorite was the Pacific Wunderland, only available at the Portland pub. I love my IPAs, but my appreciation for dark beers hit a peak with the Obsidian Nitro Stout and the Black Butte Porter.

{BEER FLIGHTS!}

{BEER FLIGHTS!}

{Where there's alcohol, there are nuts. Beer nuts.}

{Where there's alcohol, there are nuts. Beer nuts.}

{Award winning brews well deserved.}

{Award winning brews well deserved.}

We wandered into Porch Light, an delightful antique shop filled with goodies that ranged from beautiful postcards to shelves and shelves of glass goods. The displays alone would make any old soul swoon. Definitely worth a visit if you're looking to kill some time looking at a beautifully curated store of goods.

{Venus fly traps!}

{Venus fly traps!}

{Cutest little sign.}

{Cutest little sign.}

{Loveliest postcards and vases.}

{Loveliest postcards and vases.}

When in Portland, you visit Powell's Books for one of the largest collections of used, new, and out of print books. When I say large, I say four-floors-and-the-span-of-an-entire-block large. Wander all around the store and explore the different categories of books and don't forget to check out the rare books room on the top floor. In addition to all the books, they sell goodies with their name emblazoned on mugs, shirts, and tumblers along with other Portland-branded knick knacks.

{Banned books. Loved this little section.}

{Banned books. Loved this little section.}

{Colorful steps indicating which section you were in.}

{Colorful steps indicating which section you were in.}

We headed into Grassa for some quality Italian food for dinner. It was nice enough to sit outdoors, so we grabbed our own table to enjoy our meal in the brisk night air. The menu changes, with a large, chalkboard menu-board from which you order your food and cocktails. I highly recommend the Italian Greyhound, a mixture of vodka, fresh-squeezed grapefruit juice, and Campari, as well as the cauliflower side dish. Simple is always the best, and Christina's dish of the Pomodoro was the winner with Ed's braised oxtail agnolotti as a close second.

{Grassa! And its sister restaurant, Lardo. More on that below!}

{Grassa! And its sister restaurant, Lardo. More on that below!}

While deciding whether or not we should visit a strip club for the sake of visiting one, we ended up at Bailey's Taproom. Beer on tap and the availability were all displayed on an electric screen behind the bar. It also let you know when the beers were freshly tapped. Kind of gimmicky in my opinion because you don't really need a screen to tell you which beer to get, but still a fun way to engage visitors because of the enormous variety of beers they had.

{Links may be NSFW} Speaking of strip clubs, did you know Portland had the most strip clubs per capita? From vegan strip clubs to steakhouses, the possibilities seem endless (ha ha). We ended up at a hole in the wall strip club called Kit Kat Club, nestled in an alley and right next to the famous VooDoo Donuts. This was my first strip club experience, and I'll just end my blurb here to keep this post PG. Definitely an experience though, and if you're in the right company, a Portland strip club worth a visit! No photos for obvious reasons.

In an attempt to detox from all the food we loaded into our bodies, we found KURE Juice Bar along the same block as Lardo, our next destination. Detox to eat more, right? I can never resist a delicious looking acai bowl, so I had to get the Sunnyside, which was a blended base of acai berries, banana, strawberries, vanilla protein, and apple juice, topped with banana, strawberries, chopped hazelnuts, goji berries, hemp seed granola, shredded coconut, cinnamon, and agave. Any acai bowl that doesn't have teeth-shattering granola is a win in my book.

{Cactus and acai bowl. Am I a hipster yet?}

{Cactus and acai bowl. Am I a hipster yet?}

{BLUE MAJIK!}

{BLUE MAJIK!}

{Sunnyside acai bowl.}

{Sunnyside acai bowl.}

{JUICE HERE NOW.}

{JUICE HERE NOW.}

If you know me, you know how much I love pho. Create a twist on a french dip sandwich with all the elements of pho, and I'll be yours forever. Lardo is hands-down one of the best sandwich restaurants that I have ever been to. Another post coming up on just Lardo with more photos in the near future. Yes, it was that good. The Chefwich features a local chef's sandwich creation and is available for one month, and more often than not, you probably can't go wrong with it. However, the Pho'Rench Dip sandwich was hands down the winner of the entire trip.

{Best sign ever.}

{Best sign ever.}

Faced with the difficult decision of going to Blue Star Donuts vs. Voodoo Donuts, we decided to go with Blue Star Donuts because the donuts here apparently taste better than Voodoo. Because I can't compare the two without trying Voodoo, I can't be objective, but Blue Star's were delicious. I grabbed a Valrhona Chocolate Crunch doughnut, which had rich dark chocolate with a delicious cream filling.

{Doughnuts on display.}

{Doughnuts on display.}

{Don't mind if I do.}

{Don't mind if I do.}

{Best combination.}

{Best combination.}

We wandered around Downtown Portland to where all the food trucks were lined up to grab some more food (hello triple chin). With our food in hand, we all sat on a bench at Tom McCall Waterfront Park and enjoyed the waterfront views as people whizzed by on their bikes and segways.

{Instax portrait courtesy of  Christina .}

{Instax portrait courtesy of Christina.}

{Boat/museum.}

{Boat/museum.}

At Christina's suggestion, we went to Steven Smith Teamaker and ended up choosing a tea tasting flight. We went with Bai Mu Dan, Jasmine Pearls, Honeybush, and Big Hibiscus. The crowd favorite was the Honeybush, to which Christina and I snagged some loose leaf tea for ourselves and John, and the Jasmine Pearls. On the other hand, we didn't enjoy Big Hibiscus as much—Ed described it as Kool-Aid, and it was spot on because it was way to sweet for my liking. We learned how to properly taste the teas from the sweetest woman behind the counter.

{Exterior to die for.}

{Exterior to die for.}

{Our tea flight.}

{Our tea flight.}

{Expertly brewing our tea.}

{Expertly brewing our tea.}

{Full descriptions of the teas we tasted.}

{Full descriptions of the teas we tasted.}

Our final stop in Portland was Salt & Straw for some ice cream! I initially got the pear with blue cheese flavor because of the delicious bites of pear, but the blue cheese began to make me feel queasy. Absolutely not a blue cheese gal (Brie anyone?). After seeing Christina's reaction to the Potion of Malicious Delight, one of their limited edition flavors for Halloween, I knew I had to get a scoop. And boy was it worth it. The poprocks were the perfect little hidden kick inside of the grapefruit and mango ice cream.

{Potion of Malicious Delight.}

{Potion of Malicious Delight.}

{Not shown: silent judge-y guy on the side.}

{Not shown: silent judge-y guy on the side.}

In the two days we spent in Portland, I don't think I even scratched the surface of what the city has to offer in terms of coffee, food, and sights. I still have so many places that I want to visit in Oregon, but I was happy to finally visit one of the cities on the top of my bucketlist. I've learned a lot about myself through traveling with my friends, which I'll reserve for another post. Super excited to head back to Oregon sometime in the near future in order to fully explore this beautiful state. Pacific Northwest, you have captured my heart.

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{portland, maine}

After our last trip to Austin, I was craving more US adventures. We were deciding between Maine and Cape Cod, and ultimately, Portland won us over. We prepared for a nice, long weekend of eating and taking in the sights of the quaint city. Thankfully, I had some friends direct me to some of the best eats (and some we weren't too fond of). I stand by the fact that everyone's tastebuds are different, and a restaurant that someone loves immensely may not be the same for another (I hate Yelp, but I'll save that for another day). Instead of boring you guys with paragraphs and paragraphs of details, here are some condensed bullets with some of the highlights.

  • Woke up at 4AM to start the drive. I managed to drive three hours to Massachusetts, where Kevin and I immediately switched seats. This marks the longest distance and time I've ever driven (#milestone?)
  • Arrived at our Homeaway and were greeted by the sweetest hosts who gave us a thorough mini-tour of their property as well as any kind of information we would need regarding food, activities, and more. Highly recommend this place to stay if you're looking to visit Portland!
  • Started off the eating portion of the trip with a delicious bang at Eventide Oyster Co. I've already posted about it, so I'll spare all the delicious details.
{Yas.}

{Yas.}

{Scallops.}

{Scallops.}

  • To feed my growing love of beer, we took a tour of the Allagash Brewing Company. The tour ended with a tasting of their main beer, Allagash White, and several other beers. I would recommend making a reservation online ahead of time (plus it's free!).
{Beer flight for tasting.}

{Beer flight for tasting.}

{Packaging the beer.}

{Packaging the beer.}

{Barrels for beer.}

{Barrels for beer.}

{Our amazing tour guide & beer.}

{Our amazing tour guide & beer.}

{Yum!}

{Yum!}

  • Duckfat was highly recommended to us by a few people, but unfortunately, the meal itself was incredibly salty. It was impossible to enjoy the poutine from the overload of salt, and the sandwich that we shared was okay at best.
  • When I read "mashed potato doughnuts," I was expecting literal... doughnuts made out of mashed potatoes. One can only dream, right? The Holy Donut uses real mashed Maine potatoe in their dough. The result? A pretty tasty doughnut with visible potato bits in the cooked product. Still can't beat a NYC classic, Doughnut Plant (but I may or may not be biased). {Note: we were rushing to get back to catch our cruise, so I wasn't able to snap any good photos, booooo.}
  • At the recommendation of our Homeaway hosts, we ventured downtown to collect some brochures for lobstering. Lucky Catch Cruises seemed the most appealing, with several different kinds of boat rides ranging from a tour of nearby lighthouses to seal watching. We chose the seal watching ride and managed to catch a morning session. We were all given aprons and gloves to participate in baiting and pushing the traps back into the water, which made this particular activity one of my favorite parts of our trip.
{Packing bait for the traps!}

{Packing bait for the traps!}

{Geared up.}

{Geared up.}

{Staring off into the sky.}

{Staring off into the sky.}

{Ready to push the trap into the water.}

{Ready to push the trap into the water.}

{Seagulls flocking to the boat because of the used bait. They hung around the boat because they knew food was coming.}

{Seagulls flocking to the boat because of the used bait. They hung around the boat because they knew food was coming.}

{No lobsters, but one little girl was so excited to find a claw!}

{No lobsters, but one little girl was so excited to find a claw!}

  • If you actually manage to catch some lobsters on the cruise, you can purchase them and have them for lunch at the Portland Lobster Company right next door. Unfortunately for us, no lobsters were caught, but we ventured over anyway. The real winner for me here were the fried scallops.
{Fried scallops, fries, and a lobster roll.}

{Fried scallops, fries, and a lobster roll.}

  • Stopped by Hot Suppa before opening time for breakfast fuel before our hike. Probably one of our better decisions of the tripthe hash browns that accompanied both of our breakfast entrees were crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. The highly-praised corned beef hash didn't disappoint our ravenous appetites, but I still prefer the ones from Louie's in NY.
{Corned beef hash, omelette, and eggs benedict.}

{Corned beef hash, omelette, and eggs benedict.}

  • Who knew a sweaty morning of hiking would be the absolute highlight of our trip? With the help of Instagram (scouring through Portland, ME hashtags), I found Tumbledown Mountain as our hiking destination. I recommend the Brook Trail for beginners. This trail was the most direct route to get to the pond at the top, but regardless, it was a grueling three hour hike. The last leg of the hike was quite steep, and it didn't help that we were essentially climbing rocks. Worth it? Definitely.
{Here we go! Before we knew what lay ahead.}

{Here we go! Before we knew what lay ahead.}

{So many fish at the pond.}

{So many fish at the pond.}

{Camping at the Tumbledown Pond: added to bucketlist.}

{Camping at the Tumbledown Pond: added to bucketlist.}

{Tiny Kev 1.}

{Tiny Kev 1.}

{Tiny Kev 2.}

{Tiny Kev 2.}

{Tiny Kev 3.}

{Tiny Kev 3.}

  • A little out of the way, but we had to stop by Red's Eats! Voted #1 lobster roll in Maine, but not the best lobster roll that I've had. I think the only reason people say it's the best is because of the amount of fresh lobster that's stuffed into these thingsthat doesn't automatically win "best lobster roll" in my book. However, the fried scallops and fried shrimp were on. point.
{Food overloaaaaaad.}

{Food overloaaaaaad.}

  • We were beginning to get sick of lobster rolls (oops!), so we opted out when we visited Fisherman's Grill. Instead, we finally got our clam chowder fix with a side of seared scallops and fries. Hands down the best clam chowder, but the seared scallops had me on another planet. The preparation was incredibly simple, but they were easily the best things we ate on the trip. Perfectly buttered and juicy... Excuse me while I wipe the drool off of my keyboard.
{Clam chowder, fries, and seared scallops.}

{Clam chowder, fries, and seared scallops.}

  • Did I say we were sick of lobster rolls? Bite Into Maine changed that for me with their picnic style lobster roll. It was raining and windy, but it was worth getting soaked to the bone for these rolls. Coleslaw in sandwiches makes the world go round. We almost opted out of coming here, but I'm glad we were able to end the trip with a bang.
  • With Bite Into Maine, the Portland Head Light was the next destination because they were at Fort Williams Park. Unfortunately, with all the rain and wind, we weren't able to fully enjoy the views, but that didn't stop us form running out, getting soaked, and enjoying ourselves like five-year-olds stomping around in the rain.

So much for making this a shorter post! I got lazy towards the end of the trip, so the rest of the photos are from my iPhone, oops.

While it was a nice little getaway from the hustle of NYC, I probably could not see myself living in Maine. The food was to die for, and the takeaway from this trip is to only stick with the seafood and the little hole-in-the-walls. We tried to visit places like Honey Paw and Duckfat, but because we're so spoiled with all the amazing food in NYC, these foods don't ever seem to match up. Granted we weren't able to try Central Provisions among others, hopefully I'll be able to visit again someday to visit our favorite Portland spots again and to try some new spots.

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{eventide oyster co.}

To say that we loved Eventide Oyster Co. would be a huge understatement. We ended up back here three times in the four days that we were in Portland (and I became the mayor on Swarm, haaa). After a long five-hour drive and resting at our lovely Homeaway, we made our way to Eventide and were seated immediately by the bar, where we were greeted by the enormous block of granite that had the different oysters and shellfish that Eventide had to offer nestled in layers and layers of ice. Other than in markets, I had never seen such a display of product out in the open for everyone to admire in a restaurantit was awesome. The guy shucking our oysters informed us that the granite was placed in the middle of the restaurant, and the bar was poured around it.

{Hello, beautiful!}

{Hello, beautiful!}

We started off our meal with a half dozen oysters, all extremely fresh and perfect with the cocktail sauce and tabasco ice that we chose as our accoutrements. I also ordered a cocktail, the Twisted Tea, which came in a mini milk bottle, something I thoroughly appreciated. The drink was strong, but tasty. I left with a pleasant buzz at the end of our meal (sorry Kevin). We ordered a brown butter vinaigrette lobster roll, a fried oyster bun, and the tuna tartare to share.

{He actually saw me trying to take a photo and asked me how I wanted him to stand. Thank you! Hahaha.}

{He actually saw me trying to take a photo and asked me how I wanted him to stand. Thank you! Hahaha.}

{The freshest oysters I've ever had. Literally tasted like the sea.}

{The freshest oysters I've ever had. Literally tasted like the sea.}

{Twisted Tea feat. Kevin's pouring skills.}

{Twisted Tea feat. Kevin's pouring skills.}

I think what completely won me over about the lobster roll and fried oyster bun was the soft bread that they used to encase the filling; it resembled the same kind of bread you would get with a traditional pork bun. It was soft, fluffy, and absolutely delicious! We inhaled both the lobster roll and oyster bun in a matter of seconds. The lobster to bread ratio was perfect in the lobster roll, but I really wish there was more fried oyster in the oyster bun. However, the crunchy pickled vegs and tartar sauce were the perfect accompaniments to the oyster bun.

{Brown Butter Vinaigrette Lobster Roll.}

{Brown Butter Vinaigrette Lobster Roll.}

{Brown Butter Vinaigrette Lobster Roll.}

{Brown Butter Vinaigrette Lobster Roll.}

{Oyster Bun with Tuna Tartare behind.}

{Oyster Bun with Tuna Tartare behind.}

Because there was a bit of a wait the second time we came, we ordered take-out: another brown butter lobster roll, another fried oyster roll, the fried chicken bun, and the dashi chowder. I thought the dashi chowder would have the same consistency as a classic clam chowder, but I was wrong. Because I was looking for a clam chowder, I admittedly didn't enjoy the soup as much as I would have liked. And unfortunately, we weren't able to try the New England Clam Bake the third and last time we made our way to Eventide, but this won't be my last visit to Portland (or Eventide) for sure.

{They also had the cutest bowls and plates. Wanted to steal this one right off the bar...}

{They also had the cutest bowls and plates. Wanted to steal this one right off the bar...}

{Full bar.}

{Full bar.}

Thank you for the recommendation, Christina & Minnie!

Eventide Oyster Co.
86 Middle Street
Portland, ME 04101

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