Portland, oh Portland, what a weird, quirky, beautiful town you are. I would totally marry you and move to be with you except that visiting you made me remember that I really kind of hate hiking.
So…another extraordinarily long trip recap of my family trip to Portland lies ahead, filled with tons of food pictures and way too many details.
To the trip recap!
Day 1: Voodoo Doughnuts, Pearl District and Porque No?
This trip–our first significant family vacation in several years–was to celebrate my brother’s recent graduation from high school! So my family flew in from San Francisco and I flew in from Houston two hours later. Unfortunately, waiting for me meant they’d lunched at IKEA since they didn’t want to go back and forth from the airport, but luckily we made up for that by going straight to Voodoo Doughnuts!
It feels extremely weird to hate on a fried object of any kind, but the doughnuts we got were not great. I mean, they’re passable. But kind of chewy. And the decorations aren’t particularly appealing. However! You can get married at Voodoo Doughnuts and they’ll provide complimentary doughnuts and coffee for six friends. So there’s that. Also, they supposedly chose their name because “Voodoo” had a lot of O’s, which are shaped like doughnuts. Also, they apparently made REALLY horrendous doughnuts back in the day and only recently started to consciously up their doughnut game. So I’m not crazy!
Verdict: Walk on by (that looooong line) and save your calories for elsewhere. Or split one doughnut with friends just to say you’ve been there.
After checking into our condo, we spent the afternoon exploring a bit of the Pearl District, which is so so cute. We stopped in a market to pick up a few food items and I basically left feeling that Houston is lacking on the grocery store front.
We went to dinner at Porque No?, or what is probably Portland’s CUTEST TACO PLACE in the land. Since it was Taco Tuesday (.50 off all tacos), we all got tacos. My vegetable and fish tacos were decent, not amazing. I’d be curious to try the Bryan’s Bowl next time, which seemed to be extremely popular among yelpers. The chips were heaven though because thick cut = heaven.
Day 2: Erik Kennon walking tour, Pok Pok and Salt & Straw
We had a leisurely breakfast at the condo before heading to Pioneer Courthouse Square for our walking tour.
I don’t even know how to start describing Erik Kennon, but I guess I’ll start with the fact that he has a YouTube show called Grandma’s Cookin’. After hearing all his friends claim that the best Mexican food came from their grandmas, he had the idea to create a show that would focus on cooking with grandmas all over Mexico to learn how to cook the best, most authentic Mexican food. He successfully kickstarted the show, and may possibly be coming to TVs everywhere in South America.
He also used to be a tour guide in Spain and got kicked out because it’s apparently illegal for foreigners to give talks about Spanish history (or something to that effect). So now he gives 2-hour walking tours every day during the summer-fall months. And they are great! Very entertaining. (The tours are free! with a suggested tip at the end.)
We had planned to head back to the Wednesday farmer’s market afterwards, but instead we stopped and wandered around the food trucks. We sampled Indonesian skewers, a hot brie sandwich from Grilled Cheese Grill, chicken and rice from Nong’s Khao Man Gai, and a barbeque tofu banh mi from some other Vietnamese food truck.
We spent a good while browsing through Powell’s (world’s largest bookstore) and stopped by Pearl Bakery for some bread for sandwiches later in the week. I didn’t realize until later that Pearl Bakery was named to The Daily Meal’s list of top 50 bakeries in the U.S.!
They had great samples for sure.
Then we headed to an early dinner at Pok Pok to avoid a line. Lucky for us, we were so early, there was exactly a ZERO minute wait!
We ended up getting the Papaya Pok Pok salad (quite spicy for our tastebuds, and not anything super special in my opinion), a grilled eggplant salad with egg, shrimp and prawns (pretty good), a coconut curry with fish balls, green curry and Thai eggplant (my favorite), as well as the Pok Pok special (half a roasted game hen) and their famed Vietnamese fish sauce wings. We got 2 orders of rice (one sticky, one regular) on the side and it was a perfect amount of food!
There was a Salt and Straw nearby and we walked over to check it out, but decided we were too full. Later, we walked to another Salt and Straw about a mile away from the condo and oh my gosh. It was so good. The line was quite long and took awhile, but it was totally worth it because when you get up to the front of the line, an employee will greet you and offer you samples. I tried the olive oil, almond brittle with salted ganache, and pear and blue cheese. All so good. I ended up getting a split scoop of the almond brittle and pear and blue cheese.
Day 3: Council Crest, blogger fun times!, Forktown Food Tour, and the Portland Rose Garden
We started with a 3-mile (round-trip) hike to Council Crest, the highest point in Portland (I think).
This was in preparation for our food tour later in the day. Also to enjoy nature.
Wednesday also happened to be the super exciting day I met up with Michelle!!!!!!
Meeting her in person was so so crazy after being a devoted follower of her blog for years. Does anyone else kind of build up famous bloggers as celebrities in their mind? Well, she was the opposite, in the best way possible. Just so friendly and bubbly and down-to-earth, like someone I could totally see myself being friends with in real-life! (Not unlike another super fun blogger I met.)
I tried not to fill up since our 3-hour food tour was right after, but I could not control myself when it came to this chocolate-almond croissant.
As for our food tour…I have very few words that can be mostly conveyed in these pics + captions:
If you are thinking that’s way too much food for one person to possibly ingest over the course of 3 hours, you would be very correct.
We essentially went to the Rose Garden afterwards and passed out (or walked around in a very sluggish fashion.
In an amazing display of stomach resilience, we somehow enjoyed a light dinner later that night.
Day 4: Hiking + Stand Up Paddleboarding
The day of the outdoors! We had breakfast at home and then drove out to Colombia River Gorge. We drove and stopped and looked at the view and then drove and stopped and looked at more views. I think you can tell how interested I was by the number of photos I took.
We did a mini 2/3 mile hike to one waterfall, but our main event was Multnomah Falls, where there was an even bigger, more gorgeous waterfall. The only problem was that the hike to the top was a 1-mile, steep-ish trek. I was not really feeling it.
Basically, you can see this view (photo to the left) when you step out of the car You can walk 0.2 miles to that bridge you see and that’s a pretty great view too. Then you can hike a mile up to the top and see a river. Which turns into a waterfall that you can’t see. That’s all I’m going to say.
Afterwards, we drove to a stand-up paddleboarding spot where we had a picnic lunch before attempting to paddleboard. I didn’t realize how terrifying trying to stand up would be (particularly when don’t want to get fall into icy cold water), but it was a pretty good time. Our windsurfing neighbors were amazing!
We made dinner at the condo that night—my dad grilled salmon, steak and asparagus and I made this salad.
Later, we had a rousing game of Scrabble in which my sister (who wasn’t even playing) beat the pants off of everyone. As an English major, I was embarrassed.
Day 5: Broder Nord, Saturday Market + Farmers Market, and Blue Star Doughnuts
We brunched at Broder Nord! I actually had a lot of brunch places on my list to try (more so than dinner palces), but it was hard to fit in brunch during the week since we often had other plans and didn’t want to start out the day too heavily.
Two orders of aebleskivers, one solstice bord, and one order of fruit fritters (aka pancakes) later, we were full but not stuffed. So, so delicious.
Then we walked to what we thought was the Saturday farmer’s market (as opposed to the Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, or Sunday farmer’s market. One for every day of the week!!).
But on the way, we stopped to ask a policeman for directions, and he directed us in the complete opposite direction to the Saturday market, which turned out to be a completely different crafts-focused market. So we wandered through it and I bought a really cute printed onesie for my coworker before backtracking to the farmer’s market.
SAMPLES GALORE. I don’t think we bought anything aside from some Ruby Jewel cookies, a biscuit from Pine State Biscuits and some apple cider, yet we nibbled a ton.
Then I met up with Portlander friend Karen at Blue Star Doughnuts! Made of brioche dough, these doughnuts are reputed to be far superior to Voodoo Doughnuts. We split the bourbon blueberry basil and lemon poppy and yes, they are far more delicious. All the flavors sounded SO AMAZING. If they had been a little crisper on the outside and a little less chewy, they might have been my ideal doughnut. Alas.
When I found my siblings after, they were completely giddy…
…which turned out to be because they had drank nearly a half gallon of apple cider between the two of them. We took a trip back to the food carts so I could get some real food and re-visited a Georgian food truck they’d been to earlier. They claimed the cheesebread and dumplings were delicious, so we split another order (the cheesebread is SO.CHEESY. And the dumplings are like non-Asian soup dumplings!).
We bummed around the Courthouse Square for awhile afterwards.
We spent our last night eating some (really delicious) leftovers and just hanging out. Such a fun overall trip! With SO MUCH EATING.
Bottom line: Portland is awesome and I can’t wait to go back! Someone please just explain to me why hiking is fun.
Why is hiking fun? Congrats on going to the top of the falls, it’s not easy. Well the pain isn’t but I can say the same about running. The fun is getting to the destination to see some really incredible Pacific Northwest sites that you ca,t get to any other way. So think of it as paying the admission price. Abiqua falls (need a 4x 4 ), is beautiful and really fun on a hot summer day.
Voodoo doughnuts, not the best but weird and that is what makes Portland fun. I would say a lot of the great dinning is over on the east side, try this out the next time you visit.
Such a great post, Erika! I loved seeing Portland from your eyes and especially from a vegetarian perspective — no, I did not know Little Big Burger offered veggie patties! Hurray!
I agree with you that Voodoo is a letdown. We have better donuts here in Salem! (And without the lines and stinky attitudes!) Your Whole Foods feast at the rental condo was inspiring and impressive! 🙂 And we accidentally ended up at the “crafty” outdoor market, too. After everything I’d heard about the Portland Farmer’s Market I was like… uhhhhh… GET ME OUT OF HERE I hate crafts, where’s all the amazing food! Hahaha, so funny/sad that the same happened to you! Bravo, keep the recap posts coming 🙂
Aww thanks Sophie! AHH why didn’t I know about these Salem doughnut places :(((( I can’t wait to visit Oregon again! Hahaha I’m so glad we weren’t the only ones who got confused by the two markets thing. Seriously I was like crafts? no thanks.
Hahaha I KNOW RIGHT! I hope you come back and visit again! We could have great Korean food, local beer and donuts (not necessarily together?….) in Salem, but for everything else I would go to Portland of course! I thought of this post last night when a friend and I were wandering around NW 23rd street and Whole Foods, etc. She didn’t know about veggie burgers at Little Big Burger either, and she lives there! <3
janet @ the taste space
Fun times! If you ever come to Toronto, I have the perfect doughnut bakery for you!! Your picture almost made it look like there was no line. We waited 45 minutes for our donuts which I totally thought was a waste of time, too. 😉
that almond milk from califia farms is the bee knees. only brand i buy!
Arg! It looked so good, I knew I should have tried it. What would you say is the difference over say, Silk or Almond Breeze?
That sounds like sooo much fun!!! And those doughnuts?? Seriously, I might just go to Portland because of them!
I would not blame you one bit 🙂 (Although I personally think the doughnuts from Gourdough’s in Austin are the best in the world!!!)
So much food and fun! We only moved to Portland a few months ago and we love it here. I agree that Voodoo isn’t up to the hype (I live super close to the Burnside location) and that Blue Star is far superior–but it’s still definitely chewier and not the pillowy kind of doughnut I really love. I have yet to go to PokPok, but my husband says the sauce on the wings are great, but he prefers the ones from a place we go to often called PaaDee. And Salt & Straw! I love that place…we go once a month to try out their monthly flavors. It’s a guilty pleasure for sure.
PS, I have yet to hike here…being 8ish months pregnant is just an excuse to avoid the hiking 😉
YES! Cindy, I think you are my doughnut soul mate. I really wanted to love Blue Star (and they are tasty in their own right), but when I want brioche, I will buy brioche. When I want a doughnut, I want a pillowy, crispy-on-the-outside doughnut. How exciting that you guys just moved to Portland! It seems so so fun! I’ll have to let my fam know about PaaDee for next time 🙂 And Salt & Straw is the BEST guilty pleasure ever!!
Also: 8 months pregnant?! Ahh congrats!! My coworker just had her child (a bit of an early surprise) and it sounds like such an exciting time!! Talk about the PERFECT excuse to avoid hiking! <3
Where to begin? I’m so so so glad I found your blog today! My husband, daughter and I are going to Portland on Tuesday for the very first time. This couldn’t have been a more perfect post for me to read. I’m even more excited now…and I have a great list of places to visit and eat!
Oh my gosh, so happy to hear this was helpful!! I know when my family was about to go, we were overwhelmed with the options of things to do in Portland! There’s just SO much to do, and especially eat! Have a fabulous time and make sure to visit Salt and Straw!! 🙂
Kim @ AdventuresInANewishCity
I love everything about this, and I want to eat all of the things on here, and I’d like to forever now walk in a line holding a rope anytime I’m with a large group! What a wonderful family trip!!
LOL Kim I’m so glad you picked up on that caption!!! It was literally one of my favorite moments of the trip. Oh, to be an obedient kindergartner…not. 🙂
This is seriously EPIC Erika!! Oh my gosh. So much food. Not sure if I will get to Portland for a while but… if I do, this’ll be my foodie guide! Yummo. Amazing post, so glad that you guys have had fun xx
Oh you should go!!!!! Based your lovely recipes, I think Portland would be one of the cities you’d most enjoy in the U.S. 🙂 So, so many options and so many farmer’s markets where you can get amazing food!! <3
Samina | The Cupcake Confession
OMG!!!! I’ve heard so much about these voodoo donuts! I remember seeing a show on TLC about this donut store! :O <3 All the food looks SOOOO amazing!!!!!!!! Those blocks of salt and that collection of SO MUCH CHOCOLATE still has my jaw dropped! :O *-* The crafts market looks amazing toooo!!!! I know that a trip to Portland is next on my list after London! Your post is compelling me to get my visa done stat! 😀 *-* I'm not much of a hiker either! It's just tiring and makes me cranky!
Thanks so much Samina! I know, isn’t their chocolate collection insane?! I just wanted to eat all of it. Get that visa done girl because there’s so much to do!!! And I’m glad I’ve found a kindred hiking spirit–agreed. I was not a happy camper by the top of that waterfall hike! Hah.
Kristi @ My San Francisco Kitchen
Ahhh so jealous, we have been wanting to go to Portland! Thanks for all the pics & tips 🙂
Oh Kristi YOU SHOULD GO!! My mom was saying the fares from SFO were pretty cheap. You’re so close! I hope you get to get up there soon and eat ALL THE THINGS <3
Michelle @ Hummingbird High
Yayy!!! I love your trip recaps, and your blurb about me made me blush. So great to meet you in real life, I’ll definitely hit you up when I potentially head to Houston next year!
Aww thanks so much Michelle! It was so great to meet you too–thanks for taking the time out of your busy work day! I’d love to see you in Houston sometime soon!!! <3
Millie l Add A Little
Looks like such a fun trip Erika! All the photos are fabulous and Pok Pok looks so tasty – definitely want to try it out if I ever go!
Yes! Although I also want to try a bunch of recipes from the cookbook, so that can hold you over until you make it to Portland 🙂
You’ve made me extremely hungry just reading this post. I moved to Portland a year ago and am still high on the food! There is so much, lots of good, lots of bad, but all of it comes with interesting experiences… to say the least 😉
You missed out not hiking to the top of the falls. It’s absolutely GORGEOUS up there. Truly truly amazing. Next time.
Oh my gosh YES–almost too many food options in Portland!! I could really eat there forever. And I actually DID hike to the top of the falls! Haha. And it was an experience. I thought the view from the bottom was slightly more impressive, but it was an amazing feeling to make it to the top!
I’m a life-long Portlander, and I have never gone hiking. Long walks, yes – especially on the Oregon Coast beaches.
Julie, you’re giving me hope that I can happily live in Portland someday!! I guess I just feel like if I live in Portland, I’d need to take advantage of all the gorgeous nature around. But clearly hiking is not necessary when long walks along beaches are available!! Oregon Coast beaches sound beautiful!!!
Oregon is such a treasure. I have lived in the Portland metro area most of my life, but I have traveled extensively around the U.S., lived and traveled in Europe, and traveled in the South Pacific. Oregon is my favorite place, hands down. I just moved from Portland to the Central Oregon Coast. It’s my heaven on earth.
I noticed in your photos that the weather wasn’t the greatest, but I love the rain as much as the sunshine. I hope it will be sunny on your next trip to Portland.
Gosh, it sounds like you’ve had an amazing time! What brought you to Europe and where?
And luckily for cold + rain-avoiding me, we actually had pretty fantastic weather! I know some of my photos are pretty washed out, but it was mostly sunny and in the 60s and 70s while we were there, so we definitely got a great impression of Portland 🙂
I lived with German families and traveled in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland when I was 17 and 18. Oh, I also had my eyes open as the train went through Liechtenstein.
Hmmm…there was a lot more to my reply that didn’t show up.
Kayle (The Cooking Actress)
OMIGOSH so much fun!!!!!
oh my, you are so funny. i am with you in the hike area; i like walking but not ‘hiking.’ hahaha
anyway, i am glad you had a great time in portland with your family even though some of the famous places were not that up to par; my friends gave the similar reviews about Pok Pok & Voodoo donut (oh well)
nevertheless, i am glad to follow you along on your trip (kind of). 🙂
btw, those Aebleskivers are huge; my pan makes half of that size.
Enjoy reading your post as always Erika, please keep in coming 🙂
Aw thanks Pang!! So true–I’ll take a leisurely walk through nature, but hiking? No. Not if I can help it!!
What kind of aebleskiver pan do you have?! They actually weren’t too too big (smaller than a tennis ball), but slightly larger than the ones we make at home. I bought one off of Amazon for my brother and I can’t remember what brand it was…but do you like the one you have?! I kind of want to get one for myself 🙂
Mine is Nordic Ware, and it’s great. But to tell the truth, food blogger to food blogger, I want them larger as the ones from that restaurant JUST BECAUSE they will be more appetising on the photo. hahaha 🙂
Haha! Oh I feel you. But also, I think they would be FANTASTIC to eat! And thanks–I think that’s the brand I bought my brother!
Choc Chip Uru
Portland looks so bustling and full of awesomeness, I am DYING to holiday it up there now!! I may have to steal your one true pancake love though – had it once, and from then, I just knew I was in full love mode 😀
Choc Chip Uru
Uru. You would LOVE IT!!! 🙂
Nancy @ gottagetbaked
I loooooooove Portland! I’ve been there twice and I need to go there again so that I can eat and eat and eat. Too bad you started the trip with mediocre food (so disappointing about Voodoo Donuts!) but the meals just got progressively better it seemed. You need to step out from behind the camera and get in front of it, girl! There are no photos of you (unless I’m blind and I missed it, in which case, I’m sorry!). Those aebleskivers look ah-may-zing and I would’ve given anything to eat that ice cream and go on the chocolate tasting. Yum! Who cares about hiking when there’s food and tax-free shopping! I’m looking forward to your Paris trip so don’t you dare think that we’re not enjoying these recaps!
Oh my gosh let’s meet up in Portland!!! They need to have a blogger conference there. How much fun would that be?! And no, you’re not blind haha–you’re super observant! Thanks lady–I’m just terrible at being in photos. We took a family photo at the top of the waterfall hike and I’m frowning like no one’s business. No more hiking up steep mountain trails for me, clearly. As always, YOU’RE THE BEST <333
Natasha @ The Cake Merchant
Yay Portland! I can’t wait to go back and try all of your recommendations, especially Pok Pok. Also, hiking is dumb. I’ve stopped admitting that to people because they look at me like I’m a terrible person, but I’m so glad someone else feels the same way. It just takes time away from eating, which is the most important thing when vacationing.
YES! Natasha, let’s be hiking sisters. And never go hiking. HAH. I’m SO glad you agree. Eating is most def of the utmost importance on vaca! 🙂