Friday, September 30, 2011

Like a Local: Portland, Oregon

I consider myself extremely privileged to have friends spread all across the country, and in some cases, the world. Whether one county, one state, or one country away, it's exciting to think about visiting not just places, but people. People who know their cities the way I've come to know Seattle over the course of the last 3 years: cheapest happy hours, best local brunch spots, tourist attractions worth seeing and ones worth missing...

Being a tourist, but living like a local. After the exploring and the tasting, it's all about coming home to an apartment or house and lounging lazily about with friends. That's the way to go about travel.

Two weekends ago, Jon and I drove the dogs down to Portland, OR. My dear Miss Killian and her quieter half, Daniel, have been staying at Killian's childhood home while her parents and grandfather are away in England walking Hadrian's Wall. (Excuse me while I put that on my Must Do This Before I Die list...)

Corgi extraordinaire: Watson

Killian and Daniel have been on little brother and doggie duty for the past two weeks, so obviously we wanted to add more chaos to their lives.

But I also wanted to see Portland. On the cheap.

Going on a weekend trip to someplace I haven't been to spent much time in before generally means that I plan out every moment so I don't miss a single opportunity. But this time, it was exactly the opposite. I didn't plan much of anything. I had three goals: 1) bring dogs to Portland, 2) go to Powell's Books, and 3) hang out with Daniel, Killian, Katie and Brandon (two friends who were also visiting, with two dogs, from Seattle).

Yep. 6 people, 5 dogs, 1 house. You jealous?

Hardy, Peekay and Ennis watching the humans leave. 
Harvey and Ennis, awaiting the humans' return.

The dogs were in heaven since Killian's house is situated directly across the street from a large, closed-in "dog park." A good portion of our rainy Saturday was spent tiring out our always-stuck-in-an-apartment dogs to make the rest of the evening, and weekend, go smoother.

The highlights:

Cathedral Park and St. John's Bridge, near where Killian grew up in the St. John's area of North Portland.

The sky was gray and the ground was wet, and it truly felt like autumn. It just wouldn't have felt right if I'd visited Portland with blue skies and glimmering sunlight.

The winner of the weekend, and possibly, my life: Bushwhacker Cider in Brooklyn, SE Portland. They are "America's only urban cider pub," and they have quite possibly the best deals ever for a night of drinking.

The above photo shows their "sampler" with 5 tasters, a 10 oz. glass of one cider and a 8 oz. glass of another. All together? $9, no tax. (It is Oregon, after all!) The entire time we were there, I was in awe. They have a handful of hard ciders on tap, most of which are $2 / 8 oz. glass and $4 / 16 oz. glass. The samplers included most of the ciders on tap, and were $5 / 5 glass (probably about 5 oz. each)!

I hope your mouth is hanging open in shock, because mine certainly was.

In addition to having great ciders on tap (the samplers are serious conversation starters; all 6 of us loved different ones for different reasons), they have bags of PopChips, cheese and meat plates, and cards/darts/games to occupy your night of drinking. There is also an intense selection of cider for sale. Jon and I spent a lot of money on bottles of cider.

Most loved cider of the night: Fox Barrel Blackberry Pear, which most of us thought to be one of the best, if not the best of the selection. Tart, refreshing, and delicious. Find it, buy it, drink it, love it. Seriously.

Katie had heard about this place from a friend, and we couldn't be more thankful to her for taking the recommendation seriously. I absolutely would not go to Portland without stopping here. It is a must.

Weekend brunch is my new favorite thing in the world. Getting a nice, slow start to my day and then being rewarded for my efforts with coffee and a bigger-than-necessary breakfast.

Eggs Benedict is my new go-to. If I can get it I will.

And I did, at a little (but popular) spot close to Killian's house called the Cup and Saucer. Apparently there are a few Portland locations, but this one was on N. Denver. The staff was amazing, the food was delicious, the prices were reasonable (ergo: not Seattle brunch prices), and the company was unrivaled.

Their signature vanilla scones weren't too shabby either.

(And apologies for that terrible picture. I didn't think to photograph my Benedict since I was too busy stuffing it in my face.)

Of course, for my first time in Portland, I couldn't pass up a few tourist-y sites.

Powell's Books. What else can I say? I walked the maze, I bought some books, my feet and my brain hurt. Next time I'll bring my Uggs, pajamas, a thermos of coffee and a bagel and just stay all day.

Because I could.

Jon insisted that artery-clogging pastries was the necessary next step , so despite the abrupt downpour of rain outside, we walked the 8 or so blocks to the ever-hip-and-popular, Voodoo Doughnuts.  Home of the Maple Bacon Doughnut.

Not my first Voodoo Doughnut, by any means (Jon took a few road trips up to Seattle before we started dating brought a dozen up for me and my roommates), but certainly the freshest and the sweetest. I also had a toothache for about an hour afterwards.

Voodoo has an insane array of totally "hip" doughnuts, such as ones covered in Fruit Loops or Cap'n Crunch Berries, and an enormous chocolate bar not-so-subtly dubbed the Cock 'n' Balls.

The line wrapped around the corner, and people had no issue waiting 30-45 minutes in the rain for a doughnut at 3 o'clock in the afternoon.

Worth it? Honestly... Eh. I'm not the biggest sweets person (gasp!), and I felt that there wasn't nearly enough bacon on the heavily-mapled cake I ordered. (Two strips? Really?) I'm all about balance in flavors, and two measly crispy strips was not nearly enough to counteract the intense sweetness of nearly half a cup of maple frosting.

If it were my doughnut, there'd be at least five strips of bacon on there. Or ten. Mmmm, bacon...

All in all, not too shabby for just 30 hours in Portland. Now excuse me while I return to my hoard of hard cider.

*Square images property of People Just Float
*Rectangle images courtesy of Killian at Tales 'n Teacups


  1. That cider place sounds AMAZING! It makes me want to go to Portland just to try it out! And, I love the pictures of all of your puppies looking through the windows. So cute!

  2. That is one killer happy hour cider flight! Even though it's nine in the morning, I'm already thirsty over here. Cheers!