After Collabofest, we went to check out several recommended places around the many districts in Portland. Here are our food adventure highlights in Portland.
Lunch time picks
After we checked into our second hotel, The Society Hotel, we wanted to grab something Asian to eat. Douglas and I noticed how many more Thai options there are in Portland, compared to Vancouver. The front desk mentioned that Portland was known for excellent Thai and Vietnamese options. Looking to try someplace just outside of Downtown Portland, he recommended Pok Pok in the Southeast side, which is known for their flavourful street food.
I warmed up with their Yuzu-Honey Whiskey Hot Toddy cocktail before our plates arrived. To get a taste of one of their popular dishes, we shared the Pok Pok Special, a half of a roasted Mary’s chicken with a small green papaya salad, sticky rice and dipping sauces.
I like more of a sweet and herbal taste to most of my meals, where Douglas likes his plates as spicy as possible. For a less spicy share, we went for the Muu Sateh, which featured Carlton Farms pork loin skewers marinated in coconut milk and tumeric, grilled over charcoal and served with peanut sauce, cucumber relish and grilled bread. We laughed when the menu also indicated, “Yes, bread really is the normal accompaniment in Thailand.” If we had more room in our bellies, we would have ordered their popular chicken wings that we eyed at the table next to us.
Pok Pok was an excellent local recommendation. Now we truly understood why they are one of the top voted places to go for Thai food.
We were craving more juicy meat during the weekend. As we were following the Chinese New Year Parade, we popped into Killer Burger to see.
We learned that many regular burger joints cannot accommodate for a slightly under-cooked patty. Though we could not have the burger cooked to the way we wanted, we liked the friendly staff and service, with freshly prepared burgers and fries.
There were a couple places that were highly recommended in the Pearl District of Portland. Though Portland is known for their craft brew options, we also wanted to see the upcoming rise in cocktail offerings.
The Teardrop is open daily, starting in the early evening. As we walked in, Douglas and I felt like we were transported to a swanky, romantically lit place in New York City.
Sitting at the bar, we loved looking at many visual design details. There was a wide range of bottles of bitters, the many spirit bottles on display on a glass teardrop and the collection of fresh ingredients available on-hand.
Our bartender, Nick, mentioned that the cocktail menu changes every season. Cocktails designed and featured on the evolving menu are collaboratively designed and tested. If you’re stuck on what to sip on, you can always ask for suggestions or ask for a classic cocktail that they may make that’s off the menu.
Citrus and limes are my favourites notes in cocktails and scents. I wanted something close to, but different from a traditional lime margarita on the rocks. The East of the Sun cocktail was a great balance of tangy tart and sweet, and tasted like a light key lime pie. Douglas loves herbs, especially rosemary, so he went for the Grande Armée cocktail. The Grande Armée was savoury with a smoky finish.
For our second round, we ordered the Don Lockwood and the classic Ramos Gin Fizz. Feeling Mad-men inspired, and also for a cocktail designed in New York, the Don Lockwood cocktail was a strong and smooth combination of bourbon and scotch. Since we liked the airiness of the first East of the Sun cocktail, we were impressed with the tall Ramos Gin Fizz.
The Teardrops Lounge is a very beautiful establishment. If you’re a shutterbug like me, due to the lighting of the location, this is not a place for sharing Instagram moments. If you’re looking to take a break from being online or from being on your phone, this is definitely the place to share intimate conversations over one-of-a-kind cocktail creations. Or if you’re looking for a show, sit at the bar to watch the cocktail masters work on their liquid creations.
I always chuckle when Douglas asks for a serviette because often times in Canada, we would ask for napkins. In Canada, I like to say I pick up spirits at a liquor store. Douglas, spending many years in Australia, always calls these stores, “Bottle Shops.” Once we saw the sign for this shop that said “Bottle Shop,” we had to pop-in to check it out.
To take a short break after visiting the Peculiarum, we sat at their bar and ordered beer. There’s a wide selection of spirits, wine, coffee, beer, and related gifts available at this bottle shop. We also tried their newest promotion, which was a $1.50 mystery drink that you pick from a box of wrapped drinks.
We were surprised to find that Andina had three floors with a beautiful lounge, dining and other areas to enjoy Peruvian food.
It was very lively and busy in the lounge area. The staff was very efficient and attentive, with the owner Doris, who graciously went to every table to welcome guests to Andina’s.
In the middle of happy hour, we started off with warm and fluffy empanadas stuffed with slow-cooked beef. For another lime-based introduction, we tried their ceviche (they spell it as cebiches) that featured green mangoes and poached prawns in passion fruit. As omnivores, we also love our grilled vegetables, so we happily nibbled on asparagus brushed with chimichurri.
Though I’m not a fan of extremely spicy fare, I liked how the Sacsayhuaman (pronounced “Sexy-Woman”) cocktail had a few moments of spice with every sip. Both Douglas and I love crème brûlée, and we devoured their trio featuring lemon, vanilla and espresso.
Andina also offers a specialized and separate Gluten Free, Vegetarian or Vegan-based menu for those looking to have a special place to accommodate those choices.
Continuing the South American theme, we went over to the Ox Restaurant for an Argentine fare. Though Google Maps may call this an “Argentinian” restaurant, as noted by many of my students and colleagues, you will likely be corrected to saying, “Argentine”.
Going along the lime-theme also, I ordered the Re-Animator cocktail featuring Cachaça, which is distilled from sugarcane juice. For a light, late-night fare, we shared the Fried Oxtail Terrine which was gorgeously set on a bed of roasted beets, marinated peppers, and celery.
Every time we walked by Voodoo’s, there was a long lineup. Both Douglas and I don’t really understand the fascination with doughnuts. However, I personally love a lot of desserts, and I’m always up to try something new at least once.
We found out that they open 24 hours. While I was leisurely waking up one morning, Douglas snuck out to check out the shop. He came back to our room with a surprise doughnut from Voodoos. This multi-eyed character was chocolate dipped and decorated on the outside fried zone, with raspberry filling enveloped by a very fresh and fluffy inner doughnut core. If you want to avoid line-ups at this popular shop, try your luck during early mornings.
Craving for ice cream, I was really happy when after eating at Pok Pok, that we were a few steps away from Salt & Straw NW shop.
I sampled the many of the classic Portland location flavours and monthly features. We settled on a the flavours Arbequina Olive Oil and Pear and Blue Cheese. It was fun to tuck into a pint while reading about the many local ingredients and establishments they include in their ice cream at their indoor displays.
Note to self, I need to remember to check if the hotel or room has a freezer next time we buy ice cream. We bought a pint, but we couldn’t finish it before it melted. (Oh well.)
Throughout our days in Portland, we learned that it was still one of the most affordable, creative cities in the world. You may be finding in the next few months an influx of creatives influences from the epicenters of LA and New York flocking to this place in the Pacific Northwest.
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