Travel Thursday: Portland, Oregon - Supreme Food Scene, Premier Brewing, & A Gay Night Life That Bares It All
Living in Portland, Maine for fifteen years, I’ve always had the desire to go to the side of the country to see the other Portland - Portland, Oregon. Here we go!
Landing at PDX, I bypassed all the traffic and the Uber app and took the Max Red Line as it looked like it had a couple different stops within blocks of my hotel. But the late night train ride was an experience as I met a couple of interesting characters and noticed several homeless people taking the ride with me. I think his name was Oscar, the homeless vet that chatted with me for 35 minutes of the journey. We had an intelligent conversation, covered many topics, like conspiracy theories, Portland history, and that many people take the train from town to the airport not just to fly away, but also to do regular shopping.
I wanted to mention my interaction with the homeless at the beginning since that is what many hear about. Yes, there were a great deal amount of people that seemed to be living on the street, but my interaction with Oscar was the only interaction, words, communication I had with anyone of that demographic. No one ever asked me for money, a hand out, anything. Did I look that grumpy and mean?
I parted ways with Oscar and even with a couple of big wheelie bags, it was a simple walk. The Duniway Hotel (www.duniwayhotel.com) right in the heart of downtown Portland, just steps away from Pioneer Courthouse Square and the Max Light Rail train lines, was the Hilton Executive Tower until a major renovation project turned it into a boutique hotel. It was a great home base for my carless visit (see photos at the end of the post).
Searching online as well as chatting with the front desk via text message string, I narrowed down my brunch choice to Tasty and Alder. Being a party of me, myself, and I, I was able to squeak into a bar seat overlooking the kitchen, my favorite spot. Since brunch is a combination of breakfast and lunch, I thought it would be best to eat a meal and a half to match the name. See the menu below for all of the options, but what I had was the Cowboy Breakfast (baked beans, skirt steak, Marianne’s salsa, over easy eggs) with a side of Maple Cumin Glazed Yams. If this was what the food was to be like in Portland, I need to pace myself for it was going to be a culinary delight.
The other eatery I need to mention was yet another that I found on a web search as well as being recommended by the hotel text service was Southpark Seafood. I am not a seafood or fish lover, except for scallops and reviewing the online menu, there was a dish highlighting my desired protein. Since this was to be my decadent meal, I started off with the small plate of fried chicken + dutch baby (with maple syrup and peanuts). Think of an elevated chicken and waffles where the chicken is the true star and the waffle has taken the form of a semi flaky pastry. Divine. I opted to have a dark drink with the fried food in the form of a ginger old fashioned, but with the scallops, I chose the tequila cup, which was one of the best drinks I have ever had. period. And truly, the Grilled Scallop large plate (grilled and pureed cauliflower, delicata squash, red onion with apple cider glaze) was one of the top 4 meals I have ever eaten. ever. The flavors from the food and the drinks just hit my palate perfectly. This will be a stop I make again when I return to Portland in the future.
Other eateries I visited and recommend
Jake’s Grill – This elegant and comfortable atmosphere was a great place to order the French Onion soup and the Sesame Seared Beef Tenderloin Salad. We did not choose wrong.
Q Restaurant & Bar – ask for the daily specials and check the times. The service was spot on as all worked as a great team. See if you can get a reservation at the chef’s table/counter.
Jackrabbit – the bar/restaurant at my hotel the Duniway. Do the happy hour and order the deviled eggs. We wanted to try more, but the eggs, with the beer specials, were very filling.
Growing up in New England, it’s a treat to walk around a western city with little to no confusion as they usually employed the grid plan or grid system when established. Portland was a great city to navigate as the streets made sense and the sights along the way were quite enjoyable like this Starbucks on Pioneer Square or the many food truck lots around the city offering a ton of fast and enjoyable options.
The ease of getting around Portland on foot was not an issue, but if you desire, the city has a wonderful and inexpensive public transit system, Uber and Lyft are alive and well, and there are/were e-scooters. Although, these e-scooters will be taken off the streets as of November 20, 2018, they may return.
The 4-month e-scooter pilot program is coming to an end, and next week, more than 2,000 scooters will be taken off the streets by their parent companies.
Portland is a drinking town, well, at least it was when I was there. Little did I know, it was Portland Cocktail Week (https://portlandcocktailweek.com/), but I was in the mood for beer. I had known that Portland and Portland were rivals when it came to the brewing scene (Portland, Maine winning more accolades) so I wanted to see what all the fuss was about.
We hit a good number of breweries, but remind you, we were just focusing on downtown Portland. There are many in the area, but we stuck with the ones in the Pearl District.
Deschutes – with its rainbow painted bike rests out front and its pride beers, this place is very welcoming beer hall and restaurant.
Von Ebert Brewing – not only did we love the shorts as part of the uniform (the legs on these Northwestern men) the beers were great offerings with a simple presentation. The large vaulted ceilings made you think you were either in a warehouse or ski lodge.
10 Barrell Brewing – downstairs was great, but drinking their signature 10 item flight on their roof top deck, so very hard to beat. I actually liked not being able to choose which items were on the 10 item tasting, and using the crayons to keep track of your faves was fun. This as our favorite spot.
Rogue – location is called Rogue Pearl Public House. We stepped in during trivia night, but were more focused on choosing options for our flights. For the non-drinkers, non-spirited root beer and lemonade are on tap and were delicious.
Now, if your drinks need to be in a gay bar, Portland has some very exciting options for you.
Scandals – I’m horrible at making small chat with new people, but if I was good at it, this would be the place to meet someone and have a good conversation. It would be my vote for where I would meet up with friends for a simple enjoyable night out. http://www.scandalspdx.com/
Stag PDX – Well! Who knew they showed peen in Portland! I foolishly asked the beyond sexy bartender, “they can show cock in Oregon?” So the night just got a lot more interesting! There are two sections to the bar, one more to look at the boys dancing or the drag shows, and the other is a lounge area with pool tables. This was a great second gay bar to visit. https://www.facebook.com/stagpdx/
CC Slaughterhouse - Still on foot, I walked by CC Slaughters Nightclub and Lounge. It looked like the biggest gay bar around, but they were charging a cover so I decided to go elsewhere. As mentioned, I’m not the best at small talk and the volume coming out of there, I am sure it was as loud inside. Yep, it looked like fun, but I didn’t feel like paying a cover with so many other free options around.
Silverado – Did I mention I don’t care to pay a cover? Well, when the cover is $4 and the coat check is $1 and it’s to get into a strip bar … yeah, I paid that. The building was a nice complex and the boys were fun to look at. I did have one dancer asking me to hang out later, threw his number in my phone, and what not, but I REALLY don’t pay for that. The bartenders were great and very kind (thanks Adam!). https://www.silveradopdx.com/
There was so much more to do in Portland, but I only had three days to experience a city of 660K+. Some other things I was able to experience during my time there
The Portland Saturday Market – located down by the river just south of the Burnside Bridge on Saturdays and Sundays only, this open market has a good amount of handmade items, small business owners, and food and alcohol. It’s also a great place to people watch.
The Portland Art Museum - Any time you can experience what the locals are able to show you about what they perceive as art. May it be walking around town and viewing murals or visiting their museums, you’ll get a sense of what they appreciate.
Oregon Historical Society – This small space packs a great deal into two stories. A 150 year old humane society? Along with that fact, displays on immigration, agriculture, advancements, arts, science and so on gave visitors a great history lesson of Portland and the area.
Portland has moved itself into one of the top cities in the US I would have zero hesitation to visit again. Next time I would like to experience more of the city and not just downtown, but if the rest of the city is like downtown, many more trips to 'The City of Roses' will occur.
Here are some other pictures from my short 3-day stay in Portland, Oregon.