Pacific Northwest Eats: Portland

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Last week I posted about the fantastic things I ate during the first half of our trip to the Pacific Northwest, so this week I’m finishing it up. By this point in the trip, I was a little less excited about taking pictures of ALL THE FOODS, but I did manage to get a few in! Especially of the beer. So much beer.


 

After some early morning hiking in Mt Rainer and then taking the scenic route through the forests to Portland (on unfortunately the only non-sunny day in our trip), we arrived in Portland famished. Luckily, it was pretty early in the evening at this point, so I decided it would be worth going to the restaurant I looked forward to eating at the most before I trip: Pok Pok. Pok Pok is owned by Andy Ricker,  a James Beard-award winning chef, who specializes in Northern Thai food served in a cozy, eclectic setting. It’s supposed to be reminiscent of the street-food scene in Thailand, which I really hope I get to experience for myself one day (ahem::Little Fish::cough).  I already knew going in that Little Fish wasn’t going to be on-board with this one, since he’s not a fan of Thai food in general, but I tried to find a couple of less scary options on the menu. We ultimately went with my favorite ask-the-waiter route and told him that Little Fish is typically a fried-rice kinda guy. I was pleased when the waiter suggested the famous fish sauce chicken wings and the boar collar dish because they were both things I wanted to try! So we ordered that plus a side of sticky rice for me and a side of jasmine rice for Little Fish.

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Little Fish, ironically, is not a fan of fish sauce so he didn’t really like the wings, but I thought they were DELICIOUS! Sweet and sticky and loaded with umami flavors, they were even better when we sprinkled some chili pepper on top! The boar collar with the sticky rice was also a fantastic combination, although I would’ve loved to have a bigger portion. I finished off my meal with a Thai tea and was a very happy camper, made even happier when we went to sample some ciders at Bushwhacker Cider after dinner.

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The next day we decided we couldn’t leave Portland without visiting some food trucks, so we stopped by after our visit to Powell’s Bookstore.

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Coming from Austin, the food trucks are not really a novelty, but I do like the low-key and fast service you get. We choose Korean Twist, a Korean and Mexican fusion food truck, for our lunch, and I also picked up a lychee drink from the truck next door to round out the meal.

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The tacos were really tasty! I got beef bulgogi tacos with kimchi on top. We enjoyed them in the perfect weather in a nearby park, and then went to visit the Portland Japanese Garden. After the gardens we were thirsty for some Oregon beer, so we went to Deschutes on the recommendation of a friend.

We had just visited Colorado in May, so Deschutes had a high (hehe) standard to meet, and, sadly, did not quite live up to it. I did really enjoy the bison burger with pomegranate pork belly and sweet potato fries though!

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We decided to spend the following day driving out to Multnomah Falls in the Columbia River Gorge to hike for a bit, so we fueled up with some really great Venezuelan arepas at Teote. Our eyes were far bigger than our stomachs so we ordered way too much, but we made an earnest effort to eat it all. My favorite was the El Diablo–pork belly in a sweet and spicy sauce with pickled onions and queso fresco.

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After our afternoon in the Falls, we knew we couldn’t put off getting some Voodoo Doughnuts any longer, so we decided to forego dinner (and my waistline) in favor of the famous donuts (meal of champions). Voodoo definitely blew Top Pot out of the water!

We got three doughnuts to share: the Old Dirty Bastard with oreos and peanut butter, the Maple Bacon Bar, and the No Name with rice krispies and peanut butter (see a theme?). Talk about sugar overload. We were kinda sorta disgusted with ourselves afterwards, so we decided to drown our sorrows with more Oregon beer. Totally makes sense. This time Yelp had suggested Upright Brewing, which turned out to be a small, more craft brewery instead of the giant brew pubs we’d gone to so far. They do a more French/Belgian style beer, which we both like more than the IPA-style, so we were excited to see what they offered.

 

And boy were we glad we went a little off the beaten path. The beers were, frankly, the best we’d had in the Northwest so far, and the place was a small, intimate cellar that only opens three days a week because the other days they are actually brewing. It would be the kind of place we would take out-of-towners as our “little secret” if we lived in Portland. But, despite how great the beers were, the doughnuts+beer combo was not sitting well with us, so we called it a night pretty early, since we’d be spending our final day driving out to the Oregon Coast, where we didn’t have any memorable meals but had incredible scenery instead.

Overall, I was quite surprised by the eclectic-ness that is the Portland food scene. The bright, bold flavors of every place we went was a stark and welcome contrast the simple, fresh food we’d had in Seattle. An extremely successful food trip!