Travel Diaries: Portland, OR

My best friend Ashley and I spontaneously booked a flight to Portland and it ended up being one of my favorite trips of all time! I've heard so much about this place and was especially intrigued by their art scene and great coffee roasters. Ashley and I got to explore the bread and butter of Portland thanks to recommendations given to us by friends (& the insta-fam!) It was both of our first times so we visited some of the more well-known touristy places as well as local favorites. Since this travel diary is quite large, I compartmentalized it into 3 categories: Places to Visit, Restaurant Recommendations and finally, Coffee & Beer— enjoy!

Places to Visit:

1. Powell's Books

This one was an obvious stop as it was recommended to us by everyone and their mothers. I believe it's the biggest book store in the world, and if not, at least in all of US. There are floors of endless bookshelves with everything from history to art to poetry to religion to fiction (and the list goes on.) We were determined to explore every corner of each floor but we gave up after 3 hours when we realized how huge it was.

2. Ace Hotel

We wanted to check out Ace Hotel's headquarter while we were in Portland and it was conveniently located by many of the other stops on our list. Sandwiched between Clyde Common and Stumptown, Ace is oozing with trendy people hipsters taking photos (we may or may not have joined them.) I was surprised at how small the lobby was but enjoyed the cozy seating area filled with newspapers and cute airplants!

 Found this blue wall near Ace that matched my outfit perfectly! Skirt (worn as top), pants, jewelry is from  Madewell  and the Tote is available in  shop

Found this blue wall near Ace that matched my outfit perfectly! Skirt (worn as top), pants, jewelry is from Madewell and the Tote is available in shop

3. Shops on Alberta Arts District

After leaving from Ace Hotel, we wanted to kill some time before dinner and stumbled upon a bunch of cool shops on NE Alberta St. The first boutique that caught my eye was Backtalk, which incorporated their clothing and fashion accessories with fine art pieces. I absolutely loved the way they curated their shop and the sales associate told me they carry independent designed pieces and showcases works by local artists. I absolutely love supporting small businesses like this who are so thoughtful in each product they carry and it really shows in their shop. A couple stores down is Poler Stuff, whom I've been following on Instagram as long as I can remember. It was nice to see their storefront and I was even more impressed by their beautiful outdoor gear in person. There's also Tender Loving Empire right down the street that's an independent record label and retail store that carry a variety of handmade goods! Let's just say Ashley and I did not leave empty handed ;) 

4. Little Otsu

Okay, so this shop deserves it's own category because it is hands down the best stationery shop I've ever been to! Fulfilling all of your paper fantasies, Little Otsu carries illustrated works by artists like Frances Lab, Daniel Frost, Erin Wallace, and more! They also have their own card line, which collaborates with different artists from all over the globe. I can't stress how beautiful this little space is! Even if you don't care for paper goods, SE Division St has a lot of other beautifully curated shops and you can literally spend hours browsing each store.

5. Grand Marketplace 

All vintage & home decor lovers must make a stop here! I've never seen anything quite like this marketplace. It's basically like a large warehouse that is FILLED with vintage furniture and antique trinkets. The coolest part is that it's sectioned off to look like little rooms, which have completely different looks. They have everything you can imagine from old school typewriters to leather cowboy boots, marble table tops to handwoven rugs . You best believe your girl did some shopping~ (no leather cowboy boots though)

6. Multnomah Falls

Saving the best for last, this place is absolutely gorgeous. Ashley and I reserved the whole Sunday to make this trip happen and even rented a car, which was totally worth it. By the time we got there, it was super crowded and we couldn't find any parking. It worked to our favor though because we found another trail called Oneonta Trail and ended up hiking it up to Triple Falls. We got to take in a breath of fresh air and see beautiful scenery before returning to the main site, which was still really crowded. We wanted to avoid that so we just took photos of the waterfall and left to get ice cream, naturally. I definitely recommend trying out the other trails if the main Multnomah Fall hike is too crowded!

Restaurant Recommendations:

1. Mothers Bistro

This place definitely lives to the hype. We ordered the wild salmon hash and crunchy french toast with strawberries to share and it was one of the best brunch food I've ever had! The salmon has was so unique and flavorful and was the perfect pairing the crunch french toast. I loved the texture of the toasts and liked that it wasn't too sweet. If only they opened one in California (HINT MOTHERS HINT.)

2. Saucebox

This was recommended to us by a lot of our friends so we had to stop by and try out their Pan-Asian dishes. After talking with our wonderful waitress, we decided on the soft shell crab steam buns and roasted pork belly. We also ordered their specialty cocktails: Akira for Ashley and Mai Tai me up for me. The food and cocktails were excellent and I would recommend it anyone craving unique asian fusion cuisine!

3. Food trucks

Portland is known for their food trucks so we had to make a quick lunch stop. We were craving Korean so we ordered a bibimbap burrito with beef and kimchi chicken quesadilla from Bulkogi Fushion. Make sure to get medium when they ask you how spicy you'd like it. We made the mistake of ordering "super spicy" and found ourselves blowing our noses the entire time :P

4. Pine State Biscuits

As delicious as this looks, I was pretty disappointed by this place. I had only heard good things about Pine State but their biscuits were bland and the pulled pork was super dry. Maybe it was a bad day but I didn't have the best experience. Ashley was happier with her reggie delux so maybe just avoid the BBQ pulled pork sandwich. Otherwise, it's a great concept and a pretty cool place! 

5. Pok Pok

We had to wait over an hour wait for this place but it was definitely worth the wait. Out of all the Thai restaurants, Pok pok has the most unique dishes I've tried. We ended up ordering the boar shoulder (muu paa kham waan), sweet pork belly (kaeng hang leg), Ike's vietnamese chicken wings with fish sauce and a side of coconut rice and sticky rice. The sweet pork belly was both of our favorites! The pork belly was flavorful with its melt-in-your-mouth texture. We mixed coconut rice with the left over sauce and it was BOMB. Unfortunately, it was quite dark by the time we got there so I couldn't take any good photos of the food. Here's one from the outside so you get a picture of their overall vibe, pretty rad place!

6. Tasty N Sons

Tasty N Sons was this adorable tapas place with a semi- open kitchen (where you can see the chefs), a bar, and cool wall art. Their service was excellent and they even let us put our luggages in a corner. Since it was tapas-style, Ashley and I ordered maple bacon wrapped dates to start with a chocolate potato doughnut (we're such girls for ordering sweet dishes first.) For main course, we ordered the radicchio salad, moroccan chicken hash and Erin's sweet Oregon berry biscuits. We liked every dish except the radicchio salad, which had a bit of sour taste to it. Next time, I'd definitely like to try their sister restaurant, Tasty and Alder

 Photo by  Koozine

Photo by Koozine

7. Blue Star Doughnuts

We stopped by Blue Star two days in a row because of our mad doughnut cravings. It's like the Portland version of Sidecar doughnuts, featuring unique, unexpected flavors. We got blueberry bourbon basil, raspberry buttermilk and lemon poppyseed— noms.

8. Salt & Straw

This was another dessert place we made multiple stops during our trip because it is just that good. My favorite flavor was bitter orange and olive oil, which had the most unique flavor! I liked that it had a hint of olive oil, which was completely unexpected but delicious. Ashley had their honey lavender, which is one of their most popular flavors. WE LOVE ICE CREAM!

Coffee & Beer

1. Heart

True to it's name, this coffee shop has completely stole mine. I took a couple bags home with me and Stereo Blend has made my mornings so much better. It's a half Guatemala and half Ethiopian mix and has vanilla, toffee, rose, mandarin orange flavors — so so good!

2. Coava

This place is one of the coolest coffee shops I've ever been to and definitely the largest. I mean, you can practically do cartwheels in there. I ordered their cold brew, which was perfect during a hot day. Once your done, they refill it for you too! :)

3. Stumptown 

We stopped by two different Stumptown cafes during our shop because their vanilla lattes are to die for. I usually like my coffee black but the occasional latte is a nice pick up once in a while. 

Other coffee shop recommendations: Ristretto Roasters, Barista, Good Coffee PDX, Courier Coffee, Sterling Coffee and Dapper & Wise.

Unfortunately, we didn't have any time to do a brewery tour but we did stop by two really cool bars. One is called The Bottle Shop, which is like a small market for specialty beer. They mainly have beer in bottles, hence the name, and a couple on tap. It was conveniently attached to Hop & Vine, where we had dinner one night so we just walked over and grabbed us a couple glasses. The second bar we stopped by was Imperial Bottle Shop & Taproom. With their chill vibes and wide selection, it would easily be my go to place if I were a local. We were craving dark beer so we got a double chocolate stout by Rogue Brewery and a Fort George Cavatica stout, yum.

And that is it for this extensive post! Special thanks to Ashley who took some of these photos, Kat for generously hosting us and to everyone who gave us these awesome recommendations :) Portland definitely won my heart and I can't wait to return. Til next time!