This week my work took me to Portland, Oregon. Portland is a sassy city with lots of fun character. It's home of Nike's corporate headquarters, is extremely bike friendly, has a tremendous food truck culture, and (off the record) is full of the world's largest population of hipsters - I don't think I've ever seen more bearded flannel in my life... and that's coming from someone who lives in Eastown.
I was incredibly impressed by the abundance of neat restaurants and small boutique store fronts. I was not impressed, however, by the cruddy rainy weather - if you've been following the news lately you're aware of the extreme flooding they're currently dealing with at the moment. Despite the rain, I still enjoyed exploring while in town. Here are some of the highlights:
Ace Hotel - When I told a co-worker I'd be staying at the Ace Hotel they laughed and then highly encouraged me to watch the episode of Portlandia that pokes fun at the Ace. Appropriately renamed the Deuce Hotel in the show, Portlandia pokes fun at the hotel's hip nature and unapologetic non traditional set up. I'd recommend the stay for the experience only, not the comfort. I'd compare the accommodations more to couch surfing than a night at the Hilton.
Voodoo Doughnuts - A donut shop by any other name would not be appropriate. With menu items such as 'gay bar' 'blunt' and 'triple chocolate penetration' one cannot be surprised when you discover the sweet treat shaped like a penis. I ordered a 'pole hole' doughnut, ate the entire thing, and regret nothing! It's a Portland must-see and one you literally cannot miss... their stores are painted hot pink!
Pepe Le Moko - Comparable to the new Sidebar here in Grand Rapids, except for with a bit more store front signage, Pepe Le Moko is a tiny, prohibition inspired cocktail bar. Once inside the front entrance you head directly down a set of stairs to find yourself saddled up to a cozy bar selecting from an impressive drink menu any mixologist could be proud of. I ventured out of my normal vodka-water and ordered a Negroni. I did not like it but it sure was pretty to look at!
Clyde Common - This restaurant is located in the Ace Hotel and with the rain it made for an easy choice. And easy or not, the dinner was great. During happy hour is the time to go with select cocktails half off and appetizers on discount. I recommend the cashews and the brussell sprouts. So tasty!
Salt & Straw - After dinner at Clyde Common I was invited to have ice cream with a co-worker and his son and daughter in-law who live there - they didn't have to twist my arm. I frigg'n love ice cream. Typically adorned with lines around the corner, the popular sweet shop was a fun experience. They must train their staff to be incredibly kind, patient, and give as many samples as customers would like... because I'm pretty sure I tried every flavor before making up my mind. With flavors like 'olive oil' 'lavender' and 'egg-nog'... how could you resist?
Powell's Books - The largest independently owned book store in the nation, Powell's sells books old and new and is a labyrinth of rooms and shelves that must be seen in person. It's a book worm's happy place and worth a stop while in town before happy hour begins.
I'd visit Portland again if the opportunity arose and if I had more time, I'd seek out some of the local hiking trails. I'm bummed I missed seeing the many waterfalls nearby as well as the Saturday Market. Next time!