Hey hey heyyyy!!!! Been super MIA last couple weeks because we have been on the go (sandwiched between hospital shifts and trying to find some time for this weird, foreign thing called sleep?!). We decided a few weeks ago to visit Portland to visit one of mine and DJ’s good friends from college. Also, Portland is famously known for their eats, and we were about to fit in as much of this magical grub in as possible.
We left for the airport and first stop always?!?…..
You knowww it!
While waiting in the airport I decided to read.
I am trynaa to finish the fourth HP book, but for some reason I’m stuck on it. I have loved reading this series, but lately sooo many books have been vying for attention. I also go through genre stages. I flew through the first three of HP, then I went through a pop culture reading kick , then a “Fine literature kick” and now I’m on this thriller/mystery kick. My goal is to finish the series by the end of the summer!
Now that DJ is twenty-five, we love to travel by getting an Orbitz package of a flight, rental car, and hotel to save some $$. Plus you get cash back that builds with each trip- it builds quick and is definitely worth it.
Arrived!! We hopped in our rental car and began the drive to the hotel. The buildings in downtown Portland are eye-catching, there is art all littered all over the building’s walls, and standing art sprinkled throughout the city streets. Jay, our friend we were visiting, actually told us they are required to pay an Arts Tax. They take their creativity seriously and it is evident around every turn!
We arrived at our hotel for the few days- The Nines! We were told by several people that this is a great hotel to stay in downtown. We usually just stay at whatever the most reasonable rate is, but we decided to try it out since the price wasn’t exorbitantly different comparatively to other downtown hotels & this was our summer vacation. The Nines has both a rooftop restaurant and bar and a regular gorgeous restaurant within it (Pictures to come!).
Once again, the unique artwork continued as we checked in on the eighth floor.
This is just what you imagine when you hear the word, “boutique hotel”. It is lined with turquoise walls, vibrant patterns, and cutesy touches.
I’m huge on lighting (I truly think it can determine your mood), and this lighting was perfect. It was so warm, inviting, and calming.
After settling in and shaking off the travel cob-webs, we went to Toro Bravo, a modern tapas destination in an area of gentrification in Portland.
I made a list of restaurants and food trucks we really wanted to visit while we were there and this was right at the top. I love tapas style because you can try so many different flavors at one place. We did have a big dinner planned after, so we didn’t go too crazy (but I’d love to go back and try way more dishes one day!).
They brought out a tasty lil complimentary bowl of corn nuts that were gone in no time… seriously where can we buy these just to have around the house?! I know I said we didn’t go nuts… but we went NUTS for these corn nuts. They were SO doggone scrumptious.
Jay met up with us for the first time (wooohooo!). We had some light drinks and caught up excitedly on each other’s lives.
The squid ink pasta with hazelnuts, anchovy syrup, and egg yolk was one of the big draws for this spot. I had squid ink pasta one time at La Mar in San Francisco, and to this day I maintain it was one of the greatest dishes I have ever tried. I wanted DJ and Jay to experience this magic. This dish was good, but it was certainly not on the level of La Mar’s.
The star of this show was the oxtail croquettes with chili mayo. I’m not even sure exactly what this is made of, but I know it was darn delicious. If you go here these are a must! We actually were standing next to a couple in the elevator of our hotel talking about Toro Bravo, and I couldn’t help myself from popping into their convo and insisting that they try these gems.
The boys also enjoyed the Moorish Lamb Chops a la Plancha with warm potato chorizo salad. I did sample a potato and it was potatoey perfection.
We still had some time to kill before dinner, so Jay took us to one of his favorite local spots to hangout- Victoria!
I love hanging with locals when we travel because they always know the greatest spots! This little dive is tucked away on a back street and wasn’t ridiculously crowded. Look how pretty this bar is with the warm lighting?
I tried an aperol spritz.. I heard of this wine based drink mixed with soda water recently and it sounded so refreshing- it was yummy, light, and zesty. A perfect apertif!
Time for dinner!!! And oh, what a dinner it was. The rest of the night we declared our date night. We don’t have date nights in the summer often because of our competing schedules, but grab them while we can.
While researching vegan/vegetarian options (Portland is the land of plenty), this dinner came up. You have to make reservations because they only seat about fifteen people per dinner. This restaurant was unique to anything we have ever experienced. Everything they serve is from regional Farmer’s and entirely vegan.
All patrons are seated at a long counter with a medley of Mumford & Sons-esque music playing in the background, mason jars galore, and fresh plants placed thoughtfully throughout. Quintessential Portland, right?
Each seat has a name-tag as you come in so it’s easy to find where you should sit without playing musical chairs.
DJ and I scanned it over and after taking in the conglomerate of different fruits, spices, and flowers (yes flowers) I looked at DJ and said, “I have no idea what any of this will taste like”.
Luckily- every single thing was everything you could dream of and more. Wowza. We were blown away. I won’t bore you with the details, but the way I would describe every dish was fresh, vibrant with flavor, and dimensional. The servings were small, but with so many courses (and our Toro Bravo eats), we were very satisfied by the end. They made each dish in front of us, with the utmost meticulous attention (they used actual tweezers!).
The vegan extravaganza began with some local seed bread with honey mustard. I’ll label each item that came next!
Black bean fritter (our favorite on this dish) with first press canola, fermented rhubarb and spruce, and Kohlrabi parcel & yeast sauce
Purple asparagus, fermented sunflower, and basil cream
Pickled sun choke with leek scape
Cauliflower soup & Oregon Murtle
Adirondack potato with wild watercress and herb juice
Zucchini, romesco, and puffed quinoa
Blue Oyster mushroom, wild garlic, and chives (and flowers!)
Portobello, young carrot, snow peas, and savory sauce
Vegan flower water and candies
Strawberry spruce yogurt and wild flowers
Sprouted Dakota Black Peppercorn, rhubarb, and hazelnut milk (this was my favorite “sweet”!).
And they even gave us a complimentary breakfast loaf to remember them the next day. How cute!
It was some of the most savory bread I’ve ever tasted! It was so hearty & had cranberries sprinkled throughout that provided a nice sweet kick with each bite.
Oh, and the views at night were stunning!
In the morning, I woke up at 5:30 am and snuck in a nine mile run while watching the new season of 13 Reasons Why. This season is even harder to watch than the first. Anyone else watching? Thoughts? Anyway, I grabbed some fresh strawberries and cucumber water before heading back to the room to get ready for the day.
After we headed to Pine State Biscuits for a breakfast of a lifetime. When people have asked where to go since we came back our first place is HERE. You MUST, and I mean MUST stop at Pine State Biscuits if you visit Portland.
From the moment you step in, you are overwhelmed by smells of cinnamon mixed with coffee. By the time I ordered I was practically drooling.
Jay met up with us and we all ordered at the counter. We grabbed our coffee then found a comfortable spot in the outside patio with heaters blazing down to keep us warm during the early morning chill (it was about 7:30 at this point!).
I had the vegan veggie reggie- Vegan sausage patty, tofu bacon and cheese topped with shitake mushroom gravy! Oh. MY. GOOOODNESSSS. One of the greatest creations of all time. I crave this.
The boys both had the Reggie Deluxe (deluxe includes an egg).
And we all shared the greatest cinnamon roll of all time. All parties agreed- one of the best flavors of the week. This cinnamon roll had a bourbon caramel glaze sauce.
A truly unforgettable breakfast. In Part Two we head to Multnomah Falls & many other unforgettable eats were had. And a huge highlight- I had the privilege of meeting another blogger (eeek!!).. stay tuned.
And thank you to all those who have served, are serving, and family and friends who have and have had loved ones in the service. Today we acknowledge and remember your sacrifice and dedication to our country, and remember those who bravely lost their lives for our freedom. ❤