If you follow me on social media at all, you’ll know that I spent an extended weekend a couple weeks ago in Portland, Oregon. I went there to attend the Nutritional Therapy Association’s annual conference in order to learn some good educational nuggets that I could then share with you, my lovely readers. And while the conference was great and I learned a lot, especially about the business side of things which Lord knows I need, my favorite part of the weekend was getting to spend time with some amazing friends and eat incredible food.
I’m not here today to tell you about what I learned at the conference. That can come later. I’m here today to talk to you about food. And a few other things. But mostly food. Because Portland has some of the best food. So here are my recommendations for where to eat, drink, and play in order to have the best weekend in Portland ever.
Eats and Drinks
Technically Lardo is a sandwich place, but every one of their sandwiches can be made into a salad. And not just some lame little iceberg lettuce salad, but a delicious mixed green salad served in a gigantic bowl so you don’t get massive spillover when you mix everything together. And you’ve got to get the dirty fries. French fries topped with pork scraps, marinated peppers, herbs and parmesan cheese…. yes please! It’s pretty impossible not to heed the giant “pig out” sign on the wall!
Olympic Provisions specializes in charcuterie that they hand make themselves with quality (and a lot of locally sourced) ingredients. You can order things traditional entree style, but I recommend you order things more “small plate” style and share. We got the Spanish board, French board, and an extra board with a few cheeses, along with a couple orders of pickled eggs. The meats and cheeses were delectable and the pickled eggs were heavenly. We also indulged in a couple of Bloody Mary’s. Piece of advice though: if you don’t do spice, don’t get it spicy. I can typically handle some spice and even the non spicy version was pretty dang spice. Totally delicious though!
You may have heard of Townshend’s Tea Company before from their delicious Brew Doctor Kombucha. But I bet you didn’t know they had little tea shops with kombucha on tap, brewed tea and tea lattes, and delicious boba made with their teas (which they apparently call bubble tea in much of the Northwest…. weird). Okay, maybe you did know, but I didn’t know. But boy am I glad we stopped by here, and then stopped by again two days later, because that hot bubble tea was to die for! This was my first experience with hot bubble tea and now I’m not sure I could have it cold again because it was so good. I tried the lavender one and ended up getting it both times because it was so good.
We had one of the best meals of the whole weekend at Verde Cocina. It was Mexican food but with a fresh, veggie packed, farm-to-table sort of vibe. They don’t use any gluten products in any of their recipes so the whole menu is totally gluten free. And if you’re a corn fan, they make their own corn tortillas in house. I just had a little bite because corn kind of wrecks me but it was pretty much the best corn tortilla I’ve ever had. I ended up ordering their “paleo” dish which was just veggies and carne asada, but I “un-paleofied” it with a little of their fresh oaxaca and cotija cheese. I also splurged on a strawberry jalapeno margarita (or two), which was a great decision. It was the perfect combo of spicy and sweet and totally hit the spot.
If you love ice cream made with quality, local ingredients in unique flavor combinations, and you don’t mind waiting in line for an hour, then this place is for you. Salt and Straw has some of the most amazing flavors of ice cream I’ve ever had, including olive oil, strawberry balsamic with black pepper, lavender honey, and more. And the staff are the most awesome people ever! They are so helpful and will let you try as many samples as you like. As a bit of a sample whore, I totally appreciate that! And they always have a sherbet or sorbet option if you’ve gotta keep it dairy free. I’ve tried several and they’re almost as creamy as the dairy filled flavors, and just as delicious. I went with great friends which made waiting in the long line a blast!
While technically I was in Portland to attend a conference, I’m so glad that we took the day on Saturday to be outside rather than sitting inside listening to lectures. And I’m also so glad we chose to do the hike at Dry Creek Falls. The hike was a perfect roughly 4.5 miler out and back, with just a small amount of gradual elevation. And it led to a beautiful river with a picturesque bridge. But don’t cross the bridge to get to the waterfall. For that you’ve got to head to your right and continue on down the path a bit. It may be called Dry Creek Falls but the falls certainly were not dry at all. The tall, gorgeous trees, the warm sun shining down on us, and the sound of the waterfall in the background made for the most peaceful and soul rejuvenating day. Plus the killer company and delicious snacks we brought along didn’t hurt!
I know, I just talked about how we went to Townshend’s twice, but we also went to Tea Bar because that’s how much we love boba. And at Tea Bar they actually call it boba. So that was cool. With its white walls and light wood tables, Tea Bar has such a cool vibe, perfect for Instagram-worthy photo opps. But their boba was to die for. I got the chai flavor, but the matcha green tea and the chocolate lavender were just as delicious! And they have the option to use cow’s milk or non dairy options like coconut or almond, which I totally appreciate. Since this boba trip was post hike, I opted for iced boba and it was delicious too! Hot or cold…cold or hot… I can’t decide which I like better!
Having spent a ton of time in Austin, TX where there is the best BBQ in the world (in my humble opinion), I didn’t have the highest expectations for a little BBQ joint in the Pacific Northwest. But I was willing to try it out because I had been craving BBQ bad since leaving Texas. Reverend’s BBQ did not disappoint one bit! I could have eaten a dozen of those deviled eggs topped with brisket burnt ends. Literally a dozen. And while the brisket didn’t quite top my favorite Austin BBQ joints, it was delicious and the pulled pork and ribs were AMAZING. The potato salad was probably my favorite potato salad I’ve ever had and the collard greens were just how I like them, cooked low and slow so they melt in your mouth. Is anyone else drooling right now? Because I am.
So, I stopped by Barista during my last trip to Portland last July. It was over 90 degrees then so of course some cold brew was necessary. But I didn’t get just any cold brew. I got their coffee shrub which was cold brew coffee infused with drinking vinegar and topped with soda water. Ya, this may sound weird, but it was amazing and I had been dreaming about it since I left. I was thinking that they likely wouldn’t have it on the menu this time considering it was like 50 degrees and not 90, but to my great surprise not only did they have the coffee shrub, but they had a special winter shrub. This winter shrub was infused with some delicious spices like fennel seeds, cinnamon, figs and vanilla in addition to the balsamic infused cold brew and a little cane sugar and maple syrup. And it could be served hot or cold! So of course I got both! (On two different days… don’t worry!)
Cultured Caveman is a must if you’re into the whole real food, paleo, grain free, whatever you want to call it life. Everything is totally paleo and totally delicious. We had the grass fed beef curry, which was so incredibly flavorful and comforting, and the chicken broccoli ranch wrap which was made with their homemade coconut flour based tortillas, a delicious ranch type sauce, and buffalo chicken tenders… yes, buffalo chicken tenders. YUM! They also had kombucha on tap, butter coffee beverages, and even fermented cod liver oil shots.
You guys know I love my bone broth. I wrote a book about it for goodness sake! And as much as I love my homemade broth, there is always something about broth you don’t have to make yourself. Especially when they add things like chickpea miso, lemon grass, and steamed duck eggs and top it with some house made gomashio. It was delicious and so comforting on that chilly rainy day.
This may be the best brunch place ever. Sure, it’s pretty “gluten-y” so you’ve got to watch out for that, but there are plenty of items that are, or can be made, gluten free. This is another place where you’re probably going to want to order a bunch of small plates and share, if for no other reason but to try a bunch of things. The Potatoes Bravas cooked in wagyu tallow and topped with over easy eggs and aioli and the Radicchio with bacon lardons, manchego, and six minute eggs were my favorites. Especially when served alongside a delicious brunch cocktail, which they had plenty of! We went on my friend’s birthday and our waitress was sweet enough to bring us out this amazing panna cotta topped with whisky caramel, and a lit candle stuck to the plate. It was such a fun experience.
One of my favorite things about Portland is that you don’t have to stray to far from the city to be totally out in nature. But it turns out, you don’t even have to leave the city. The Arboretum has over 12 miles of hiking trails through forests of different species of trees, from Redwoods and Spruces to Beech trees and Bamboo. Walking through the arboretum, looking up at the trees, touching the plants growing around the path, and feeling the mud under my feet made for such a peaceful experience. We packed a little picnic and ate it on the park benches under a big canopy staring out at the redwood trees. So magical.
And last, but certainly not least… my new favorite treat that I wish was in every city I ever live in or visit, the Maple Parlor! Maple Parlor is a self serve sundae bar, sort of like a frozen yogurt joint, but with high quality, local ingredients that are allergen friendly and much healthier than your typical soft serve place. They cater to dietary needs and preferences like paleo, vegan, dairy free, organic, and low glycemic. The staff is so friendly and very generous with the samples. Like I said before, I’m a bit of a sample whore and I’m pretty sure I tested every flavor, all of which were incredible (both dairy and non dairy!). I ended up choosing the maple flavor and topped it with candied ginger, gluten free waffle pieces, coconut milk caramel sauce, and candied bacon. Ya, I said candied bacon. And I grabbed a few little gluten free and artificial colors free gummy bears for good measure, because why not! No matter your dietary preferences, healthy eater or not, everyone should check out this place. Seriously, it’s that good!
Have you ever been to Portland? What are your favorite things to do, see, eat and drink? Let me know in the comments!
In vibrant health,