Drinking your way through Portland, OR: A guide to coffee, breweries, and outdoor adventures.
Day 1: The trip begins with us getting 3 hours of sleep. My father was keeping our pups while we were away and we had to drop them off 1.5 hours away from home, in Mobile, AL. It is free boarding though! On the flights (to and from PDX) I watched “Fantastic beasts and where to find them”, “Lala Land” , “Allied” and “Doctor Strange”. Gotta love catching up on movies when you fly.
When we arrived in PDX, we grabbed coffee at Portland Roasters Coffee and headed to catch the Max light rail. The rail takes you to downtown Portland. A ticket for 2.5 hours costs $2.50 per person and an all day pass is $5 per person. The ticket is good for the streetcar or Trimet bus. Portland welcomed us with big city charm and quaint, artsy vibes underneath a cloudy layer of rain and chill. We are use to the rain where we are from so wasn’t too bothered by the mists and drizzles. We loved all the signs we found throughout Portland, so be on the look out!
We grabbed lunch at Theo’s where we had WIFI, amazing fries, and a bottle of the Black Butte Porter from Deschutes brewery. We had the avocado bacon burger and added mushrooms to complete the meal. That evening we soggily arrived at our adorable Airbnb located in the NW 23rd area. This area is very hip, walkable, and full of delicious cafes and restaurants. We stayed right next to a yoga studio and float shoppe. So Zen! After a shower and some freshening up, we ventured 0.3 miles (in the rain) to Bridgeport Brewpub–the oldest craft brewery in Portland. We had their porter and a pizza topped with goat cheese, spinach, garlic, and mushrooms. The crust was crispy and golden from the olive oil rub.
Day 2: We slept in, trying to regain our alertness. We ate a pan au chocolate we purchased at the Safeway grocery store the night before and gave each other much needed massages. After a mid-morning nap (Hey we’re on vacation!) we decided to get ourselves into gear. Morning brought sunshine and NO RAIN! We grabbed a cortado from Vivace coffee house & Creperie. The barista, we learned, was originally from South Africa and was as charming as he could be!
We caught the 15 bus (trimet) to downtown and strolled along the port square: Tim McCall waterfront area, admiring the sun and the active locals. We were accommodated by Mother’s Bistro and Bar, owned by Chef Lisa Schroeder, for a nice lunch. At 1pm this bistro was packed! The restaurant opened January of 2000 and specializes in “comfort food like mama made, only better”. I ordered the Biscuit Breakfast which included homemade white gravy that was rich, creamy, and sprinkled with a bit of spice. It was topped with dense buttermilk biscuits that resembled cornbread in a way but Damn delicious! As a Southerner, I’ll admit, the best biscuits and gravy are found in Portland! Michael enjoyed the Reuben sandwich and a cup of gumbo. He said the gumbo rivals that of the Gulf Coast!
The wait staff were a joy to talk with; our waitress was Maria. We met Chef Lisa and thanked her for hosting us. She gave us samples of her famous cornflake crusted French toast that I will forever dream about and miniature pecan sandies. (If you’re from the South, you know how good sandies are). We were so thankful for a chance to try out this award-winning restaurant and recommend it to fellow travelers and locals alike! Portland agrees with us and have given Mother’s Bistro countless awards including: Best Comfort food, Best Brunch spot, Best Lunch spot, and Restaurant of the Year! As a dietitian, I respect that Chef Lisa works with low-income families to teach them cooking and nutrition skills as well as participates in many other charitable outreaches.
After lunch, we caught the 15 bus to St. John’s Bridge
Misadventure: Our bus driver told us he was re-routed, we assumed we needed to get off at the current stop because it appeared he was about to turn around and head away from our destination. However, we did NOT know that the next bus stop was several miles away! As we approached the 16 bus, we saw OUR BUS DRIVER as he passed us! @#$^&*#@#!!!! Exercise though, right?!
Once on the 16 bus, we rode a while as our lunch settled and we enjoyed the scenic bridge views. We eventually, got off in St. Johns, a very cute and small area on the water. Everyone seemed to know one another-even the dogs! We enjoyed coffee at The Great North and rested our feet. Around 5:30pm we caught the bus back to our little home, made sandwiches, and relaxed a bit more. Before going to bed, we waiting in line with the locals to try our Salt & Straw (and ice cream shop). I got lavender & honey AND Cinnitopia! Michael tried a coffee/chocolate one, and snickerdoodle. We later would come back here and buy 2 pints!
Day 3: We joined a food cart tour with EAT Adventures and explored 5 neighborhoods of Portland, known so by the locals. Our first stop was in the Mississippi-Albina food pod in North Portland
A food pod: a grouping of 3 or more food carts in any given section or parking lot.
We ate at Koi Fusion (our favorite) and enjoyed Korean-Mexican tacos. We bought a mocha at Five Mississippi Coffee and headed to our next stop. Next, we ate a philly cheese steak bowl from Olivia’s. The dish was served over roasted potatoes which replaced the bun. We were now in the Northeast of Portland. Staying in this area, we drove to the Alberta Arts District for some homemade pest pasta (all made in house). The sun began to clear out the rainy day as we drove onward through the Laurelhurst neighborhood and into Belmont. We were about to explore Portland’s Southeast. We ate at Viking Soul where we were served lefsa with smoked salmon, cabbage, and a dill crème-fraiche sauce. Our last stop was for dessert, of course, at Smaaken Waffle Sandwiches in the Clinton-Division area. We ate yeast-made waffles stuffed with raspberry and maple butter AND chocolate with almonds served with coconut infused whipped cream.
Angie was kind enough to drop us off at Powell’s Bookstore-a haven for book lovers like myself! Powell’s is the world’s largest independent bookstore and accounts for 30% of the book sales within the USA! WOAH! Established in 1971, it is a city of books that include 10 color-coded rooms, a rare book area (that you need a pass to access), and a coffee shop. I bought 2 travel-related books before leaving.
We caught the 15 bus back to the 14 bus to go back over the Hawthorne Bridge. We enjoyed darts and the black lab stout at Lucky Lab Brewery and then moseyed our way back to downtown. We had a nice stroll over the Hawthorne Bridge with a view of the city scape at night. We caught the 15 bus back home and enjoyed a late dinner of tacos at The Matador. Today was all about the delicious flavors and fusions Portland has to offer.
Day 4: We slept in and decided to try Anna Banana’s coffee house for a late breakfast. We were seated promptly and were pleased to see they brewed Italian coffee. Our barista/server complained loudly to his coworkers about his hours, pay, and general moodiness. This negativity continued throughout our visit and spoiled the vibes we were having. We couldn’t leave fast enough! Leave your issues at home, Dude! (We left a review and let the owner know, who corrected his employee).
Today, Sunday, is Market Day. We strolled through the vendors and found an artist selling playing cards, of which we needed a new set. The artist, Aaron Voronoff Trotter, sketches breweries and historic buildings for the back of the playing cards and sells them as a set. We bought the brewery one, of course! Sizzle Pie pizza called our name for a late lunch treat. We were accommodated with a delicious pie topped with Italian sausage, mushrooms, olives (on half), and fresh basil! Our last stop was to Rock Bottom Brewery for porters and basketball. I didn’t expect it, but Basketball is HUGE in Portland!
Day 5: We rented a car from Enterprise so we had the freedom to visit Mount Hood. The parking lot was full and cars were blocked in so we were upgraded from a sedan to an Explorer! We spent extra to fully cover it should anything happen upon the mountain. Now we were ready to trade in the flip flops for some snow boots.
We ventured to Mount Hood Adventures to rent snow shoes. For $15 a pair, you keep the snow shoes for 24 hours! Our first experience with snow shoe hiking was intense because we had to walk along the Berms due to all the snow. This made it difficult to find trail heads. We trekked for an hour but didn’t get too far before turning around. We tried the oatmeal stout at Mt. Hood Brewery but was sorely disappointed by how watered down it tasted. Afterwards, we drove 1.5 hours home and collapsed. After we awoken from our nap (read COMA), we took the Explorer to Safeway for some groceries. (You know gotta save the money and all)
Day 6: Today brought us sleeping in and another day of snow shoeing. This time, we found an obvious trailhead and frolicked around. Though the snow dense, I made snow angels and we played with mountain dogs who were as white as the snow! That evening we went Southeast to Ground Breaker Gastro Pub where they pride themselves on gluten-free beers. We had one made from lentils and dark, aromatic fruits-not really my cup of tea. We then found our favorite Portland Brewery, Baerlic! We loved their Oatmeal Stout and found that this brewery had won brewery of the year! (I knew we had good tastes).
THE FLOAT SHOPPE EXPERIENCE
Day 7: Our Airbnb host, Sandra, provided us with a free float session at her shop. We have never experienced a float before but expected it to be transcendent or at the very least relaxing.
Floats are warm water tanks filled with 100 pounds of Epsom salt, so that you float. The benefits felt are both mental and physical. Your body will uptake magnesium from the Epsom salt, helping with muscle cramps, soreness, and digestion. Magnesium also aids with anxiety and mood disorders, so I was stoked to give it a try! Here’s a video of our experience of the Float Shoppe and our review! We highly recommend!
Despite the rain, we trekked uphill (both ways) to Forest Park for a stroll through some greenery. On the hike up we stopped by Sunny Day coffee for cinnamon lattes. The cinnamon syrup is homemade in house. We also stopped by Blue Star doughnut shop (better than VooDoo doughnuts) for orange & olive oil AND a bacon, maple fritter. Forest Park houses a Holocaust Memorial, Rose garden, and Japanese garden (under construction).
BREWVANA BREWERY TOUR
Day 8: We are up early for our Brewvana brewery tour in the Pearl District. Our guide was Lizzie and we were joined by 9 drinkers, including ourselves. Our first stop was Deschutes brewery where we sampled 8 beers ranging from nitro reds to porters. We loved the “trees of doom” Dunkel lager, “nitro Interlace Red” and the “black Butte Porter. The Black Butte is the best-selling craft porter in the USA! Our next stop was to Pints (microbrewery), where we enjoyed the “Free Ryder” Kolsch and the “steel Bridge stout”. Lastly, we ventured to the famous Rogue Brewery but were surprised by the beers here. The granola Blonde was a taste of breakfast with granola, cinnamon, herbs, and peppermint notes. Our favorite, though, was 2/3 brown ale and 1/3 stout to make the Hazelutelychocotabulous. This had notes of chocolate nibs and hazelnut.
Our group was a fun mix of Floridians, Texans, and Canadians. We are thankful for our new-found friends, AJ & Caroline, and hope to run into them again. Once the tour ended, Michael and I went across the street to 10 Barrel Brewing. The head brew master is female, girl power ya’ll! While here, we met 2 former Floridians now Portlanders named Daniel & Krystal. They are full of wanderlust and have a desire to start their own business. I hope it happens for them! Night came and we vegged out on Grimm (you know, because we’re in Portland and all) and fell fast asleep.
HAPPY SAINT PATRICK’S DAY
Day 9: Our last day also happened to be St. Patty’s Day. This is my first Irish holiday knowing I’m Irish. My great aunt recently traced our heritage to Northern Ireland to the name Bailey. Emily Bailey came over to America through South Carolina and then Georgia. Along with 5 families, the Baileys were given a land grant from the government to settle South Alabama (where I was born and raised). Her diary talks about fighting off the Choctaw Native Americans to protect their new homestead. Maybe she is where I get my fighting spunk from!
We celebrated at Kell’s Brewpub and tried beers from various breweries in the area. We watched bagpipe and dancing performances and enjoyed the Irish Revelry. We met so many amazing people here: locals and tourists! We ate Shepherd’s Pie and drank Baileys, in honor of my heritage. We also had an impromptu podcast interview by Peace, Love and Soup–Magically Delicious! Podcast!
We ended up trying out 11 breweries and ~12 coffee shops while in Portland. The food was unlike anything we can find back home and the people are so kind and chill. On the last few days I found myself unwinding and getting into the spirit of this Rip City. We respect how locally owned EVERYTHING is and the support local business owners receive from the city and residents. We loved it here and cannot wait to return to Stumptown, USA!
LIST OF BREWERIES: For drinking your way through Portland, OR
- Mount Hood
- Bridgeport Brewpub
- Ground Breaker
- Baerlic* (our favorite)
- Lucky Lab
- 10 Barrel
- Kell’s Brewpub
- Rock Bottom
LIST OF COFFEE SHOPS: For drinking your way through Portland, OR
- Vivace* (our favorite)
- Stumptown Roasters
- Portland Roasters
- Coffee Time
- Anna Banana’s
- Sunny Day
- The Great North
- The Fresh Pot
- Five Mississippi
- Coffee shop inside Powell’s
**This is a sponsored post, all opinions are my own**
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