People around here love Portland. I’ve never had a super awesome Portland experience, as it generally rains the entire time we’re there, but we keep giving it another chance to impress. Most of our Portland trips have brought us downtown, which isn’t exactly the most pleasant part of Portland (although it is home to Powell’s Books, which is always a hit). This time around, we hit up a few of the cute neighborhoods around the city for a better Portland experience.
We started our day with a drive up to Pittock Mansion, a beautiful historic home on a hill 1,000 feet above the city skyline. On a clear day, the view from the mansion’s overlook would look like this, with an incredible view of Mt. Hood and the city below. Of course, we picked a super cloudy day to visit Portland, so we couldn’t see any mountains, but the view was still pretty incredible. You can take a tour of the mansion itself, but it was a little spendy, so we chose to simply walk around the grounds, which are beautifully landscaped with roses (Portland is the Rose City, after all). Unfortunately, the outside of the home is under renovations until October, so there was a lot of scaffolding and construction detracting from the view of the home. Still, the view from the overlook was pretty impressive, and we’ll definitely check it out again on our next clear day in Portland. There’s also a network of hiking trails around the house that would be really beautiful for a short hike sometime.
Next up, we headed to the Adidas Employee Store, thanks to a pass from some MBA friends (thanks, Perry!) to get some sweet deals on new exercise clothes (marathon training killed my only pair of running capris). The Adidas offices are in North Portland (I think…I’m still trying to figure out all of these Portland neighborhoods), and they were pretty impressive! They had a soccer/lacrosse field out back, a big courtyard area, and a gymnasium. I guess all of those products need to be tested!
As a side note, I overheard a girl talking while I was in the fitting room. She said that Eugene is to Oregon, what Boulder is to Colorado. I’m not sure what that means. But it made me laugh.
After picking up our Adidas swag (which I was surprised to discover I liked so much, as I don’t think I’ve purchased an Adidas product since elementary school, having never been a soccer player), we met our friends Jonathan and Heidi (and little baby Ayla) for lunch. Jonathan is always trying to show me Portland in its best light, so we met them in a super cute neighborhood (I’m probably butchering this, Jonathan, but I believe the neighborhood is called Ladd’s Addition?). After finding the wait to be way too long for our time constraints at two different cute lunch spots (Broder, a Sweedish cafe, and Lardo, a sandwich place) that I would like to try again sometime, we ended up dining at a somewhat lackluster food cart. Still, eating at a food cart is a pretty Portland experience, so it was good to knock that one off the list. If nothing else, we learned that the Portlandia spoofs of brunch/lunch in Portland are totally realistic. There will always be a line for good food.
Jonathan and Eric left the girls to walk around for a bit, so Heidi showed me around her old neighborhood. The area was absolutely gorgeous, with lots of huge, established trees lining the streets, and several rose gardens in the middle of traffic circles and on corners. We even wandered into a New Seasons, a grocery store that I’ve read about in Portland Monthly. Apparently the existence of a New Seasons in a neighborhood means that it’s a pretty happening place to live. For those of you Eugenians, New Seasons is essentially a bigger, brighter Market of Choice. For those of you non-Oregonians, it’s like a more local Whole Foods.
We met up with the men again for ice cream at Salt and Straw, a local ice cream shop that is clearly incredibly popular. And for good reason. I enjoyed a scoop of coffee and bourbon, while Eric had cinnamon snickerdoodle. I’m constantly amazed by the flavors of artisan ice cream. Eating a sample of sea salt with caramel ribbon is like literally licking salted caramel. It’s incredible. You can sample as many flavors as you please, so I would definitely recommend trying a few. And if the line is out the door, which I hear is quite common, the locals recommend just buying a pint of ice cream, as purchasers of a pint (rather than single scoops) can jump to the front of the line.
We perused the Nob Hill neighborhood while we enjoyed our ice cream. One thing I really love about Portland is all of the different neighborhoods. Each one has a different feel, and most of them have super cute shops and restaurants. It’s such a walkable city, which is probably why Portland is considered one of the healthier cities in America (according to some ranking I saw on the Today Show).
Eric was really craving some BBQ (a product of being away from the South for too long), so we decided to check out Podnah’s Pit BBQ (Google Maps tells me this is in the “Vernon” neighborhood, if that is a thing). First of all, the restaurant was super cool. It had a nice rustic, yet modern feel, with exposed wood ceilings and a brick bar. We ate outside (hooray for the weather improving enough to eat outside!), and we both commented on how nice and clean everything was, which is not always our experience dining in Portland.
I ordered the St. Helen’s Brisket plate (as brisket seemed to be a specialty), with collard greens and green chile mac and cheese. Eric had the Brian’s pulled pork plate with baked beans and potato salad. We split our meats so that we could try them both. The pulled pork was pretty good. We both tried it without sauce first, and it was nice and tender, with a hint of sweetness. The brisket was kind of flavorless. So we pulled out the sauces. Personally, I believe that BBQ requires a good helping of sauce. Unfortunately, the sauces left a bit to be desired. They had a mustard based sauce (which tasted exactly like mustard), a tomato based sauce (with a bit of a kick), and a vinegar based sauce (which I hate on principle). We found that if we mixed all of the sauces together, it was somewhat tasty. As far as the sides go, the collard greens weren’t very good, but Eric enjoyed both of his sides. As for the mac and cheese, I can’t believe I’m saying this, but they were overwhelmingly cheesy. I didn’t think it was possible for something to have too much cheese, but I couldn’t handle it. Still, even with not completely awesome food, we enjoyed our experience, and we had the friendliest service we’ve ever experienced in Portland. Podnah’s also has a breakfast menu, which honestly looked more appealing to me than the dinner menu (I will always love breakfast the most anyway). So I think it would be worth another shot on a morning trip to Portland.
We drove back to Eugene as the sun was setting over the Coastal Mountain Range, which made for a gorgeous drive, especially with all of the rain clouds.
Big thinks to Jonathan and Heidi for showing us around Portland! We really enjoyed spending the day with you guys!