Keep Portland Weird: A Weekend in PDX

For a couple of months now, I’ve been scared that I’m not a traveler. I can navigate through an airport security line with speed and ease and packing a suitcase is not something that I dread. Maybe it’s just the security that home provides. I always know how hot my shower will get and how comfortable my bed will be. But the travel bug still bit me, and I made my way up to Portland and converged on the city with my oldest friends.

Our first day was spent checking into the Jupiter Hotel, our once motel turned into a hip weekend destination for us and other young twenty and thirty somethings. Their Doug Fir Lounge was always popping until 2 a.m. and we’re still kicking ourselves for missing out on the photo booth they had set up.

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We then headed to Base Camp Brewing Co. for lunch, where they had great Portland-made beer and a set of food pods just outside their doors.

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From there, we headed to Powell’s Books where we walked the whole city-block of books.

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After stumbling around downtown Portland, we popped into dinner at Pepe le Moko after being intrigued by the simple gold signage that had an air of delicious mystery behind it. Turns out, we were right. Even though their kitchen consisted of a marble countertop, a stove, and a wall of shelves for storage, our meal of small plates was delicious and the cocktails were the perfect cap to the night.

The next day, it was quintessential PNW weather, pouring rain and gray skies. During a free hour, I headed to breakfast at Crema Coffee + Bakery where I had a great “elevated” McMuffin with maple bacon and a soft boiled egg. So perfect, that I couldn’t even snap a picture before I ate it.

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Later in the day, we stopped by Maurice, the charming European-esque cafe for a solid pot of tea, more oysters, and the most delicious polenta with an egg on top. I also can’t forget about that Salted Caramel ice cream.

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The Japanese Garden up in the hills of Portland was a nice place to walk off lunch and see the “best” Japanese garden in the United States — as declared by the former Japanese prime minister.

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For the evening, we headed up to Division Street in the Southeast quadrant of the city where we hit up the famed Pok Pok for dinner where we ordered way too much food (count three drinks, a plate of seasoned squash, fried catfish, the famed fish-sauce wings, and broiled pork shoulder). It was so good that most of us just sat in silence while we ate. We were probably too much in a daze to realize that we had a lot to catch up on. Division Street was also filled with cute shops like Little Otsu, a PDX-based publisher of eye-catching cards, colorful calendars, and purveyor of PDX made goods.

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A visit to Division Street wouldn’t be complete without a visit to Salt & Straw, I suppose. Eating flights of artisan ice cream while listening to Beyonce is an experience that I will 100% recreate in my own home. We wrapped up the night with game after game of pinball, Tron, and Pacman while drinking tall boy PBR’s at Ground Kontrol.

A late night on Friday, means a late start on Saturday, but we did manage to make it for brunch at Screen Door up on E. Burnside. From there, we made it a lazy day (complete with a nap) and headed up to 23rd Street NW to check out the holiday lights and shops. If you’re looking for PDX-only stores, 23rd Street NW is not the place.

I headed to Division Street SE once again to visit shops that were once closed and even though it was raining, indulged in an icy Rose Green Tea boba at Townshend’s Division Street Teahouse.

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We capped our last night with a screening of “Die Hard” at Laurelhurst Theater, where pitchers of local beer are the normal beverage of choice. I wish all theaters had a vintage vibe and served local beer.

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Once our last day in Portland rolled around, we crammed in all things Portland and visited Voodoo Doughnuts, Stumptown Coffee, and the Keep Portland Weird sign in one swoop.

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Still kicking myself for forgetting to visit Schoolhouse Electric. But there will be a next time in the PNW, you can count on it like rain.

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