One of the first things that I noticed in Portland was the surprising amount of runners that were braving the cold to stay fit. No matter the forecast, there were spandex-clad warriors spotted running in pairs or going solo on the slick sidewalks at all times of the day and well into the evening.
The City of Roses is undeniably one of the healthiest cities in the U.S., where an active lifestyle and clean eating is the norm. That being said, we decided to go the opposite route and indulge in carbs in all its glorious forms. I blame it on winter.
A Note on Food Carts
When I found out that I was going to Portland a flurry of local food cart research ensued. The only problem was upon arrival the weather had different plans and it turns out snow and food trucks do not mix. We decided it was best to move our meals indoors instead and come back during the warmer months to sample the food carts.
If you would like to see, here is the list I compelled of places to eat in Portland, including an excessive amount of food cart options. Unlike food trucks that usually roam around from place to place, food carts stay stationary in groups called pods and it is much easy to locate them and also sample from a wider variety of choices in one convenient location.
Where We Ate
The moment we stepped inside we were greeted with a hearty “buena sera” from one of the waiters and although we had not made reservations on a Saturday (rookie move), we were graciously accommodated for and it instantly felt like home. The best part of this restaurant was the interior unabashedly reflected the owners’ obsession with Italian soccer. Every inch of the ceiling was covered in autographed jerseys of Italian soccer stars and a match was quietly being played out on the flat screen high above the tables.
The menu offers mostly pasta options and rightfully so because they are masters of this craft. My pasta dish was delicious in it simplicity: bathed in garlic and olive oil. I didn’t even mind that I had dragon breath the entire night (though I’m sure the customers at Powell’s Books thought otherwise).
Coffee is not my morning beverage of choice, but as it turns out Mustafa drinks enough for the two of us. Being the coffee lover that he is, I knew we had to try this famed coffee shop, because when in Portland right? For breakfast options there are bagels available behind the counter (but not advertised) or if you are in the downtown branch you can bring your pink box of treats from Voodoo Doughnuts over as well.
Blue Star Doughnuts
Speaking of doughnuts…Voodoo might have the most iconic doughnuts in the city, but Blue Star is definitely worth checking out (especially since it doesn’t induce such an intense sugar coma as the former). My blueberry bourbon basil was delicious, but paled in comparison to Mustafa’s lemon poppyseed buttermilk. Swoon.
I’m not usually a brunch person in the US, but this Scandinavian-style restaurant makes me reconsider. Forget your traditional pancake and eggs benedict brunch fare, the menu offers delicious alternatives like Danish pancakes (my favorite), lost eggs and Swedish hash. Plans are already in the works for our next trip to get lunch in the form of open-faced sandwiches and Swedish meatballs.
On our last morning as we were heading out, we stopped by this NY bagel shop for one last carb-laden meal. The bagels were so chewy and delicious that we each had two. I am a big advocate of the sea salt kind. After this last gluttonous hurrah, I promised my poor body that it would only be vegetables from here on out.
Where are your favorite places to eat in Portland?