One of my favorite cities to visit is Portland, OR because I never feel the pressure to always be doing something. OK, so I’ve only been to Portland twice: first in 2016 and more recently in 2018. Each time I went, I didn’t have the nagging feeling of “oh, I need to do this” or “I must go here.” That’s not to say that Portland is boring, rather, I feel that it speaks more to the easy-going PNW culture that I tend to look upon with such curiosity.
My agenda: coffee, books, and beer. Yep, just those three things. Traveling to Portland is so simple and relaxing. So here I will list my fave places that made my Portlandia weekend:
Powell’s City of Books
I went there twice that weekend: the first time to reorient myself with the largest bookstore I’ve seen (by far); and the second time to dig deeper and find books to bring home. (I only bought one book, btw. I am quite proud of myself for having been able to hold back!) But ya, anyway, Powell’s is a fun place, even for non-bookworms because there are so many things to look at. I think the bookstore is basically a landmark in Portland, so everyone goes there.
Bookish Plug: Powell’s is having Brian Catling, writer of The Vorrh and The Erstwhile visit the bookstore in July. I may need to take another trip there. The event is on a Thursday though, so fat chance for me.
- Location: Pearl District / Downtown Portland
- Website: http://www.powells.com/
Base Camp Brewing Company
I’m a stout person, so when I saw a picture of the s’mores stout, I convinced my friends to go here. No ragrets. Although it was raining, and we couldn’t stay at the outdoor patio, we were able to snag seats at the bar and stare at the cool pictures at the bar.
Ta da! Look at that bar!
My friends and I each ordered a flight of beers. I’d say the options were really good — they ranged from lights to darks to sours, so everyone wins. I’m a fan of dark beers, so my flight (pictures below) was on the darker side compared to my friends’ flights. The s’mores stout taster had a tiny burnt marshmallow on the side, and it was so cute, so I took a closer picture.
Also, the staff was super nice even if they were busy. They took pictures of us and even adjusted the blinds to make sure the lighting in the picture turned out nicely.
- Location: Buckman / SE Portland
- Website: https://basecampbrewingco.com/
Nong’s Khao Man Gai
FYI, their Hainanese chicken rice is life-changing. Nong’s is a very unassuming place that only serves a limited kind of food, but they execute extremely well. I have not found this quality of Hainanese chicken rice anywhere else in the US. I think the SF Bay Area may need to step up its chicken rice game.
- Location: Lower Burnside, SE Portland
- Website: http://khaomangai.com/
My friends and I walked around Alberta St to check out another ~Portlandia~ neighborhood. I liked the street art — murals and flower installations. Alberta St also had Townshend’s Tea and Salt & Straw, so, obviously, I had to stock up on tea (4 oz of Lychee Black, please!) and force myself to eat ice cream (Tokyo PB&J was the weekend’s winner) because gotta take advantage of such opportunities, ok. (Salt & Straw has locations outside of Portland, but there’s always a good excuse to have some of their delicious ice cream.)
Other interesting finds: tiny children’s bookstore; art galleries and quirky stores; new tea shop. Particularly, Tiki Tea was such a pleasant surprise! Their milky oolong was so good (and that was just hot tea ok, no milk tea and toppings) that I wanted to buy the tea leaves to take home. (They don’t sell leaves though.) The shop had just opened, too, which made the discovery experience a lot better.
We didn’t get to visit the rose garden this time around because it was a rainy weekend. The rose garden is beautiful and large. I would love to go back when it’s sunny out.