The dream of the 90s is alive and well, heck it’s even thriving, in Portland. I’m proud to say I’ve survived my first year living here and can see myself staying for at least another year or two!
Sure, there are a few things that don’t make any sense to me, most people don’t understand how stop signs work, many restaurants don't take reservations, and the sky is grey from October until May, but all that aside, I am still happy to call this place home; for now.
Portland is a pretty small city, about the same size as D.C. but has a much smaller, almost quaint town feeling to it. Each neighborhood has a unique vibe and everything you could ever need to not leave! It can actually create a trap you could easily fall into. It's my goal to spread my wings and explore as much of Portland as possible while I'm still here. The city is divided into quadrants just like D.C. and runs along the Willamette (Will-AM-It - like damn it) river.
When I sat down to write this post, I wasn’t sure how I wanted to break everything down, so I decided I’d start with my neighborhood and slowly share my top spots for each one. So, welcome to my hood, the Historic Mississippi District! Mississippi Ave is on the border of North and Northeast Portland, depending who you talk to. People get very territorial and strangely aggressive if they don’t agree with you when you say one or the other, another beautiful charm of PDX.
DAY TIME ADVENTURES:
Breakfast is my favorite meal of the day. I will eat it anytime, anywhere, sometimes even multiple times a day and Portland may as well be called Brunchland! I love to start my mornings at Locale to grab a coconut milk latte, or dirty chai to have while I walk my pup. If you’re a donut person, skip the famed Voodoo donuts and head to Blue Star on Mississippi to have the best donut of your life. My personal favorite is the lemon poppyseed, I could eat three at a time! On the other hand, if you’re in the mood for more of a sit-down meal with cocktails, people rave about Gravy, but I have yet to go, the wait is OOC. Below are my fave brunch/lunch spots, unique shopping, and a little peek into my hood!
Miss. Delta: true southern fair, from BBQ and meat and three, to their 'Trashy Mac' you can't go wrong here. PDX loves southern food. To be honest you may have a tough time, if you're a true southerner, to get that proper southern fair without it trying to 'stand out' in some way. Thanks Portland for always trying to 'keep it weird'. Anyway, they serve brunch here EVERY DAY! I usually skip the wait at Gravy in favor of Miss Delta and her 'southern stack', a very large, stick to your ribs fried chicken biscuit smothered in gravy, with a fried egg, cheese, and bacon. The food here is amazing and no matter what you order you'll leave feeling full, satisfied and cured of even the worst hangover! I have yet to actually finish anything here in one sitting! Every meal is one of those meals that transports me back to my years down in Alabama in each bite.
Wanderlust + Wildhearts: badass, hippy chic boutique that supports local artists as well as small fair-trade businesses from around the world. Their slogan is "shop like you give a damn" and I love it! If you come to visit and you're a girl, love one, know one, or wish you were one, chances are I'll take you here! It's a great place to scout one of a kind gifts, check out awesome clothes, and find unique antique jewelry. For anyone who loves to vintage shop, Portland is worth a trip and this store is a must!
Paxton Gate: If you're into some weird shit, this place is for you. In need of a hamster fetus? Paxton Gate's got you! I love to take Cookie, my mini-husky baby, in here because she goes crazy with all the smells. PG is my go to get my heady crystals, succulents, and strange literature. Quite a few of my friends have received some oddities for their birthdays due to my love of this store and for being a total creep! They also have a sister store in SF, so that kinda tells you all you need to know!
Sunlan: THE place to get your light bulbs. Every restaurant, bar, studio and cool store in PDX buys their lightbulbs from the Sunlan lightbulb lady! The store front is an amazing display of lights, like to the max, I've never seen anything like it. It's maybe one of the strangest stores I've ever been in. There are light bulbs from floor to ceiling and you can barely walk through; the woman who owns it is rumored to NEVER move. It's a Miss Ave/ Portland spectacle that I think it should be on some strange TV show. The light bulbs are STUPID expensive, I thought about buying Christmas lights there, but this girl gets lit on a budget! If you aren't in the market for some bulbs - go and check it out, even if it's just to see if the light bulb lady moves!
NIGHT TIME ADVENTURES:
Mississippi Ave is one of the more hipster parts of town, which says a lot since PDX is the land of the hipster. I consider this hood to be more grunge than some of the other parts of the city. People mostly come here for local shows at Mississippi Studios and to bar hop some of PDXs smaller, more relaxed neighborhood bars. Personally, I find myself wandering here for the amazing Thai street food at MeeSen and libations/ first dates at Interurban.
MeeSen: My favorite restaurant on Miss. Ave. The Thai girlfriend cocktail is a favorite of mine on warmer days and if it's a bit chilly out I get the Andy Toddy to warm up. The tables resemble tuk tuk's, with recycled bike tires that bring you right to Bangkok, I think?! I haven't been yet, but it's on my list for this year! They have a bomb happy hour (3-6pm and 9pm-close all week), but prices are reasonable and the menu has everything from your standard pad thai and chicken satay to unique noodle dishes that can be made wet or dry, with any combination of noodles. My personal favorite is Look Chin Pla Tom Yum (also known as F) with thin rice noodles. I usually get a small order so I can have room for either fresh salad rolls or some of their amazing Thai style chicken wings. On warmer days they open the front firehouse style doors and have a nice patio space to relax and enjoy your meal alfresco.
Mississippi Studios/BarBar: Just a hop up and across the street from MeeSen you'll find Mississippi studios and the famous BarBar patio. The acoustics are some of the best in the city and their show calendar boasts some of PDX's most eclectic shows. It's the perfect place to check out Portland's best local talent. The venue is not that large but no matter where you are it feels like you have a front row seat and most shows are 21+! If you don't end up getting a ticket to the show, not to worry, just hang out next door and have a cocktail on their amazing patio where I love to sit with friends to chat, people watch, and enjoy the awesome fire pits!
Interurban: my favorite first date spot! I love the style of the bar from the moment you walk in all way back to the patio and the bartenders are super knowledgeable which rocks. To be honest, they are some of my favorite in the whole city! You can tell them what you like and they will mix something up on the spot. Interurban is known for their pre-prohibition style cocktail menu, amazing beers on tap, and one of the largest whiskey lists in the city (second only to MWL). Back in D.C. I would go to Bourbon Steak as my private cocktail escape to have a French 75, duck fat fries, and pretend to be traveling somewhere fabulous. Interurban has become my local PDX escape and their friesare just as good! Their brunch is perfect for those hungover weekend days when you don't feel like waiting and their AM cocktails are absolutely delightful! If you're looking for something different from the traditional bloody or mimosa, try the Brown Derby or Kir Royal to mix it up.
Rambler: my last stop on the train. Right up from my apartment and owned by a friend of mine, this is the perfect place to end your night. They have a late night menu, I suggest the baked nachos and tons of outdoor space with multiple firepits. It can tend to have a younger crowd on Friday and Saturday, but after bar hopping up and down Mississippi, you won't even care! My favorite cocktail, other than my standard titos and soda with a lemon, is the Paloma de Vita. They are always switching up their cocktail and food menu along with their awesome standard. This bar is my favorite neighborhood spot, I can bring my dog and I always run into friends when I'm here. It's basically a non-hipster, hipster Cheers!
Portland is amazing and I am filled with love and joy to be able to call this weird city home. I'm so lucky to be only an hour drive from the mountains, two from the coast (where The Goonies was filmed) in a city filled to the brim with amazing food, interesting people, and strange animals. I love my new city!
It's unreal how many adventures can be found just out your front door. So I challenge you to find something new to try wherever you are! It can be simple, like a new route to walk the dog, a new restaurant, hang out with someone from outside your usual circle, strike up a conversation with that cute guy/ girl you see at the grocery store, it doesn't really matter what it is, just do it! We spend so much time wondering 'what if?' So stop wondering, just start doing and your own neighborhood can share new secrets with you!