The first stop on my Pacific Northwest Excursion was Portland. Due to the endless comparisons to Austin, it’s long been on my list of places to visit. And yes, I’ll admit it’s pretty familiar territory. Like Austin, it’s a great city to grab a beer and hang out in. Here’s what I did while visiting the PDX.
One of the things I loved most about Portland was how developed and contained neighborhoods were. We stayed at an apartment right at the Hawthorne/Mount Tabor line and could not have been happier with the location. We were a quick walk to Mount Tabor, where we ran trails all week long, and a ton of boutique shops, restaurants, and bars. As Portland goes, Hawthorne is pretty hipster.
Portland, and the northwest in general, does a great job with breakfasts and brunch. Practically every restaurant I researched was recommended for breakfast, but unfortunately there were only so many breakfasts I could eat.
One of my favorites was at Clyde Common from the Ace Hotel. It’s spacious with plenty of communal seating and a menu of simple dishes. We also picked up bagel sandwiches at Spielman Bagels, where you have plenty of delicious options to build your breakfast.
When I leave Texas, I’m generally suspicious of any Mexican food and flat out avoid it. But as we were walking through Hawthorne we noticed ¿Por Que No? and thought the name was hilarious. Our local Texan had raved about it so we decided to give it a try. While sadly, breakfast is not on the menu, these tacos are actually pretty amazing. It’s definitely no secret and most days there was a line outside the door. I’d recommend the chorizo and barbacoa tacos.
Every trip, I like to spend one night at a more upscale restaurant and for this trip we chose Tasty n Alder. It’s a modern take on a steakhouse with a menu that encourages sharing. The warm but industrial interior design is gorgeous with lots of rustic wooden accents. They only accept a few reservations, so be sure to get there early or you’ll most likely wait a while for a table.
Just down the street from Tasty n Alder, we had pre-dinner cocktails at Shift Drinks. Their menu is full of playfully named beverages like the Psychedelic Quinceañera or Besos for Pesos.
There are also more than a handful of breweries in town. We stopped into 10 Barrel Brewing Co, located in downtown Portland. The restaurant sits on a corner of the block with both sides featuring glass garage doors that open to make the space light and airy. Plus, their craft beers are pretty delicious.
As for the gay nightlife, I’m surprised to say the most active bars were actually strip clubs. Silverado appears to have the best “talent” while Stag seems to be more like your run of the mill gay bar. Euphoria Night Club is the queer bar in town and reminded me the scene in Austin. It’s a huge space with plenty of room for dancing. You can also see the Portland, Oregon neon sign from their outside deck.
The beauty of the great outdoors drew me to the Pacific Northwest and there are plenty of great hikes just outside of Portland. We spent an afternoon hiking the Eagle Creek Trail to Punchbowl Falls where we stopped for lunch. The total hike is about 4 miles and is rather easy. There are a couple of narrow spots on cliffsides, so that’s one thing to watch out for.
Depending on when you visit, you may be able to catch First Thursday, which features exhibitions at the art galleries downtown.
If you stay in Hawthorne, you’ll definitely need to spend an afternoon perusing thrift shops. There are plenty of great furniture stores with gorgeous mid century pieces at ridiculously affordable prices. I was seriously contemplating having things shipped back to Texas.
It’s also impossible to put together a guide to Portland without mentioning Powell Books. There are a few throughout town, so you shouldn’t miss your opportunity to peruse some good reads.
I had such a great time, I can’t wait until my next visit! What are some of your favorite spots in Portland?