We were a tad busy and I didn’t get round to much writing in the last few days of the holiday.
I’m biased. I really enjoy the city of Portland. It has problems that need addressed in a constructive way including homelessness and rough sleeping (although it doesn’t rank close to some of the more major US cities, coming in at number 25) but every city has issues. The scale of homelessness in the US likely reflects the limited safety netting for those in need, but those are issues that are better address by much smarter folks. I digress.
Portland is a weird place in the best possible way. It’s filled full of artisanal food producers, niche shops, eco conscious citizens and microbreweries. The city has cultivated a unique image and draws like-minded people from all over the country, including Californians priced out of their home state. For context, watch Portlandia and you’ll get an idea of some of the personalities you might encounter in this part of Oregon.
We only spent a day visiting during this trip, but it was a memorable one. Here are a few of the spots we hit up.
The prototypical Portland donut shop is Voodoo Doughnut. I first visited during my 2012 trip with my brother when we sampled the namesake Voodoo Doll and the bacon maple bar, but I wasn’t blown away. We were there close to the end of the day and the doughnuts were a little stale, and the sheer sweetness was a bit too much. Our repeat visit (to a different Portland branch) was excellent. The sheer amount of choice can be overwhelming, but I think it would be hard to be disappointed.
The photo speaks for itself. We tried a lot of different donuts, although my favourite was the Old Dirty Bastard which combined chocolate frosting, Oreos, and a peanut butter drizzle. I found the glaze on the bacon maple bar a little less sugary this time and overall the doughnuts were delicious. This place is a Portland staple for a reason. There have been some slip ups in the past including a death during a half pound doughnut challenge in the Denver branch, but otherwise it’s a pretty cool company.
Salt & Straw
I scream, you scream, we all scream for this (mostly) dairy treat. Salt & Straw was born in Portland and grew into a chain with locations all along the West coast. They’re known for unusual ice cream flavours and their current “Summer Picnic” series includes cinnamon and honey fried chicken, chocolate nocino cherry pie, and baked brie and fig cheesecake. I can confirm that the fried chicken and cheesecake flavours are both delicious and weirdly savoury, and have been reliably informed that the chocolate nocino cherry pie was equally delicious. If you’re looking for unique flavour combinations then this is the place for you.
An American classic and hailing from California in 1948, In-N-Out Burger is a fast food chain promising a better quality product than the average quick service restaurant. The menu is fairly limited but focuses on hamburgers, cheeseburgers and fries. The aesthetic is quite similar to Five Guys, but the menu lacks the additional toppings. It’s a standard burger, but it’s a standard burger done well. It was refreshing to have a reasonable portion of food that wasn’t designed to choke a donkey. This wasn’t strictly in Portland, but in Keizer just north of Salem. If you’re close to a branch it’s definitely worth checking out.