Back in December my wife had a work conference in New Orleans. She had previously visited for work and had a great time. I had never been so figured this would be a fun little trip for us. I flew down a few days after she did and arrived in the late afternoon after making a connecting flight through Salt Lake City.
I caught a cab into the French Quarter to our hotel, Hyatt Centric French Quarter. After getting squared away in the hotel room, we met up with my wife’s coworker for some drinks and grub
Saturday (Day 3) started with brunch at Imperial located inside the Hotel Lucia. They’re known for their fried chicken so I ordered it again. This time it came with a biscuit on the side.
So after we were fed and well-caffeinated, we walked over to the Portland Saturday Market. We had visited the Market in 2012 but it was fun to walk through again. When we arrived, there were some street performers doing a combination of acrobatics but showing off their flexibility (and double jointed-ness). We then walked through looking at the various stalls and the trinkets and the like. We then jumped onto the public transit (train) and headed over to the Portland Art Museum. The museum had some interesting exhibits going on, in particular they had Native American fashion and how it intertwined with today’s modern fashion. We walked through the entire museum and spent a good few hours there.
Since we were further south in the downtown area, Deborah wanted to see the Portlandia Statue so I set about trying to find it.
We stopped in at Potbelly Sandwich Shop for lunch. This was nostalgic for me because I used to go to Potbelly a bunch when I visited/lived in Chicago. I was introduced to it when I was in undergrad and would eat it regularly when I visited while living in Michigan. The wife appreciated the tasty sandwich. After lunch we hung out at the hotel for a little bit then headed out for a drink before dinner.
On the Esquire show Best Bars in America that we watch, the guys go to get Spanish Coffee. We figured it’d be a nice little drink before dinner. So off to Huber’s Cafe, which is the originator of this drink that consists of Kahlua, Bacardi 151, Bols Triple Sec & Coffee topped w/ fresh whipped cream & nutmeg, flamed tableside. The waiters make this drink in front of you and it is fairly impressive. Because it was warmer out, my wife had it on the rocks and I tried the original. I must say that it is a tasty beverage and heavy on the alcohol. It was a good starter as we walked to dinner after having the drink.
Dinner was at Little Bird Bistro, which is also one of Gabriel Rucker’s restaurants. During our previous visit in 2012, we had dined at Le Pigeon on E Burnside. That meal was delectable so I had no doubt we were in for a good dinner. I started the meal with the Roasted Bone Marrow and followed it with the Fried chicken “Coq au Vin”. The Roasted Bone Marrow came with 3 bones (sliced horizontally to allow easy access to the marrow) along with some pastrami, pickles, and toast slices. It was very buttery as expected. The “Coq au Vin” also had a nice crisp to the outside and tender juicy meat.
After dinner we had some more drinks and then turned in so we could catch our flight the following morning. Sunday morning we had breakfast in our hotel’s other restaurant: Urban Farmer. We then took the train to the airport and hopped on the flight home.
The weather in Portland held up beautifully while we were there. It was sunny and a little warm and only hinted at some rain when we were getting on the train back to the airport (light sprinkles).
Overall the trip was extremely fun and as you can see there was a lot of eating/drinking involved. Portland is definitely a fun recommended city to visit. We look forward to going back up to visit after our friend moves up there.
Day 2 started a bit slow. Since we were out late, we slept in. I woke up first and decided that I should get in some miles before starting the day. It was July 1st and I like to run on the first of each month to set the tone for the month in running. Rather than attempting an outdoor run (also because I didn’t bring my running belt nor my GPS watch), I elected to do a treadmill run. I haven’t run on a treadmill in many years.
The hotel had a very nice fitness room (available 24/7 with your hotel key card). There was a combination of treadmills, ellipticals, stationary bike, weight machines and free weights. I hopped on a LifeFitness Treadmill, which was pretty cool because each one had a screen that showed your progress but also doubled as a TV. The hotel provided free headphones that you could plug in so you had sound. At first I started my run with no headphones and just watching TV without sound. After about 1 mile I hopped off and got me some headphones. I forget how hard it is to run on a treadmill sometime. I started with a 5 minute warmup at a speed between 4-5 mi/hr. I then upped my speed to 6 mi/hr and ventured into the 6.5 mi/hr range to try to average out to 10 min/mile pace (6 mi/hr for the entire run). My run effort level was higher because I had been drinking and eating a ton the day before. I ended up putting in a little over 4 miles at an overall just under 10:15 min/mile pace.
After I was all cleaned up, we headed on out in search of brunch. One place that I wanted to try was Tasty n Sons. We bought another TriMet day pass and hopped on a bus. We took it 20 minutes north of city center (east of the river) into the Boise neighborhood. By the time we arrived (around 11 am), the place was packed and the line of people waiting for a table spilled out the door. We put our names down and had some coffee while we waited. An opening at the small bar (it sat 7 total) allowed us to get a table a little earlier than normal (we still waited about 50 minutes). We split one of their Chocolate Potato Doughnuts, which was fairly light. I had the Fried Egg and Cheddar Biscuit with Fried Chicken. A big reason we went to this restaurant was that my wife wanted to try Shakshuka (baked eggs n tomato stew with merguez sausage), which came with some grilled bread slices. Shakshuka is a dish of North African origin and now is popular in many Middle Eastern countries. It was rather tasty and I’d definitely have it again given a chance. I had a bourbon cocktail since I already had my coffee and hey I was on vacation! We chatted briefly with the bartender and got some ideas on places to check out.
After lunch we walked around the Boise neighborhood some but jumped back onto the bus to visit the Lan Su Chinese Garden in Old Town Chinatown. I’ve noticed that in almost every city in the US, the Chinatown region is also where a lot of the homeless people live and Portland is no exception. The Chinese Garden was an interesting experience. We learned that there is a sister Chinese Garden in China. There was some other interesting stuff that I learned but have since forgot, I’ll just leave you with some pictures of the place.
From the garden we walked up back towards the Pearl District for a snack. Back in 2012 when we visited, we made the obligatory stop at Voodoo Donuts. My friend Tim, who has lived in Portland for a few years now, said that we needed to check out Blue Star Donuts because it was much better than Voodoo. I will say that Blue Star has some more innovative and intriguing combinations of flavors. We tried two different flavors: 1) Blueberry Bourbon & Basil Donut and 2) I can’t remember
We finished just in time to walk back to our hotel, The Nines, for happy hour at the rooftop restaurant Departure, helmed by Top Chef Alum Gregory Gourdet. One of my good friends from San Diego was a college roommate with Gregory and she said he used to cook her awesome food. Happy Hour is on a few rooftop balconies that overlook the city.
We ordered some cocktails as well as some snack foods (Departure Wings and Vegetarian Maki Roll of the Day). The Departure Wings were fabulous and even though my wife doesn’t normally eat wings, she loved these. They were basically like popsicle sticks of tender chicken in a crisp outer shell.
Vegetarian Maki Roll
After taking a break in our hotel room we headed off to find some dinner. Another place that we both wanted to try served chicken rice. So off we went to Nong’s Khao Man Gai off of E Burnside just across Burnside Bridge via Bus. I guess Khao Man Gai roughly translates to chicken and rice. The dish is deceptively simple yet yields some good flavors. It was a nice little meal to cap off our Friday.
Guess I did have enough to separate out Day 2 from Day 3 and 4.