This is a hefty post. Just warning you in advance.
On our second day in Portland, we headed out to the Alberta Arts district for breakfast.
Pine State Biscuits
Specifically at Pine State Biscuits. I seriously only meant to order a few things but everything sounded SO GOOD…
I might have over ordered a little bit. Oops.
[biscuits and gravy / $5]
No one cried over my choices or massive amount of food. I’m sure the boys would have been happy to have ONLY eaten here for the whole day. The first item and my favorite of the bunch were the savory biscuits and gravy. MmMmMmmm.
The gravy… was totally divine. They have a meaty version made with sausage (which is the one we got) and also a veggie version made with mushrooms (which I’m sure I would have also loved but I was with the mushroom hatin’ crew). The biscuits here are what really elevate the dish. The biscuits are light, incredibly high and fluffy, soft and buttery. The gravy was seasoned so well with lots of herbs and spices and I might have been happy with only this.
[biscuit with marionberry jam / $3]
I also want to try just a plain old biscuit and it’s not disappointing at all! I got it with marionberry jam, which is all over the place in Oregon, and they were a perfect pairing. The sweet and slightly tart jam tasted great with the flaky, buttery biscuit. The top of the biscuit has a perfect golden, crunchy crust while the middle is fluffy and light. Perfect contrasting textures.
[reggie deluxe / $9]
This is the sandwich that T and Jake were totally gaga over and was their favorite. Probably of the entire trip.
This sandwich has: fried chicken, bacon, gravy and an egg. All inside of one large biscuit. The egg makes it “deluxe”. I remember looking at this and thinking, “It’s probably a crime to eat this for breakfast.” First of all, it’s MASSIVE, and it’s messy, and it’s hard to stick into your pie hole so you can eat it but damn… it is really quite good. The chicken is tender and nicely seasoned and the gravy on it makes it extra messy but also extra tasty. I personally only had a few bites because I found it to be a litttttttle too much, but Jake and T were in heaven eating it.
T kind of didn’t want to give it back, he loved the sandwich so much. Jake and T started talking about how they wanted to come back for just the sandwich but then Jake reminded T that there’s so many more things to try. Reasonable, he is.
[side of hash browns / $4]
We also got hash browns because…. well…. it’s hash browns. It’s hard for me to not order them. These had an interesting mix of seasonings on them – I think paprika and other spices – which I liked. The top was nice and crispy though I thought they were a little thin. Yes, I’m always comparing to my glorious defunct Keith’s in terms of hash browns.
[blueberry cornmeal pancakes / $6]
Last but not least… pancakes. Blueberry cornmeal pancakes. With chunks of corn and nice big blueberries inside. These pancakes were so moist and fluffy! They had a cornbread-like taste thing going on with them that I adored and I loved the bits of corn in the pancake. Cornmeal pancakes might be my new favorite thing. I want to try and recreate these at home.
Blogger approved meal.
Boyfriend of blogger also approves.
Pine State Biscuits
2204 NE Alberta
Portland, OR 97211
This is a pretty kick ass mural I saw as we were walking back to the car after breakfast. It says, “You are confined only by the walls you build yourself.”
Portland Aerial Tram
After breakfast we drove over one of the many bridges and headed over to the Portland Aerial Tram. It’s a little tram that basically takes people up to Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU). A roundtrip fare is only $4.35, well worth the cost for the amazing view up at the top.
View from the top! You could see pretty far that day, though it was cloudy and a little drizzly.
The whole trip from the lower terminal to the upper term is about 4 minutes long. I recorded the whole thing if you want to check it out:
It’s a short trip but I loved seeing the whole view of the city.
Downtown wasn’t too far from the Aerial Tram and that was our next stop.
The first thing we were enamored with? The drinking fountains. They just constantly flow water and the water tastes amazing since it’s run off from the nearby mountains.
We headed over to Pioneer Courthouse Square which is a big gathering spot in Downtown Portland. It’s also known as “Portland’s Living Room” since many events take place in the square. For the holidays, they dress up the statues around the square in ugly sweaters which amused me. I only managed to find a few of them. There were a bunch of booths set up in the square that day for the holidays, selling lots of local wares and goods.
We wandered more and walked through Downtown and headed off to see the Portlandia statue. Quick little stop in a park though!
I swear all of the trees in Oregon are covered in moss. I thought it was beautiful.
The Portlandia statue! You see this statue featured in the Portlandia opening scenes and until I looked this up, I had no idea “Portlandia” was a statue! Portlandia is the second-largest copper repoussé statue in the United States, after the Statue of Liberty.
While walking to our next destination, T spotted this tinier version of the statue inside a building and well… picture time happened. Hah!
Mill Ends Park: World’s Smallest Park
This is one of my kooky things that I wanted to check out! This my friends is Mill Ends Park: the world’s smallest park. It was named an official city park in 1976.
I remember reading about the tiny park and thinking how freakin’ cool it was for a city to take the time to make this tiny little thing a park. It was originally supposed to be a lamppost, but it never got installed and a guy who looked down on this every day from his office thought, “Hmm. I should plant some stuff in there instead.” It’s in the middle of a busy road, too, which just endears it to me even more.
Also: don’t ask why but for some reason I felt like pretending to be a bunny next to the world’s smallest park.
Here’s park of the plaque that tells you about Mill Ends Park with a little view of it!
Food Carts: Taste of Poland
After our visit to the tiny park we walked even more! I felt like we walked all over Downtown that day, checking out shops and lots of scenery. One thing we did stumble upon was one of the many food carts. The food carts in Portland are different than the ones in San Diego since these have more of a permanent spot. This is basically a parking lot that was turned into a food cart area and the city block is full of different food carts. This is just one corner of it! And there are multiple food cart setups like this one all over town.
We stopped at the Taste of Poland food cart for a quick little snack
This is part of the menu.
Jake ordered just the pierogis (not a plate). I believe there were six little dumplings for us to share and it cost like $3. The fluffy little pierogis were filled with potato and cheese and had a nice little topping that was a mixture of bacon and onions. Nice little tasty snack!
After a short break of eating pierogis, we continued our walk around Downtown. We visited a few shops and local stores and then on our way to Powell’s I spotted this club:
If you watch the intro to Portlandia carefully, you’ll spot this sign! I spotted it mostly because my name is smack dab on it. No. We did not visit it. Obviously.
I already felt like we walked most of the city at this point but OF COURSE we had to hit up Powell’s! Powell’s City of Book is a full city sized block book store with tons and tons and more tons of books in it. We barely scratched the surface of this place but I loved how big it was. Easily could get lost in there just browsing through the shelves of books.
I hadn’t schedule any pizza stops into our itinerary. Sizzle Pie was just across the street from Powell’s Books so Jake inserted it into our itinerary.
[rudimentary penne / $3.75 a slice]
We got two slices to share. The first was the rudimentary penne pie which had vodka cream sauce, roasted garlic, goat cheese and fresh basil. The middle was a bit too soggy and the overall taste was just kind of “meh”.
[spiral tap / $3.25 a slice]
The second slice was called The Spiral Tap and is a vegan pie, if you’re wondering for some reason. It had a caramelized onion spread with house marinara red sauce and a light dusting of nutritional yeast. I have no idea what the nutritional yeast is for, but this was a much better slice. The bottom was perfectly crisp and it was a tiny bit thicker than the other slice. There was no sogginess at all and I loved the caramelized onions on it! They were blended up and had a nice sweet flavor that I really enjoyed.
926 W. Burnside St.
After our day of wandering around Downtown, we were a bit beat! We went back to our room to chill for a little while before heading out for dinner.
For dinner I choice Pok Pok. I’d been hearing about how this place had really authentic Thai food and really good wings. I saw this place on No Reservations (the one in NY though) and figured we should stop and check it out.
The menu can be a little overwhelming and it was mostly filled with items I’d never heard of before. You don’t see any Pad Thai on this menu. I kept it simple and only ordered two things since I had a plan. Always have a plan.
[ike’s vietnamese fish sauce wings / $14.50]
The first and probably most famous dish is the Fish Sauce Wings. They use whole chicken wings marinated in fish sauce and sugar. Then they’re deep fried and tossed in caramelized fish sauce and garlic. They’re spicy but not overly OMG spicy, but more of a subtle spicy flavor in the background. The wings are quite large since you get the wing and drumstick together and you get the wing tip included (not like at other places). I remember these being good but not being blow my mind amazing, if you know what I mean. Good flavor, excellent crispiness and the wings were really juicy. No complaints about them but… maybe a tiny bit overhyped?
[muu sateh / $12.50]
The other dish I picked was called Muu Sateh. It is pork lion skewers marinated in coconut milk and turmeric and grilled over charcoal. Served with peanut sauce, cucumber relish and grilled bread. There’s a little note on the menu that said, “Yes. Bread is what it’s really served with in Thailand!” What the three of us really adored about this dish was the peanut sauce! Holy cow, the peanut sauce was amazingly good – one of the best I’ve had – and I thought that was more drool worthy than the wings. The pork skewers were quite lovely and but I really I used used the pork and the bread as a vessel for getting more of that peanut sauce into my mouth.
3226 SE Division St.
Hawthorne Food Carts: Potato Champion and Whiffies Fried Pies
After Pok Pok, we headed over to another Food Cart. This one is in a little lot and the food carts are arranged so that there’s a nice seating area in the middle. There was an Egyptian place, a grilled sandwich place, crepes, Mexican food, pizza, french fries and a fried pies cart. Lots of choices!
We got a little savory snack first at Potato Champion.
[poutine fries / $5.25 – small]
Potato Champion had poutine which I found to be quick exciting! They are fries topped with cheddar cheese curds and your choice of beef or vegetarian gravy (we got beef). This was the tastier of the two fries we tried but I wasn’t totally a big fan of the gravy itself and the gravy was a little bit on the cold side.
[pbj fries / $5.25 – small]
We also tried PBJ Fried because we’d never seen nor heard of THAT before. They are fries topped with satay sauce and a smokey chipotle raspberry jam. We found the satay sauce to be a bit overwhelming. It tasted really incredibly rich and while we finished them, it wouldn’t be something we’d want to get again. But it was fun to try something new!
I will say that the french fries by themselves were incredibly good. The fries are hand cut and twice fried Belgium style fries. They were very crispy with a creamy center and a nice thickness.
For dessert: Fried Pies!
The little hand pies are available either savory or sweet. We were here to only try the sweet pies.
They were freshly fried for us and we kind of used them as hand warmers at first…
[oregon mixed berry combo / $4]
We originally got two pies to share. The first was the Oregon Mixed Berry pie that has a combination of strawberry, raspberry, blueberry, and marionberry. There was nice mix of sweet and tart in the pie and it tasted like they didn’t add any additional sugar since you got these really tart areas and then sweeter areas. The pie shell was delicious – a nice pie crust that was flaky and held it’s shape well during the frying.
[the great pumpin pie / $4]
The Pumpie pie is a seasonal item since it was listed only on a piece of paper above the regular menu but this was our favorite of the bunch. The pumpkin filling was sweet and creamy and tasted so good in the fried pie shell.
[peanut butter cream / $4]
We liked these so much we joked that we wanted another pie. And so T went and got one more for us to share, the Peanut Butter creme pie with peanut butter pudding and ghiradelli chocolate. This pie was also very good though it seemed the filling settled to just one side and it tasted a bit sweeter than the other two. Jake didn’t care of it as much since it had chocolate in it (oh, the horror) but T and I liked it well enough. I still think the Pumpkin one was the best!
Phew, we had quite a packed day for our first full day in Portland. Only two more days to go!