Prior to visiting Portland, many of friends and family were asking me why Portland? To be honest, I wasn’t too sure either. I scoured the web for things to do and most of the suggestions were hiking trails ranging from 20 to 120 minutes outside Portland. I went on a whim and decided to book tickets anyways. I was taking this trip with my brother, and most of our destinations were food and shopping related (no sales tax!), but regardless, we were ready to head to PDX. Below are some of the highlights from our trip.
We checked into Ace Hotel Portland because so many of the bloggers and Youtubers I follow stayed at this hotel. Due to some last minute planning, we were only able to book a room with a shared bathroom. I figured since I was studying abroad soon, this would provide me some experience for staying in hostels in the near future. The service at Ace is amazing; everyone was so polite and respectful. The hotel welcomed with us a few delectable, baked goods. The shared bathroom was extremely clean, but if you have hygiene issues, I’d recommend showering at 9AM, when housekeeping finishes bleaching the dirt out of every nook and cranny. My only complaint is the uncomfortable beds; it took a lot of adjusting, tossing and turning for me to finally fall asleep.
Oregon welcomed us with rain the next morning (and everyday afterwards). Still, we made the trip to Oregon Zoo. I had such a fun time here. Although it was raining, many of the animals were still present, and it was nice because we practically had the whole zoo to ourselves.
Then, we headed to SchoolHouse Electric & Co. Like the name states, there were tons of lighting options, but I found so much inspiration in the decor of each unbounded room. From the chic-living rooms to the decorated bedrooms found within the realm of my childhood fantasies, SchoolHouse’s interior design delighted my eyes.
A quick uber ride away and we hit Tea Bar. This store is a minimalistic cafe. I was craving for boba (bubble tea) and wanted to test the flavors of this store. I’m a sucker for anything lavender, so I had the lavender milk tea and my brother had the matcha tea infused with lavender. The matcha milk tea tasted like real matcha, but the lavender milk tea was definitely the winner. It was sweet and tasty, but the boba were just mediocre. It wasn’t the melt in your mouth, chewy kind of boba, but more like hard to chew, day old boba. However, I’d recommend coming to the store just to check out the ambience.
For dinner, I just had to check out Pine State Biscuits because of the countless praise it received. I ordered the Reggie Deluxe, and this is one of the most affordable, delicious meals I’ve had in PDX. The biscuit was toasted and buttered to perfection, the bacon was perfectly crispy, and the gravy…. The gravy is possibly the best thing in the world; it’s savory and has this familiar taste of corn chowder. Who knew biscuits and gravy would be such a perfect combination? However, I could do without the egg and the chicken, but overall this was so good.
The next morning I checked out Alder Street for the rows of food trucks! I heard great things about Nong’s Khao Man Gai, and yes this is also amazing. The chicken and rice were flavorful, but the ginger sauce is the highlight. I’d recommend just pouring it over your chicken and rice. The only problem was seating; I had to take this back to Ace in order to eat somewhere.
As a Los Angeles native and ice cream enthusiast, I knew I wanted to check out Salt & Straw because it originated in Portland. This is, to date, the best ice cream I have ever had. We had a tasting flight, which is four scoops of ice cream and the flavors we had were Almond Brittle with Salted Ganache, Oregon Black Truffle, Pear & Blue Cheese, and Strawberry Honey Balsamic (left to right). I highly recommend Almond Brittle with Salted Ganache, the Oregon Black Truffle tasted like vanilla, I loved the pear ice cream but the blue cheese was a funky add on, and strawberry honey balsamic is tasty too. I even came back again to try the Almond Brittle a second time and Stumptown Coffee Roasters, equally amazing by the way.
I know Portland is known for Voodoo Doughnuts, but since I was on a time crunch, one of my friends recommended I try Blue Star Donuts instead, and it definitely didn’t disappoint! I’m not usually a fan of donuts, but the Old Fashioned Buttermilk donut was airy, crunchy, and perfectly glazed. I loved having desserts for lunch!
The last stop I’d recommend is Powell’s Books. This place is heaven if you’re a book lover/avid reader like me. There are so many floors and shelves of books; I could spend an entire day (or more) if I had the time. After an hour of going up and down all the aisles, I picked up Blindness by José Saramago.
Portland was such an unexpected surprise. I found so many restaurants to dine and stores to check out; I had to maximize all hours of the day just to get things done. Transportation is easily navigable in this city, and everyone was so friendly. I definitely need to come back to PDX because I’m not done exploring this city! Not even close.