I already covered a bit of the Portland beer scene (check it out here), so this post is about the second thing making our bellies happy—food!
In terms of food—well, to be frank, we love eating, but we’re not necessarily true foodies. We don’t go out of our way to nosh on the latest trends (case in point—committing the cardinal sin of not ordering a cronut while living in NYC when they first came on the scene). But Portland’s was a rare case where everything that was put in front of me tasted five times better than I expected! Here’s the rundown.
Food Pods/Food carts
I wasn’t initially sure why PDX didn’t call them “food trucks” like the rest of the country…until I realized that they really don’t move. In fact, at a few of the pods (the collective noun for a gathering of food carts—which, really, could be more imaginative. What about a plate of food carts? Or a swallow? I digress) had several abandoned carts that were open for rent. Like food trucks, don’t mistake these for the classic “roach coach”—the meals were well priced, cooked to order, and wholly delicious. We went the adventurous route and picked a pod without knowing the carts inside, lucking out with some savory carnitas tortas from Guero Tacos and Tortas, but hardcore foodies who want the lay of the land before making their choice can download the Cart Compass app.
Blue Star Donuts
Speaking of not going out of our way…though everyone hyped up Voodoo Doughnuts to the Nth degree, waiting in that line just did not seem appetizing. We hopped instead to a lesser-known but out-of-this-world-GOOD Blue Star Donuts. With their Instagram-ready glazes and sweet and savory (blueberry basil!) flavor combos, these already exceeded our breakfast expections—but the fried chicken donut was really icing on the cake (so to speak). Imagine a plain glazed donut topped with what had to be two fried chicken breasts and a smattering of Frank’s Red Hot. Sweet and spicy perfection.
Grain and Gristle
Though a bit apprehensive about a restaurant with the word “gristle” in its name, Grain and Gristle was nothing to shy from. Hip but local, this place had a great selection of beers (many from breweries we’d hit during Zwickelmania) and amazing food. We snacked on the porky croquettes and homemade Slim Jims, then went all-in on the house burger and accompanying onion rings—the perfect ending to a day full of beer.
Why aren’t pie shops still a thing? One bite of Loretta Jean’s streusel-topped blackberry-raspberry slice and you’ll be wondering the same. Though the shop’s wares might throw you back to the 60’s, the sleek space and hip décor reminds you that yes, this exists in 2015.
We were warned that good Portland brunch spots = a good wait. So it seemed an auspicious sign (er, sorta) when we arrived at Screen Door to find a line that stretched the block. Two crossword puzzles later, the reason for the line revealed itself in the form of biscuits and gravy as “big as a cat’s head”, a tower of fried chicken and waffles, and pecan-crusted bacon. Need I say more?
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