Stuffing My Face in Portland

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What uppppp Portland! You really are weird. But not THAT weird because I live near Boulder, so I see weird on a regular basis. Portland is strange in the sense that everyone is strangely happy, all the time. Happy to be a hippie, happy to serve you dinner, happy to wear their ponchos all day every day. Everyone is just happy. Except for a homeless man I met. But I will get to that later.

Who really cares about what my experience was like in Portland, you just want to know about my favorite places I ate. And I ate WELL. So much food was consumed this past weekend. It was wonderful. Let’s get after it.

Oh shart, I need to put the disclaimer out there first: This items that I ordered are not often strict paleo because I eat whatever the hell I want, especially the things that don’t make me sick. That means I stick gluten free, but not always strict paleo.

We started our Portland trip on a sunny afternoon, so we were able to walk everywhere and get a feeling for the city. Which we really did. We walked EVERYWHERE. My feet were so damn sore by the end of the day, even with comfy shoes on. We walked, we talked, we shopped, and then we found ourselves close to Verde Cocina which is a completely gluten free restaurant. Talk about the most decadent quesadilla I’ve ever had. A friend said I HAD to try the bacon, but I didn’t because I suck. We just had some guacamole to start with their homemade tortillas. Not tortilla CHIPS, just tortillas. They are awesome, unlike corn tortillas that you get at the store, these ones are sticker and softer. Super good. The chorizo quesadilla I got was piled high with all kinds of sh*t. Good veggie sh*t. I also had a glass of their white sangria and it was delicious. Again, if you go there, try the bacon. I heard it’s insanely good. I’m still disappointed with myself.

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After wandering for what became 6-7 hours, we came across the Alphabet District, which is adorable, and found our way over to Salt and Straw. Everyone said I just HAD to go there for ice cream. I did. It was really good, nothing that I was blown away by, but still good. I got the almond brittle with caramel ganache. The caramel is super salty there, which I’m in to, but be warned. You can even get salt as a topper. They do a really good job with cool flavors like honey lavender and pear with blue cheese. About a 30-40 minute wait. While walking home across the river, it got dark real quick. To be smart, we stayed out of any dark lit streets. At one point, we almost turned down a street, but decided against it because it was dark. A guy laughed at us. Bastard.

The next morning we woke up early to shower up and head to breakfast before my bridal appointment on The English Department (I’ll be sharing dress pictures come Friday for Fashion Fridays!). On their site, they recommended eating at Tasty n Alder. And HOLY BALLS, was I happy they recommended it! It may have been my favorite food of the entire trip. It just blew me away. We got the maple cumin sweet potatoes, the steak and frites, and the polenta n sugo. Un.Real. The food was just so damn good. I had to put my fork down the stop eating since I knew I had to try dresses on later. If you go to Portland, GO TO THIS PLACE. And get the polenta. Fudge, it was amazing.

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After trying on dresses (and maybe finding THE ONE) we headed to Lake Oswego to visit my friend and amazing gluten free baker Kyra, who owns Kyra’s Bake Shop! You may know her from Cupcake Wars because she’s won THREE times. Badass, eh? So we met with her at her bakery to grub on some food before shopping around town. Yes, more shopping. Duh. We of course started our afternoon sugar meal with one of her gluten free cinnamon rolls (yes, SHE SHIPS THESE!!). These cinnamon rolls aren’t just good, you guys, they are hands down the best cinnamon rolls I’ve ever eaten. Hands down. No question about it. I quickly stuffed my face with one of those AND THEN shared a piece of her Tall, Dark and Handsome cake. Each slice weighs 2 1/2 pounds. We couldn’t even get close to finishing even half of it. But I had to try it once since I had never before. It was unbelievably good.

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It’s bigger than my face. Wicked.

After shopping and finding some new black booties, we decided to make our way back to Portland to finally eat at Departure. I’ve been looking forward to Departure for quite sometime now. If you don’t know about Departure or head chef/Top chef contestant Gregory Gourdet, you need to listen up. He’s just the greatest. Kyra is friends with him so we were lucky enough to try a ton of different menu items AND we got to meet him! Here’s a few things about departure: the venue doesn’t have a sign, it’s on the 15th floor (or something like that) of some building, it’s the strangest galaxy space themed place, with all really good looking male servers and managers, and chefs! Oh wait, and the food is f*cking awesome. So flavorful and fresh. We had a cabbage slaw, tuna tartar, seafood curry, garlic fried rice, blackened chicken, steak cooking on a hot rock, and two crazy amazing desserts. We also has some damn good cocktails. It was all so fun. I was unbelievably full afterwards. When we met with Gregory, I fell in love with him. He’s so kind, so humble, and his laugh is super contagious. Being around those kinds of people is the best. Can’t wait to see him again next month in Austin, TX!

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The next morning, we weren’t exactly hungry. Like at all. But we wanted to make sure we got to try as many restaurants as possible. So we hopped in our little Car2Go and headed out around town. If you haven’t rented one of these things yet, you need to. They are so easy to get anywhere in and easy to park anywhere, as well. I love them. I feel like I’m in a go-cart. It’s sweet. Anywho, we decided to grab some breakfast at Brix Tavern because they had eggs benedict on top of corn cakes AND bottomless mimosas. Sad thing is we never got mimosas because we were too full and our breakfast wasn’t anything to write home about. Do you see the donuts sitting in the background? They looked at us the whole time but we held strong. It’s really no big deal. TAKE THAT DONUTS.

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After breakfast, Kyra picked us up to head to the vineyards. I have no idea where we were because I don’t even like wine. My bestie Laura does and it’s one of those social things that you should just do. That being said, it was really fun. Get two sips in me and my inhibitions go away and I’ll admit to really anything. We had little girl talks, we ate cheese and salami, and then we went to another vineyard and did the exact same thing. On our way back to Portland, we grabbed a quick gluten free pizza that was what I needed after so much rich food because it wasn’t too heavy. But not good enough to write about. Moving on.

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That night, we went to bed early. Sweets + wine + walking = sleepy juju. We watched two movies in bed and I may or may not have had leftover Tall, Dark and Handsome cake. Effing awesome.

The next morning, we woke up rejuvenated and ready to take on another food day in Portland. We hopped in our Car2go once again and headed over the bridge. Whatever neighborhood we were in, where we ate at Tin Shed, was an awesome neighborhood. I wish were would have spend more time there. But first, let me tell you about Tin Shed because honestly, it was effing awesome. Unreal awesome. Unbelievable awesome. We had to wait a while but there was an adorable coffee shop next door that we had coffee at while we waited. Hold on, I’ll get to the food soon. This restaurant allows dogs. Now if you’re not really into dogs (weirdo) this may seem odd to you because there is a dog everywhere you turn. On people’s laps, calmly wait on the floor, excitedly eating on the floor. To me, it’s amazing. Especially because I saw a frenchie AND an english bulldog. Happy life. They even have a menu for dogs. And the staff is unbelievably friendly. I swear, everyone’s on drugs there. I like it.

But back to the food. They have gluten free french toast there!!!!!! AHHHHHHHH I died. Laura and I split the french toast and split their special scramble that had chorizo, red peppers, and homemade hazelnut pesto on top, along side a freaking awesome potato pancake AND a giant biscuit (we didn’t eat, sad day). It was all amazing. And when she gave us the check, it was only $11.50 per person!! Crazy cheap for how much food each of us ate. It was honestly so damn good. I’m very sad I don’t live near that restaurant because I would eat there all.the.time.

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Now this includes the food. But let’s chat real briefly about some weird things in Portland. Ok, I don’t think it’s weird that dogs are allowed in restaurants, I think IT’S EFFING AWESOME, but look how hilarious this little english bulldog is. She posed for the pic, with a really “i hate you” kind of look. She’s awesome.

Back to the weirdness though, what the hell is up with the water fountains? They are so strange. And they’re always running. If you don’t watch Parks & Rec, well then first get it together and watch all the seasons on Netflix, but if you do, doesn’t this water fountain remind you of the episode that Pawnee has a problem with how people drink from water fountains? That is my second favorite episode ever. Such weird water fountains. And the streets are all incredibly clean. No one litters there. That’s a weird positive thing. I came back to Denver and thought, “All you people are disgusting and I hate you.” Yep. There is a garbage everywhere. Portland, you’re so pretty.

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Something else that is different is Powell’s Bookstore. It is the most giant bookstore ever. I went there one of the first days we got to Portland to sign some of my cookbooks. I was so happy to see The Paleo Kitchen AND OMG. That’s Paleo? on their bookshelves. I signed and went on my day, very happy. The next day, I got tagged on instagram by some ladies who had already picked up the books. So we headed back there and entered from another street. We legit thought we were in a different bookstore since none of it felt familiar. So confusing. But I signed about 6 more cookbooks, so if you are in Portland, get over there!!

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And I guess people are obsessed with Portland’s airport carpet. It’s a thing. If you search #pdxcarpet on instagram, you’ll find 40,000 pictures like the one I took. So weird. But I’m hip and weird now after hanging out in Portland, so I had to take one obviously. Man, do I miss being tan. It’s been 80 degrees in Colorado and I missed it. My skin thanks me but looking in the mirror isn’t as thrilling right now.

One last thing. I’d love to say our last experience in Portland was just the best, but it ended on a strange note. A weird note, I guess you could say. Remember how I said everyone is highonhappydrug nice? We sadly had to find out that it’s not totally case. Like any big city, there are a few screws loose. On our last day, while joyfully walking back to the hotel uphill on a windy street, we walked comfortably behind a few people. I’m not a close stander or walker. Give people space, you weirdos. At one point we were walking behind a homeless man who quickly slowed down as if he were going into  a shop. But then he suddenly stopped, turned around to face us and asked me, “Do you want me to punch you in the f*cking mouth?” Um, no sir, I do not want you to punch me in the f*cking mouth. You eyes are insane and I am certain I have soft bones that would not take a hard blow kindly. So all I was able to spit out was, “Whaaatwhaaa?” in a mad panic as I began pouring sweat imaging my teeth knocked out. Remember the guy earlier who laughed at us for not wanting to walk down dark streets, THIS IS WHY YOU ASSH*LE. Thankfully, I made it home with all my teeth. Turns out, he’s not on the happy drugs.

Ah Portland, your weirdness slays me.

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Oh, Hi! I’m Juli.

I’m a food hoarder. And a really bad dancer. If you don’t know me well, you will probably not understand my humor. Therefore, I apologize ahead of time. Thanks for listening to my ramblings of my ever-changing life and trusting my kitchen mishaps. Your trust in me is appreciated.

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41 thoughts on “Stuffing My Face in Portland”

  1. So glad you made it to Departures and we were at Kkyra’s early Sunday AM, too!-Got cinnamon buns for freezer, a scone, blueberry muffin and 3 other cupcakes to go!!-

    What a joy of a place…..

    glad you enjoyed PDX. I am across the river in Vancouver, Wa. a suburb.

    Can wait to see the dress selections on Friday!

    Ciao and Bon Apetit

  2. Ahh, all of this food looks and sounds so good!
    I saw the pic of the cinnamon rolls on your instagram page too, and have now visited Kyras’s Bake Shop website like 4 times contemplating whether or not to have cinnamon rolls shipped across the country. haha

  3. I swear I saw that disgruntled homeless guy you saw when I went to Portland. Everything was great, everyone was nice, except one guy who obviously was making up for all the nice happy people – in a bad way. Oh well, I guess there’s always one!

  4. If you went to the Tin Shed, you had to be in North Portland. Believe it or not, about 8-10 years ago, that area was very run down and NO ONE wanted to be there. I mean NO ONE! It was scary to walk on the sidewalk, let alone drive through there. Portland has done a nice job of revitalizing the area and now it’s hippie-cool. I used to work down the street from the Tin Shed and miss walking the neighborhoods. Glad you had an awesome time….sans the homeless guy. Can’t wait to see the dresses!

  5. I’m SO sad that I didn’t visit Kyra’s bake shop when I was in Portland. Every one of my favorite paleo bloggers always mentions it! Have you ever actually shipped her cinnamon rolls to you (or someone you know)? I have an order in my cart but I would really like to know a quality comparison to the real deal!

  6. The food is so AMAZING in Portland. I had a similar experience with a homeless man in Seattle last year. I was visiting with my dad and stopped to take a picture. I was near this homeless guy but not to close because I too like a bit of space. ( I mean come on people, where’s the fire) Anyway, he told me to get the F##$ out of his face and called me the C word!!! My dad was a bit further away so he couldn’t hear him. I paused for a moment and took my time walking away so he wouldn’t think I was scared, I didn’t want him to think he was intimidating me. All though I was freaking out on the inside! I crossed the street with my dad and told him later. My dad is 68 but thinks he’s 28 and gets a bit macho at times. Back in the day he could hold is own, now not so much. It kind of ruined my trip, I felt uneasy the rest of the day and just wantedito get back home to the east coast with my husband.

  7. SO glad you went to Verde Cocina. They used to just be a cart at the farmers market but now their cafe is dangerously close to my office. I LOVE how they incorporate seasonal veggies and all of their breakfast-y egg dishes are TO DIE FOR. And those folks aren’t kidding about the bacon. It’s like meat candy.

  8. Hey Juli,

    I’m in the middle of college research and I’m actually looking pretty closely at a school in Portland. Since you were just there, I’m wondering, is it the sort of place you would like to live/attend school? I live in the Midwest and not many people I know have ever even been out to Portland, much less anytime in recent history!

    Thanks and love your blog–my brother and I made your giant vanilla bean chocolate chunk cookies today and they are amazing! 🙂

  9. I live in Portland, my husband is an officer here. The homeless situation is ridiculous. It’s like a meca for it. In fact, that drinking fountain you posted in your pictures…huge draw as a public toilet…Sorry!

  10. I can’t get over that you met Gregory from Top Chef. I’m obsessed. Must get to Portland and try his food! He seems like such a great person! I’m glad your trip was awesome and that you didn’t get hurt from Homeless guy. That’s some scary stuff right there! Can’t wait to see some wedding dresses!!

  11. I live in Eugene, and I have yet to eat my way through Portland like that. Bravo. And, so happy you went to Tasty’n’Alder, I KNEW you would love it! We also had the best service of our lives there…felt like celebs. So fun. haha. Now I want to go nab one of your books at Powell’s! : )

  12. Portland is one of my favorite cities to visit. It’s gluten-free Heaven! Always eat my way from one end of town to the other, with a very long stop at Powell’s Bookstore. That’s some book store — they’re so huge that they put out a map that looks like a city map! The various parks and Asian gardens, the Columbia River, and Mount Hood also captivate my imagination.

    Unfortunately, there are mentally ill people, homeless or not, that have slipped through the cracks. Hubby and I ran across a very threatening man in San Francisco — it’s very scary.

    Pictures coming of wedding dresses — whee!

  13. I have been living in Portland on and off since 1991 and have watched it grow into the amazing city that it is now. At this point I can’t even keep up with all the new amazing restaurants opening up, but I’m glad you got to the ones you did. As for the homeless man…as mentioned before we have a lot and most of them are on crack or something hence the crazed look in his eye. They are mostly harmless but can definitely be scary. If/when you come back you should check out Tanuki if you like Japanese/Korean fermented foods. It is my favorite spot in Portland currently.

  14. Thanks for the great post. I live here and have only tried a few of the places you suggested. Excited to try some new paleo friendly food in my own town.

  15. You have a lot of comments above so maybe some if this has been covered already. I was born and raised in Pdx (well actually I grew up near wine country, where you visited). So here’s some info on a few things you posted about.
    The homeless people are not just from Portland but surrounding areas like Washington and Idaho. Someone (I think the police?) are paying the bus fare for them and sending them here. Apparently our city has better resources for the homeless.
    The Pdx airport carpet was specially dedinged for our airport years ago and is supposed to resemble the runways from an ariel view. It’s now in the process of being torn up and everyone wants to get pictures with it before it’s gone. Sad!
    The water fountains are called Benson Bubblers and they are the old school water fountains. I love an above post about it being used as a toilet because I have a picture of my ex drinking out of one! Lol! Jokes on him!
    The bacon at V.C. is amazing! It’s like candy! If I could ship it to you I would!
    I’m so glad you made it back here and had such a great experience! I love this city and I loved reading your post about the trip!

  16. Glad you loved Portland! Lucky me, I live in Lake Oswego just a stones throw from Kyra’s. I’m strict paleo, but my husband and kids aren’t, so we frequent that place. If anyone who is strict paleo out there wants some paleo suggestions for Portland, it would definitely be Cultured Caveman, Dicks Kitchen, and Verde Cocina. All great options… But the great thing about Portland is people don’t care about weird diet requests and you can modify your order just about anywhere you go, so that’s pretty awesome. Love my Portland and our food!!

  17. Agh I can’t wait to visit portland someday! It’s TOP on my to-visit list. all that food looks ridiculously good. Especially the non-paleo stuff. Gotta live a little, right? I just went to Vegas and APPARENTLY at the buffets there you can ask to talk to the chefs and they’ll take you on a tour of the whole place telling you what’s gluten-free and not, AND they will offer to make you gluten-free whatever you want. Pancakes, pasta, pizza, french toast, you name it. At least at Wicked Spoon and the Bellagio buffets. Highly recommended.

    Well this is just the most rambling comment ever. Also I almost died when you said Oh shart.

  18. I was so thrilled to read this post! Though I live in Portland, I didn’t know about a couple of the restaurants you went to, and I’m excited to try them. P.S. I bought my wedding dress at the English Department and absolutely loved it. They have wonderfully simple styles there that are just gorgeous. Glad you enjoyed the city!

  19. Sometimes people with mental health concerns become symptomatic when people walk close to them. It doesn’t make sense to many of us, but we do not live in their world. I am sorry you were frightened, but you may want to think twice about stigmatizing the homeless population. You actually have no idea if he was in fact experiencing homelessness.

    On another note – Thanks for coming to visit. Our chefs work really hard to accommodate those of us with allergies, which makes eating out in this foodie city amazing. I am excited to try out some of the new eats you mentioned, particularly the french toast. Come again and see us.

  20. I’m so jealous of all the YUMMY YUMMY food that you got to enjoy ! Maybe some day (when I grow up) I might be able to go there !

  21. CYNTHIA A D BROWN

    juliiiiiiiiiii! OMG! this is the 2nd time i’m reading this portland post, but this time my husband read it with me. we’re going to portland in 2weeks and we’re so excited! this is very helpful to hit some spots we’re thinking to go to… we already made a little “must go places” list and your pictures are delish! very helpful and convincing=)

  22. OMGeeeee, I need to get to PDX, stat! I want to stuff my face with all the goodness you posted!
    That’s totally awesome that you got to hang out with Kyra! I met her at the GFAF Expo last year in Dallas and was stoked to find her there. I had no idea she would be there and highly doubted many people knew who she was. It’s not often that you see a GF celebrity at those things. I will say that I’ll probably be star struck when I see you at the f(x) in a few weeks…so don’t be surprised when I come up to you, mumbling for your autograph in my cookbook 😉 I’m so effing excited to get to go this year, meet paleo peeps and stuff my face!

  23. what area in portland did you stay in? seems like you were able to walk to alot of places from your hotel. i am looking at visiting in september and trying to find the best place to stay.

  24. After your post I talked all the time about trying Kyra’s cinnamon rolls and finally got to try them this morning! Oh my gosh, they are so so delicious! You would definitely never guess they’re GF.

  25. I’m going to protland this fall and can’t wait to try some of the restraints you talked about. I was wondering what part of town you state in and if you have suggestions on areas/places to stay?
    Thx

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