travel in style: portland 2.0

portland-travel, via shopping's my cardio

As some of you may have noticed (particularly if you’re hanging with me on Instagram), I’ve been spending a little more time in San Francisco and a little less time in Portland, OR lately. But, last month I had a fantastic excuse to hop back over to PDX and see what’s new. And I’ve been missing so much! One thing about Portland is that it’s always, always changing – turn your back for a second, and there are 15 new restaurants, 7 new boutiques and at least 2 new food trends you can’t miss.

So, I thought I’d share an updated list of my favorite things to do in the City of Roses. Some are new finds, others are old favorites, but all are 100% SMC-approved!

  • Breakfast: I should tell you about some trendy brunch spot like Tasty n Alder (which is amazing, for the record). But honestly, I’ve searched far and wide, and nothing makes me happier on a Saturday morning than a morning bun from Ken’s Artisan Bakery. Fresh orange zest wrapped in a buttery crisp croissant, just barely sweet from the crunchy sugar crystals on top…it’ll change your life, and ruin you for all other pastries.
  • Shop: The new Union Way – my friends at Quin are there, as well as the fantastic Spruce Apothecary, a new Steven Alan outpost, Will Leather Goods…you get the idea. Hipster shopping heaven: it’s no accident they’re right across the street from the Ace Hotel.
  • Buy in bulk: Basically anything from Alma Chocolate. I think chocolatier Sarah Hart and I are cocoa-soul mates. If you’re a true dark chocolate snob, you’ll forgive me for using words like bright, fruity and well-rounded to describe these bad boys. If you’re not, just believe me when I tell you these are very likely the best chocolates I’ve ever eaten. Try the new Boozy Bonbons in particular: I’m still dreaming about the rum & Maderia-soaked prune filled with star anise-infused chocolate ganache. Yep, you heard me.
  • Lunch: If the food carts aren’t your scene (though really, Whole Bowl is a religious experience), head for Luc Lac Kitchen, a trendy Vietnamese joint downtown. This is real Vietnamese street food – expect the best version of your standard-fare favorites, or branch out and try something new. But be prepared to wait…the secret’s officially out about this place.
  • Shop some more: Union Way is just the tip of the West End iceberg, which is undoubtedly the new hot spot for shopping in PDX. Must-stops: Frances May, Parallel, Canoe, woonwinkel and the brand new location of Alder & Co., which doubled in size and tripled in awesome if you ask me. And as long as you’re in the West End…
  • Indulge: Oh, Blue Star Donuts – you had me at Red Berry & Rhubarb. Or was it the Meyer Lemon & Key Lime curd-filled? No no, it must have been the Dulce de Leche & Hazelnut. Whatever you choose (oh, get one of each…you’re on vacation), decide fast – this is definitely the new cool kid on the block. They’re open every day, but only until they sell out.
  • Drink: Alfresco champagne cocktails at Brasserie Montmartre (most likely after spending some time doing a bit of tax-free shopping at Nordstrom next door). Locals tend to overlook this spot, as it’s not the slightest bit hip or new, and a little Parisian oasis in the middle of Hipster Heaven can feel a bit out of place. But I adore it, and I’ve indoctrinated more than a few people into the ways of duck fat fries and Champagne as an afternoon snack.
  • Dinner: If it’s a Portland experience you’re after – that is, excellent and innovative food, wildly complex cocktails, and a crushingly hipster vibe – it’s Irving Street Kitchen or bust. I have yet to have a bad dish here, let alone a bad meal. And when you ask the server which bourbon he recommends for your Manhattan, it will unfailingly devolve into a 15-minute debate on the merits of various regional distillers.
  • Sleep: At the Benson Hotel downtown. It’s a bit like staying at your wealthy grandmother’s manse – glamorous, with a hefty dose of quirk. In other words, perfectly Portland. But I adore how pet-friendly they are (Daisy is still dreaming about the dog biscuits), and I’m utterly in love with the location – 10 minutes or less to walk to anything downtown, the Pearl, West End or even the waterfront.
  • Adventure: I lived here for five years, and never knew this existed. But you guys, there is a sloth preserve about 30 minutes north of Portland. And I can tell you firsthand, there may not be anything better on earth than cuddling a baby sloth while feeding it little bits of zucchini. The place is a little wacky unconventional (in the best of ways), and sloth-cuddling doesn’t come cheap, but this absolutely has to be on your agenda.

Portland friends, I know I’ve missed a lot of changes…add your favorite new spots in the comments, won’t you?

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7 comments on “travel in style: portland 2.0

  1. DL

    Great list! 🙂 And thanks so much for that lovely Instagram picture! I didn’t realize! Portland misses you!!

  2. Sue

    Do you mean Portland Oregon? Here in the northeast, Portland usually means Maine. Please broaden your horizons! Then come visit Maine and let us know your favorite discoveries.

  3. shoppingsmycardio Post author

    DL: You are one lovely bride 🙂

    Sue: You are so right! I updated the post…thanks for keeping an eye on me. I’ve heard nothing but wonderful things about Portland, ME – I’ve always wanted to visit! It’s on my list for sure, and I’ll know just who to email when I’m headed your way.

  4. Megan Clark

    Such a timely post! I booked our holiday tickets to the NW yesterday, and am putting several of these stops on my list. Hello, sloths! (PDX will never the same without you, though!) xo

  5. shoppingsmycardio Post author

    Jillian: It’s such a good city – I’m so glad you loved it when you visited.

    Vanessa: How have I never heard of Levant? Definitely adding to my list!

    Megan: Oh, I’m sad I’ll miss seeing you!! Cuddle my baby sloth buddies for me while you’re there 🙂

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