#seaPDXsfo: Coffee, Eats, and Serenity in Portland
This is Part 3 of my #seapdxsfo vacation, dedicated to the coffee & food of Portland. You can read Part 1 here and Part 2 here.
In the second leg of my #seaPDXsfo trip, I rode into Portland on a cheap bus ticket. Nearly immediately after I went from one bus stop to wait for the city bus, it began hailing. Yes, hail. I thought, in April, that I had escaped hail. After all, I had left Chicago in search for warmer parts.
After taking the bus half an hour out of the city center, I arrived at my Airbnb host and was greeted with double rainbows, an adorable house, and the cutest dog. There were two cats in there, too, but I’m allergic and avoided them.
Heart Coffee Roasters
The only plan I had in place for Portland was to visit Daniel Nikoderm, a Chicago coffee friend who had recently relocated and started working at Heart Coffee Roasters. The next day, I navigated two buses (at least they arrive on time?) and found myself at one of my favorite Portland roastery-cafes. Heart’s coffee operation is small, but far-reaching. I’ve been able to try them out several times at Caffe Streets so I was curious to see how they pulled their own shots.
It was a medley of conversation and observation. Catching up with a familiar face while sipping on an espresso is really all I could’ve asked for in an unfamiliar city.
My next stop was down the street: Ristretto Roasters. I knew of them from a few Mistobox offerings and it was a respectable distance away. There weren’t as many people on the street as I expected, but I strolled down to Ristretto and found yet another familiar face- Stephen Curtis!
We chatted for a bit; after all, I did just see him multiple times in Seattle, and then went off in search of food.
The barista recommended Nicholas Restaurant to me, but didn’t warn me about the ridiculous amount of food I’d be receiving for lunch. I ordered what I thought was a normal-sized portion and left, wishing I had brought a lunch companion.
Water Avenue Coffee
Next on my list was Water Avenue Coffee, yet another Portland roaster I had never tried. The line was continuous and I bought two bags of coffee (one for a friend), then wandered into the back to relax with an espresso for a bit. I felt a little self-conscious here, taking photos. Maybe it was because a large group had come in just then with cameras seemingly everywhere.
Last, was possibly my favorite. Coava, with its garage door, side patio, and extensive workspace, was different from most of the other shops. It still had the metal element that the others had, but my eyes were taken by the sunset’s shadows into the cafe. With this and a pastry, I was off to the Sustainable Harvest event I had just been told about 2 hours prior.
Sustainable Harvest’s event was hosted in a co-working retail space and soon became a smaller version of SCAA, but with more farmers. We received an introduction to a new app and I did a chocolate tasting — which made me want to learn more about chocolate tasting!
The next day, I found myself exhausted beyond belief. Maybe it was the introvert in me or that I’d been traveling a bunch. I went to what became my last coffee shop of the day – Barista. I spotted the siphon bar and even though I knew it was more a visual cue to conversation, I still wanted to try it. I haven’t had a siphon made for me in far too long and these guys looked like they knew what they were doing. With an offer of Ceremony Coffee’s Congo, I found some perfect light indoors for a snap and then I thoroughly relaxed – probably for two hours here – on the patio and soaked in the sun. Being a lone traveler means that you get to ask people for photos of yourself. And being a Twitter addict means that you find yourself in the company of the owner, who happened to be sitting across the patio from me. A lovely coffee that cooled down to perfection and some conversation that got me a great place to eat for lunch.
Andina Restaurant is known for its ceviche and other seafood bites. I had made a promise to myself for this trip to indulge in as much seafood as possible so I ordered the seafood mix ceviche and a purple drink that was perfectly tart.
At this point, I had spent enough time with myself to know that more coffee was not the answer. I know. Portland has an unbelievable amount of coffee places, but I needed to do something outside of drinking coffee. Off to the Japanese Gardens! I navigated myself via two buses and another walk to find a rose garden that had barely begun to bloom and a lush forest. Tours are given at certain times at the Japanese Gardens and I happened to arrive right before a new tour would start. I used to abhor tours, but when they’re free and led by a knowledgable guide, it sometimes is really the best way to familiarize yourself with a new place. We meandered through history, art, defined guidelines of plant structure and components. It was difficult to resist the charm and pull of nature. Well-constructed Japanese gardens are meant to provide an area spurning meditative & introspective thoughts.
Thoroughly relaxed from the gardens, I ambled over to yes, another seafood restaurant. Clyde Common, attached to the Ace Hotel. I don’t remember the full details of the entree, but I do remember the green strawberries!
Portland, you treated me so well that I want to return for a week with a car. So many places would be easier to get to with a car!