Beginner’s Guide to Portland, OR

Beginner’s Guide to Portland, OR

After Austin, I figured that I had to go to the other U.S. city that had the motto of, “Keep _______ weird,” so I went up to Portland, OR with one of my best friends Before deciding to go to Portland, I had never really considered visiting the Pacific Northwest, and I really don’t know how or why I ignored this part of the country, but once I went to Portland, I instantly fell in love with it.

When I went to Portland for the first time in July 2016, I was still recovering from my stress fracture, so I wasn’t very mobile. Despite this setback, Portland is an easy city to get around without having to do too much walking. There is a train system, Lyft and Uber are there, and there are trolleys that can take you around different tourist areas within the city. We stayed at an Airbnb in Historic Kenton Area and it was a nice part of town. It was close to a MAX train stop and there was a little area that had a few shops and restaurants.

Day #1

To start off our first full day in Portland, we went to Cup and Saucer for breakfast and I got French Toast- it was perfection. My favorite way to start off the day is with a delicious breakfast that usually consists of comfort food, and French toast is that for me.

Once we finished, we took the train to Downtown Portland, and headed over to the meeting spot for the Pink Trolley. This trolley takes you all around the city and to a lot of the main tourist attractions, and it was an affordable way to see a lot of different parts of the city without walking. The two stops that we spent the most time in were the Rose Garden and the Arboretum. Both areas are beautiful and I loved being outdoors and just being able to explore a little- not being able to walk for three months really makes you appreciate the outdoors.

Once we finished with the trolley tour, we headed over to the Pearl District and went to Powell’s bookstore- this was heaven for me. I LOVEEE books, and I just loved being in a bookstore that was so historic and has such a variety of books in it.

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After a long day of exploring, we headed over to The Hairy Lobster for dinner. We started off with beers because you have to try local beers when traveling and the Parker House Rolls with lavender whipped honey butter. For dinner, I got the caramelized lamb served over potatoes and sweet potato mash, and it was delicious. However, for the price, I was a bit surprised at how small my meal was, but it was okay because we were heading over to Salt and Straw for dessert.

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We all know that I have an obsession with Salt and Straw in LA, so it’s no surprise that I had to go to one of the original locations in Portland. When we arrived at Salt and Straw the line wasn’t horrible- at least in comparison to the location I go to in LA, so we decided to wait. As we got closer and closer to the door, I got more and more excited. The décor in the shop was very different from LA, so I really enjoyed that. Since I knew that Portland has some different flavors than LA, I knew I had to try at least one of the local flavors. I got the Stumptown and Burnside Bourbon and Cinnamon Snickerdoodle in a waffle cone- this was a splurge because I usually just get a cup!

Day #2

The next day for breakfast we wanted to try a local donut place, but since I had already been to Voodo Donuts we decided to go to Blue Star.  We got four donuts including: real maple bacon, The O.G., chocolate almond ganache, and a blueberry bourbon basil. All the donuts were DELICIOUS! I LOVED the donuts! I think it was the fact that they weren’t greasy and the flavors were unique that helped a lot. To go with the donuts, I got a carton of Stumptown coffee with milk – best breakfast combination ever!

After breakfast, we walked over to a cute Saturday market near the water. There were a lot of unique and eclectic sellers, which made it easier to find some cool gifts for people! We spent a few hours meandering around the market and then decided it was time for lunch.

We went to Deschutes Brewery for lunch, and I really enjoyed it. My friend and I split a sampler of the different Deschutes, and I really enjoyed most of the different beers. To eat I got the chicken wings, and I thought that they were perfect. It was definitely more of a unique type of chicken wings, but I enjoyed them.

After lunch, we were signed up for a brewcycle tour of Portland. The tour we picked was the Old Town tour and we went to PINTs Brewing, Old Town Brewing, and Fat Head’s Brewing. I thought it was fun way to see the city and we got to explore different parts that we hadn’t visited thus far. I really enjoyed trying new beers and touring the city, so I highly recommend this as a way to explore any city!

After the tour we headed to dinner, and we decided on sushi! We went to a sushi restaurant in the Pearl District right near The Hairy Lobster called Yama Sushi and Sake Bar. I ordered the love joy roll and my friend got a cucumber roll and the sunrise roll. We both thought the food was really good and there wasn’t a super long line for anything which is always a perk. Once we finished dinner we went back to the Airbnb, so we could both pack up because we were leaving the next day.

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Day #3

For my final meal in Portland, the next day, I went back to Cup and Saucer and I got a chai latte and a quiche. Everything was delicious and I need to go back sometime!

 

I loved Portland so much, that I ended up coming back a few months later! That blog post will be up soon 🙂

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Beginner’s Guide to Austin, TX and Oklahoma City, OK

Beginner’s Guide to Austin, TX and Oklahoma City, OK

When I started looking at all of the places I have left to travel to I realized that I haven’t been to the Southern States, and I decided to ease myself into venturing to this new area of the country by visiting one of my best friends in Oklahoma City (OKC). I had already been to OKC before, but that was two years ago, and a lot can change in two years. We figured out that neither of us had been to Austin, TX (ATX), so we decided that I would fly to OKC and then we would road trip down to ATX. I’ve always liked road trips, and then it allows you to hang out with a friend and see new parts of the country.

Day 1
When we first arrived in Austin, we checked into our Airbnb- I think that Airbnb’s are a great way to see a city and interact with local residents. After we settled in we headed over to Uchi, for a delicious sushi dinner. We started off the meal with drinks and for our main course we decided to get the signature tasting option- it is five courses which is a good amount split between two people. This allowed us to try a lot of different things. To start off we tried was the Hirame Usuzukuri, which is flounder with candied quinoa, and olive oil. The second course was the Machi Cure, which is smoked yellowtail, yucca crisp, marcona almond, and Asian pear. For the next course, we had the Maguro & Goat Cheese, which is one of the most unique sushi dishes that I have ever had. Then we had the Hamachi Nabe, which is yellowtail, koshihikari rice, soy broth, and an egg yolk. To conclude our dining experience, we had the Walu Walu which is oak-grilled escolar, yuzupon, candied citrus, and myoga. The food was delicious, well prepared, and truly unique. I think that Uchi has some of the best sushi I have ever had, and the unique dishes makes it worth the price.

After dinner, we went back to our Airbnb to relax and plan for the next day.

Day 2
To start off the day we had a relaxing morning and a quick breakfast and then headed downtown to the Austin Visitors Center. We walked around the center and got to learn more about the city, and then we boarded a bus for the Austin in 90 minutes tour. Some things that you see on the guided bus tour are the 360 Scenic Overlook, Graffiti Park at Castle Hills, Bullock Texas State History Museum, and UT- Austin.

Later on, in the day we had an early dinner and did a Bat Cruise. Fun Fact: The Congress Avenue Bridge is home to the largest urban bat colony in the world. During the Bat cruise you get to experience all of the bats leaving the bridge to go find dinner as the sun sets. It is possibly one of the coolest thing you’ll experience in Austin and I would never have guessed that so many bats could fit under the bridge!

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After the cruise we headed to the “Dirty Sixth” or 6th street to go listen to some live music and enjoy a drink. Eventually we wanted a snack so we decided to head to Voodoo Doughnut Austin, and I got a Maple Bacon donut. It was tasty, and I was excited to try Voodoo because it is originally from Portland, OR and I was going there in a few weeks, so it was like a mini preview of Portland.

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Day 3
After our long day 2, we decided to sleep in a little and then grab breakfast at Whole Foods. Now I know that sounds funny, but considering that Whole Foods was founded in Austin and the original location has a lot of eateries, so we figured it was a good way to see the store and grab breakfast. I went to Taco Alley and got a breakfast burrito and it was divine.

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The next activity for the day was to go on the Deep Eddy Distillery tour. We got the tickets that have the shuttle to and from, so we avoided drinking and driving. The ticket is $25, and it included the round-trip shuttle ride, the tour, a cocktail and 20% off all merchandise. I really enjoyed learning about how they make their vodka and eating and drinking after the tour. They have some food trucks there, so you can get snacks while drinking and I obviously had to get BBQ. It is definitely a fun place to go, and it would be a great place to spend an afternoon with friends.

Once we got back to downtown Austin, we headed to the Roaring Fork for dinner. I got the Cedar Planked Salmon- its oven roasted with Teriyaki BBQ sauce and a Chilled Green Bean Salad. It was the perfect meal after spending a lot of time outside in the heat.

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After dinner we headed back to the Airbnb to hang out and go to bed early. Since we were heading back to OKC early in the morning to beat traffic.

Day 4
After a 4-hour drive, we arrived back in OKC and it felt great to get out of the car. We relaxed, ate dinner, and then we went to the OKCLA game (OKCLA is the minor league team for the Los Angeles Dodgers). I love baseball, so it was fun to get to see a good minor league team play.

Day 5
After a good night’s sleep, we woke up and went to breakfast at The Red Cup. I got a Peanut Butter and Banana sandwich and a Chai tea to drink. It was the perfect breakfast for a hot day. I really enjoyed the atmosphere of the restaurant and all of the art.

After breakfast we took a water taxi ride around downtown and we got to see some murals and sculptures.

For lunch we went to Big Truck Tacos, and it was amazing! I got the Okie-Wahoo and Rita’s Chicken Tacos. It’s an affordable and delicious place- highly recommend if you’re ever in OKC!

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Once we were done eating, then it was time for me to head to the airport and go back to LA. It was a great trip to Austin and OKC, and I definitely want to return to both cities.

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Food Guide: Portland, ME

Food Guide: Portland, ME

One of my favorite things to do is visit my friends in the cities they now reside in. My very best friend, 207 Foodie, resides in Portland, ME and I thought that the winter time was the perfect time to escape Los Angeles. To start off my trip, she had an ugly sweater party, so obviously, I had to scour Amazon for the perfect ugly sweater.

Day Two

The next day, we decided to walk to brunch in downtown Portland. We went to brunch at Sur Lie, and it was delicious. We had mimosas, the Golden Potato Hash Brown, Croquettes, the Fat Boy Breakfast, and Apple Cider Donuts- all were heavenly. The next time I’m in Portland, I must eat at Sur Lie again*.

One of my bucket list Portland destinations was L.L. Bean. I mean as someone that loves outdoor gear, L.L. Bean is like heaven. While at L.L. Bean you must take an obligatory picture with the boot outside the store- if you didn’t’ take a picture, did you really go?

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Another bucket list item was getting an authentic lobster roll. I know that winter isn’t the best season for lobster, but the lobster roll I had at Linda Beans was still delicious. I decided to get a cold lobster roll because I’ve only ever had a hot lobster roll; so, in Portland, I decided to try something new!

After spending the day at L.L. Bean and eating lobster rolls, we went on to have a quintessential New England evening at an outdoor ice skating rink, called The Rink at Thompson’s Point. It was a nice rink with a bar inside. They also had a food truck called PB&ME, that served fried cookies, so I got the fried chocolate chip cookies. They were the perfect addition to outdoor ice skating, beer, and good friends.

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Day Three

The next day we wandered down to the Old Port downtown to try an amazing sushi restaurant called Miyake. I got the pork belly, chef’s pick bento box, and chocolate cake with miso caramel sauce and it was great. Some of the items in the bento box I definitely wouldn’t have ordered on my own, but that’s the joy of the chef picking your menu- you get to try new things. The food was super fresh, and I loved the sushi. My friend and I also split the chocolate cake, and it was heavenly. After this delectable lunch, we walked to a different part of the city and went to Shipyard Brewing Co. We learned about the different beers and got to try a few. To finish a great day, we ended up at happy hour at Bar of Chocolate, and we got the Chocolate Martini and Hot Chocolate.

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Day Four

One of the things I hoped would happen while I was in Portland was that it would snow, and I got exactly that. There was enough snow that I was nervous that I might not be able to leave the next day, but luckily it stopped. Once it stopped snowing, we went to lunch at Pai Men Miyake, which is owned by the same people who own Miyake.  We split the pork buns and tuna and salmon rolls, and I got the Ramen as my main course. To finish off the day, we went to trivia at a local restaurant, and I got Beer BBQ wings.

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Day Five

To round off the trip, we went to lunch at a great place called Little Tap House, and I got the Beer for Breakfast Sandwich; the sandwich is comprised of two fried eggs, bacon, beer cheese fondue, grilled bun, and house chips. Then I was on my way back to Chicago. One thing that I’ve learned since graduating college is that visiting your friends is one of the best ways to relax and just allow yourself to be carefree. Being Bicoastal Besties can be hard, but trips together make it seem like time has never passed. Also, I definitely want to visit Portland during the Fall or Summer, so I can try different foods in the correct season!

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Comment below with your favorite trip you’ve taken with friends!

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*Unfortunately, they no longer do brunch 🙁

NorCal

About two weeks ago, I was lucky enough to be able to visit one of my friends from Chicago, who just moved to Palo Alto for graduate school. When I first arrived up north, we immediately toured Stanford, so she could show me where she goes to school. I was truly impressed at how beautiful the campus is and how large the school is.

After we explored campus for hours, we ended up at a great sushi place in Palo Alto called Fuki Sushi. We shared the Albacore Tataki (1), which was delicious and the perfect appetizer. Then I had the Chicken Teriyaki (2), which is a staple in Japanese Food. Then to top off the meal, I had the Scallop Tempura Roll (3). All of the food was delicious and the service was excellent!

On Saturday, we went into San Francisco and wondered around the entire city. We started at the Ferry Building, and we explored the market and all of the different stands. We ended up going to the Craftsman & Wolves stand, and we tried the Rebel Within (1). The Rebel Within is the most unique muffin that I have ever tried; there is a soft-boiled egg in the center and green onion, sausage, and Asiago mixed into the dough. The Rebel Within is served with Tabasco salt, but I am horrible with spicy things so I did not try it. It was simply delicious and definitely worth a try if you are in the area. Then we tried a bunch of different fruit samples that different stands were handing out, and they were all refreshing and yummy. When we decided it was time for lunch, we stopped at the Hog Island Oyster Co. stand and got some oysters (2). They were reasonably priced and very fresh.

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While we were at the Ferry Building, I could not help but notice how beautiful it was outside and I ended up taking a picture of the Ferry Building. Seriously, I am a sucker for crystal blue skies, so I take tons of pictures that show off the sky.

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Once we finished the Oysters we headed to Chinatown and we meandered in and out of stores, restaurants, and museums. Chinatown in San Francisco is completely different from Chinatown in LA, Chicago, or New York City. I love how it incorporates actual grocery stores, and it isn’t just a tourist destination for dining on authentic cuisine.

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For the rest of Saturday, we walked around Union Square and went to a wine bar to relax. We ended up sleeping in on Sunday because we walked over 20,000 steps gallivanting around the city. When we finally decided to get up, we went to an Israeli restaurant called Oren’s Hummus Shop for brunch. Since I have been fortunate enough to go to Israel four times, I have high standards for Israeli food and Oren’s Hummus Shop exceeded all of my expectations. The pita was amazing and the hummus and tahini sauce were scrumptious. I felt as if I was in Israel at a hummus shop off Ben Yehuda Street in Israel. For the main course, we had the Greekstyle Eggplant, Moroccan Carrots, Chicken Skewer, and Labane. All of the sides were amazing and the chicken was cooked perfectly. We also ordered mint tea, which was the perfect way to complete our meal.

After we finished our feast, we walked around downtown Palo Alto and then headed to the airport. It was the perfect weekend trip 🙂

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Savory Sushi

Yesterday night, I tried a new sushi restaurant called Tsuri. It is located in West Hollywood, and it is phenomenal. I started with the Scallops and Unagi sashimi, and both were flavorful and made perfectly. For my main dish, I had the Alba Alba Roll. It has albacore, a garlic ponzu sauce, and cooked onions on top. The roll was amazing, but it was spicier than the server said it was. I cannot handle eating spicy food, so it was a bit of a struggle for me to eat it.

My cousin got the spicy tuna and California Rolls, and she loved both of them. All of the ingredients in the rolls we ordered tasted very fresh, and we loved our meals. I highly recommend this quaint and delicious restaurant.

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Scallops and Unagi Sashimi

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Alba Alba Roll