The food cart scene in Portland is huge, and weirdly enough it took me until my fourth visit to the city to truly experience this uniquely Portland thing. You see, until food trucks or the carts you might see in other cities, the carts in Portland are actually semi-permanent structures and clusters of them take up whole city blocks. At the Alder Street “Pod” I found Steak Your Claim among the carts and knew it was made for me.
For our last night in Portland we went out big, heading to Tasty n Sons. Our waitress tried to make the claim that the food was meant to be shared by the table like tapas, but everything seemed like an entree and that really seemed like a ploy to get us to order more food. Thus, my buddy and I decided to go splitsies and then decide whether sharing was the right course of action.
Not far from Forest Park is an old industrial part of Portland, which includes a spot called Industrial Cafe and Saloon. We stopped by for some brunch and found the menu to generally be in line with the kinds of brunches I’m used to. There were scrambles, hash and a breakfast burrito, but one thing stood out to me. It was called Chipped Beef on Toast and because I had never seen such a thing I had to have it.
Portland has brand new bike share called Bike Town (you know, like Nike Town) and since my buddies and I were in town for a bachelor party with cars, it was a perfect opportunity to try it out. Thus, we set off one morning by bright orange bike to Doug Fir, a 70s-style diner/music venue/hotel. It was very Portland, to say the least.
Often, breakfast is a good opportunity for an unvegan like me to get my fruit in. Remember, we’re against vegetables here, not fruit. So when I headed to Isabel (which has a very familiar site color scheme) in Portland’s Pearl District for a morning meal before leaving town, my eyes gravitated to their Coconut French Toast.
In-N-Out Burger became a fast-food legend for its simple, yet just big enough menu. Of course, the burgers aren’t half-bad either. But what if a place were to take that simplicity, but kick things up a notch in ingredient quality? That’s where Little Big Burger in Portland comes in. Simple menu (6 items including drinks and no secret menu to speak of). Good prices ($3.75 for a cheeseburger). And hopefully delicious food.
Possibly the hardest part about leaving LA (besides giving up my income, friends and weather) was leaving the delicious Mexican food behind. But when we were in Portland, we learned that there was hope for Mexican food beyond the world that hugged that southern border. We were taken to ¿Por Que No?, a little taqueria shack in what seemed to be mostly a residential neighborhood in North Portland.
No self-respecting meat blogger can go to Portland and leave without first paying a visit to Voodoo Doughnut. That’s because Voodoo Doughnut is no ordinary doughnut shop. Not content with simply making a few tasty crullers and eclairs, Voodoo Doughnut has come up with doughnuts topped with just about any ingredient that you could ever want on a doughnut, and some you might not. Think Tang, Cap’n Crunch and weird vegan things that simply seem necessary in Portland. Some are even shaped like dongs, but that’s a whole other story. In my story, the line in front of the place only took about a half an hour, which I was informed was not terrible despite that it was mid-afternoon on a Thursday.
Portland undoubtedly has a reputation for being “granola.” Having never been myself I couldn’t quite vouch for anything, until I made my way there on my road trip. We were staying with someone in the Pearl District and I decided to check out Hotlips Pizza. Hotlips is a sort of New York-style pizza joint with a definite Portlandish twist. Pizza options were definitely geared towards being local and on the vegan/vegetarian end. Fortunately, though, they had pepperoni.
Possibly the best part of a road trip is not quite knowing where you’ll be sleeping that night, and not just which hotel, but sometimes which city. Somehow after a day at beautiful, if foggy Crater Lake we decided to make the trek to Eugene, Oregon to crash with a family friend. Knowing the kind of food I like to eat and the kind of beers I like to drink, he took us to McMenamins, a sort of chain of microbreweries throughout Oregon and Washington. He explained that each one was unique in its design because they typically opened up in buildings with previous tenants and worked within those confines. It was a pretty cool concept and the McMenamins North Bank in Eugene certainly had an awesome set up.