We welcome guest blogger Nicole Meier, a travel writer from Oregon. She shares all things travel and literature on her blog, www.havetotewilltravel.com
I think my alter ego wants to be a full-time foodie. This would involve spending my days sampling adventurous dishes and becoming somewhat of an expert on all things epicurean.
Fortunately my frequent visits to Portland, Oregon satisfy this aspiration. This vibrant city is filled with worthy restaurants. From fancy French cuisine to food carts galore, Portland takes its restaurant scene seriously. Whenever anyone asks me what to do in the city, my answer is to check out the restaurants!
At the top of my list of favorites is Andina. It was my first introduction to Peruvian food and stole my heart at the first plate. Located in the artsy Pearl District of downtown, this hot spot has an exotic flare, with regular dining on the top level and a lively bar on the lower level. The tapas alone are enough to die for. Everything is accompanied by decadent salsas, sauces or cheese. The chorizo sausage and empanadas with slow cooked beef are always a hit. If you like seafood, the scallop and shrimp dishes never disappoint. If you appreciate Peruvian food, you can’t go wrong with anything on the menu. It’s best to dine there with a large group and just pass plates along as they come to the table. Andina usually offers great live music on the weekends. The entertainment is well worth hanging around for.
Another dinner favorite is Veritable Quandary. This charming restaurant has been in Portland since the 1970’s and is popular with locals and tourists alike. With a waterfront location, this historical building sits at the base of the Hawthorne Bridge on the southwest end of town. Surrounded by greenery, the outdoor patio feels like you’re sitting in someone’s English garden. Inside, the warm brick walls and floor-to-ceiling windows offer a cozy and intimate setting. I love the extensive wine list and have never been steered wrong by a server’s recommendation. On my recent visit, a friend and I shared the duck confit spring rolls, porcini mushroom pizza, and a poached egg and bacon butter lettuce salad. I’m still dreaming about it. To end the evening, we sampled the chocolate soufflé. It was everything we hoped it would be!
Speaking of chocolate, of which I am a dedicated fan, the best cooking class I took in the city was at Sur la Table in the Pearl District. A group of us signed up for an entire afternoon’s worth of chocolate making. With the help of an encouraging instructor, we tried our hand at making everything from fudge to mousse. We whisked, we stirred and mostly, we laughed. Nothing is more happy-making than creating sugary desserts with those you love.
My short list of Portland foodie favorites wouldn’t be complete without mentioning breakfast. While there are so many fun bakeries and places to find a true cup of coffee (this is the Pacific Northwest after all) my top recommendation is to start the day at Mother’s Bistro and Bar. Located in downtown Portland, it’s a little slice of home cooking with a traditional espresso bar, mouthwatering menus and happy servers. It’s all presented in rooms full of quaint tables, crystal chandeliers and eclectic prints. Mother’s has a feel-good atmosphere that’s brimming with patrons from the moment the doors open, but it’s worth a short wait. Chef Lisa Schroeder has worked hard to create a homey setting where it’s “all about the love.” Mission accomplished.